To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.
|Best Traditional Car Sharing Service|
|Best Peer To Peer Car Sharing Service|
Do you live in an urban area or on a college campus where your typical day-to-day routine doesn’t require a car? A car sharing service might be just the ticket if you only need occasional wheels. Car sharing is environmentally friendly. In fact, those who opt for vehicle sharing over ownership are less likely to make one-off trips. In fact, they seek ways to be more time and energy-efficient by combining trips to save on gas and to reduce their carbon footprint.
It’s also often more convenient and cheaper than going the old-school car rental route. It could be worth considering if you only need a vehicle for short trips now and then, your car’s in the shop, or you want to switch up to a luxury ride for a weekend getaway.
Car Sharing On the Rise
Car sharing is clearly trending. As of October 2014, there were more than
1.6 million users and 24,000 (company-owned) shared vehicles in the U.S., according to a study by the Transportation Sustainability Research Center1 at the University of California-Berkeley. Between July 2013 and July 2014 the U.S. saw a 34% increase in the number of carsharing users, and studies indicate this number will continue to climb. Studies also suggest that a growing number of millennials are foregoing car ownership in favor of earth-friendly alternatives like vehicle sharing.
Types of Car Sharing Services
Before we get into the reviews, we wanted to point out that there are basically two types of car sharing services. Think of the concept of car sharing being fairly similar to renting out a vacation home.
- Traditional car sharing, where you rent a company owned vehicle
- Peer-to-peer car sharing services that act as a matchmaker, allowing between private car owners (lenders) and potential renters.
We reviewed and selected our “best of” picks for each type of service. We also provide the pros and cons for other choices to consider when you are shopping for the best car sharing companies as well as some honorable mentions too. Now let’s start the engine and get into the review!
Zipcar, launched in 2000, is now a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group (rentals), and has grown into the most well-known traditional car sharing service in the U.S. Zipcar’s service lives up to its popularity, making it our top choice for Best Car Sharing Service. Available in more than 170 cities in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Europe and at more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities, Zipcar dominates the U.S. market when it comes to a traditional car share. With same day reservations, good customer service reviews, insurance coverage and fuel cost included, Zip Car makes not owning a vehicle a lot easier when you do need one. The downside? The minimum rental time is one hour, so if you only need a quick 30 minute trip to the store and back, you’re locked in for the hourly rate.
Monthly Rates & Other Fees
The following rates and fees are for Zip Car’s monthly rates. Zip Car also offers two other plans—the Occasional Driving Plan (no monthly commitment), monthly driving plan and their Extra Value Plan for frequent drivers, which is $50 per month but you get discounts on hourly and daily rates.
Monthly rates vary by city and car model.
- $8-$10 per hour
- $66-$78 daily rate (24-hour period)
- $25 sign-up fee
- $7 per month member fee (for monthly driving plan)
- $50-$150 late return fee
- $0.45-$0.55 per mile overage fee (if you exceed 180-mile limit)
- $1,000 damage fee (insurance deductible)
ZipCar is offering $25 in free driving credits to new users. Click here to take advantage of these free credits.
One of two peer-to-peer car sharing services we review here, Turo (formerly RelayRides) is best suited for longer trips as they only offer daily or weekly rates. With much more diversity in the make and model of cars available, you can rent a car in 4,500 U.S. cities and at more than 300 airports, making them a great alternative to using traditional car rental companies. A great feature for car owners – if you’re going on a trip you can leave your car at the airport and have Turo rent out your vehicle while you’re away, avoiding long-term parking costs and actually making money. Another great feature is doorstep pick up and drop off. Turo’s major shortcomings? No shorter trips, and you pay for your own gas.
The Exploring Life’s Mysteries team tried using Turo during a work trip and had a great experience. When looking for car rental alternatives (because they were so expensive last minute) Turo came in super handy. They met us at the airport terminal both for drop off and pick up which made much faster and more convenient that waiting at the car rental center (or even take a shuttle).
Rates & Other Fees
There are some rate rules in place, but they vary widely by location, make and model (and by owner’s discretion).
- No per minute or per hour rates
- $18-30 starting daily rates + 10% rental fee (26-hour period; rentals start at 5pm)
- No sign-up fee
- No member fee
- $50 per hour late return fee (up to $200)
- $0.75 per mile overage fee (owners set their mileage limits)
damage fee (insurance deductible, depending on plan chosen)
Get $25 off your first trip with Turo by using coupon code <strong>michelles428</strong> at checkout via this link.
