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How Does Zipcar Work?

Last updated: May 29, 2021
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How Does Zipcar Work

How does Zipcar work? If you’ve never heard of Zipcar, it’s a ridesharing service that differs from other services because you get to drive the car yourself. It’s less expensive than renting a car and depending on how many trips you have to take, it’s also cheaper than a more traditional ride sharing option, like Uber.

While researching ridesharing, you may have come across Zipcar. If you have and you’re curious about this service, this is the article for you. Before the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how Zipcar works and whether or not it’s right for you.

Stop & Save: Visit Zipcar and receive a $25 credit – No coupon code necessary!


How Does Zipcar Work? – The Basics

Zipcar was born, at least in part, to redefine how people think about transportation. It’s no secret that there are too many cars on the road. Zipcar, as a ridesharing option, ensures that people don’t have to own a car to get around the city. Not only that, Zipcar ensures that you have a cheaper alternative than renting a car or even using lift-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Instead of paying per trip, you reserve a car for a determined period of time and you can drive it as much as you want in that period. So, whether you can’t afford a car, or you don’t think you need one, Zipcar gives you the freedom of having a car without having to maintain one.

There is an application process and they will look at your driving record, but if you don’t have any major violations you should be fine. You need to be 18 to use Zipcar if you’re enrolled at a partnering university. Otherwise, you have to be 21 years old to get approved to use Zipcar. There is a $25 application fee in most cases, though this can vary depending on the membership you need and the location you’re in. There are many alternatives to Zipcar and we have compared the Zipcar with some of them and You can consider checking out the results on our posts:


How Zipcar Works during the Application Process

It’s understandable that you might want to know what they are going to look for in your driving record. You can assume that if you haven’t had any serious driving infractions within the last year then you’ll be fine. However, if you’re looking for specifics here is some of what they will be looking for:

  • A valid license free of restrictions for a full year
  • No more than two accidents or moving violations in the past 3 years
  • No more than one accident or violation in the last 18 months
  • Zero drug or alcohol-related driving offenses for 7 years
  • No major violations in the last three years – things like speeding in a school zone or going faster than 20 mph over the limit

Rules may vary based on location, but in most places in the United States, if you can check the above boxes, you should be eligible for a Zipcar membership. Also, while they do require a $25 application fee, you’ll get a $25 credit (basically erasing the cost of the fee) if you use our link! Zipcar reserves the right to make determinations on an individual basis, so you could be approved or denied even if your situation differs from the requirements listed above.


Reserving a Car

Once you’ve been approved and you choose your membership you can reserve Zipcars when you need them. If you are a disabled driver you can reserve cars with hand controls. Keep in mind, you need to reserve these in advance and not all cities have them on demand. You can reserve a car using your Zipcar app. Just choose the car you want, the location you’re picking it up, and the length of time you’ll need the car. You can get a car for both one-way or round-trip reservations.

You’re given a zip card when you are approved for membership. You’ll use this card to unlock the car you reserve. You can also lock the car with the card or you can use the app to do that.


How Does Zipcar Work with Cancellations and Extensions?

The process for cancellations will depend on the length of the initial trip. If your reservation is under 8 hours you can cancel it up to three hours before your reservation. Is your trip longer than 8 hours? If so, you will need to cancel within 24 hours. If you do not cancel in time you will be charged for the full reservation.

What about if you need the car longer than you thought and you’re going to be late returning it? If that’s the case, you can use the app to attempt to extend your reservation. You can also text Zipcar to see if you can extend your trip. If the car has not been reserved, there won’t be a problem and you won’t suffer any additional charges. If it’s not possible or you arrive late without extending the reservation, you will incur late fee penalties.



Five basic memberships are available with Zipcar. Most plans require a $25 application fee. No matter which plan you go with you’ll receive a 30-day trial so if you’re not satisfied you can cancel risk-free. The available plans include:

  • Student Plans – Students and/or faculty at universities that have partnered with Zipcar may receive special promotions that include. credits during sign-up and special rates.
  • Occasional Plans – There’s a $70 annual fee with this plan. Hourly rates will vary based on day, time, and location. Luxury cars are available at additional rates.
  • Monthly Plan – A non-refundable $7-month fee is included. The cost of the reservations is the same as the ones in the Occasional Plan.
  • Extra Value Plan – This is the pay-as-you-go plan. For a discounted fee you can pay for the amount of time you’ll need a car in advance for the month. Some plans allow you to roll the hours over to the next month if you don’t use them all. Plans from $50 to $250 are available.
  • Business Plan – Application fees, per-driver fees, and annual fees are included. Fees vary based on location. The hourly and/or daily rates will vary depending on day and time.


What are the Benefits to Zipcar?

There are a lot of costs that come with car ownership. You need to maintain the car, put in gas, and have insurance. With Zipcar, you don’t have any of those problems. Every Zipcar has a gas card above the driver’s visor. If you need gas during your trip, just use the gas card. If you have a problem and have to pay for gas, just save your receipt and Zipcar will reimburse you! Every car is maintained to ensure that it is safe and roadworthy, so that’s another cost you don’t need to worry about. Finally, every car is insured. This means you can drive a Zipcar knowing that if an accident happens you’re covered! These are all the reasons while we consider Zipcar one of the best service for carsharing .

In terms of ridesharing options, Zipcar gives you the freedom to drive without the hassle of owning a car. It’s convenient for people in college, tourists, and those living in urban cities that don’t always need access to a car. With a risk-free trial, it’s definitely worth trying out, and remember, you get a $25 credit when you visit through our link!

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