Kyte: How This Rental Car Delivery Service Works

The key differentiator with rental car company Kyte is that it delivers and picks up all of its vehicles.
Sally French
By Sally French 
Published
Edited by Dawnielle Robinson-Walker

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The rental car industry has seen no shortage of disruption. Rental car alternatives like Getaround and Turo operate like Airbnb for cars, offering cars in more locations than the airports or tourist-heavy neighborhoods in which traditional rental car companies typically operate.

But Kyte is disrupting the industry in a completely different way: by providing delivery and pickup for all of its own rental vehicles.

When you rent through Kyte, a Kyte employee delivers your car to you and picks it up when you're done. That’s especially convenient for people who don't want the hassle of going to a rental car office and waiting in line.

Unlike Getaround or Turo, you’re not renting another person’s car. Kyte offers SUVs, sedans and all-wheel-drive (AWD) cars. Since the company keeps cars for 18 to 24 months, rentals are relatively new — a contrast to peer-to-peer rentals that can often arrive worse for wear.

For now, Kyte availability is pretty limited. It operates in just over a dozen cities around the U.S., including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. And even within those cities, there are limited service areas, so you might not be able to get a car delivered to every address.

But if you’re in a location where Kyte operates, you’ll be able to rent an almost-new car — while skipping long lines at the rental car counter. Here’s what it’s like renting through Kyte:

Renting a Kyte car

You first need to create an account on the Kyte.com or mobile app. From there, you can search based on delivery location and time.

One-way rentals are also possible, assuming Kyte operates in both your starting location and destination (though Kyte annoyingly charges a one-way fee that varies by location but can easily run many hundreds of dollars — and that’s on top of the rental cost).

The company also requires an account verification process, which typically takes a few hours to process (so don’t expect to book a last-minute rental if it’s your first time using Kyte). To verify your account, Kyte looks at your driver's license (you must be at least 21 years old in most states) and your driving record (no major violations, such as DUIs, in the past seven years). You must also have a valid debit or credit card, and no bankruptcies filed within the last three years.

Picking up your rental car

The Kyte pickup process is hardly a pickup at all. Instead, a Kyte driver — called a "surfer" — delivers the car to your designated location within a 30-minute window of your specific delivery time.

(Photo by Hamilton Nguyen)

The app’s live map feature allows you to track the car’s delivery in real-time — much like you’d check the arrival of an Uber driver.

Kyte also sends SMS updates about the driver's progress (as well as the make, model, color, and license plate of the car), so you know what to look for.

Once the driver arrives, you’ll show them your driver's license and proof of insurance, and then sign a rental agreement (Kyte’s system also recognizes international driver’s licenses, so travelers from most countries outside the U.S. can rent too).

After exchanging information, the driver hands off the keys and departs.

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If you opt for Kyte’s self-pickup service, you can save

In some cities, Kyte gives you the option to skip what’s ultimately the company’s key differentiator, delivery. If you select self-pickup, you’ll go to a designated garage or lot to meet a Kyte employee and go through the same key exchange process.

Self-pickup has a few benefits, including a more flexible, two-hour pickup and drop-off window. Plus, you get a small discount on the overall rental price.

For example, in this sample rental car booked in San Francisco, Kyte’s self-pickup option at its downtown lot can save you $20.

Driving a Kyte car

Much like other rental car companies, Kyte has mileage limits (300 miles per day), upon which you’ll be charged $0.45 per mile extra if you exceed that amount — though Kyte does give the option to purchase unlimited mileage upfront for an additional $15 per day.

(Photo by Hamilton Nguyen)

You’re also allowed to ride with pets. However, the company charges a $100 cleaning fee if you return the car with what the company calls “excessive shedding or odors.”

Returning a Kyte car

Just as you must be ready to pick up the car at a specific time, the return process is similar. A Kyte employee picks up the car at the time you stated upon booking within a 15-minute buffer window on each end. When the Kyte employee arrives, they’ll check the vehicle condition and you’ll hand over the keys.

Unlike many rental car alternatives, Kyte doesn’t require that you return the car with a full tank of gas — which is convenient if you don’t want to spend time refueling. As with most traditional car rental companies, Kyte will refuel it for you (and bill you for the charges).

Kyte pricing

Kyte's pricing is based on the type of car, length of rental and location. Prices vary, but the cost for a 12-hour rental tends to run about $100 — which is largely in line with Turo and Getaround prices.

Because Kyte employees bring the car to you, it’s highly recommended that you tip them.

Kyte rentals require a temporary deposit of $300 on a credit card (or $500 for debit cards) every time you rent, which will be released once your trip has ended.

Kyte’s young-renter fee

Kyte renters must be at least 21 years old in most states (the exception is New York, where you must be at least 18 years old).

All drivers under the age of 25 incur a "young-renter fee,” which varies based on the rental and will only be displayed once you navigate to the price details section after selecting "I am under 25 years old" on the reservations page.

Kyte insurance

Kyte offers a few insurance options at checkout, including liability insurance or damage protection. There’s also the option to use your own insurance.

