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Are Craigslist Hawaii Rental Cars A Scam or Legit?

There are still so many problems with Hawaii car rentals, that it makes all of us seek more reasonable and available alternatives. Your editors have car rentals upcoming on the Big Island and on Oahu. While the cost has come down somewhat since the crazy post-Covid levels of several months ago, it still isn’t good. We’re paying $75 a day for a basic compact car, which is more than double what we paid previously. You repeatedly tell us the same thing in your comments.

Today’s article includes our tips on what to ask before using Craigslist.

Is there really a shortage of rental cars in Hawaii?

It honestly doesn’t appear to us that there are too few Hawaii car rentals to meet current demand. We drive by lots of parked rental cars that tell us something else is afoot. Not only that, it seems that there’s an excess of Turo, and probably Craigslist cars too. People bought up all the cars they could when rental cars were scarce, and now there’s an over-abundance, which we can only hope will help drive prices down eventually.

Craigslist Hawaii car rentals: to rent or not?

With still too high prices and occasional lack of availability, the door remains open for Hawaii peer-to-peer rental options including Craigslist and Turo.

Craigslist definitely has taken a backseat in relation to Turo, which seems to be a safer bet, as it boasts coverage as one of its foremost features. But, unfortunately, we’ve read about Turo insurance options for car owners and guests, and it didn’t really leave us feeling as warm and fuzzy as we had hoped.

Here are some interesting differences to take note of:

Turo for hosts: “You’re covered with up to $750,000 in liability insurance, and your car is contractually protected against theft and physical damage unless you have commercial rental insurance and choose to waive insurance offered through Turo Insurance Agency for yourself and your customers.”

Craigslist for hosts: No insurance.

Turo for guests: “Coverage provided is up to the minimum liability coverage required by state law. Guests can’t decline this coverage. If the primary Guest selects the Premier plan (discussed below), the limits of the coverage provided under the Liberty Mutual Policy are increased to a combined single limit of $750,000 subject to the terms of the policy. Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”): The Liberty Mutual Policy provides the minimum amount of PIP coverage allowed by law in those states where PIP coverage is required and can’t be waived.”

The cost of insurance is of course optional on Turo, and it can range from 15% to 100% of the rental.

Craigslist for guests: No insurance.

What about those $29 Craigslist Hawaii car rentals?

This all started when we inadvertently stumbled upon the huge virtual marketplace for Hawaii car rentals on Craigslist. One even was listed at $1. Okay, forget that. But there are hundreds and hundreds of recent listings for those renting everything from island cars to luxury vehicles at prices that appear to start at just $29/day. You can read the listings for yourself, and some leave the impression of possible bait and switch, saying there are only two cars available at that price.

Is insurance ever possible on Craigslist Hawaii car rentals?

As far as we can determine, and please let us know if you know anything different, this is the biggest legitimate concern both a visitor and a car owner would have in such a private rental agreement. A renter on Craigslist is entering into a commercial relationship that precludes protection from their own insurance coverage.

We reached out to Liberty Mutual for their take on this but didn’t hear back at the time of publication. We also reached out to Insure My Trip, to go in a totally different direction, that being travel insurance, and they indicated that their trip insurance plans don’t cover peer-to-peer rentals.

What the FTC has to say about rental car scams.

The FTC says, “With rental car availability at an all-time low, prices are sky-high. So, if you suddenly find an available car at a cheap price, you might be dealing with scammers looking to cash in on the rental car shortage. Scammers are posing as rental car companies, setting up their own websites, and advertising fake customer service phone numbers, all to convince travelers they’re legit.”

They suggest researching any unknown car rental provider by searching for their business name together with the words “scam, “complaint,” or “review.” We tried researching the $29 car vendor above and couldn’t find enough information to be meaningful.

Furthermore, the FTC says to always pay with a credit card. Never use a prepaid debit card or a gift card. Thus, you’ll preserve your ability to dispute any charges. The FTC says, “If you spot a rental car scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.”

What to ask before renting a car on Craigslist.

