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Zipcar Rental Rates: How They Work and How They Vary By City

Key Takeaways

  • Rates: Zipcar has a $25 application fee, $7 monthly fee, and rentals start at $9/hour or $74/day, including insurance, gas, and 180 daily miles with extra mileage fees.
  • Gas and Insurance: Rental rates cover gas (with a quarter tank return policy) and basic state-required insurance.
  • Membership Options: Choose between $9 monthly or $90 annual memberships, both offering insurance, free gas, and 180 daily miles.
  • Extra Charges: Additional miles cost $0.58 each after 180 miles. Late returns can incur up to $150 in fees plus usage costs. Free cancellation within set time frames.

How Much Does Zipcar Cost?

Zipcar charges a $25 application fee, a $7 monthly subscription, and rental rates starting at around $9 per hour or $74 per day for standard vehicles.

SUVs and larger vehicles cost a bit more. Rentals include insurance, gas, and 180 miles per day, with extra charges for additional miles.

Zipcar’s cost structure is ideal for occasional drivers. The one-time application fee and monthly subscription provide access to the service. Rental prices vary, with the option to rent by the hour or day, making it suitable for both short trips and longer journeys.

The inclusion of insurance and gas in the rental fee adds convenience and value. The 180-mile daily limit covers most needs, but there’s a per-mile charge for additional distance, ensuring flexibility for longer trips.

This pricing model is beneficial for those who require occasional vehicle access without the full-time financial commitment of owning a car.

Is Gas Included With the Price of a Zipcar?

Yes, gas is included in the price of a Zipcar rental. Each Zipcar comes with a gas card which renters can use to refuel the vehicle at any gas station, without any additional cost.

However, it’s required to leave the tank at least one-quarter full at the end of the rental. This ensures that the car is ready for the next driver.

Do You Need to Pay for Car Insurance?

No, you do not need to have your own car insurance when renting a Zipcar.

Zipcar provides an insurance policy that covers the minimum insurance requirements as mandated by state law. The extent of this coverage can vary depending on the state, the driver’s age, and the date they signed up for the service.

In the event of an accident, renters are covered up to certain limits, which differ based on these factors.

Understanding Zipcar’s Pricing Model

One of the basics of using the service is understanding how Zipcar’s pricing model works. It comprises two main factors: the membership rate and the usage rates.

To use the Zipcar service, you’ll have to pay either a monthly or yearly membership fee. We’ll discuss this further in the following section.

Once you’re a member, you’ll be able to rent cars on Zipcar. On top of the membership fee, you’ll pay either an hourly or daily usage rate to use certain cars.

The usage rates can fluctuate depending on a few different factors. For instance, these can include the car model, your location, and the time and day of the week.

In general, prices will be higher on weekends or during busy holiday periods. They tend to go up around $3 to $5 per hour, but can sometimes be much higher as well.

Zipcar Membership Fees

To use the Zipcar service, you’ll need to acquire a membership. This is pretty straightforward: you just need to choose a plan, give Zipcar your details, and wait for the application to be approved.

Zipcar charges a $25 fee to apply for a membership, which is one-off and non-refundable. Thankfully, there aren’t any fees when you cancel a Zipcar membership!

There are two main forms of Zipcar membership which are based on how you want to pay for it.

First, there’s the monthly subscription which is currently $9 per month.

Then, there’s also the yearly subscription, which is priced at $90 per year. This saves you $18 in comparison to the monthly plan.

Both membership plans come with the same benefits. These include secondary insurance for every trip you take with Zipcar, free gas to fill up your car, maintenance, 24/7 roadside assistance, and up to 180 mileage per day.

Hourly and Daily Rates For Zipcar Rentals

After you’ve gotten a Zipcar membership, you’ll need to understand the costs of renting a car. The total cost is charged as a set daily or hourly rate times your booking length.

Each vehicle has a separate usage rate which might change from day to day. Some vehicles also might be charged only at an hourly rate, while others are set at a flat rate. However, this info will be transparent when finding a car to rent.

