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Zipcar vs. SHARE NOW: Which Is The Better Option For 2024?

Zipcar vs. SHARE NOW, which of the two car rental platforms should you register on? This article provides a comprehensive comparison to help you decide

Key Takeaways

  • Zipcar offers a wide range of vehicles and is available in Europe and North America, targeting university students with a minimum membership age of 21.
  • SHARE NOW features a pay-per-minute model with no monthly fees, flexible parking in designated areas, and is ideal for users aged 18+ in Europe.
  • Zipcar requires cars to be returned to their starting location, while SHARE NOW allows parking anywhere within its service area for added convenience.
  • Both platforms offer referral benefits, with Zipcar providing discounts and SHARE NOW offering driving credits for referring new members.

If you don’t plan on owning a car but aren’t hot on the idea of public transit, you may have looked into car sharing.

You might have narrowed down your search to two platforms, Zipcar and SHARE NOW, and are trying to decide which is better than the other.

While both apps provide a worthy alternative to a traditional car rental company, your final decision hinges on two factors: your location and your needs.

Zipcar offers more variety in vehicles and is available in Europe and North America. However, SHARE NOW shines with its pay-per-minute model and lack of monthly fees. We’ll reveal more in the article, so read on!

Comparison Table

PlatformFree MileageInsurance IncludedEnd Trip Location/ ParkingMembership Age
Zipcar180 milesYesExact home location21+
SHARE NOW200 kmYesAnywhere within the Home Area18+

A Brief Overview of Zipcar

Zipcar is among the world’s leading car-sharing networks. Since 2000, the platform has provided access to cars on-demand in universities and cities worldwide.

Zipcar members can share available vehicles after paying a daily or hourly rate. It reached a million members in 2016, and it keeps expanding its reach and influence.

The platform claims that it helps users save up to $1,000 by using its services instead of owning a car. Aside from lower membership costs, it also concerns itself with causes like equality and climate change.

According to Zipcar, its one-million-strong membership helps it lower its carbon footprint by eliminating the need for over 415,000 people to drive their own cars.

A Brief Overview of SHARE NOW

SHARE NOW describes itself as a pioneering free-floating car-sharing service.

The platform was born from a merger between Car2Go and DriveNow and is a subsidiary of the mobility company Free2Move.

Before the merger, it operated in North America and Europe but has since focused primarily on the European car-sharing market.

This platform aims to be an alternative to car ownership. Thanks to its handy mobile app, SHARE NOW members can book vehicles for short trips or longer trips, depending on their needs.

The platform’s all-inclusive rates mean its members don’t need to worry about providing their gas or insurance, nor do they have to pay for parking.

Features Comparison of Zipcar vs SHARE NOW

Here’s how these two alternatives to traditional car rental companies stack up in the features department.

Sign Up Process and Application Approval

Zipcar has a straightforward, five-step sign-up process that goes as follows:

  1. Choose a plan that suits your budget on the site’s membership pricing page.
  2. Create an account by inputting your name, email address, and password
  3. Upload your driver’s license and verify your identity with a selfie
  4. Provide your billing information
  5. Submit the application

The platform typically reviews applications quickly and approves or rejects them instantly.

In some cases, Zipcar’s review process may take several working days. During that time, it may request additional information from you.

Meanwhile, SHARE NOW claims new users can register to join its platform in three minutes. The platform’s registration process is as follows:

  1. Download the SHARE NOW app
  2. Register (supply your email and other details)
  3. Upload your driver’s license and a selfie for verification

SHARE NOW’s approval process is instant, and you can start driving with the app once your registration sails through.

Membership Requirements

Zipcar has straightforward membership criteria. To become a member, you’ll need to:

  • Be 21 or older (18 years for students who go to universities affiliated with Zipcar or who live in New York, Michigan, or Maryland)
  • Have a valid driver’s license

In contrast, SHARE NOW lets individuals who are 18 or older become members. In addition to these age-based criteria, you’ll need to:

  • Have a valid driver’s license that has been valid for at least a year
  • Have a clean driving record (free of alcohol or drug-related violations)
  • Have a valid email address
  • Own a smartphone

Please note that the SHARE NOW driver’s license you must possess should be suitable for driving cars (a category B license issued in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom, or Switzerland).

