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26-Year-Old’s Side Hustle Hit $170k a Month — and I Tried It


Up until 2021, Stephen Alvarez, now 26, worked at a dental supply company and fueled his passion for cars in his spare time; he owned a couple of vehicles and drove for Uber to supplement his income. However, another lucrative side hustle caught his eye in 2018 — Turo, the car rental company that allows customers to rent vehicles from local hosts.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Turo. Stephen Alvarez.

Alvarez saw an Instagram ad featuring a successful Turo host in Canada. The man, in his early 20s, began by renting out his Hyundai Elantra on the platform, and within just a few months, he was able to upgrade to a Porsche Panamera and repeat the process. Alvarez immediately “fell in love with the concept of Turo” and listed his cars on the platform.

Related: This 27-Year-Old Started a Side Hustle on Facebook Marketplace — Now the Gig Earns Over $500,000 a Month

Alvarez’s father had always taught him the importance of investing in himself and seizing good opportunities. So, when his boss at the dental supply company told him he was moving to Israel and wanted to sell his car, as he’d only be visiting the U.S. every couple of months, Alvarez suggested an alternative: He could put the car on Turo and manage the listing for a percentage of the earnings.

“I grew my fleet big by having my own cars…and then also other people’s cars.”

Alvarez’s boss agreed, and once that business move proved successful, word-of-mouth referrals followed. Before long, Alvarez co-hosted additional vehicles on the platform. “I grew my fleet big by having my own cars, cars under my name, and then also other people’s cars, basically [as a] co-host,” Alvarez explains. “That’s how I grew the company a lot.”

Alvarez built his fleet up to 240 cars — and his side hustle earnings grew with it. In 2022, Alvarez averaged $85,000 to $90,000 a month, including reimbursements. That ballooned to $120,000 monthly in 2023 and $170,000 monthly by the end of that year, with about 150 cars active at a given time, Alvarez says.

Related: She Grew Her Side Hustle Sales From $0 to Over $6 Million in Just 6 Months — and an ‘Old-School’ Mindset Helped Her Do It

Then, the next big opportunity came. A customer who’d rented from Alvarez 10 times wanted to acquire the business. Alvarez ended up selling him a stake in the company, and the two of them are 50/50 partners today as Alvarez continues to manage the team and grow the business.

“Anybody can do this” if they’re willing to put in the time and effort, according to Alvarez. You just have to pay close attention to the operation’s logistics — it can take a significant amount of time to turn around a vehicle so it’s ready for the next customer — and go above and beyond with communication. “Communication is one of the main things,” Alvarez stresses. “You need to be very responsive to your customers [and] be on top of everything.”

Trying Turo as a customer

In June, I had the chance to try Turo from a consumer standpoint. My husband and I were on our way to a wedding in Chatham, Massachusetts, and as New York City residents without a car of our own, we needed to rent one to get there.

We’ve used traditional rental car companies to leave the city in the past — with mixed results. Although they got us from Point A to Point B, sometimes the vehicles we received were very different from the ones we booked, and waiting in a substantial line at the beginning or end of a long trip wasn’t ideal, either.

We were excited to test out Turo because it eliminates both problems.

You know which vehicle you’re getting because you’re the one to pick it out. You can filter the options by vehicle type, price, host rating and more to find the car that fits your needs and take advantage of additional perks, including prepaid refueling and unlimited mileage.

Related: 20 Side Hustle Ideas for Summer 2024: Part One

What’s more, you bypass waiting in line altogether. The host will drop the vehicle off at your residence for an additional fee, or you can arrange for pickup at an airport or other area. You can unlock the car with the Turo app and access the keys in the glove compartment.

We accessed the vehicle without issue, snapped the recommended photos of the exterior and interior, and were off. Then, once we completed our trip, we parked the car near our building (even though parking wasn’t available directly in front, the vehicle has a tracker that allows the host to view the drop-off location), placed the keys back in the glove compartment and relocked the car via the app.

It was probably the most seamless car rental experience we’ve ever had, and we’d definitely use Turo again.

Turo provided credits in advance of this coverage.



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