You're responsible for any damage to the car during your rental. Kyte’s damage protection plans include liability insurance, which is required if you don’t already have it. For even greater coverage, you might opt for Kyte’s standard protection, which covers damage done to the car past a $500 deductible.

🤓Nerdy Tip

You might also be able to rely on a credit card with car rental insurance benefits to cover that cost.

Is Kyte worth it?

Kyte is still relatively small, only operating in limited areas in a handful of cities. While it’s great if you need a clean, comfortable four-seater, Kyte will fall short if you have a specific need such as a minivan or car seat.

But if it operates in your area — and you need a standard rental car — then it can be incredibly convenient due to Kyte’s primary differentiator — and that’s delivery.

Kyte’s delivery service means you can skip potentially long lines at the rental car counter. It also means you can avoid treks to the rental facility and airport shuttle rides.

If time is money, the delivery component alone can make Kyte a clear winner.

Kyte vs. Turo and Getaround

Relative to the "Airbnb for cars" type services, Kyte also stands out.

With competitors like Turo and Getaround, cars are owned by regular people, so the car’s condition can be a mixed bag. When renting through those companies, renters must rely on ratings and photos to understand the car’s condition. Getaround doesn’t let you read reviews, though Turo does.

Because Kyte cars are relatively new, you can bet your car will arrive clean and in excellent condition.

Another key difference is that you’ll meet face-to-face with a Kyte employee. That might be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective.

On the bright side, a human delivery driver means renters can ask questions or easily dispute issues. Meanwhile, the technology-focused nature of services like Getaround and Turo puts you at the mercy of electronics. If your phone dies, you won’t be able to pick up your Turo or Getaround, and if there’s a problem with the car, you’ll have to call customer service. Kyte customers with a dead phone battery simply need to wait at the intended meeting spot or work with the delivery person to solve any potential problems.

It's worth noting that Kyte mirrors a big problem with traditional rental car companies — you’re still tied to normal working hours. You won’t be able to pick up a Kyte before 7 a.m., which can be a snag if you’re ready to bolt before sunrise.

When to skip renting through Kyte

The biggest problem with Kyte — which you won’t really find in any other rental service — is that there’s very little flexibility with pickup and delivery times. The driver arrives between 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after your selected time to pick up and drop off your vehicle. If you’re not there, you’ll get hit with fees.

Kyte’s delivery people will wait only 10 minutes for you to show up at the time and place you said you wanted the car delivered before they consider you a no-show, which adds either a $10 late fee or a $25 rescheduling fee

It’s a similar hangup on the return end. While you can shorten your trip (and the company will refund those hours), the request must be made at least two hours before the originally scheduled return.

For some renters, Kyte’s rigidity might be no problem. But traveling can be unpredictable, and changing plans last minute with Kyte can be annoying or downright impossible.

For what it’s worth, Kyte’s self-pickup and return option solves the problems around exact pickup times. But, it’s not offered in every city. Plus, that option also eliminates Kyte’s key benefit, which is having the car brought to your location.

Kyte might not work for you if:

You want to rent at odd hours: The benefit of services like Getaround, where you unlock the car via Bluetooth, is that you can generally rent cars at any hour. With Kyte, you’re limited to standard working hours. Kyte won’t deliver you a car before 7 a.m., and the latest you can have it picked up is 9:30 p.m. in most cities.

You have small children: Kyte does not currently offer car seats.

You need larger or specific types of cars: Currently, you won’t find minivans, transport vans, or vehicles with guaranteed seven seats in most markets.

You want to drive with snow chains: Kyte does not supply snow chains, nor can they be used on your trip. That said, all Kyte vehicles are equipped with all-season tires.

And for what it’s worth, travelers heading into the snow might be able to book a car with AWD, depending on the location. Kyte operations in a handful of cities including Boston, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco offer AWD as a vehicle class option.

Who is Kyte best for?

Kyte is great if you need a rental car but you’re not anywhere near a brick-and-mortar rental car location. Thanks to the delivery model, you won’t have to stand in line at a rental car counter.

You might use Kyte when you need a car for only a portion of your vacation. An employee could bring the car to your hotel, allowing you to pay only for the hours you’re actually using it.

Assuming you’re fine picking up and dropping off the car at the exact intended time, Kyte is a seamless process. When I rented with Kyte, the driver arrived two minutes after the initially booked time. But since I could follow his location via the app, I didn’t even have to stand around outside waiting for him.

Returning the car was initially a bit stressful because of street parking. Additionally, I wasn’t sure exactly what time I would actually be prepared to drop off the car, given the traffic. But I arrived when I intended and the Kyte employee was waiting to pick the car up.

The whole process was quick and easy — and the car quality was far fancier than the beat-up cars I tend to receive through peer-to-peer car-sharing websites. I also appreciated that I didn’t have to spend precious rental time filling the car with gas, as Kyte handles that part too.

For people who find it inconvenient to go to a brick-and-mortar rental car pickup, but want a higher-quality rental than what you’d find through other nontraditional rental car services, Kyte offers the best of both worlds.


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