SHARE NOW also accepts international licenses, though you may have to provide additional documentation to validate the said license. When in doubt, contact the SHARE NOW customer support team for clarification.

Availability and Operating System

At the time of writing, Zipcar operates in North America and the UK.

SHARE NOW operates in Europe. It’s available in eight European countries, namely Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Both platforms have apps that are available in the Google Play and App Stores.

Parking/Ending Trips

As a traditional roundtrip service, Zipcar expects its members to return cars to their home location—where they picked them up—at the end of their trips.

The exception to this rule is when you use the platform’s Flex option, which lets you park anywhere in the Zipzone.

In rare instances, the Zipcar member may find it challenging to return the car to the same parking spot or garage.

To get around the problem, the platform recommends checking the mobile app’s “My Trips” section or the booking confirmation email for guidance.

As a last resort, you can contact Zipcar for assistance.

This car-sharing platform also requires that you take end-of-trip photos as proof of the condition you left the vehicle in.

SHARE NOW’s service offers more parking flexibility. The platform’s collaborations with local governments mean you can park on any public street parking spot located in the Home Area, provided it’s legal to do so.

The sole parking restriction relates to ending trips: you must do it within the Home Area. While you can end your trip in drop-off zones outside of a city within your Home Area, you’ll incur a drop-off fee.

Also, if you’re in the driver’s seat of an electric vehicle, you can’t end a trip by parking it at a charging station.

Included Mileage

Zipcar includes mileage with your trip. Like traditional rental agencies, the platform doesn’t limit how far you can drive.

However, it does impose a limit on the number of charge-free miles. This mileage limit depends on the territory in which you’re using Zipcar.

For example, Zipcar users in the US get 180 free miles per 24-hour day. Once you exceed the 180 miles, Zipcar will charge you for each additional mile at a rate of $0.58 per mile.

You’re billed this amount at the end of your trip. See our article on Zipcar Mileage for more details.

In Canada, Zipcar users get 200 km per 24 hours with an overage fee of $0.50 per additional kilometer. Note that the above may not apply to some pay-per-mile cars or Zipcar membership plans.

Similarly, SHARE NOW gives you a set amount of mileage at the start of each trip. What’s available to you depends on the plan you choose.

For example, the minute rate plan (which lets you pay by the minute) includes 200 km in free mileage. Once you exceed the included mileage, SHARE NOW charges €0.39 for each additional kilometer driven.

Cars

SHARE NOW has cars by the following brands in its fleet:

  • Opel
  • BMW
  • Peugeot
  • Hyundai
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Renault
  • Skoda
  • Opel
  • Fiat
  • Citroen
  • Mini
  • Smart

Since Zipcar operates on two continents, the brands in its fleet are more varied. In addition to European cars, it also has Japanese models (Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, and Mitsubishi), Korean models (Kia and Hyundai), and American cars (Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge).

Both platforms have a varied mix of car types in their fleets, including pickup trucks, minivans, SUVs, sedans, and hatchbacks. You can also rent luxury vehicles for an additional fee.

Perks

Zipcar has established partnerships with other organizations that let it provide its members with the following perks:

  • Parking Pass Program: Through its partnership with state and provincial park departments, Zipcar members who drive select Zipcar vehicles can access free parking passes. This program is excellent for nature lovers.
  • Yakima Racks: Outdoor-loving members can access the Yakima racks on select Zipcars for their adventures. They’ll need to look for the word “Rack” in the car listing or the Yakima logo with an icon of a bike, ski, or surf net in the car’s image.

SHARE NOW gives its members points for driving with the app. Members can join the SHARE NOW Rewards program to begin earning them.

