HOUSTON - More people are making money using their car, but not by becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. They're renting out their cars when they travel or not using it.
Avail is a ride-sharing service that connects car owners looking to make extra money with travelers who need to rent a car.
"We signed up to do it back in March when we were flying on vacation and I had a really great experience. We took two more trips since then, so both times I used Avail," said car owner Kerri Smith.
When Smith and her family fly out of Bush Intercontinental Airport, she leaves her car with Avail to be rented out. Not only can she earn about $20 a day, but she gets a free car wash and doesn't have to pay for airport parking.
"Seven times five, at least $35, but the additional car wash, that was at least a $20 to $30 car wash," Smith said.
Alex David with Avail says they inspect the cars for safety and reliability and give them a thorough cleaning before they're rented out.
"We only allow vehicles on the platform if they are 2010 or newer, and have less than 125,000 miles on them. But we also do have staff on-site to go through an inspection of the vehicle," said David.
He says Allstate insures the cars for both the owners and borrowers and provides roadside assistance.
So how much money can car owners make while you're traveling for a week?
"Your car could be shared for five days of those seven. You might make around $20 for a large SUV. So that's $100 or $125, plus you get guaranteed free parking," explained David.
But you don't have to travel. Car owners can also rent out cars that they're not using.
"Guaranteed earnings for people who are sharing their car for more than a month at a time. We've seen really great growth in that since the pandemic," said David.
For borrowers, Avail says their rates are competitive with other car rental agencies, plus they cut other fees, such as those for second or younger drivers.
Smith says her car has always been returned to her in the same condition she left it.
"After the first time I used it and got my car back, it was spotless. That was pretty nice, so they took care of it," she said.
Right now, Avail says they offering first-time borrowers their first rental day free.
Avail is available near airports in Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Austin, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, with branches expected to open in Miami and Baltimore.