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Save the Earth, Share a Car: Zipcar Review

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Zipcar logoAre you committed to earth friendly transportation but find it difficult not owning a car, even if you have access to public transportation? If you live in a larger city or a college campus, it’s not as hard as you think. Zipcar, the most well-known and popular car sharing service, has the largest fleet of shared vehicles in hundreds of cities and college campuses around the U.S. — and around the world. If you only need wheels occasionally to run errands or take a trip out of town, Zipcar is an excellent option. It saves you the cost and hassle of owning a car (no insurance or oil changes!), and you can reduce your negative impact on our planet’s atmosphere and natural resources. We choose Zipcar as our number one choice in our Best Car Sharing Service comparison article.

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What is Zip Car?

Zip Car is a car sharing service that allows those with a membership to utilize zip cars located throughout their city. Currently, only the larger cities across the United States have adopted the idea of Zip Car, perhaps because this is where they are most in demand, but it is hoped that someday the car sharing company will have franchises in every state. The Zip Car technology relies on the presence of the correct Zipcard to function. The keys for the vehicle remain inside the car at all times but without the correct Zipcard to open the car they are not accessible. Even other Zip Car users with their own Zipcard cannot access your car if it is allotted to you for a specified time period.

In addition to the wireless technology of the Zip Car, the Zip Car Company utilizes mobile technology to help users track their Zip Car experience. The Zip Car iPhone and Android apps allow users to find and reserve cars locally. Additionally, users can tap the key fob of their car in the app allowing them to lock and unlock doors as well as honk the car’s horn at anytime during their rental experience.

Mobile technology also allows Zip Car users to sign up for text alerts. These alerts allow users to receive text messages when their rental period is nearing an end. Additionally, this technology allows users to extend their Zip Car use period if the car is available for the following time slot.

Review Overview

Geographic Locations
Vehicle Types
Ease of Use
Cost
Mobile Apps
Customer Support

4.42/5.00

Zipcar offers the best variety of vehicle types and the widest number of geographic locations, but the higher cost may turn some potential car sharers away.

User Rating: 4.5 ( 1 votes)

Key Features

  • Zipcar locations: available in 170 cities in 41 states, including the District of Columbia, Canada and Europe
  • On site at more than 300 U.S. colleges and universities
  • Insurance and fuel cost included in your rental fee
  • Fleet of 10,000 vehicles – hybrids, luxury, SUVs, pickup trucks, cargo vans

Pros

Cons

  • You can drive up to 180 miles with each rental
  • Mobile apps feature map view, GPS location, and directions to easily find your rental
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Up to 7 day rental option
  • Airport and college campus locations
  • Excellent customer service
  • Monthly member fee
  • Required to return the car where you picked it up
  • One-hour minimum rental
  • Zipcar cancellation policy and fees for late returns, low fuel, etc. are higher than other services

Rates & Other Fees

Zipcar rates vary by city and car model.

  • $8-$10 per hour
  • $69-$77 daily rate (24-hour period)

Other fees:

  • $25 sign up fee
  • $7 per month member fee
  • $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)

Cancellation Policy

  • Within 30 minutes of your initial booking you can make changes without a charge
  • For reservations less than 8 hours you can make changes up to 3 hours ahead of time without a fee
  • For reservatinos more than 8 hours you can make changes up to 24 hours ahead of time without a fee

zipcar Coupon Code

ZipCar is offering $25 in free driving credits to new users. Click here to take advantage of these free credits.

Zipcar for Business

Zipcar also offers business accounts to save companies from the hassle of rental cars, mileage reimbursements, taxi costs and company cars. Employees have 24/7 access to Zipcars near your office, in major cities and airports. And gas, mileage and insurance is covered through Zipcar business accounts, just as with personal Zipcar use. Some of the features of Zipcar for Business include:

  • $75 one-time set-up fee
  • $25 per member annual fees
  • Hourly rates start at $8.75
  • Special Monday – Friday hourly discounted rates
  • Your local business rates apply when traveling to other cities

Learn More About Business Uses for Zipcar

What Do Real Drivers Say About Zipcar?

We surfed the web to see what real consumers are saying about Zipcar’s service. Here’s a sampling of what we found.

Positive zipcar Reviews

I have used these bad boys all over the US, and have rarely had any problems. Customer service is always nice, especially when I lose my Zipcard (which happens like 10 times a year…). I recently rented a car and got held up in a meeting for an hour later then my car was due. I ended up with a couple of penalty charges, but called customer service who were beyond kind, and removed my charges. Needless to say, I’ve been [sic] a happy customer for a while. — Alexander N., Yelp, 6/4/2015

Great company! I used them while I lived in downtown Portland while I was attending school and didn’t own a car. Super easy to use and their customer service is great. — Hannah G., Influenster.com, 1/13/2015

Negative zipcar Reviews

I use Zipcar one or two times at the most per month because the rates are getting expensive! I have been a member for over a year now… The cars are dirty inside and out. Also they are not maintained well. On several cars the windshield wiper fluid was out making the windshield dirty hard [sic] to see driving! — Aliz J., Yelp, 3/10/2015

We contacted customer service regarding the penalties and how we didn’t agree with the fees they were charging us, but Zipcar was not willing to give us back our money. The customer service representatives we talked to were rude, short and lacked respect.. — kpmedia1, Viewpoints.com, 1/16/2014

How Does Zipcar Work?

Want to learn more about Zip Car to see if it’s right for you? Check out this video to see just how the Zipcar process works. Make sure you don’t lose your Zipcard!

CarSharing vs Traditional Car rental

Zipcar and other car sharing services are competing with traditional car rental services for market share. The Fall 2014 Carsharing Outlook report by the Transportation Sustainability Research Center found that the total fleet size and revenues for carsharing doesn’t come close to the traditional car rental market. But these carshare statistics nearly doubled in the past five or six years, so there’s steady growth in the carsharing industry. The benefits of Zipcar vs traditional car rentals? You can rent a Zipcar for a much shorter period of time, making your cost much lower than going the traditional car rental route. And you don’t have to pay for gas or insurance coverage.

What the Zip Car Experience is All About

The Zip Car experience is all about making an impact on the environment while also making independent travel possible in compact city life. Not only does car sharing contribute to the global environmental cleanup effort, but it also allows for more independent living, less wasteful living and lightens the financial load on many previous car owners.

Have you used Zipcar? Tell us your pros and cons.

Sally is a huge fan of fresh, organic food. One of her favorite hobbies is cooking with as many fresh herbs, spices and veggies as possible. And she's devoted to her all-natural skin products and cosmetics. It's saved her and her daughter from the curse of skin allergies. When she's not writing and researching (and being a Mom), you can find Sally getting down to earth in her home garden.
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