Uber Now Lets You Rent Cars, And Will Soon Deliver Them

When Uber started letting you order food and eat it at the restaurant it seemed like something out of The Onion. But they saw themselves as a platform for food, and an opportunity (they thought) to monetize eyeballs.

Now they’re introducing a new service that should make Uber’s drivers furious: they’re promoting the opportunity to rent cars from car rental agencies on their platform as an alternative to requesting an on-demand ride. They will soon even start delivering rental cars, too.

This new Uber Rent feature launched nationally on Wednesday. Next month the D.C. market will see “a valet service to drive them to customers.”

Lyft already partners with Sixt to offer in-app rentals in over a dozen markets. Uber partners with Avis and Hertz, who will set the price for rentals (something drivers in most markets cannot do), with Uber taking a commission.

Uber thinks it can offer a better booking experience, and is currently offering a 10% rebate in the form of Uber credits (Uber cash) on bookings. Whether that rebate is attractive or not depends on how competitive in-app pricing is, including in comparison to thoughtfully shopping discounts such as with Autoslash.

What really is potentially value add is rental car delivery, which is expected to roll out nationwide by the end of the year, priced “similar to the cost of an on-demand ride.”

Rental deliveries can be contactless given social distancing concerns. Uber said it will develop authentication methods like using a PIN code to make sure only the customer can access their vehicle. (DC, where Uber will launch Uber Valet, has seen an increase in auto thefts this year.)

Valet drivers will be drawn from anyone on Uber’s platform who is over 25, opted into its “Work Hub” program, and joined the Avis Preferred membership program. Tips can be left for Valet drivers.

This is a new distribution platform for rental companies, in addition to their own websites and online travel booking sites like Expedia. However driving more demand for rental cars presents a challenge because in many markets the binding constraint is supply of vehicles – with companies having sold off portions of their fleets during the pandemic, and high prices to acquire more.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is great news! Renting cars is always the worst part of traveling.

    Anything that can be done to make it suck even 10% less, is welcome.

    Bring it!

  2. I’m surprised they haven’t yet come out with a service, that facilitates renting cars from actual people. (Like an AirBNB for cars) I’d never want a stranger driving my personal vehicle, yet I imagine that sentiment is hardly universal.

    As a consumer,. I rarely give a shit about what kind of vehicle I drive when traveling. I’d be quite fine with renting someone’s crappy 1990’s built Honda Civic, if it were clean, and got me from Point A to Point B. For leisure, I’d probably pay a premium to rent an old school 1970’s Beetle Convertible. I imagine this could be a huge market, so I’m guessing there has to be some kind of liability/legal issues preventing this.

  3. Well, it’s an interesting concept, and who knows maybe it will take off. For me, I use Uber so I don’t have to drive or look for parking. But there are times when I do need a car, and I guess this could fit a business segment of the travel industry.

  4. Ugh, yet another underpaid “tipping allowed” service. When do they outlaw the underpayment of people that turns them into groveling-for-charity beggars?

  5. In my experience, Sixt is one of the most expensive agencies to rent in the US so much that I usually don’t even bother checking them. Not to mention that they don’t have as wide distribution network as other rental agencies. When a Lyft announcement came out recently, I tried to price out a rental with Sixt via Lyft and it was exponentially more expensive than either Lyfting or renting a car any place else. Maybe Uber’s prices for Hertz and Avid tie-up would be more palatable.

  6. Will it offer better value than National emerald aisle on a corporate contract? Doubtful. More convenience? Probably but remains to be confirmed.

  7. Doubtful this is going to be worthwhile as I am sure they will charge a premium for the drop off service and on top of that I bet you will be paying full freight on rentals made through uber. Silvercar offers a drop off service for a premium. What happens if your rental car arrives and there is damage to it? How do you dispute that? The uber driver doesn’t work for the rental company.

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