The Happy Truth About Zipcar

Just wanted to respond about the previous post regarding Zipcar. I’ve been a user for about 2 years now, following the death of our 12 year old Geo Metro. Now, you may attribute my giddiness to the fact that I was finally driving a car with air conditioning, a radio and working door locks, but NOT SO! There are actually a couple of misconceptions about Zipcar, which I shall clarify for you now:

– The price of using most of the cars is $7.65 per hour (including the Scions, pickup trucks, etc). Minimum useage time is 1 hour. For the high-end cars (minis, bmws, volvos, etc.) the price is either $9.65 or $11.65 per hour. If you use the car for more than 8 hours, the price is fixed, and typically is (approximately) either $58 or $68.

– You do not pay for gas. Each zipcar has a gas card in it.

– You do not pay for outside insurance. You must have a clean driving record to join Zipcar, but their insurance is part of the deal. I had a flat tire once because I hit a curb, and was responsible for part of the payment, but not all of it because of Zipcar’s insurance.

– On that last point, their repair person was there within 20 minutes of my call to help me out. Their customer service is amazing and efficient – and if you have trouble with a car, or an issue with another member not bringing a car back or whatever, Zipcar customer service is extremely easy to reach, and their folks deal with your problem RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT, with you holding on the phone.

– The cars are nice, clean, and repairs are kept up. I have seen ones with damage, and I have noticed some issues that result from typical wear and tear, but typically those cars are pulled off the line and replaced right away once the problem is reported.

So, all that said, I am an EXTREMELY frequent user – I probably get a car 1-2 times per week, and have used them for everything from quickly running across town to the bank, to keeping one for 2 days to haul gear to dj gigs. I used to rent cars, thinking it was less expensive, but remember, even if you have a cheap car for a day, by the time you factor in insurance and gas, the price is comparable – PLUS you have to give up 2-3 hours of your life going to the rental agency, waiting in line, returning the car, etc.

Currently, I pay around $350 per month to use the service, give or take a little $$. Now, remember, that cost includes what would be considered the “car payment”, the gas, maintenance and insurance. When I had a new car in the past, I paid $280 per month for a car payment, god-knows-how much in gas, $100 per month in insurance, and a few hundred per year in repairs – all to drive something with depreciating value over time.

Now I can try out all the cars I’ve lusted after – the Mini, the Beetle convertable, the Scion XB, etc – in cool colors, properly maintained, and often with satellite radio. Reservations can be made over the phone or online, and there are 4 lots within 5 blocks of my house, each with 2-5 cars of varying coolness.

I promise this was not paid for by Zipcar. :) I just really think very higly of the service and have enjoyed it immensely.

3 Comments so far

  1. Lisa (unregistered) on August 14th, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

    Remember too that if you live in Arlington, the county will reimburse you for either your Zipcar or Flexcar initiation fee…


  2. Joseph LeBlanc (unregistered) on August 14th, 2005 @ 10:45 pm

    This is good news indeed. My old sedan is getting a little rickety, and I’ve been planning on trying car sharing for a while.


  3. Erin Myers (unregistered) on August 15th, 2005 @ 7:51 am

    Oh yeah, that’s the one thing I forgot to mention – the membership fees. There’s an initial fee of something like $25 to join, then you pick a monthly payment plan – starts at $50 per month, then goes up from there. Basically, you gauge your useage, then sign up for the plan that best fits what you plan to spend per month. This monthly payment is not on top of the hourly that you pay – it functions more like a bank account. For example, if I pay $75 per month, that guarantees to Zipcar that I will use at least $75 per month on their service – my first $75 of hourly charges is deducted from that, then anything else is taken out of my bank account directly. You can receive discounts on your hourly rate and other benefits if you choose one of the higher monthly rates. WHEW – I think that’s everything.



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