Why I’ve started borrowing my neighbour’s car

Since moving to London I rarely need to drive anywhere as the time and cost of doing so isn’t worth it. But recently, as more and more of my friends decide to get married outside the city, I’m more often than not behind the wheel negotiating London traffic while trying to make it to a church on time.

At the wedding of one of my friends, for example, the venue, church and hotel were all located in beautiful (but somewhat remote) countryside outside High Wycombe, which without a car would’ve taken a train journey, several taxi rides and a lot of money to get to.

As I don’t have a car in London, renting was the next best option. In the past, I’ve rented from nearby airports such as Stansted or Heathrow, as the cost of a tube or train ticket to the airport still works out less than renting from a central branch such as King’s Cross.

But for the aforementioned wedding, along with several bags, I had a wedding cake, which I feared wouldn’t survive several train and taxi journeys.

So after a friend recommended it, I instead decided to use a scheme where you rent a car directly from the owner via a middleman, rather than from a car hire company. I’m a huge fan of house letting site Airbnb, which works along the same lines, so I thought it was worth a try.

My experience using the service

Ease was what I was looking for, along with a bargain, and after a quick scan of the website I found lots of neighbouring cars to borrow. The insurance checks (a two-minute Skype call and uploading my driving licence) took two days to clear and then I picked and booked a car, which all-in took around 10 minutes.

It cost me £50 for a two-day rental, including fully comprehensive car insurance with unlimited mileage and RAC breakdown cover. I also paid the service an insurance waiver to take the excess paid should there be an accident down from £600 to £100. This waiver was taken by the company as a deposit and returned after the hire as there were no issues.

On the day of the rental I met the owner of the car. She took a photo of me, which was uploaded to the website to show I’d picked up the car, and then I hopped in and off I went.

Overall, I found it a cheaper and easier way to hire a car than using a traditional hire firm, while it also meant getting to know my neighbours – although I appreciate some people may not want to!

What’s more, if you have a car you don’t drive often, joining the service could be a good way to make some extra cash. The company I went with takes a 10% cut of the rental price and owners keep the rest.

We’re planning on including information on schemes like this on MSE in future, but in the meantime, see our Cheap Car Hire for how to get £100s off holiday hire and insurance costs, and see our Motoring MoneySaving guide for 50+ quick tips to cut driving costs.

Have you tried hiring a vehicle directly from the owner rather than a company? If yes, would you do it again? Please let me know your experiences via the comments section below.