The minimum driving rate is based on the type of membership you have.

For normal memberships, this is $11 per hour or $91.50 for a day. Keep in mind that this quoted price is the minimum, and some cars will be much higher.

To get an idea of what this looks like, Zipcar lists prices for certain cars on their website. Currently, they display the cost of renting a Honda CR-V as $11 an hour or $83 a day. So, if you wanted to rent a Honda CR-V for four hours, that would be $44 in total.

For other membership types, the daily and hourly rates may be slightly different. The student rate is slightly cheaper at $9.50 an hour or $73.50 for a day.

It’s important to note that these rental rates can change based on factors like demand, discounts, availability, holidays, and more!

Finally, Zipcar will always charge you the cheapest rate. If the daily rate is cheaper than the hourly rate for your booking time, you’ll be charged the daily rate to save you money.

Insurance and Damage Fees For Zipcar Rentals

If you get into an accident while using Zipcar, your membership will cover some of the damage fees. However, you may still have to pay up to $1000 to cover the costs.

Fortunately, they also offer additional insurance if you want a little extra protection. There are two options for damage protection coverage: per-trip or subscription-based. These come on top of your membership fees.

The subscription plans come in two forms: Plus and Premium. The Plus plan is an additional $5 per month or $50 per year and will mean you only have to pay up to $375 in the event of damage to the car.

On the other hand, the Premium plan is an extra $9 per month or $79 per year. Getting this plan means you won’t have to pay any extra money to cover damage costs.

With the per-trip option, the extra cost is $0.95 per hour or $5.95 per day. These insurance plans are completely optional, and you might not even need them!

Zipcar’s Fuel Policies & Costs

Now, let’s get into fuel costs. Gas is included with every Zipcar trip, so you don’t need to worry about paying extra here.

Each car has a fuel card that you can use to fill up the tank, which is located in the visor in the driver’s seat.

Zipcar’s policy is that you need to return your car with at least a quarter of a tank of gas. It doesn’t matter how much your car came with, you just need to fill it up some!

If you don’t refill the tank, you’ll be charged a $30 fee. Therefore, it’s best to fill up the tank using the fuel card even if it seems like a hassle – at least it’s free!

Don’t Overlook Mileage Limits and Overages

Most Zipcar rentals will come with a mileage limit. Some cars might be pay-per-mile – which means instead of paying an hourly or daily rate, you pay based on how far you drive the car!

Some membership plans also won’t include mileage, so make sure you check the specifics of yours to see what it includes.

Be aware of mileage limits before you start driving your rental car.

In general, the standard mileage limit is 180 miles per 24-hour period. Once you hit the limit, you’ll be charged a $0.58 fee for each additional mile.

Zipcar Cancellation and Late Return Fees

Now, it’s time to get into the other fees you might encounter using Zipcar!

Fortunately, they don’t charge any fees for canceling a trip as long as it’s within a certain timeframe.

These are: within 30 min of creating a trip, up to 3 hours before the start time if the trip is shorter than 8 hours long, and at least 24 hours in advance for trips longer than 8 hours.

Canceling outside of these time frames might mean you won’t get a full refund! So, make sure you’ve booked accordingly if you want to avoid this.

There’s also a late fee if you don’t return the car on time. The penalty is $50 (up to $150) for every hour you don’t return the car, plus the cost of using the car for the extra time.

How Zipcar Prices Vary by City: 5 Examples

To give you a better idea of the cost of renting a Zipcar, we’ll compare fees and hourly rates in the five largest U.S. cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.

screenshot of a Zipcar cost quote

1. New York City

Zipcar costs $9.94 per hour or $89 per day in New York City, according to the Zipcar website.

The Big Apple is not known as a great place to drive. In fact, over half of NYC residents don’t even own a car.

Therefore, a service like Zipcar would make a lot of sense, as there are still times when people without cars need access to one.

