A growing trend could offer lots of help to those who need some extra cash, as well as those who are just looking for an inexpensive way to get around.


Car rentals have stepped away from being the business of only Hertz, Budget and other major companies. New Jersey residents, and others across the country, can now join in the action.

In March, RelayRides launched nationwide after becoming the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace. Through the web site, drivers can loan their vehicles to others, charging rates by the hour, day or week.

"Car owners can make money - on average, $250 a month or as much as $10,000 a year, all while helping our neighbor to provide convenient, affordable access to transportation," said Shelby Clark, RelayRides founder.

Clark said the average car sits idle 92 percent of the time and is driven less than an hour a day, so charging others to use it just makes sense.

The service could also be a pleasant alternative for people who need a car. Clark said the average RelayRides renter spends $500 less per month than the average car owner.

"It's also a lot less of a hassle," Clark added. "You don't have to deal with the maintenance of owning a car."

Due to the recent recession and today's struggling economy, there has been a rise in "collaborative consumption." Many people have adopted the idea that access to goods and services can be better than ownership. Current examples include Netflix and Rent the Runway.

With the New York-metro area as one of RelayRides' biggest participants, Clark said there's already a good number of cars available for rent in New Jersey.

Car owners on RelayRides set their own rates, from $5 a day to thousands of dollars per week, and the prices include insurance. Owners also have the right to approve or decline any would-be renters. The site screens the driving records of wannabe renters and does its best to approve only safe drivers. The site also offers a peer-to-peer rating system, as well as a rating system for the vehicles.



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