Getaround vs. Zipcar: What Are Their Differences

Published: September 2, 2023
Last updated: March 24, 2024

In the burgeoning world of car-sharing services, a common debate that arises is "Getaround vs. Zipcar." Both platforms have grown to dominate the car-sharing industry, offering distinctive services tailored to cater to varying consumer preferences. By juxtaposing Getaround's decentralized, peer-to-peer model against Zipcar's structured, membership-driven approach, we aim to shed light on their unique selling propositions and service offerings, equipping you with the information needed to discern better fit your commuting needs.

What is Getaround?

Getaround is a peer-to-peer car-sharing service, which means individual car owners list their vehicles on the platform for renters to use. Founded in 2009, it offers a decentralized model allowing users to access cars directly from owners, streamlining the process and often providing a wider variety of vehicle types.

What is Zipcar?

On the other hand, Zipcar, established in 2000, operates on a different model. It's a membership-based car-sharing company where users can rent cars owned by Zipcar from designated parking spots in their city. With its presence in numerous cities and college campuses, it provides a structured, consistent, and reliable vehicle rental experience for its members.

How Are They Different?

While both are car-sharing platforms, their operations differ. Getaround is peer-to-peer, focusing on individual car owners renting out their vehicles. Zipcar maintains its own fleet, offering a uniform experience but potentially less variety in vehicle types. Zipcar requires membership, while Getaround doesn’t necessarily need one.

Membership Fees and Requirements

Getaround Membership Fees and Requirements

Unlike many other car-sharing platforms, Getaround opts for simplicity by not charging any upfront membership fees. Instead, they believe in a pay-as-you-go model where customers only shell out for the time they're using the vehicle. To be eligible to rent with Getaround, potential renters must meet certain criteria. This typically encompasses being of a specified minimum age (usually 19 for most locations, but 25 for some specialty vehicles), holding a valid driver's license, and having a driving record that clears their safety standards. A quick driver history check helps Getaround maintain the safety of their community.

Zipcar Membership Fees and Requirements

On the other side of the spectrum lies Zipcar, a service that operates on a membership-based model. They have structured membership plans, which can be billed either monthly or annually, depending on user preference. But what do you get in return for these membership fees? Lower hourly and daily rates, for starters. To get onboarded, potential members need to be at least 21 years of age—though this drops to 18 if you're a student at a partnered university. Holding a valid driver’s license is a given, but you also have to clear their criteria for driving history to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

The Benefits of Each Company's Membership Program

Getaround's Non-Membership Model Benefits

  • Flexibility: With no membership ties, renters can hop in and out of the service as per their needs, making it extremely adaptable to varying usage patterns.

  • Simplicity: The pay-as-you-go structure ensures there are no hidden costs or monthly dues. You pay only for the duration you use the vehicle.

  • Diverse Vehicle Options: The peer-to-peer model gives access to a plethora of vehicle types, from everyday sedans to luxury cars, depending on the listings in a particular area.

  • No Commitment: Without membership fees or long-term commitments, users can switch services, pause usage, or use the platform sporadically without any financial burden.

Zipcar's Membership Model Benefits

  • Cost-Effective for Regular Users: The monthly or annual fees translate to lower hourly and daily rates, making it economical for those who rent vehicles often.

  • Consistency & Reliability: With its own fleet of cars, Zipcar ensures that vehicles are regularly maintained, cleaned, and available in designated spots.

  • Reserved Parking: This is a massive boon, especially in densely populated urban areas. Members don’t have to undergo the stress of finding parking after use; they can simply return the car to its designated Zipcar spot.

  • Fuel & Insurance Included: Members don't need to fret about fueling up before returning the car, as gas is included in the rental cost. Additionally, insurance coverage is part of the membership, adding an extra layer of security.

  • Dedicated Support: Membership comes with the advantage of prioritized customer service, ensuring that any issues or queries are addressed promptly.

  • Exclusive Offers: Periodically, members might get access to special promotions, discounts, or partnership deals, making the experience more rewarding.

Vehicle Types and Availability

Getaround Vehicle Types and Availability

Getaround, operating under a peer-to-peer car-sharing model, presents an eclectic mix of vehicles. Since any individual car owner can list their vehicle on the platform, renters are often treated to a wide-ranging variety. You might stumble upon an upscale luxury car for a special night out or a reliable, economical sedan perfect for those weekend errands. However, there's a slight unpredictability factor when it comes to availability. Since vehicle listings are based on individual car owners' discretion, availability can be influenced by personal schedules, maintenance, or even last-minute changes, leading to a fluctuating vehicle pool, especially in less dense areas.

