Zipcar--It still exist and here's how Zipcar works (Driver Requirements, Fees, Reservation Process)

A review of Zipcar

Before Uber went global and Lyft lifted off, Zipcar was a US-based car rental service that offered short-term rentals; I mean short-term rentals for around 1-hour increments. Zipcars was aimed at the younger generation and was seen around many university campuses. Zipcar is a neat quick service that can be used instead of Uber or Lyft for 1hour rides or more. We present here a self-drive option for people that need to make a ride but don't need an Uber service for it.

Zipcar is a subsidiary of Avis, a global car rental service, as its part of a global group it is found in some select countries and cities worldwide and will most probably expand its reach over time.

The Zipcar mode

Zipcars aren't a quick solution as calling up an Uber driver; they do require a bit more activity before hopping into a car and driving away.

  • Zipcars are found in and parked in specific areas around cities and towns in the US, and they are mainly seen around college and university campuses.
  • A Zipcar can be rented for a short period of 30 minutes to a seven day period.
  • You have to create a Zipcar account and be given a Zipcar credit card.
  • Once you have an account, you can order a car up to one hour before you need it.
  • Locate your car and use your Zipcar credit card to enter the vehicle.
  • You have a 180 mile limit per day, anything over that will cost more.
  • Most cities set round trips as mandatory, so you will need to return it to its parking place.
  • Baltimore, Boston, Denver, LA, Seattle, and DC allow one-way trips.
  • Fuel and insurance are included in the fee.
  • Zipcar is also found in some cities around the world.

Zipcar Application

These are the basic requirements to join Zipcar:

  • The applicant must be over 21 years old (or over 18 in certainly affiliated campuses)
  • A valid driving license, not necessarily the US
  • A clean driving record

Zipcar Fees

Zipcar uses two methods:

Membership fees that are set according to the package that you choose. There is a one-time application fee of $25 and monthly or annual fees applicable.

Rental reservation fees that are around $10 per hour. Daily rental rates are approximately $80.

Zipcar one day or less rental reservations

  • You get 180 miles
  • An additional $0.045 per mile for standard cars
  • An additional $0.55 per mile for premium cars and vans
  • A $10 per hour fee

Zipcar reservations over one day

  • 180 miles per day every day

  • 20 miles more per hour until you reach the daily 180 miles (of your total reservation)

  • An additional $0.045 per mile for standard cars

  • An additional $0.55 per mile for premium cars and vans

  • An $80 per day fee

How to reserve a Zipcar

Go to the Zipcar website or app and check on all the cars available in your area. Choose the car you want and reserve it online. You can do this up to one hour before you need the car.

Remember that most cities require you drop off the car from whence you found it, check to see if your city is one of the few that allow one-way trips.

Zipcar Models and Makes

Zipcar offers a few models and makes, they are:

Compact: Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla

Vans: Ford Transit, Ford E

Picking up a Zipcar

Once you have signed up you will receive a special Zipcar credit card, here is what you will do with it:

  • Find the car using the Zipcar information in your reservation and check to see that the "name" in the back window sticker is your cars name.
  • By waving the Zipcard in front of the box in the front windshield, you will unlock the doors.
  • Start to drive
  • Make sure you return the Zipcar with a quarter full tank. If it is less, you must fill it up to be at least a quarter tank full.
  • There is a gas card in the glove compartment; fuel is included in the price, so you can use that to add the missing fuel.

Zipcar Insurance

Zipcar has an insurance plan in place for every rental; it includes the following coverage in the rental policy:

  • Bodily injury per person $100,000
  • Bodily injury maximum $300,000
  • Property Damage $25,000
  • Deductible $1,000
  • For $5 - $10 per month you waive the deductible.

**Zipcar Pros **

  • Zipcar enables the youngster to rent, from 18 or 21 to 25 years old.
  • If you only need to drive for a short period, it solves that problem and is perhaps the cheapest solution you will find.
  • Since it's a per hour concept, if you live near a Zipcar area it solves immediate transportation issues and you can ride-share with other passengers, split the fare between you or even make some cash.

Zipcar Cons

  • The start-up fees are $25
  • There is a monthly fee
  • In most cities, you have to return the car to where you picked it up
  • Daily rates are high, $80
  • Longer periods are better provided by other rental services.


Zipcar is a nifty little service that can give a nice alternative option for quick drives to and from the same location. You control the direction, the driving, the number of stops and how long you keep the car.

If you don't need a driver or live on a campus, then Zipcar is better then ride-sharing.

If however, you need to go long distances and stay at the destination, or if you are driving from home to work and only returning in the evening, Zipcar can be an issue, and you are best served with another option.

Bottom line: this is not a rideshare company it's a rental agency with a per-hour solution.