The platform uses a tier-based system that members can reach depending on the number of points they’ve racked up. The four tiers are:

  • Blue: 0–249 points
  • Silver: 250–699 points
  • Gold: 700–2,999 points
  • Diamond: 3,000+ points

Each of the above tiers unlocks several rewards, including bonus reservation time, birthday vouchers, and special partner offers (among many others).

Secondary Services

Zipcar has two secondary services in addition to its primary business:

  • Zipcar for Universities: The app is available in hundreds of college campuses across the territories it operates in. This service aims to help university students book cars around campus instantly.
  • Zipcar for Business: This service gives businesses access to over 50 different kinds of Zipcars (including EVs) for up to 10,000 of their employees. It includes one convenient account and one billing portal for administering vehicles, drivers, and payments.

Similarly, SHARE NOW has a for-business service. The service gives businesses who join access to SHARE NOW’s fleet of free-floating and station-based vehicles.

It includes parking and refueling costs, is available in all SHARE NOW cities, and provides discounts to eligible members through the SHARE NOW Business Pass.

Insurance

Zipcar provides basic insurance coverage to its users. It provides coverage for physical damage to members who comply with the platform’s membership contract.

Additionally, the insurance includes secondary third-party liability coverage and personal injury protection.

If an incident causes damage to the vehicle, the member must pay a $1,000 damage fee. Zipcar members can reduce or eliminate this fee by purchasing Zipcar’s damage protection coverage.

The above-described insurance coverage applies to Zipcar users who aren’t registered as part of an affiliated university or business. Also, you’ll need to pay a monthly or annual fee to reduce or eliminate your deductible.

SHARE NOW also insures all its vehicle types. All vehicle options include third-party liability insurance.

You can also opt into SHARE NOW’s Plus Coverage, which helps you reduce your deductible to €250. The insurance plan starts at €0.99.

Referral Programs

Both platforms reward their users for referring friends and family.

In Zipcar’s case, you get a $25 discount for every person you persuade to rent cars through the platform.

In contrast, SHARE NOW gives you €10 worth of driving credit every time a friend or family member joins the vehicle-sharing platform based on your referral.

Pricing

Zipcar has three rental membership plans:

  • Basic Plan: This plan is free and its driving rates start at $9/hr and $90/day
  • Smart Plan: Zipcar’s Smart Plan costs $6/month and its driving rates start at $7/hr and $70/day.
  • Plus Plan: This costs $15/month and its driving rates start at $6/hr and $60/day.

Zipcar rates vary by city, which means the above-listed plans aren’t ironclad.

SHARE NOW’s prices vary depending on the country and car model you use. For example, renting a Peugeot 208 in Vienna, Austria will cost you approximately €13.99 ($15.32) per hour.

Zipcar Pros and Cons

Pros of Zipcar

Available in North America and Europe

Its service is open to university students

Zipcar membership criteria are straightforward and it approves applications on time

Cons of Zipcar

The perks you get for the membership fee are limited to outdoor lovers

You must return the car to the original point where you picked it up when ending your trip

SHARE NOW Pros and Cons

Pros of SHARE NOW

It has lower age-related criteria (18 years and older)

You can park anywhere within the Home Area when ending your trip

SHARE NOW boasts a wider variety of bonuses and perks

Cons of SHARE NOW

It’s not available outside of Europe

There’s little variety outside of European-made cars

Final Thoughts: Zipcar or SHARE NOW?

The decision to create a SHARE NOW or Zipcar account lies in where you live and your unique tastes.

If you’re based in Europe, SHARE NOW is an attractive choice. The platform’s flexible parking is a major draw, as are the many perks it provides to members who earn points.

Also, its three-step sign-up process means you could create an account right now and start sharing vehicles.

Meanwhile, you’ll find Zipcar’s service appealing if you travel between Europe and North America. Its availability in major cities on both continents is the platform’s strong suit.

In addition, Zipcar may score points with you if you’re a university student or prefer a wider variety of car brands.

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