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—Photo courtesy of RelayRides

The Airbnb of Cars Can Save (or Make) You Money

Make some cash off that car you barely drive—or find a better way to get to the mountains—with RelayRides.

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The snowy, icy weather is a friendly reminder: A trek to the mountains should not be taken lightly. If you’re a Denverite without a (four-wheel drive) car, storms like this often mean foregoing ski vacations—at least until the weather clears. But thanks to an increasingly popular car-sharing service, RelayRides, the ride-less can partake in Colorado mountain ventures by borrowing their neighbors’ wheels.

The peer-to-peer car-lending company is like any vehicle-rental business, except cheaper, arguably more convenient, and you can actually choose the car you’re borrowing. The nationwide service’s most popular market is Denver, and we bet you can guess why: the mountains. Steve Webb, RelayRides’ director of community, says that adventure-seekers need a vehicle that can handle steep roads and fussy weather, especially during ski season—but traditional rental car companies can’t always provide or guarantee these features. With RelayRides, car-borrowers are lucking out on an easier and cheaper way to rent, and those lending their wheels are making more than a couple bucks as well. Read on for more details about the service, and why you should give it a try:


How it works: Car owners looking to capitalize on their idle cars enter them into the RelayRides marketplace and set daily, weekly, or monthly prices. Car-seekers enter city and rental dates, then select one of the many cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans listed based on things like price, make, daily mileage limit, or features (i.e. that handy-dandy ski rack). Owners have 24 hours to confirm—though most usually get back much sooner—and the booking is complete. Owner and renter meet at the start of the trip for a quick hello and key hand-off, and then it’s time to hit the road. At the end of the trip, renter refuels and returns the keys to the owner. Easy peasy.

What’s so awesome about it: Denver car owners make an average of $340 per month renting their ride, and borrowers pay around 35 percent less than a traditional rental company. Cars are conveniently located all over the city—perhaps as close as your next-door neighbor—and some can even be delivered wherever you are for free.

(Read about the Bustang: an easier way to get the mountains)

The fine print: Cars listed must be 2003 or newer with an odometer reading below 100,000 miles, with some exceptions. All prospective renters are screened before they can rent a vehicle. RelayRides checks DMV driving records and denies anyone with serious infractions (DUIs, reckless driving) or multiple minor violations (speeding, rolling stops).

We know what you’re thinking: What about insurance? RelayRides has that nailed down, too. After starting the company in 2009, founder (and Denver native) Shelby Clark pioneered the first insurance policy of its kind: During the rental period, RelayRides is the primary insurance provider, covering $1 million in liability damages and the cash value of the car. Throw 24-hour roadside assistance on top of that, and you’ve got “an amazing insurance and trust policy” that makes this marketplace work, Webb says.

So the next time you’re denied a weekend of fresh powder because your quaint front-wheel-drive can’t make it up I-70, trade up and try RelayRides.

Join in: Find out what RelayRides is all about at the Member Appreciation Party. Open bar, snacks and giveaways, all for free—and you don’t even have to be a member. Just register here. Thursday, Feb. 26, 7 to 9 p.m.; Punch Bowl Social, 65 Broadway

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