Zipcar Vehicle Types and Availability

In contrast, Zipcar operates with a more structured approach. Their fleet is curated, maintained, and managed directly by the company. This centralization ensures that the variety—ranging from spacious vans for group trips, zippy sedans for city drives, to eco-friendly hybrids for the environmentally conscious—is not just diverse but also consistently available. Especially in metropolitan areas, Zipcar has made it a point to ensure that availability is seldom an issue. They've achieved this by securing designated parking spots and having a systematic process for reservations, vehicle maintenance, and rotations.

Compare Vehicle Options for Both Companies

While Getaround offers unique car options, it may require more time to find the perfect match. Zipcar’s standardized fleet means fewer surprises but potentially less exciting options.

Price Considerations

Rental Time Considerations for Getaround vs. Zipcar

Getaround allows individual car owners to set their rental prices, resulting in varied hourly or daily rates. In contrast, Zipcar offers standardized hourly and daily rates based on vehicle type and location, providing a more predictable pricing model for users.

Hourly Rate Differences Between the Two Companies

Getaround's hourly rates can fluctuate significantly due to its decentralized pricing, where each car owner sets their rate. Conversely, with its structured model, Zipcar offers more consistent hourly rates, often providing discounts for extended reservations.

Daily Rentals: Pros and Cons of Getaround vs. Zipcar

Pros of Using Getaround

  • Competitive Rates: Some car owners might set lower daily rates to attract more renters.

  • Variability: Due to the peer-to-peer nature, renters might find unique deals or specialty vehicles at attractive rates.

Cons of Using Getaround

  • Fluctuating Prices: Prices can change based on demand, special events, or even the owner's personal choice.

  • Availability: The car you want might not be available on your desired dates due to the decentralized system.

Pros of Using Zipcar

  • Consistent Pricing: Zipcar has standardized rates so that users can expect consistent prices for each vehicle type.

  • Discounts: Longer rental periods often come with reduced daily rates.

  • Reliability: With a centralized system, the availability and booking process is streamlined.

Cons of Using Zipcar

  • Less Flexibility: Prices are set by Zipcar, so there's no room for negotiation or searching for a better deal from individual owners.

  • Potential for Higher Base Rates: Some daily rates, especially for popular or luxury vehicles, might be higher than those found on Getaround.


How quickly can I book a car on both platforms?

With Getaround, you can book instantly if the car owner has enabled instant bookings. Zipcar, on the other hand, allows instant reservations for available vehicles, especially for members who have been verified and have their Zipcard.

Is insurance provided when I rent a vehicle?

Yes, both Getaround and Zipcar provide insurance coverage for their rentals. However, it's essential to review the specifics of each platform's policy to understand the coverage limits and any associated deductibles.

Can I take the vehicle on a multi-day trip?

Both platforms allow multi-day rentals. Getaround's duration depends on the car owner's settings, while Zipcar has established multi-day rental options that can be chosen during the reservation.

What happens if I return the car late?

Both platforms have penalties for late returns since they can inconvenience the next renter or the car owner. It's crucial to check each platform's late fee structure and always aim to return the car on time or extend the booking if possible.

Are there mileage limits for rentals?

Getaround usually includes a specific number of miles for free per trip, after which additional fees apply. Zipcar provides a certain number of miles free per day or hour, depending on the rental type, and charges for additional mileage.


In the battle of Getaround vs. Zipcar, the best choice largely depends on individual needs. If you value a wide variety of vehicles and don't mind the unpredictability, Getaround could be your choice. But if structured, consistent rates and availability appeal more to you, Zipcar might be the way to go. Both platforms offer unique advantages, and understanding these can help you choose the best fit for your car-sharing needs.

Want to consider more car-sharing options? Dive into our detailed comparison of Turo vs. Zipcar to find the most suitable for your travel needs. Make an informed choice and drive smart!

Sales Development Lead Scott spearheaded a collective blog site before expanding his automotive knowledge and joining the team. Now he leads our team of experts by building ideas on our Sales Development department.
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