Welcome to all of my new subscribers! I hope you are well. My husband B and I are busily preparing to host 10 people for Thanksgiving next week. Since we’ve been married, hosting Thanksgiving has been “our” tradition and it’s the one time each year that both sides of the family get together. I’m already tired thinking about it, but it is always fun. Mmmm, mulled wine. 🙂
Anyway, if you’re travelling this holiday season and it includes flying and parking your car at the airport (or using an off-site parking lot) I have an awesome way that you can get free parking, which depending on how long you’ll be gone could save you $100 or more. Not only that, you could potentially earn some extra money doing this too.
I found out about this when doing research for an article I wrote for Wise Bread called “Thirteen Surprising Things You Can Rent for Extra Cash.” B and I actually did this in October when we travelled for a week, so I can tell you from firsthand experience that this really works. What is it? We used a service called FlightCar.
I’m pulling a direct quote from their website because I can’t sum it up any better than them:
“FlightCar lets people parking at the airport rent their vehicles out to other approved traveling members. Every rental is insured up to $1 million, and every renter is pre-screened. Members get free parking, a car wash, and get paid if their car is rented out. Approved members renting a FlightCar get the lowest rental rates guaranteed, with free insurance, free extras and no fees. It’s free to join!”
If you’re like me your first reaction is something like, “There is no way that I would let some stranger drive my car while I’m away! Nope. Not going to do it. Never going to happen.” Surprisingly though, B was open to it and wasn’t so concerned with someone he didn’t know driving his car. Plus he liked their green principle of “minimizing waste and consumption by sharing your sweet ride.” He wanted to try it. I told him we could do it as long as we used his car. Well, we tried it. It worked exactly as advertised and I’m now a convert.
How It Works
- List Your Car: Basically you set up an online profile which includes your contact information (for FlightCar’s records) and information about the make and model of your car. You’ll also enter your departure and return dates so that they know when to have your car back if it’s rented. You can also upload a photo of your car to the site. This is what members who are looking to rent a car will see.
- Drop Your Car Off: On the day that you’re flying out, drive to the FlightCar office to check in and then ride their shuttle to the airport.
- Pick Your Car Up: Once you return, call FlightCar and they will send a shuttle to pick you up.
Setting Up and Checking In
Setting up the online profile was very easy. It took less than five minutes. On the morning we flew out we added an extra 30 minutes to our travel time to be safe. We arrived at the FlightCar office at 4:00 am (we wanted to be at the airport by 4:30 am for our 6:15 am flight). We walked into the office trailer and no one was there, so we called our contact’s number and he arrived at within two minutes.
He checked us in. The process included looking at B’s license for identification and the car’s registration and insurance. He then asked us some good questions like, “Does your car come equipped with GPS? If so you’ll want to clear it so no one knows your home address if it’s rented. Do you have any maps in the car?” Basically, he made sure that all identifiable information was removed. We had forgotten to remove our EZ Pass, so we put that along with some maps, the car owner’s manual, and everything else in the glove compartment in a sealable plastic tub that was provided to us. They tagged it and stored it for our return.
After that was done, we walked outside and the car was given the once over. B took the key off of his ring, gave it to him and we were set. We grabbed the shuttle to the airport and were on our way.
Please Don’t Get Rented! You Don’t Earn a Lot Anyway!
Personally I hoped his car would not be rented. I still wasn’t sold on that part, though I was now excited about getting free parking and a free car wash and interior clean. Besides, it’s not like you earn a ton of money by renting your car. The rate is determined by many factors including the airport you’re flying out of, and the age, make, and model of your car. B’s car is a 2007 and would have earned .05 a mile. The assumption is that renters will not drive more than 40 miles per day. Anything over that and you earn .75 per mile.
I think it’s a fair deal. You get free parking and they earn money through renting your car and giving you a small kickback. Had B’s car been rented he would have had an extra $15 or so in his pocket.
FlightCar will notify you if your car is rented. B’s wasn’t. When we returned home, we called them, a shuttle arrived at the airport ten minutes later, we collected our stuff and were driving home twenty minutes after that in a very clean car!
Is It Worth It?
By doing this we saved $88, which is the cost of using Philly airport’s economy parking for eight days. I have to say, yeah because that’s not an insignificant amount of money. I’m using that to fund this Thanksgiving’s spread. 🙂 Would I do it again? I would. And unfortunately, it looks like we’ll have to use my car next time because B’s will be over their acceptable mileage limit (they only accept cars with less than 100,000 miles). I guess the good news is that since mine is newer, I’ll net .10 a mile instead of .05 if it’s rented out. Wohoo! But it won’t be rented out. Please, don’t let it be rented out. Ha ha
They say their car rental rates are competitive, but I find them to be on the high side. It’s easy to find cars cheaper to rent. I would never rent from them. On the other hand, I hope everyone doesn’t think like me because they won’t be able to sustain their business model. Free parking is a good deal after all.
Tell me. Now that you know about this, would you use this service? Let me know by responding to this email. B and I have a bet.