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|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. By now, most major cities have some sort of car sharing service like Zipcar, but there are Zipcar alternatives too.
Car sharing is environmentally friendly partially because 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 when they do drive by combining trips to save on gas and to reduce their carbon footprint.
It can also be more convenient and cheaper than going the old-school car rental route if you only need a vehicle for short trips now and then, when your car’s in the shop or if you want to switch up to a luxury ride for a weekend getaway.
Research also suggests that a growing number of millennials are foregoing car ownership in favor of the convenience and lower cost of vehicle sharing and public transit.
We first want to point out that there are two types of car sharing services. Similar to travel accommodations, you can get a place to stay from a company like a hotel or rent directly from a property owner through a peer-to-peer vacation rental site.
- Traditional car sharing, where you rent a company-owned vehicle.
- Peer-to-peer car sharing services that act as a matchmaker, allowing rentals between private car owners (lenders) and potential renters
We selected our “best of” picks for each type of service and also include some honorable mentions below.
Zipcar, which 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 United States. 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, and hundreds of centrally located spots to pick up and drop off, Zip Car makes not owning a vehicle a lot easier when you do need one.
The only major downside? The minimum rental time is one hour, so if you only need a quick 30-minute trip, you’re locked in for the hourly rate. Of course, you can always tack on another errand to make it worth the full 60 minutes you’ll be paying.
Monthly Rates & Other Fees
- $8-$10 per hour (vary by city and car model)
- $66-$78 daily rate (24-hour period)
Other fees (for U.S.):
- $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)
- The Occasional Driving Plan ($70/year)
- Monthly Driving Plan ($7/month)
- Extra Value Plan ($50/month with $50 in driving credits and discount on driving rate)
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.
Turo has much more diversity in the make and model of cars than traditional car rental or sharing services. In addition, there’s more inventory and a larger geographic area covered with Turo, which is currently in 5,500 U.S. cities, 300+ airports and 56 countries.
A great feature is doorstep pick up and drop off (sometimes an additional fee). They can also meet you curbside at the airport to bypass the car rental counter hassle (and shuttle). Car owners can also leave their car at the airport for rent, avoiding long-term parking costs and actually making money while they’re away.
Turo’s major shortcomings? No shorter trips, and you pay for your own gas.
Our First-Hand Experience With Turo
The Exploring Life’s Mysteries team tried Turo a few times in different cities. When looking for last-minute car rentals, Turo came in super handy and was more affordable than rental cars. They met us at the airport terminal for pick up and drop off.
However, a few times the owners canceled after booking. We also had to drive a little out of our way to drop a Turo car owner off at his home and pick him up on the way back to the airport. It wasn’t a big deal except it made for some awkward small talk for the ride. Our advice is to make sure you’re clear on expectations ahead of time.
Rates & Other Fees
Rates vary widely by location, make and model (owner sets their own price).
- No per-minute or per-hour rates
- $18-30 starting daily rates + up to 25% 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)
- Optional protection fee
- Extras, e.g., drop-off fees (set by owner)
- 30% on top of trip price, up to $15 for drivers aged 21-24
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.
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 fit for you depending on your needs.
What used to be those little mini blue and white cars you’d see parked on street corners that you could pick up and leave in legal spots has since stopped service in the United States. As of February 29, 2020 Car2Go (which changed to Share Now) has shutdown U.S. operations but they are still available in European countries including Germany (where they are based).
One of Zipcar’s competitors in the car rental space is also i the race for car sharing too. 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 13 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 past 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:
- $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.
Keep It Simple
- $40 per year annual member fee
- Starts at $8 per hour
- Starts at $50 per month
- Hourly rates start at $6.96
Getaround is the second peer-to-peer car sharing service reviewed here (similar to Turo).
Getaround is available in 300 cities across the world, including San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Portland, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Getaround offers fairly low hourly rates, insurance and other attractive features, so you should consider them as an option. They also offer a variety of car types including convertibles, exotic cars, luxury, snow and SUV, Teslas and trucks. Another great feature is allowing renters to unlock cars using a SmartPhone app in case the owner isn’t available to meet you with the keys.
Like Turo, you’ll be paying for your own gas, and there is some unreliability due to car owners backing out. In addition to fewer cars in their database, the website isn’t as user-friendly to navigate as Turo.
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 ($1 minimum)
- Daily rates vary by owner
- No sign-up fee for renters
- No member fee for renters
- 5-75% of trip price fee for renters under 25
- $10 initial license fee (for first-time bookings)
- $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.
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. If you’re considering joining the car sharing club, we hope our review helps you make a sound choice. Learn more about how to stay green on-the-go with these eco-friendly travel tips.
Have you joined the car sharing bandwagon?
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