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Zipcar Student Explained: A Complete Guide To Using Zipcar As A Student

Zipcar's student-friendly car-sharing plans offer an affordable transportation option for campus life. This article explains the workings, benefits, and eligibility of Zipcar Student subscriptions.

What Is Zipcar?

Zipcar is a service that enables its subscribers to drive cars on demand for a certain period without being the cars’ owners.

The process goes like this:

  • The user signs up for Zipcar and chooses a plan.
  • They book a car after reviewing the available models.
  • The user receives information about the location of the car and other trip details.
  • They unlock the car via the app and are free to use it for the duration they have set.
  • The user returns the vehicle to its original location so the next person who books it goes through the same steps.

This model offers students the chance to book private transportation whenever needed. They don’t have to be restricted by a driver or a strict route.

They don’t have to purchase a car or pay more for rentals that charge for longer than they’ll need the vehicle. They also don’t have to venture too far to reach the ride as cars are readily available on campus.

How is Zipcar Student Different From the Regular Zipcar Plans?

The primary distinction between Zipcar’s student plans and regular plans lies in the membership fee and age requirements.

Students accessing Zipcar through their university benefit from a reduced membership fee. Moreover, the minimum age requirement for students is 18 years, compared to the standard 21 years for regular plans.

Tip: If you like Zipcar, you’ll like peer to peer car rental companies like Turo, Car2Go, and Hyrecar. They’re like Zipcar, but instead of renting a car from a company, you’ll rent one from a private person.

How Much Does Zipcar Cost for Students?

Zipcar offers two main membership options for college students: Zipcar Monthly and Zipcar Student.

Zipcar Monthly Plan

The Zipcar Monthly plan, priced at $9 per month, is a personal subscription not tied to a university. It offers flexibility to choose service months, with hourly rates starting from $10.

This plan is less cost-effective than the Student membership but is useful for those who can’t access a university subscription.

Zipcar Student plan

The Zipcar Student plan is more affordable and efficient for students. Its annual cost varies based on the university and location, with discounts up to 78%.

For instance, UCLA students pay $20 per year with hourly rates from $8.5, while Yale students pay $35 annually with rates starting at $11.5.

Additional Fees

Aside from the membership fee, you should be aware of some additional charges, such as:

  • Application Fee: You pay $25 as a one-time charge upon applying. It covers the costs of finding driving records and reviewing your application.
  • Young Driver Fee: Applicable to students age 18 to 24.
  • Mileage Fee: If you exceed the mileage limits for distance, which is 180 miles, you’ll pay $0.58 per extra mile.
  • Low Fuel Fee: You’ll pay $30 if you return the car with less than a quarter of the gas tank filled.
  • Late Return Fee: You’ll pay $50 an hour with a cap of $150. You’ll also still pay for the extra time.

These fees are in place to ensure responsible usage and maintenance of the vehicles. The Zipcar Student plan, tailored to university students, generally provides the most value, with specific rates and benefits varying by university and location.

Where Is Zipcar for Students Available?

Zipcar for students is available on numerous university campuses across the United States.

zipcar student map

Some of the cities where universities have partnered with Zipcar include Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle.

To determine if Zipcar is available at a specific university, students can either check their university website or visit the official Zipcar for Universities page and search for their school.

How to See If Your University Has Zipcar

To start, search for your university at Zipcar.com.

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide

Select your university from the list. You’ll then be redirected to the Zipcar sign-up page for your university.

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide - Select school

Here’s an example for Johns Hopkins University:

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide - Your school

How To Sign Up For Zipcar Student Services

This process starts with a visit to Zipcar’s university page online. There, you’ll type the name of your school/university into a search bar.

If your school/university has a partnership with Zipcar, you should see its name as you type it in. Once you click on it, the available plans will show on your screen, including the student membership.

To sign up for the program, scroll down and click “Join student plan.”

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide - Join student plan

This will take you to a page with more information about the rates for your university.

Generally, these rates are the same as the city your university is in (unless your university is in a very remote place, in which case it may have its own rates).

Once you’re on that page, click “Join for $X/year” (the precise cost will vary based on your university).

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide - Rates

When you click on the student plan, a redirection will take you to a page where you’ll fill in some key information.

These include your name, university email address, mobile number, and account password. You’ll also upload a selfie driver’s license photo for identity verification.

