How to Park For Free at the Airport — and Profit From It

nless you use public transportation or a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft, you most likely drive your car to the airport and park it at a facility where the cost could range from a few dollars to as much as $40.00 per day, according to this article written by Justin Ocean of Travel+Leisure.

$40.00 per day?!? Ouch.

One way to trim the costs of parking at or near the airport is to use a service where you not only can park your car for free; but you can actually profit from it.

How to Park For Free at the Airport — and Profit From It

Car rental platforms for individual owner services use a private car — which would normally be parked idle at an airport for the duration that its owner is away on a trip — and rent it out for use to someone who needs use of a car while they are visiting the location where the car is based and registered. The idea is that it is a win-win-win system: the car owner profits from the use of his or her car, which can be as much as several hundred dollars per month; the visitor has a vehicle to rent for purportedly a less expensive rate than a typical car rental; and the company which arranges the rental profits as well.

The vehicles used must meet minimum requirements — so if you have a car which is 15 years old; does not have a “clean” title; and has logged 250,000 miles, you will not be able to take advantage of this service.

Potential renters of your vehicle must meet minimum requirements as well, as the car is not rented to just anyone who wants to rent one.

Insurance coverage is available to both the owner of the vehicle as well as the renter. The owner of the vehicle does not have to pay for insurance coverage, of which the car is covered up to its full value or up to $1,000,000.00; whereas the renter can choose to pay extra for insurance — as well as choose the amount of coverage desired.

There are at least two companies which will pay you to rent out your car while you are traveling: Turo and FlightCar.

Turo

Number 11 of the 14 hottest on-demand startup companies of Forbes for 2015 with a valuation of $311 million, Turo — which was originally known as RelayRides — rents the private vehicles of car owners in hundreds of locations in every state throughout the United States and the District of Columbia; but with the exception of the state of New York.

If your car is worth $75,000.00 and you rent it for 30 days out of each month, you can supposedly earn up to a maximum of $47,208.00 per year; but of course that means that you will only have five days out of the year that you can drive your car — but you could also supposedly pay off your car within two years. Of course, that does not include costs from such expenses as primary automobile insurance, maintenance and cleaning fees to keep your car looking brand new.

Professional photography of your car is complimentary when you list your car for rent.

Turo will cover any basic maintenance needs on cars during long-term — meaning one month or more — parking reservations. Basic maintenance includes:

  • Oil and filter changes
  • Tire rotation
  • Tire tread depth inspection
  • Windshield wiper maintenance
  • Basic mechanical inspections

 

However — at the time this article was posted — you can park for free only at Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport while your car is rented and you can earn up to $425.00 per month; but if you do not use those two airports, you can still deliver your car to the airport to an awaiting renter. The problem with that is that — unless both of you agree on the exact drop off and pick up times — where can the car be parked in the meantime; or what if you need your car before the rental has concluded?

There are three ways to which you can rent out your car with Turo:

  • Deliver your car to custom locations around town, within a set radius
  • Deliver your car to nearby airports
  • Travelers pick up the car at your location

 

If you rent a car with Turo, be aware that as of August of 2015, all new and existing listings have been automatically opted in to dynamic pricing, which “is an intelligent feature that adjusts your Turo listing’s daily prices automatically, which is designed to maximize your earnings with data-driven prices. It’s based on a powerful algorithm that incorporates seasonality, demand, geography, and car type.”

By the way, smoking is not permitted at any time in any vehicle you rent through Turo; and pets are not allowed without explicit consent from the owner.

You can opt for the folioing options of picking up a car you rented through Turo:

  • Local pickup
  • City delivery
  • Airport delivery

FlightCar

Just behind Turo at number 12 of the 14 hottest on-demand startup companies of Forbes for 2015 with a valuation of $103 million, FlightCar has also had its issues with internal turmoil and being significantly restructured recently.

FlightCar gives you the option to rent out your car instead of parking it at the airport; and parking at the airport and a car wash are always free of charge with FlightCar — even if your car was not rented while you were away.

