Car purchases are way down among adults aged 21 to 34 — they make up only 27% of new car buyers, a big drop from 38% in 1985. Instead, many are opting to take public transport or rent cars as needed.
Car rental services have been around since Nebraskan Joe Saunders stumbled upon the idea by renting out his Ford (F) Model T in 1916. But the idea of abandoning car ownership entirely in favor of renting wheels when you need them is something new.
One of the most popular hourly car rental services is Zipcar. Depending on your location and the type of car, it costs anywhere from $8 to $12 per hour to rent — perfect for moving furniture or getting groceries if you live in the city. The downside, though, is that Zipcar’s daily prices are steep — it’s $75 per day to rent a compact car in Washington, D.C., compared to $37.99 from Avis Budget Group (CAR). So if you need a car for more than a few hours, a traditional daily car rental is a much better deal.
If you can get over the stranger danger, ride-sharing can be an even cheaper option. With services like eRideShare.com, GoLoco and Zimride, you can connect with people going your way and either split the time driving or split the costs. Many groups and universities are affiliated with these services to alleviate the concerns of getting into a car with someone who has no connection to you. Taxi-like apps Lyft and Uber tackle this problem by screening drivers and using a peer rating system for both drivers and passengers.