How To Get Free Airport Parking

So!  As you might know, I recently moved to New Jersey, despite the fact that my husband is stuck in school in New Orleans for about another year.  Yeah… long distance marriage = lots of flights home to visit.

I caught a good sale on Southwest a few weeks ago, and booked my flights for the rest of the year.  I’m going home once a month, so this was 4 round-trip tickets.  I was pretty pleased to have gotten that big expense out of the way.  My first trip home was scheduled for the long Labor Day weekend.

About a week out from the big day, I decided to start researching parking options.  When I was in Houston, I learned 1. Ubering it isn’t always cheaper, 2. that park and ride places are wayyyyy cheaper that parking at the airport, and 3. park and ride places are wayyyy cheaper if you reserve online in advance than if you just show up (and there are often coupons, too!).

I started Googling around, hoping for some good coupons.  I found that, like in Houston, parking at the airport costs about $20/day, and parking at a park and ride costs about $10/day.  Roughly.  But then I stumbled upon FlightCar.

WHAT THE HECK IS FLIGHTCAR?

On the one hand, it’s a park and ride place.  You drop off your car with them, they keep it safe, and shuttle you to and from the airport.

On the other hand, it’s a rental car place.  They rent out your car and pay you for it.  #what

What’s the benefit?

  1. Parking is free!
  2. If your car gets rented to someone, you get paid!
  3. Before you return home, they wash and vacuum your car for free!

It’s a pretty cool tech startup that seems to be very popular on the West Coast.  They’re only at 17 airports nation-wide currently, but I’ve read a ton of good things about them (Forbes, New York Times, Huffington Post, etc).  And they insure your car for $100,000, so you can feel at peace knowing your car is well taken care of.

How much do they pay?

10c/mile.  When I first read this, I was in disbelief.  That’s ridiculously low.  Remember, I calculated it costs me 12c/mile for me to operate my car, and break even.  I read and read and still couldn’t believe FlightCar was getting such good reviews, and no complaints about the low pay.  Then! I discovered the 10c/mile they pay doesn’t include gas.  So if you turn in your car with a full tank of gas, they return it to you with a full tank.  Plus the 10c/mile.  Now it makes sense!  Of those 10c/mile it costs me to operate my vehicle, 8.5c is gas.  It’s only about 3.5c in everything else.  My point is, 10c/mile isn’t a whole lot, but it’s definitely profit, and you get to park for free, and you get a free car wash/vacuum, too!

So, how did it go?

Very well.  Per their recommendation, the day before my trip, I emptied out my glove box and trunk of any personal belongings.  The morning of my trip, my flight out was at 6am, so I arrived at this place at 4:30am (groan).  A nice, young, Californian guy took my info, emailed me copies of my receipts, and personally drove me to the terminal.  He explained that their Newark office only opened 3 weeks ago (I had no idea) so their volume of business is not very high yet.

When I got to New Orleans that evening, I got an email from FlightCar saying my car had been rented out.  Monday, as I was packing up to head back to NJ, I got another email that my car had been returned.  The renter used 170 miles.

I arrived back in Newark just past midnight (groan) and the same cool dude picked me up.  We chatted, and he brought me back to my car.  It was in perfect condition–and cleaner than when I dropped it off.  He deposited $17 into my checking account and I went on my merry way.

Simple as pie.  Will I do it again?  You betcha.

Have you ever used FlightCar?  Would you rent your car out if the pay was right?

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14 thoughts on “How To Get Free Airport Parking

    • Really? I don’t think I drive differently based on which car I’m in. 🙂 The good thing is that FlightCar’s super insurance covers anything that may happen.

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  1. Wow this is awesome! Do you know how they handle registration and insurance? Some pretty revealing info on those cards, but if they have a way to protect that while still providing the renter with what they need…

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    • Ohh I hadn’t considered that… They keep copies of everything in their records, but I believe they stay in the glove box as well. I’ll have to ask next time! Good thinking 😉

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  2. That seems like a pretty cool option for some cheap parking! I don’t think I’d like to rent my car out (I have never let anyone other than my hubby drive my car because I’m a freak about these things lol). But really nice to have that option for those that need to use airport parking frequently!

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