Turo Video: Rent the Car, Own the Adventure
Check out this video from a Turo that shows how you can change your point of view from getting from point A to B.
Our sister site, Exploring Life’s Mysteries, has a detailed guide showing you how much money you can make with your car on Turo.
Other Car Sharing Services Reviewed
Below are some other car sharing services we reviewed. Although they didn’t make our “best of” list they are still commonly used services that may be a better choice for you, in your town.
Started in 2008 in Ulm Germany, Car2Go is now available in 11 North American cities and 14 in Europe. Its reach in the U.S. is much smaller than Zipcar, but for those who live in a Car2Go city, you get the benefit of being able to rent a vehicle by the minute, and you don’t necessarily have to reserve a vehicle – a great option for last-minute needs and quick trips, something you don’t get with Zipcar. Their fleet of smart cars are easy to park (and now offering Mercedes-Benz SUV’s for more than 2 people or if you need to transport larger items). There’s also no membership fee, which makes it an affordable option for many people. Still, Car2Go has its limitations, including limited airport locations, so be sure to dig into what’s available in your city to see if it’s a feasible choice for your needs.
Rates & Other Fees
Rates vary by model and city but here’s a sample of what you might expect to pay:
- $0.41 per minute
- $14.99 per hour
- $84.99 daily rate
- $5 sign-up fee (includes $10 drive time credit)
- $1 per trip driver protection fee
- No member fee
- No late return fee
- $0.45 per mile overage fee (if you exceed 150-mile limit)
$250 damage fee (insurance deductible) or $0 damage fee if you take more than 91 trips in a calendar year
Originally part of Enterprise Car Rental’s overall business, Enterprise Car Share has acquired smaller vehicle sharing companies and grown into its own entity, with service in 27 U.S. cities,
Canada, and the U.K. and at more than 130 U.S. college campuses. They come with a big brand name but have struggled in the last year or so with their mobile app capability that came up short compared to other services – a pretty essential feature for busy people on the go. They were late to the game in developing iPhone and Android mobile apps, but they seem to have finally resolved their issues. Enterprise CarShare’s rates and fees vary widely by city, so it’s hard to compare them to other services. Still, Enterprise CarShare is an affordable alternative, depending on where you live or visit often.
Rates & Other Fees
Rates and fees vary widely by city, model, day of week and time of day. Here are a few pricing examples, based on markets:
- $0 application fee
- $40 annual member fee
- Hourly rates start at $8 per hour
- Daily rates start $69 per day
- $25 application fee
- $35 annual member fee
- $8.50 per hour
- $70 daily
New York Metro
Enterprise CarShare offers two separate plans for the NYC market.
- $40 per year annual member fee
- $9-$18 per hour
- $79-$174 daily
Smart Saver Plan
- Starts at $50 per month
- Hourly rates start at $7.65
Getaround is the second peer-to-peer car sharing service reviewed here.
Getaround is only available in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Portland, Chicago and Washington D.C. About a year ago, Getaround changed their business model to meet consumer desires for an on-demand reservation service—perhaps that’s why their market has only grown into one additional city (Chicago) since our last review. If you live in one of the few cities in service, Get Around offers fairly low hourly rates, insurance, and other attractive features, so you should consider them as an option. They’re clearly changing their business model based on consumer preference, so we’re hoping to see lots of growth in their future.
Rates & Other Fees
Rates vary by owner, make, and model.
- Starting at $5 per hour up to $45 per hour
- 3% booking fee (of trip price) for every trip
- Daily rates vary by owner
- No sign-up fee for renters
- No member fee for renters
- $10 initial license fee
- $50 per hour late return fee (up to $500)
- $0.50 per mile overage fee (owners set mileage limits
- $750-$2,500 damage fee (insurance deductible)
- If you list your car, there is a one-time $99 installation fee and $20 per month subscription for the remote unlocking and tracking system.
Go Green On the Go
Most of the car sharing services use or encourage hybrid cars or other fuel efficient cars like hybrids in their fleet. So in addition to being economical you can trust you’re also being eco-friendly. Either way, if you’re considering joining the car sharing club, we hope our review helps you make a sound choice.
Source:  Transportation Sustainability Research Center
Have you joined the car sharing bandwagon?