2. Los Angeles

The hourly cost to rent a Zipcar in Los Angeles is $9.50, while the daily rate is $66 (a good bit lower than NYC, even though the hourly rates for the two cities are similar).

Quite unlike New York City, Los Angeles is a place where it seems impossible to survive without a car.

Angelenos love to drive, and they have a reputation for the gridlock traffic to match.

So a service like Zipcar, which reduces the number of drivers overall, seems like it does a lot of good to reduce congestion and pollution in Los Angeles.

3. Chicago

What will it cost you to get a Zipcar in the Windy City? Zipcars in Chicago start at $8.50 per hour or $78 per day.

Chicago isn’t known for having great traffic (are you noticing a pattern so far?).

It could also benefit if more people shared cars instead of driving them all the time (especially in a city with such an excellent public transit system).

4. Houston

What will it cost you to rent a Zipcar in Houston?

Rentals satart at $10 per hour or $74 per day.

The stereotypes might say that everyone in Houston just rides a horse, but the reality is that Houston has some pretty serious traffic.

Thankfully they also have Zipcar, which means there might yet be hope for solving the city’s congestion issues.

5. Philadelphia

Our final stop is the City of Brotherly Love. Rentals in Philadelphia start at $7.50 per hour or $77 per day.

Philadelphia doesn’t have a reputation for bad traffic, but it is a large city.

Therefore, car sharing makes sense there just as much as any of the other cities we’ve discussed so far.

Special Offers and Discounts To Save on Zipcar Rentals

If you’re looking to save money on Zipcar, try using some of these promotions. You can get free credit with a promo code and even discounted membership rates.

As of writing, Zipcar is doing a promotion where new users get the first month of their membership for free. This can be a good way of testing out the service without paying the full price!

They also offer lots of savings for students – namely a discounted membership rate. If your university is affiliated with Zipcar, you’ll get access to $35 per year memberships! The student rate also includes discounted hourly and daily rates.

Other university faculty members and staff can also get the discounted membership price, while alumni can attain a $55 per year discounted rate.

Zipcar also offers discounted rates for businesses, with a $35 per year membership fee. However, they do require a one-off $75 application fee.

Tips for Cost-Effective Zipcar Use

There are plenty of ways you can save money on Zipcar. Try out some of these tips to save money:

1. Use promos

Don’t skip the promo codes! If you’re a student or have a business, using the discounted rates is an easy way to save money. Check out some of our tips in the previous section.

2. Book during off-peak hours

Zipcar prices fluctuate due to demand and availability. In general, weekends are the busiest times for Zipcar, and prices will go up a few dollars.

However, if you book during weekdays, you’ll get to take advantage of cheaper prices! So if you’re deciding when to get a Zipcar rental, opt for a weekday instead of a weekend.

3. Don’t cancel your plans

Another thing you can easily avoid is the cancellation and late fees.

If you cancel your trip outside of the required time frame, you might not get a refund. The easiest way you can avoid this is to simply go with the flow and not cancel your trip!

4. Check out the competition

If you’re struggling to get cheaper rates on Zipcar, why not shop around with their competitors? Using an alternative instead might be the best way you can save money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Have to Pay Congestion Charges With Zipcar?

Yes, you must pay all toll charges while using Zipcar. The fees will appear once they’ve been processed and are separate from the other trip charges.

Can You Extend Your Time on Zipcar?

Yes, you can extend your trip with Zipcar. In the app, view your Current Trip and press Extend, then Update Trip to proceed. However, if someone has booked the car following your trip, you might not be able to extend your time.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, Zipcar is a convenient car-sharing service for people who don’t need a car all the time.

Their pricing model consists of monthly or yearly membership fees, hourly and daily usage rates, and optional insurance plans. Added up, these fees make Zipcar a convenient platform.

However, the cost-effectiveness will always depend on how you use the service.

For example, if you only need a car for short trips, Zipcar might be a great app. But if you don’t need the car much (or need it for long trips) it might be easier looking at other options.

Happy driving!

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