Author Topic: Rent a car instead of owning  (Read 7655 times)

melalvai

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Rent a car instead of owning
« on: November 21, 2013, 08:33:02 AM »
I wanted to share this strategy which could work in the right circumstance.

A few years ago, I started a position that was part-time, work-from-home for a few months and then, when my husband graduated, we moved to the town that my employer was in. During the 6 months before we moved, I made a trip to the other town about once a month. My husband & daughter needed to get to & from school (they aren't as bad-ass as I am, she'll bike up to a couple miles and he won't bike at all, school was 5 miles away). So once a month, I rented a car for the day.

In Missouri, there's not much in the way of public transit, trains & buses. There's even less of that for traveling between towns.

That approach worked fantastic! It cost about $50 each time. I got to drive a brand-new car that had all the bells & whistles. I got to try out a different make & model every time. I've often thought that if my husband would take up biking (he won't), we could go car-free and just rent a car when we want to visit friends and family. Now that our daughter is in college, we make more out of town trips, so it might not be quite as cost effective as owning a car, I haven't done the math lately so I'm not sure.

Just something to consider, if you don't have the cash to pay for a used car, but have to make an out of town trip. Depending on how many trips you make, it might be cheaper than owning a car. And it would be nice to have that storage space in your garage for something else...like your bicycles!

There are a few negatives though.
1) You have to have a credit card. I was able to rent from Avis with my debit card, but everywhere else requires a credit card.
2) You have to say "no" to their many optional insurances, over and over. Then you have to keep an eye on it--I once got charged for an insurance that I had declined.
3) If you are under 25, you can't rent a car. My daughter ended up having to buy a car when she went to college. She really wanted to live at college without a car, but it ended up being too hard to get around in the bike-unfriendly town, and to get home. And most importantly-- to visit her boyfriend.

BlueMR2

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2013, 05:40:20 PM »
2) You have to say "no" to their many optional insurances, over and over. Then you have to keep an eye on it--I once got charged for an insurance that I had declined.

You do have to be careful with that though.  Make sure you run through all your own insurance to see how it would fall out.

For example, my car insurance covers rental cars too.  I covers them exactly the same as my own cars are covered.  So, let's say I own a $1000 beater with liability only on it.  I rent a $30,000 car.  Car gets wrecked and it's my fault, I end up being on the hook personally for that amount unless I added on the optional insurance.

This is where credit cards are handy.  Most (but not all!) credit cards have some form of secondary rental car insurance coverage.  So, with my liability only above, my auto insurance which would be primary normally doesn't cover it.  Then it falls onto my (very good I might add in my case) secondary credit card insurance.

thepokercab

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2013, 06:41:19 PM »
Nice strategy! 

My family is trying the whole rent instead of owning thing as well.  We live in a pretty bike friendly neighborhood, my wife is a SAHM and I work from home- so there really isn't a ton of need for us to own a vehicle.  We do the occasional rental for out of town trips, or day trips.  We could buy a used one at any point, but honestly, the inconvenience really hasn't been that big of a deal.  I'm now kind of shocked that people actually take their cars to places as mundane as the grocery store or library.  I bike with my daughter to school, and there are parents who live half the distance that we do, who are driving every morning.  Seems like a waste.. 

I also think not owning a car really hones your badassity  Yesterday it was raining and I (gasp!) still walked to the store.  I got a little wet but by the look of people's eyes I might as well have been a third world refugee.

I haven't done a detailed cost comparison on the rent vs own strategy, but I feel like we are coming out slightly ahead when comparing car ownership costs vs rental costs.  So far, we've taken three multi-day out of town trips, and about 3 one-day trips, and with gas we've spent around $750.00.  Extrapolate that to a year, and its around $1500.   When we owned a car, insurance + gas each month ranged anywhere from $100-$150.  So if car ownership for us averaged about $125 bucks a month, we're about even. But we ultimately come out ahead once you factor in vehicle registration costs and maintenance (which is so nice not to have to do)

For folks doing this i would recommend a good credit card.  I use the Blue Cash preferred Amex.  It provides solid insurance for rentals, plus at Enterprise you can get discounts and statement credits based on how much you spend.  So far i've got $60.00 in statement credits by using my Amex for Enterprise rentals, so that helps defray the cost. Plus, once you rent enough somewhere you eventually accrue enough points where you can get free rental days.  So far i've already gotten one free day. 

Russ

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2013, 07:46:17 PM »
Awesome! This is what I do on the very rare occasions I need a car (once every few months).
 
I got to drive a brand-new car that had all the bells & whistles. I got to try out a different make & model every time.

I agree, this is one of my favorite parts. Not that I really like new cars any better (especially that smell...I'm shocked anybody thinks offgassing petroleum products is a *good* smell), but it's kinda fun to think "this is how the heavily indebted live!" then chuckle to myself.

