Overall: If you live in one of several Zipcar locations around the country, this is a service that could ease the burden of car ownership. If you have a decent driving record but don’t own a car, or at least not a reliable one, Zipcar rates are often better than renting a car. How much does Zipcar cost? That depends on how long you need it. You can rent hourly or by the day. Is Zipcar worth it? Keep reading this Zipcar review to find out!
- Rent from 30 minutes to a full week
- Rental options for one-way or round-trip are available
- No need to worry about car maintenance
- Insurance is included
- Availability may be limited or non-existent depending on where you live
- If you return the car late you’ll be forced to pay late fees
Save Now!: After you read our Zipcar review, head over to Zipcar using this link and you’ll receive an instant $25 credit. No coupon code is required!
Ridesharing services have revolutionized transportation for a lot of people. There are plenty of reasons that someone might not choose to own a car. Whether you can’t afford it, don’t need to drive thanks to public transport, or choose not to drive for environmental reasons, there will still be moments when having access to a car would be more convenient for you. In those moments ridesharing services can be truly helpful. As a rideshare service, Zipcar works a little differently. Rather than having a driver pick you up, you reserve a car and are able to drive it yourself.
If you’re unfamiliar with ridesharing or Zipcar, our Zipcar review should explain the process, so you know whether the service will work for you. After you read the review, if you think Zipcar will work for you, visit the Zipcar website, using our link and you’ll receive a $25 credit towards the service.
What is Zipcar?
The short answer is that Zipcar is a rideshare service. Instead of owning a car, Zipcar allows you to rent one and use it as needed. Services like Uber and Lyft are also ridesharing companies, but in these instances, they have a driver come and pick you up. You’re charged by the ride, so if you have a day of running errands, your costs will rise quickly. The difference is that Zipcar allows you to pay by the amount of time you’re using the car.
You can reserve a Zipcar for as little as 30 minutes and as long as a full week. Depending on the area you live you can reserve one-way trips or choose round-trip. Cars are available in multiple locations. You just use your zipcard to unlock the car, drive it, and when you’re done, return it back to the location (if you chose a roundtrip). It really couldn’t be simpler.
Zipcar is available in hundreds of cities around the world. You’ll find them in major cities and in college towns, though they are spreading to additional cities all the time! So, if Zipcar isn’t in your area, it likely will be eventually!
How does Zipcar Work?
If you want to use Zipcar you need to apply for a membership. This gives Zipcar a chance to check your driving record and to make sure that you’re a responsible driver and a good candidate for membership. Don’t worry, as long as you’re a reasonably responsible driver you should be fine. Once you’re cleared for membership you’ll be given a zipcard and will be able to reserve a car. Choose from a variety of models and reserve the car for as long as you need it, from 30 minutes to a full week.
At your designated reservation time you can pick up your car. You’ll use your zipcard to get in the car. You’ll find the keys in the car, waiting for you. From there you can use the car as much as you need during your reserved time. If you’re going to be late, you can use the app to attempt to extend your reservation or you can text Zipcar. As long as the car is available to be reserved, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Otherwise, you can expect to pay a late fee. Once your reservation time is up just drop your car off in the correct parking spot. You can lock the doors with the app or by using your zipcard. That’s all there is to it!
The Fine Details
Age – Unless you’re a college student at one of many Zipcar partner universities, you’ll need to be 21 years old to use the service. If you’re a student, you’ll be able to sign up with Zipcar when you’re 18 years old.
Driving Record – They will be looking for a few things here. Specifically:
- An unrestricted (for at least the past year) driver’s license
- In the past three years, no more than two moving violations or accidents
- In the past 18 months, no more than one moving violation or accident
- No major violations within the last 3 years (things like driving 20 mph over the limit)
- No drug or alcohol driving offenses for the last seven years
The rules and specifics may vary depending on what city you’re in. To find out how Zipcar works in your area you can look for an area specific Zipcar review or just consult the Zipcar website or customer service line.
Membership and Application Fees – You’ll learn more about the cost of Zipcar below. For now, keep in mind that there is a $25 application fee to sign up (but you can get a $25 credit, here) and depending on your membership level a monthly or annual cost that is incurred whether or not you reserve a vehicle.
How much does Zipcar Cost?
There are five membership plans you can choose from at Zipcar. They are all more reasonable than the cost of multiple Uber trips or whatever cost you might incur when renting or attempting to maintain your own car. That said, the price you would pay would depend on the membership that’s right for you. All plans come with a 30-day money-back trial. Most plans also include a $25 membership application fee that is non-refundable.
- Student Plans – As Zipcar pairs with universities, students and faculty members are often able to get special pricing and specific promotions. It’s not uncommon to receive credits when you sign-up or other perks. One of those perks may include special rates. In most cases, we’ve found the rates to be on the lower end of the monthly or occasional driving plans.
- Occasional Driving Plans – This plan includes a $70 annual fee. This fee will be prorated, and refunds will be given if you cancel your membership before your year is up. Co-drivers can be added for an additional fee. Weekday hourly rates are between $8 and $12 depending on the city and the car. Luxury cars can cost more. Weekend rates are between $7 and $11. If you need a car for the day it will range between $60 to $90 depending on where you’re at and the day you’re reserving.
- Monthly Driving Plan – This plan includes a fee of around $7 each month. This fee is not refunded or prorated if you cancel. Additional co-drivers can be added to your plan for an additional fee. Reservation fees are the same as in the Occasional plan.
- EVP – Extra Value Plan – With an EVP you prepay for a set amount of time each month. If you go over that set amount you will pay as you go, like you would with other plans. Since you’re prepaying, you receive a 10% discount on the regular fee. You can choose a plan where you prepay $50, $75, $125, or even $250. Some plans even roll-over unused driving time to future months.
- Business Plan – Business plans include an application fee, annual fees, and per-driver fees. All of these fees will vary slightly based on your location. Hourly and daily rates are still incurred and vary depending on the day and time. That said, weekday rates generally include a small discount.
Conclusion: Is Zipcar Worth it?
Ultimately, for many it will come down to how much does Zipcar cost for them. On average, most spend less than $100 per month annually. There is a small membership fee taken out whether you use the service or not, which will be a drawback for some. That said, if you don’t need to own a car, you’re getting the freedom of using a car whenever needed without having to pay for things like insurance, car maintenance, tires, or even gas! When you think of it like that Zipcar rates don’t seem so bad!
While Zipcar locations are limited, it’s likely this company will continue to grow. If you’re in a college town or a large walkable city where car ownership isn’t necessary, Zipcar is a helpful convenience for those moments when you will need a car. If you don’t want to own your own car or have one that’s not reliable enough to depend on, Zipcar may just be your saving grace.