Transfercar is a unique idea, uniting volunteer drivers wanting a (for the most part) free one-way trip with rental car companies needing to relocate their vehicles.
Brian Karlson, Transfercar’s co-founder, started the service in New Zealand back in 2008. He had observed a problem: Tourists often fly to the country’s North Island before driving back to the South Island and catching a flight home, leaving an ample amount of cars on the wrong island.
“It created a real imbalance,” Investor and manager of the US Operations in Missoula, Montana, Dennis Round said. “He thought there was a better and less expensive way to get the cars where they needed to be.”
In the place of paying to have the cars shipped back by truck, Karlson created an online platform where drivers could search for rental cars that need relocating. It’s similar to renting a car, except the car is free.
Precise terms are depending on the rental companies, which may tack on a facility fee or other small chargers, and drivers may have to pay their own tolls and any extra gas needed. They typically get at least three days to move the car and have the option of keeping the car longer for a discounted fee.
Transfercar was launched in the US in 2014 and later in Canada and operates mostly in the western half of the country before it expanded east this year.
It works with two rental car agencies in the US, Advantage and Budget, plus three TV Rental companies.
Locations for pickup and dropoff rentals vary based on the time of year. Most recently, the pickups were available in Chicago, Twin Cities, and Boston with dropoff locations in more than 20 states.