Zipcar Student: The Complete Guide - Account

From there, Zipcar will ask you a few questions to ensure that you’re eligible.

You’ll need to upload a copy of your driver’s license, which helps Zipcar verify that you’re at least 18, as well as allowing them to check your driving record. Then, you’ll pay the yearly membership fee.

Assuming all is well with your driving record, Zipcar will confirm your application and send you your Zipcard (the card you use to unlock Zipcars) in the mail.

Once you have your Zipcard, it’s easy to get a car.

Just open the Zipcar app, find a car near you, and choose the day and time you want to reserve it. Then book your reservation with just a couple taps.

When it’s time for you to use the car, find the parking spot where it’s located, walk over to it, and tap your Zipcard to the card reader located in the windshield to unlock the vehicle.

Get in, check that everything is in order, and note that the included gas card is under the driver’s side visor.

You’re now ready to take your adventure.

Drive the car for the time you’ve reserved, and return it to the parking lot where you picked it up.

Be sure to leave at least a quarter of a tank of gas for the next driver (though, since Zipcar pays for all the fuel, you might as well just fill it all the way up unless you’re in a big hurry).

That’s all there is to it.

For a more in-depth look at this process, check out our guide to how Zipcar works.

Tips for Maximizing Zipcar Usage

To help you make the most out of your Zipcar Student subscription, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Avoid booking during high-demand hours. Off-peak hour booking saves you from paying extra and ensures better availability.
  • To reduce your cost per trip, consider carpooling with friends or classmates.
  • Carefully plan your trip to avoid exceeding the mileage limit by too much and paying a fee.
  • If you’re not sure about the duration of your trip, I recommend booking extra time to avoid hefty late fees.
  • Keep an eye out for Zipcar promo codes to save some money.
  • Be sure to pick the right type of car for your trip.
    • If you’re going grocery shopping or on a weekend road trip, you may want to book an SUV. This ensures you have enough space and comfort.
    • If you’re moving, booking a van ensures you can easily carry all (or most) your stuff.

Benefits of Zipcar for Students

By now, chances are you’re wondering if Zipcar is worth the cost. Here’s a breakdown of the advantages you can expect:

  • Cost Savings: Zipcar is cheaper than owning a car or using traditional car rentals. Charges are based on actual time/distance used, leading to significant savings.
  • Time Efficiency: Cuts down on time spent in public transportation, offering a quicker and more direct mode of travel.
  • Convenience: Zipcars are located in easily accessible areas like campuses, neighborhoods, cities, and airports. Vehicles are available 24/7, making scheduling hassle-free.

Common Questions About Zipcar for Students

Now that you’re more familiar with how Zipcar Student works, here are a few questions you might be wondering about:

How Long Does It Take to Start Driving a Zipcar?

Approving applications typically happens right away, allowing you to book a car within minutes of signing up. From there, you can use your phone to lock and unlock the car during your trip. A Zipcard will also arrive at your address by mail within 5 to 7 business days.

Are Gas Costs Included?

Yes, Zipcar covers all gas costs during your trip. You use the provided free gas card as you would a credit card at gas stations.

What Is the Damages Policy?

Zipcar covers damage beyond the first $1,000. While you may be charged up to $1,000 in damages, this charge can be reduced or waived if you buy additional protection coverage.

Where is Zipcar Student Available?

Zipcar Student is available in the USA and Canada, with over 500 partner universities.

Is UCLA Affiliated With Zipcar?

Yes, UCLA is a Zipcar partner. Its Zipcar Student subscription costs $35 a year hourly rates starting from $11.5

Is UPenn Affiliated With Zipcar?

Yes, UPenn is a Zipcar Partner. Its Zipcar Student subscription costs $20 a year at hourly rates starting from $8.5.

How Do You Change Your Zipcar to a Student Plan?

You may have entered your university email to create a personal account. In this case, reach out to Zipcar customer service and they’ll help make things right.

If you have a personal account and want to subscribe to a Student, you’ll have to create a new account with a valid university email.

Wrapping Up

Zipcar Student memberships offer significant money and time savings. They’re convenient for college/university students looking to secure private transportation.

To be eligible, you must be older than 18, have a valid driver’s license, and have access to a valid (.edu) email. Sign up here or visit any of our links to learn more.

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