  • When you compare prices, be sure it is the total cost, not just the $29 in the ad. Are there any additional fees or charges?
  • Will the car rental company be blocking any amount of charges on your credit card by way of a security deposit?
  • Airport pick-up and delivery? Renting a car at the airport is more expensive as rental agencies pay fees to use airport facilities. Will your Turo or Craigslist rental include airport car delivery and pick-up, and if so, will there be any surcharges?
  • Gas. Is the car’s gas tank full on delivery and will it be returned the same way?
  • Mileage. Are there any limits on the rental?
  • Roadside assistance. What happens should you encounter anything like a flat tire, keys get locked in the car, or the battery dies? We’ve personally known two sets of visitors who used Craiglist when they were here, and this was their biggest problem, getting help when mechanical issues surfaced. And surface they did.
  • Additional driver charges? Are there any costs to add another driver?
  • Underage drivers. Is there a minimum age?

Final Suggestions on Hawaii car rentals including Craigslist and Turo:

Plan for car rentals in advance, then keep checking for lower pricing as it gets closer. Don’t even rely on alerts about price changes. Again, we say to make it a game rather than a problem. We’re always so pleased to see opportunities to reduce Hawaii travel costs wherever we can.

Holidays and peak summer travel have historically featured sold-out inventory. So now, be even better prepared for those challenging times of the year.

Try the old standby tricks. Before considering Craigslist Hawaii car rentals or other non-traditional rentals, check Discount Hawaii Car Rental and Autoslash first.

Have you rented on Craigslist? What’s been your experience? Moreover, please tell us how you are coping with the current car rental shortage.

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8 thoughts on “Are Craigslist Hawaii Rental Cars A Scam or Legit?”

  1. Aloha, did you ever receive a response from Liberty Mutual on a private car rental agreement? There seems to be quite a few private rentals offered but my impression is that it would be considered a commercial transaction and that would void the private “rental” car’s personal auto policy and the big question is if my personal policy would cover a private rental agreement vs an official/permitted car rental company or car-sharing platform (Turo). The answer is not clear and seems to be a risk lots of people are taking and could be essentially driving around uninsured

  2. We booked a car on the BI last summer through Craigslist. We had a signed contract for the rental. However, 1 month before we arrived the Craigslist owner said she was cancelling our contract because she could get more $$$ for the rental then she ghosted us. We even agreed to pay a higher rate but no reply emails or phone calls. Fortunately, we were able to find a minivan for rent for $60/day which we thought was a good deal. Fortunately, we didn’t have any car insurance needs for it while we were there but the person we rented from agreed to extend his auto coverage for us. I don’t know how effective that was or was not as we didn’t have to use it.

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  3. This whole fallacy of a rental car shortage was a complete scam! Since the beginning of the pandemic, hundreds of rental cars were parked at the airport not shipped back to the mainland. Just another way to gouge tourists coming to The Islands. Why wasn’t there an investigation into this matter? Oh, that’s right. I forgot this is Hawaii!

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  4. We use Lucky Owl on Oahu.
    We pay $35 per day and unlimited mileage.
    We have our own AAA insurance in Hawaii that covers us nicely.lucky Owl is super nice and friendly. The car is in good shape but older. Never any problems.
    Every island has these local rental car companies. I suggest keeping the money in Hawaii and shop local.

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    1. I was actually about to book Lucky Owl for a last minute trip by my daughter. A week is only $500, $200 less than most other places

  5. Excellent Article, an enjoyable read with great Information. The first several vacations to Oahu we rented vehicles from typical airport agencies and were satisfied. Unfortunately the sudden increases in prices became unreasonable, unrealistic. We then chose an agency not based at the airport and were satisfied for a few more years, then the prices became too much. We have turned to Turo, so far with great results and no plan to return to regular rentals. We always keep our options open and look into different rentals but Turo keeps being our best option so far. It’s something to consider when renting a vehicle anywhere. Scams are out there so using due diligence is always advisable to avoid problems.

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