Quote
There are a few negatives though.
1) You have to have a credit card. I was able to rent from Avis with my debit card, but everywhere else requires a credit card.
2) You have to say "no" to their many optional insurances, over and over. Then you have to keep an eye on it--I once got charged for an insurance that I had declined.
3) If you are under 25, you can't rent a car. My daughter ended up having to buy a car when she went to college. She really wanted to live at college without a car, but it ended up being too hard to get around in the bike-unfriendly town, and to get home. And most importantly-- to visit her boyfriend.

In my experience #1 and #3 can be worked around with some smooth talk and a little luck. The debit card thing came up a couple times before I had a credit card, but I was able to do it with a deposit + manager's approval. #3 hasn't given me any trouble since the first time, now I think it must show up that they've rented to me before so I'm effectively "in"

As far as costs of renting vs. owning... renting might cost me a little more every year considering I'd buy a cheapass car, but it's worth it to me to not have to deal with the inconvenience of actually owning and taking care of a car.

melalvai

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 08:58:09 AM »
Quote
3) If you are under 25, you can't rent a car. My daughter ended up having to buy a car when she went to college. She really wanted to live at college without a car, but it ended up being too hard to get around in the bike-unfriendly town, and to get home. And most importantly-- to visit her boyfriend.
#3 hasn't given me any trouble since the first time, now I think it must show up that they've rented to me before so I'm effectively "in"
Really? I'll look into that, because I thought it was a hard and fast unbreakable rule that if you are under 25 you cannot drive a rental car. She would love to sell her car if she could find another way.
Quote
As far as costs of renting vs. owning... renting might cost me a little more every year considering I'd buy a cheapass car, but it's worth it to me to not have to deal with the inconvenience of actually owning and taking care of a car.
Even if the numbers work out that renting is theoretically the same, if you don't own a car you're not tempted to drive it. Owning a cheapass car can end up being more expensive because it's convenient to drive it more. The expenses incurred are direct and indirect. Direct, like gas, wear & tear. Indirect, like health, stress level, and one I've been thinking about but even less sure how to calculate-- the number of miles you drive and the type of miles (city vs highway, short vs long trips) influences your risk of a wreck. While a car ought to have a life of 200,000 or 300,000 miles (or more?), that life can get cut short at any point (not to mention your own life). And then you have to shell out for another car (and maybe deal with injuries). Sure, you have that cash squirreled away already. But then you have to make sure you have money set aside for another replacement. The less you drive that car, the less likely you are to wreck it.

It's not quite linear because an inexperienced driver-- who has driven very few miles-- is more likely to wreck than an experienced driver, so that is a factor in which MORE miles decreases the risk of a wreck. But in general, I posit that driving fewer miles will have a big impact on reducing risk.

Lina

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 11:10:30 AM »
I sold my car last year in August because I got tired of paying for it. I used it once or twice every week. I calculated that I could rent a car every weekend for cheaper then owning a car. Since then I have rented a car three times when I couldn't find another solution. The best is that you can pick a car that suits your needs for that specific occasion. I can also use taxi quite a lot for the same amount that the car cost me. Instead, I bought a mountainbike with studded tires so I could ride longer trips to the grocery store and swimming pool. I am so happy that I sold the car! I haven't regretted my decision.

Jamesqf

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 11:40:29 AM »
I got to drive a brand-new car that had all the bells & whistles.

But there's a downside to that, too.  For one, AFAIK all rental cars are equipped for the handicapped - that is, they have automatic transmissions.  For another, you have to figure out how to get all those bells & whistles to work.  That's especially bad with some of the newer ones, where - to pick one particularly egregious example - they don't start & stop with the key, like normal cars.

melalvai

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2013, 06:26:06 AM »
I got to drive a brand-new car that had all the bells & whistles.

But there's a downside to that, too.  For one, AFAIK all rental cars are equipped for the handicapped - that is, they have automatic transmissions.  For another, you have to figure out how to get all those bells & whistles to work.  That's especially bad with some of the newer ones, where - to pick one particularly egregious example - they don't start & stop with the key, like normal cars.

Well, that's a matter of attitude. While we were shopping for a car after I drove ours into a deer, we drove a rental for 10 days. I think it was the last day we finally figured out how to get the bluetooth to talk to our phones. I remember one rental that had me in a panic because I could not figure out how to adjust the seat, even after consulting the manual! I finally found someone to show me. (I had identified the right button, just not the right way to push it.)

But I learned something new. The next rental, I knew how to adjust the seat.

Yes, they are all automatic, so you won't get quite as good mileage. The difference is a tiny fraction of the costs of owning a car. It still can come out to save money.

BlueMR2

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2013, 10:00:36 AM »
I remember one rental that had me in a panic because I could not figure out how to adjust the seat, even after consulting the manual! I finally found someone to show me. (I had identified the right button, just not the right way to push it.)

We had a similar problem with a rental while on a trip.  Had to call the rental agency while at a gas station when we couldn't find the gas door open button after 10 minutes of looking.  Turns out it's located on the bottom part towards the back of the driver's door.  Geez.  What idiot thought that's a GOOD place for a gas door opener.  Every other car on the planet either has it clearly marked on the dash or on the floor in a standard location.