You fill out a parking reservation form via the Internet with basic information pertaining to your car and the departure and return dates of your trip. Then — on the day of your trip — you drive your car to the FlightCar parking lot near the airport where your proof of insurance and title are copied; and you will be driven to the airport in a black valet car. Meanwhile, a photograph is taken of your vehicle and posted for rent on the official Internet web site of FlightCar; and if your car is rented while you are traveling, you will receive notification via an e-mail message. You call for the pickup of your vehicle at the airport upon your return.

Information pertaining to how much you could earn renting your vehicle can be calculated here.

If you are renting a car from FlightCar, you are supposedly guaranteed the lowest rates with no fees; insurance is included at no extra charge; with no paperwork and no waiting — all for as low as $15.00 per day, which includes all taxes and fees.

There are currently a dozen airports around the United States where the FlightCar service is available, including:

Summary

I am not sure of a number of implications which could occur as a result of renting your car for profit, as I have never used such a service. What if your car is involved in a traffic violation while you are away? Would renting your car for profit violate the terms of your automobile insurance policy? How do you report the income of renting your car for tax purposes?

Despite the safeguards and protections supposedly built into this business model, it seems rather risky to me in more ways than one. For example — during June of last year — a woman returned from her trip to find her vehicle sustained approximately $3,600.00 in damages after she rented it through FlightCar. Approximately one month later, a woman reported that her car was stolen after she left it with FlightCar; and that was only part of the problems she experienced. A man was without his car for at least a month after it was impounded because the renter of his car violated the policies of Turo — as well as laws imposed by the government. I personally would not consider trying it at this time…

…but then again, ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft where private vehicles are used appear to be successful despite the obstacles in which those companies had faced — such as when a fellow “blogger” at BoardingArea purportedly earned as little as $1.19 per hour as a driver for UberX — so perhaps the services provided by Turo and FlightCar might similarly be successful…

…and you could earn money renting your car while parking your car free of charge near the airport while you are traveling.

Whether you decide to use your car to rent through either Turo or FlightCar or rent a vehicle from either of these companies, ensure that you have carefully researched the policies and history of each company so that you may arrive at an informed decision — as well as be as knowledgeable as possible pertaining to what you are about to experience.

In other words: do your homework; and do it thoroughly.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

6 thoughts on “How to Park For Free at the Airport — and Profit From It”

  1. Sam Whitney says:

    Ah, a “how to” article recommending a practice the author doesn’t recommend and suggesting the reader should research “how to” do it him/herself. Thanks

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Ah, a comment that includes criticism which is not constructive from a person who does not realize the amount of time and research which already went into the article.

      Thanks, Sam Whitney.

      Tell you what: why don’t you loan me your car and I will personally research whatever information you want to know about both of these services…?

  2. Raj says:

    I left my car with Flightcar in both SF and Seattle. In SF, the experience was good only because no one ever rented my car so I got free parking with no issues. In Seattle, I had a really bad experience. My car was rented and although there were no major issues with the renters, I had to remove everything from our car, including our kid’s car seat. When we got back, it took at least a half hour to reinstall everything and wait for the inept folks who worked there to process the paperwork to get me my car back. In addition, we waited way longer for the shuttle to pick us up from the airport than if we had just parked at a regular lot. The nail on the coffin was I never got paid for my rental. I had to escalate it for months (only out of principle since the payout is so paltry), but finally got a check for less than promised. They are total morons there and I have gone back to happily paying for an easier airport parking experience.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Wow — thank you for relating your experience, Raj.

      In the back of my mind when writing this article, I thought about what an arduous task clearing out personal belongings from the car before parking the car for the rental and replacing them upon returning from a trip could pose for some owners; but that would have been further speculation on my part. Thank you for confirming that aspect, which could be a disadvantage for using this service.

      Poor service is unacceptable from any company; and if this type of service is indicative of FlightCar, the company will not be in business very long…

  3. Alexandre says:

    Very interesting article. thank you Mister Cohen.

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