Would You Rent a Car By the Hour? AAA’s New Service Will Let You Do That

A car drives through the scenery in Nevada.
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I remember my first car.

It was a used 1999 Lexus RX 300 that I brought to campus my second year of college. I was the first of my friends to have a car on campus, and I loved the freedom that having a car provided.

Now, about a decade removed from those college days, I question if a car is even worth it. It’s just one more thing to be responsible for and sink money into. If I could catch a ride where I need to go or borrow a car short-term, I’d be fine.

Apparently others have the same mindset, and AAA is taking note.

At the end of April, the auto association’s branch covering Northern California, Nevada and Utah (NCNU) will launch a new one-way car-sharing service, Gig.

The service will start with a fleet of 250 cars in Oakland and Berkeley, California, according to The Mercury News.

The service was created from AAA NCNU’s new innovation lab, A3 Ventures, which seeks to find new ways to serve the organization as transportation options change and evolve.

Here’s how Gig works:

  • Download the app on your smartphone or mobile device
  • Use the app to locate a car near you
  • Unlock the vehicle using your phone (or with a card they’ll send you after your first use)
  • Return the car to almost any public parking spot in the designated “HomeZone” within the two cities (some restrictions apply)

To register for Gig, the app will need to scan your driver’s license and credit card, but there are no registration fees.

The rates are $2.50 per mile, $15 per hour or $85 per day for the service. The service will charge you the lowest rate option that applies. For example, if you’ve driven 10 miles and returned the car in less than an hour, you’d be charged $15 for the hour instead of the $25 that would be calculated by price per mile.

Also, if you park the car somewhere (like if you’re running into a store to grab groceries), just select the “Park and Come Back” option in the app and it will change the rate to $0.30 per minute.

What’s Included?

You don’t have to worry about the cost of gas, insurance or parking in the HomeZone because that’s all covered by the service. Plus drivers can take advantage of free AAA roadside assistance.

Gig will use a fleet of Toyota Prius c hybrids, so a tank of gas goes pretty far. A 2016 model gets an average of 50 miles per gallon combining city and highway driving, according to Fuel Economy.

With the Gig app, you can check the fuel gauge before you get your vehicle. If you end up needing to refuel, you just contact Gig and they’ll give you a code to unlock a fuel card in the glove compartment.

Now, while Gig provides third party liability insurance, you are responsible if the car is damaged, lost or stolen. The service’s insurance does cover: bodily injury liability up to $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident, property damage liability up to $50,000 and uninsured motorist/under-insured motorist bodily injury up to $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident.

Drivers have to pay for tolls and any traffic or parking tickets they incur.

What Deals are Available?

Though AAA is a member-based service — with membership fees ranging from $56 to $119 in northern California — you don’t have to be a member to use Gig. Members will, however, get a 10% discount on rates.

Bonus: If you get the Gig app before the April 30 launch of the service, you can use the promo code HEYGIG and get an $85 credit — equal to a free day.

Will the Service Expand to Other Cities?

Though Gig is only available in Oakland and Berkeley right now, the company is considering other locations for the future.

“We will continue to look at new cities to offer convenient, affordable and environmentally friendly transportation options for our community members,” Jason Haight, head of Gig, told The Penny Hoarder.

A specific timeline on when expansion would occur was not given.

Mike Hetke, AAA NCNU’s executive vice president and chief innovation officer, told Fast Company there’s a challenge in getting cities on board.

“It requires participation and partnership with the municipalities to create the super permits that enable this model,” he said. “And so you have to convince municipalities, and there’s a number of competing factors for municipalities to consider.”

While Gig will be new for the Bay Area, it certainly isn’t the only car sharing service out there. Zipcar, Enterprise CarShare and Car2Go offer similar services at locations across the country.

And If you don’t feel like driving yourself, there’s always Uber or Lyft.

Your Turn: Would you like Gig to expand to your city?

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Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.