How My Car Makes Me Money While I Travel

Jo Piazza
·Managing Editor
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Make your car work for you while you are on the road. (Photo by Zoran Djekic/Stocksy. Design by Erik Mace for Yahoo Travel.)

My husband didn’t want us to have a car.

I told him early on in our marriage that I’ve been in a relationship with my small yellow Fiat Pop since well before he and I decided to tie the knot.

I love my car—and not just because it is adorable. I love the freedom of being able to escape the city whenever I want without having to bother with the drama of a car rental. There’s also the fact that I own a giant and slightly gross dog. She has a case of wanderlust too, but she sheds so badly that I can’t take her in any car but my own.

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Even with a heavy duty Kurgo hammock for the backseat Lady Piazza finds a way to be gross. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Still, I saw his point. Parking in San Francisco can run over $300 a month and we travel so often that the car could just sit around for weeks on end.

Then we found a compromise.

Last September we signed on with Getaround, a new app that is similar to Airbnb, just for your car and not your apartment.

Here is how it works: you register your car with Getaround. They do a safety evaluation for the vehicle and install hardware in the car that allows users to lock and unlock it with their phones.

If you already have a parking space then you can continue to use that. If you need one Getaround can help find you a dedicated space (you typically still have to pay a fee for it).

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Sometimes it makes sense to own a car. Sometimes it doesn’t. (Photo: Jo Piazza)

Next you choose the price for your car. There is a wide range and you can adjust the price based on supply and demand for vehicles in the area. Some cars rent for as low as $5 an hour while others go for around $28. It depends on a variety of factors, including neighborhood, time the car is available and size for the vehicle.

Since signing up for the service in September we have managed to just about break even on both the parking fee and our monthly car payments (around $400 a month), essentially giving us a free car.

Right now Getaround only operates in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkley, Chicago, Portland and Washington D.C., with plans to expand to other markets early next year.

Some friends cringe when we tell them that we rent out our car. A car, much like a house, is a sacred asset and some people don’t want strangers in their private space. But Getaround has done a good job of providing plenty of insurance in case something goes wrong and building a community platform where it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the car neat and tidy so that it doesn’t feel like someone else has used it at all.

Most of the time it is cleaner (and smells nicer) than when we parked it.

Related: How to Help Pay Your Mortgage With Airbnb

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We set the price for our Fiat at a mere $7.50 per hour. (Photo: Getaround)

That isn’t to say that Getaround is not without flaws. The customer service often leaves something to be desired. It can takes days and sometimes weeks for someone to get back to us with an answer to the simplest of questions regarding our account.

Related: 14 Things You Need to Know Before You Use Airbnb

We had a rocky time of setting up our initial payments with them and right now they are only paying out funds through Paypal.

On several occasions a renter has simply not parked the car in the right space and we have had no recourse except to write them a bad review.

Still, in my opinion, the good outweighs the bad. Flaws are often inherent in a sharing economy that is still working out its kinks and you have to keep working with a platform that helps you pay for your car every month.

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