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How Zipcar Mileage Limits Work [& Fees For Going Over]

If you’re renting a vehicle on Zipcar, be prepared to follow Zipcar mileage limits. Check out our guide to learn about the free mileage Zipcar provides.

Key Takeaways

  • Zipcar offers 180 free miles for the first 24 hours of rental in the United States.
  • After the initial 24 hours, you receive 20 additional free miles per hour.
  • Charges apply for miles driven past the 180-mile limit at $0.58/mile.
  • In Canada, Zipcar includes 200 free kilometers for a 24-hour rental period.

Does Zipcar Have Mileage Limits?

Yes, Zipcar does have mileage limits. In the United States, Zipcar offers 180 free miles within the first 24 hours of rental.

Beyond this period, each additional hour of reservation comes with 20 free miles until reaching a total of 180 miles. Any miles driven past this limit are charged at $0.58 per mile.

In Canada, the policy includes 200 free kilometers for the first 24 hours, with 15 additional free kilometers per extra hour until reaching a total of 200 kilometers. Kilometers driven beyond this limit are charged at $0.50 per kilometer.

For rentals in the UK, the limit is 60 free miles per 24 hours, with charges applied for additional miles driven.

These mileage limits are designed to cover most needs but ensure costs for extensive use are accounted for.

How Does Zipcar Track Mileage?

Zipcar tracks the mileage driven using GPS devices installed in their vehicles.

However, in California, the law restricts the use of GPS for tracking a person’s location, which means Zipcar and similar rideshare services cannot continuously monitor a car’s location via GPS within the state.

The exception is if a car is reported stolen; then, the GPS tracking device may be activated five days after the report to locate the car and track its mileage.

Additionally, the Zipcar mobile app collects location data, supporting the mileage tracking process alongside the GPS devices.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

Zipcar’s mileage policy can sometimes be confusing, especially with how mileage is calculated for multi-day rentals and what happens if you exceed the limits.

I often talk to Zipcar users who didn’t understand the mileage policy and get overbilled or overcharged for fees related to mileage.

While I think Zipcar is a great service that offers convenient transportation, I don’t believe it to be a good option while taking long-distance trips.

Instead, I suggest a peer-to-peer car rental company like Turo. Turo’s mileage limits are much higher than Zipcar’s, and you can oftentimes find vehicles with no limits at all.

My Suggestion: When in doubt, reach out to Zipcar to get clarification.

Also, track your own mileage manually instead of just relying on Zipcar’s GPS system to do it for you. The more proof you have in a dispute, the better you’ll come out.

How Long Can You Keep a Zipcar?

You can reserve a Zipcar for a duration ranging from one hour up to 14 days, with reservations available in half-hour increments.

It’s crucial to return the Zipcar by the end of your rental period since late returns can incur fees due to the car-sharing nature of the service. Zipcar does not offer a grace period, and failing to return the car on time can lead to late fees.

Extending the Reservation

If needed, you can extend your Zipcar reservation using the mobile app, provided the car hasn’t been booked by another user immediately after your rental period.

To extend, select a new end time or date in the app, confirm the updated cost, and finalize your new reservation. If unable to extend through the app, contacting Zipcar’s Member Services is advised to avoid penalties.

Consequences of Late Returns

Returning a Zipcar late results in a minimum penalty of $50 per hour, up to a maximum of $150, plus charges for any additional mileage or time.

Additionally, returning the car with less than a quarter tank of gas incurs a $30 fee. To avoid these charges, ensure timely returns and maintain adequate fuel levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

vector graphic showing a Zipcar vehicle driving through a city along a route line to illustrate Zipcar mileage limits

Can I drive a Zipcar out of state?

Yes, you can drive a Zipcar across state lines in the United States or Canada, including from Massachusetts to New York City, without extra documentation for the car.

Ensure you have a passport for border crossings. Be mindful of Zipcar’s daily 180-mile limit and additional mileage costs, but note that travel is restricted to the US and Canada, excluding Mexico and Central America.

Is Zipcar worth it for day trips?

Zipcar is ideal for short trips, offering an hourly rate of $9.50 with gas included, making it a cost-effective option for drives of two or three hours. However, for longer day trips, especially those lasting 24 hours, alternatives or other rental services may be more economical.

How much does Zipcar cost?

When signing up for a Zipcar membership, you will need to pay a $25 one-time application fee along with a membership fee of $7 every month. You can also sign up for an occasional driving plan for a $70 annual fee.

The good news is you can cancel a Zipcar membership at any time, so feel free to try it out for yourself.

Can I use Zipcar for long trips?

Yes, Zipcar can be used for long trips with reservations up to 14 days. While convenient for short trips, it may not be cost-effective for longer durations, potentially costing over $3,000 for a 14-day rental compared to around $900 with other rental services. Gas costs are covered by Zipcar.

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