Russ

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2013, 11:07:39 AM »
We had a similar problem with a rental while on a trip.  Had to call the rental agency while at a gas station when we couldn't find the gas door open button after 10 minutes of looking.  Turns out it's located on the bottom part towards the back of the driver's door.  Geez.  What idiot thought that's a GOOD place for a gas door opener.  Every other car on the planet either has it clearly marked on the dash or on the floor in a standard location.

This reminds me of one rental I had...

Here I am sitting at the gas station trying to figure out this damn gas door. There's no finger hook on the door itself so I thought there must be a button inside somewhere. Looked in all the standard places three times, no dice. Remembered one rental I had where the button was in the center armrest (WTF, that one took a while too), still no dice. So I found the owners manual, which I wished I had done 10 minutes ago, and it turns out the door has one of those fancy push-and-it-pops-open latches, like some cabinets! In hindsight it's a kinda cool feature, but a little sticker on the gas door would have been nice...

Jamesqf

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 09:47:57 PM »
Yes, they are all automatic, so you won't get quite as good mileage. The difference is a tiny fraction of the costs of owning a car. It still can come out to save money.

It's nothing to do with saving money: it's about the fact that I want to drive instead of just steer, and refuse to accept the lowest common denominator.

melalvai

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2013, 09:13:01 AM »
Yes, they are all automatic, so you won't get quite as good mileage. The difference is a tiny fraction of the costs of owning a car. It still can come out to save money.

It's nothing to do with saving money: it's about the fact that I want to drive instead of just steer, and refuse to accept the lowest common denominator.
Ah. Well, that's something you can choose to pay for, if your situation is such that renting over owning would otherwise make financial sense-- funny that in this context, manual trans could potentially be the more expensive option. :)

Cactus

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2018, 02:18:08 AM »
 ”So I found the owners manual, which I wished I had done 10 minutes ago, and it turns out the door has one of those fancy push-and-it-pops-open latches, like some cabinets! ”
Hehe, had exactly the same experience when I rented a Volvo last month.

elliha

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2018, 02:50:35 AM »
I have several colleagues that don't own a car and use bikes and buses for all their in-town travel and this works well for them. When they want to go somewhere that is too hard to access by bus or train they rent a car, often not a new one though but one from one of those places that rent older cars for a lower price. They save tons of money compared to owning a car, even the colleague who takes a taxi home from the big store once a month (goes by bus to the store). In my town it is relatively cheap to get home delivery of groceries so I think some of my colleagues does this 1-2 a month to not need to go shopping by bus or bike or get a taxi. We have a car but we tend to do most of our shopping at the store that is within walking distance so we don't actually need a car for shopping (I am pretty convinced we would do well with the same approach as my colleagues but I have not yet managed to convince my husband of this.)

fat-johnny

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2018, 10:48:03 AM »
...we couldn't find the gas door open button after 10 minutes of looking.  Turns out it's located on the bottom part towards the back of the driver's door.  Geez.
Lemme guess.....Chrysler/Dodge product??

Antonn Park

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2018, 01:33:12 PM »
I think renting a car is a great idea if you live in a city or suburb near public transportation. Starting around 10 years old, my mother sold her car because we lived in a city that was about a 15 minute walk to Boston. My husband and I live in the Boston area, and whenever we want to go on a trip or whatever we rent a Zipcar. Oh and my mother still doesn't have a car and hasn't had one since she sold that one (about 25 years ago).

TeresaB

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2018, 06:44:30 PM »
Quote
3) If you are under 25, you can't rent a car. My daughter ended up having to buy a car when she went to college. She really wanted to live at college without a car, but it ended up being too hard to get around in the bike-unfriendly town, and to get home. And most importantly-- to visit her boyfriend.
#3 hasn't given me any trouble since the first time, now I think it must show up that they've rented to me before so I'm effectively "in"
Really? I'll look into that, because I thought it was a hard and fast unbreakable rule that if you are under 25 you cannot drive a rental car. She would love to sell her car if she could find another way.

Used to be true, but now it's pretty easy to find companies that will rent to under 25s. They'll just charge you extra for the privilege.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2018, 12:22:57 PM »
We don't own a car and walk or take public transport everywhere but I plan to branch out and start using car sharing services and renting cars.

HenryDavid

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Re: Rent a car instead of owning
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2018, 02:45:29 AM »
Did this for years. The math made me do it. It was convenient and sort of fun.
In fact it was one of the most fascinating ways to shine a light on how little people truly think about mindless habits that shape their lives. Everyone I knew was amazed—AMAZED—that such a thing was even possible.
Then, when I explained the math, instead of people say hey, good plan . . .  there was this tone of resentment like I was being a smart ass and not playing the game as it must be played.
Anyway, I’m retired now and they’re not.