New York — As rental car sales continue to boom in the United States, so do the prices.
Last month, for example, a new model, the Fiat Panda, was offered for $12,400.
That’s more than five times more expensive than the previous year.
The median price for a vehicle in the U.S. was $12.29 in February, according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.
While it may not seem like a lot of money, that is nearly $500 per month more than the median household income for the same month in 2016, according a recent study by the Pew Research Center.
In some cities, like San Francisco, the price is higher than the average income.
In San Diego, it is $4,000.
In Miami, it’s $3,000 per month.
Renters in these cities say they are making money even though they can’t afford the full price tag.
“It’s a good business, I can make a good income,” said Steven Smith, an auto leasing agent who lives in West Hollywood, Calif.
“I’m making $3 a day.”
Smith is one of many car rental agents in the country who are struggling to make ends meet.
With the rise of Uber and other ride-hailing services, more people are opting for car rentals.
In February, a New York City hotel booked 7,500 UberX passengers, an increase of about 20% from the year before.
The company said the surge in demand has given it more than 10,000 extra driver positions in the city.
Meanwhile, car rental companies say they have seen an uptick in car rental requests.
As demand for vehicles continues to grow, more rental car companies are offering car rentals through car rental sites such as Zipcar, Car2Go and Uber.
Rentals have also been a boon to the economy.
The National Association for Realtor said in February that rental car demand accounted for 13.3% of the overall economy.
And the national rental company that offers its vehicles, the Hertz, said in a report that it was able to provide the vehicles to the average family for $2,838 per year.
But car rentals are also a boon for the rich, with average rents topping $6,500 per year in Los Angeles and $7,500 in San Francisco.
Renting a car is a luxury, but the prices are often steep.
For instance, a 2017 study by Harvard University economists showed that in New York the median annual cost of a rental car was $6.35, compared with $2.25 in Chicago, $1.65 in Houston and $1 in San Diego.
For renters, the typical car rental cost $622 per year, the Harvard study said.
A similar study by research firm Experian said in May that the average rental cost of an average car in the nation was $2 million, with a median cost of $1 million in California.
The average rental costs for a luxury home in the same region were $3.3 million in the Bay Area, $2-3 million each in San Jose, Santa Clara, Fresno and Oakland, and $3 million for a typical two-bedroom home in Los Altos, according the report.
Rent is also a major factor in how long a rental lease lasts.
A study by Consumer Reports last year showed that the median age of a car rental leaseholder was 50.
That was also the age at which nearly 60% of Americans lived in poverty.
That age group was also at the top of the list for how often renters are charged for car expenses.
Nearly 60% were charged an average of $2 for fuel and $2 a day for parking.
The study said that most renters pay the cost of gas, insurance and maintenance, but in some cities they don’t even have the money to pay those costs.
That has led some rental car rental businesses to offer discounts for people who rent their vehicles from the companies.
Rent-a-car company Car2go said in March that it offered a 30-day $5 off the monthly rent for customers who rent a vehicle from a Car2 Go company.
The offer included a $2 off the lease price.
And a company called Drivepool, which operates in more than 120 cities across the country, has a similar program.
The Car2.go program is not limited to the United Kingdom, however.
There are similar programs in Australia, France, Spain, South Africa, Canada and Japan.
“We see that as an opportunity to reach people with different income levels,” said John Zimbalist, senior vice president of marketing for Car2GO.
He said the company has made a point of not advertising its programs to anyone who might not qualify.
“Our program is geared toward people who have an easy way to rent a car and people who are working people,” he said.
While car rental company Zipcar