Car sharing is a great alternative to renting a car when you need some wheels short-term. Not sure what it is or if it’s right for you? Keep reading for a low-down on the two major car sharing players.
What is Car Sharing?
Similar to renting a car from an established agency, car sharing allows you to drive a car for a short period of time without owning it. Unlike traditional rental agreements, you pay only for the hours you have the car and the distance traveled.
To “share” a car, you must sign up with a renting organization. Once you are approved, you’ll receive a membership card. This acts as your key to unlock and operate the vehicle. Reservations are made online, via an app, or by phone. Then, you simply find the car where it is parked and drive away.
While there are many companies offering this service, the two major players are Zipcar and Car2Go. Here’s what you need to know about these providers to determine which one might be right for you.
Zipcar Business Model
Zipcar levies a $25 application fee when you sign up and a yearly membership renewal of $70. Car sharing costs start at $9.75 per hour up to $74 for a full day. You have access to more than 50 different makes and models of vehicles, from economy cars to get around town for some shopping, to vans for moving a bigger load.
Zipcar is available in 48 major cities in North America and more than 170 cities worldwide. These cars are handy for college students, because there are more than 400 Zipcar locations near major universities.
With Zipcar, reservations can be made to ensure you have a car available when you want it. Drivers pick up a car and return it to the same location with at least a quarter tank of gas.
To protect you, Zipcar has insurance coverage of up to $1 million and provides 24/7 roadside assistance. Cancelling a reservation must be made three hours beforehand, or you forfeit the entire rental fee.
Car2Go Business Model
The Car2Go company charges $35 as an application fee, but currently, there is no annual membership cost. You can rent a vehicle for a few minutes, by the hour or by the day, which allows you to choose the time frame you need. Car2Go doesn’t have as many vehicle options, but they do offer Mercedes-Benz SUVs for those seeking luxury in their ride.
You won’t find Car2Go in as many locales as the more geographically-dispersed Zipcar. Currently, Car2Go is only available in 25 cities around the globe, but this company bills itself as the fastest growing car sharing company, so if you haven’t seen them in your town yet, keep watching.
Parking is a major difference between Zipcar and Car2Go. When returning Car2Go vehicle, users can park it anywhere within the home area, while Zipcar requires users to drive it back to the parking spot where they found it. According to Car2Go’s website, you also don’t need to refill the gas tank.
Reservations are available through the Car2Go app, but aren’t required to rent a car. If you do make a reservation, there are no cancellation fees as long as you cancel at least 15 minutes before you are scheduled to use the vehicle.
Car2Go also offers insurance with coverage up to $300,000 and drivers are charged $1.00 plus tax for the first 90 rides. Members who take online road safety courses are rewarded in a pilot program. Drivers are also rewarded for filling up the tank when returning the vehicle and for using the prepaid gas card that comes with the car.
Choosing the Best Service?
The car sharing service you choose will largely depend on where you live and how you plan to use it. For longer, more frequent trips, Zipcar might be the better choice, but Car2Go is a great option for quick rides now and then.
Check with your personal auto insurance policy to see if you can use your own coverage when driving a rideshare vehicle. This could affect your deductible and fees, making the ride more affordable. For more information about car insurance and car rental, contact the insurance experts at BOLT insurance.