Rent a car for only $6 an hour?!?

Courtesy Odin/myBudgetTravel

A new service hooks renters up with local car owners willing to loan their wheels out for as little as $6 an hour—gas and insurance included.

The service, called RelayRides, launched in Cambridge, Mass., this fall, and just opened a new car rental operation in San Francisco. More locations are expected in the future.

Here's how the service works for would-be renters: After a free sign-up—which includes a review of your driving record -- you receive a membership card in the mail. Then, when you need a car, you scope the website for locations, styles, times, and prices of cars up for rent, and select one that works for you. Finally, at the scheduled time, you find the car at specified location—perhaps in a parking lot or on the street, always noticeable with a RelayRides logo—and hold your membership card up to a sensor on the driver's side of the windshield. The door will then automatically unlock, and the keys will be inside ready for you to drive away.

This new service is obviously competing with car-sharing businesses such as zipcar. While zipcar has advantages in that it has far more cars and locations and actually owns the vehicles in its fleet, the RelayRides' "Neighbor-to-Neighbor Carsharing" concept is interesting because there is a wide variety of vehicles to choose from, renters generally pay a couple bucks less per hour, and unlike zipcar, there's no membership fee (at least for now anyway).

Members of both RelayRides and zipcar also enjoy an advantage over renters getting vehicles from traditional agencies: Gas, insurance, and parking are always included in the quotes from RelayRides and zipcar, so drivers don't have to deal with upsells on pre-paid gas, renters' insurance, and the like.


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