Airbnb revolutionised the tourist and hospitality industry, opening up millions of homes worldwide to cost-conscious holidaymakers, business travellers and others looking for a cheaper alternative to a traditional hotel or B&B.
It’s been wildly successful, largely because it offers homeowners the opportunity to earn a few pounds by renting out their unused rooms, opening a revenue stream that was previously difficult to access.
The same thinking has now been extended to cars, with London Gatwick-based Car & Away offering a peer-to-peer car hire service that matches car owners with those in need of short-term transport. Gatwick Airport’s Head of Car Parking, Gary Wallace, said 'We are pleased to see Car & Away has reached this important milestone as it continues to prove a popular alternative option for passengers renting their vehicles from the airport, while also giving them a chance to offset their parking costs.
'Our goal is to help as many people as possible to travel for less, in a convenient way, and airport peer-to-peer car sharing services are another way of achieving this.'
How does renting your car out work?
The idea is simplicity itself; car owners park their cars at Gatwick Airport while they’re away and Car & Away rents the car out to people looking for low-cost car hire. It seems like a brilliantly simple way to earn a few pounds for little or no effort on the part of the owner.
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Where is Car & Away available?
It’s only being offered at Gatwick Airport for the time being, but Car & Away says that it has just had its 500th customer - and those customers have given the service a score of 9.6/10 on Trustpilot.
Car & Away Founder and CEO, Andy Hibbert, said 'This is an exciting landmark for Car & Away and confirms we offer a really attractive new option for customers. One in every 100 parking customers is already realising it is the fastest way in and out of the airport with the added bonus of earning some cash.
'Renters enjoy getting the car they chose, with no counters, queues or extra charges. Renting cars out also means we are creating more space for Gatwick airport enabling them to sell more spaces during peak periods. We are delighted that other airports are now engaging and look forward to expanding our operation as we move into 2019.'
Is renting my car out at the airport worth the hassle?
On the face of it, the service looks very straightforward. Car & Away says that all you need to do is to book your car in online before dropping it off at the dedicated ‘Rent and Earn’ parking space in the short stay car-park, which is a two-minute covered walk from the South Terminal.
Car & Away will then clean your car and do its best to rent it out on your behalf. If they are successful, the company will check it for damage and valet it again when the hirer returns it. The money you have earned is then paid directly into your bank account.
In a move designed to reassure nervous owners, any driver who wants to rent your car must be vetted in advance; only UK or Ireland residents are eligible, and they must be aged 25 or over, have held a driving licence for at least two years, and have no more than three points on their licence.
Your car is also fully insured by Car & Away while it is being hired. It is also monitored by telematics while it’s being driven, which should give you some level of reassurance that it’s being driven sensibly.
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How much can I earn from hiring out my car?
The amount you can earn depends on the type of car you have and how long it is rented for but the website says that you could earn up to £160 a week.
The exact amount will be confirmed to you via email once you’ve registered it with them. You’ll need to provide a photograph of your car and fill in a checklist describing its features. This is a one-off exercise though, and shouldn’t take too long.
What’s the catch?
To be eligible, your car must be eight years old or younger and have fewer than 100,000 miles on the clock. It must also have a valid MOT (if applicable), vehicle excise duty, and a fully comprehensive insurance policy.
Also, while Car & Away says it will do its best to rent your car out, this isn’t guaranteed so you could come back from your trip to find that it hasn’t earned you a penny. Plus, of course, you need to pay for the car parking, although the rates do look to be considerably cheaper than the other options for parking at Gatwick. And you should have a nice clean car too.
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What sort of cars can I rent?
At the time of writing, you can rent a Honda Jazz for just under £11 a day, or an Audi A6 for just over £40 a day. There’s a wide range of different cars on offer, both manual and automatic, and the prices look very competitive to us.
Interestingly, both additional drivers and the loan of a sat-nav device are no-cost options.
Should I try it?
On the face of it, yes. The scheme looks to have been carefully thought out and offers some very real benefits for both the car owner and the person hiring it.
We’d love to hear from you if you have; please drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do a quick summary when we’ve had a few comments.