If you need to hire a car, how do you work out the cheapest or best option?
I sold my car when I moved to Melbourne because I lived close to the city and no longer needed it. A few times in the past few years I have hired a car or used car share services. When you add up the cost of owning a car with petrol, maintenance, insurance, depreciation and replacement, it gets expensive fast! Have you ever worked out the total cost of ownership for you? It’s eye-opening!
Here are the pros, cons, costs and more of each one.
Disclosure, we do use affiliate links on the site. Read the full disclosure here. This is our honest review of each platform.
How did I compare?
Either myself or people I know used each service so we could provide an accurate comparison. On my block I have Car Next Door, Go Get, Flexicar, RACV Carshare and a few others. I’ve been able to see who is using which one, the type of cars available, costs and overall experience. Be aware, all of them will pre-authorise your card with an amount e.g. $250.
As a base for this comparison, I am using a Toyota Corolla style car. You can hire larger cars on each platform, including vans to move larger items. When comparing car hire for this type of car it varied drastically depending on dates and locations. I tried a variety of dates for Melbourne and the cost from a regular car hire was $126.30 to $169.84 for 24 hours, whereas Brisbane was only $59.82 to $65.05 for the same dates! So that’s the starting point, anywhere from $60 to $170. Plus you need to pay for fuel.
Car Next Door – Cheapest
If you want the cheapest option, Car Next Door is it. From $25.00 a day or just $5.00 per hour and just $0.33km plus a $4.99 booking fee (unless you are on the $19 a month plan, which then removes that booking fee), it is priced well. Plus you can get $15 off your first trip here, making it even cheaper.
A recent trip of mine was $54.41 for the day and driving my kids to a theme park 33kms away and back. This included the car hire, fuel, everything.
Pros of Car Next Door
Price includes fuel, insurance, everything.
You can use it to make money. If you have a car you barely use, list it and make some of your own cash.
It was relatively easy to join. Go through the steps, then verify your identity with a picture of you holding your licence and they approve you.
You can use it online or via the app.
Refer a friend program means any friends you refer who use the service within a set period get $15 and you get $15 credit.
Cons of Car Next Door
The lockbox can be clunky. They are big and sit on the outside of the cars. You get a code and enter it to open the box then do the same at the end.
You are hiring other people’s cars. This means they might not be clean, any damage might not be shown in the picture, there might be mechanical issues etc.
I tried it three times with the first two times both times the cars were dirty and had mechanical issues. The third was my preferred option but it is rarely available. The first was a rough ride, no liquid for the windscreen wipers and dirt all over it making it difficult to see out the windscreen. I had to get to my sister quickly as she was heavily pregnant and needed to get to her midwife appointment.
The second time, I booked it then find out there was damage all over the car, it was dirty, the engine light stays on as you drive etc.
If you rent through Car Next Door, try and check out cars your area first if possible (on a day you aren’t renting), to see their condition. If I use Car Next Door again, I’ll be booking the third car I tried only.
With multiple options for private, business, students and seniors, there appears to be something for everyone. They do require you to sign up for a plan, either monthly or annually. Rates vary but with a Corolla for private use is $87 a day (inclusive of 150kms) or $10.95hr and $0.40km, plus the fee of $49 a year or a monthly fee (minimum of 6 months). If you have a business the rates drop with no annual fee and only $77 a day with 150kms included or $7.45hr plus $0.40km. This is for the Corolla, you can get a Yaris which is slightly less.
It’s easy to join (as all the car share options are). With Go Get you join then within 2 days will be sent your card or you can pick one up from specific locations.
You can use the app or website.
They have dedicated parking areas.
Swipe your card just like using PayPass to get access to the car. The keys are already in the car.
Fuel cards are used and you need to fill up with these.
They clean the cars. I regularly see the ones near me being cleaned and detailed. The fleet of cars is well maintained.
It’s more expensive than Car Next Door, but if you are travelling 150kms, it’s basically the same price.
An annual fee is used with Flexicar as well, though they have a few options and the rates vary depending on how much you will be using their services. At a starter rate for irregular use, they are $49 for the annual fee, $79 a day (including 100kms) or $13.50hr. This drops to $55 a day plus 150kms or $8.95hr. With daily bookings, the rate for any km over the 100kms or 150kms limit varies from 25cents per km to 39cents, depending on your plan.
It’s easy to join and you are usually approved to drive within 24 hours. To use it, get the app, book cars as needed and return to the same location. Flexicars have dedicated parking like Go Get. You will simply need a pin from the app to access the car, the keys are in it ready to go and a fuel card is there to fill it up.
Pros of Flexicar
It’s readily available in major cities
It’s easy to join and use
Refer a friend program is $30 and their sign up credit is $30 here
20% discounts for longer hires e.g. 3 days or more through Hertz and 10% off overseas
Cons of Flexicar
It worked out to be the most expensive for just the day.
You’d assume a car share service run by a car hire company would be good, user-friendly and the customer service would be on par. It wasn’t. RACV was by far the worst out of the lot. The customer service didn’t respond to an email I sent, when I called a week later the rep didn’t know anything and had to keep checking then got it wrong.
The car itself was ok, as they use a fleet of Mistubishi’s. You get sent a code 15 minutes before your booking starts then use the keypad on the windscreen to access the car. The car I hired said it had a push button start, it didn’t so we had to search for the key. The keypad was glitchy a few times and there was no fuel card so I had to pay for fuel, then send in for a refund and specifically request it be refunded or they issue it as a driving credit.
At $85 a day, on the front, it is not cheap but if you are travelling a longer distance, it works out because you get 350kms per day.
Pros of RACV
The cars are all relatively new and there are a variety of options and locations.
350kms per day hire compared to only 100kms to 150kms with the other services.
Cons of RACV
Customer service is terrible
The system is such that it is done on the website then an SMS. It felt very much like it was geared to an older market, who don’t typically use carshare services. It was not a user-friendly experience compared to the other services.
Petrol is a pain. If there is no fuel card, you fill up then get reimbursed. I did have to do this with another car service, but RACV also charges $50 if someone doesn’t leave the car with at least 1/4 of petrol. Thus, it should be reasonable to assume there will be petrol in the car when you hire it.
Overall, I would not recommend RACV.
From our experience, Car Next Door was the cheapest for our needs and didn’t require an annual fee, but you need to be careful about which car you hire. Go Get was preferred for cleanliness and ease of use. RACV was the worst.