How to Book a Zipcar for a Day

Published: September 6, 2023
Last updated: September 14, 2023

Navigating through urban landscapes often requires a reliable mode of transportation. For those who seek a convenient, cost-effective solution without the commitment of car ownership, Zipcar provides an ideal answer. But how does one go about it? This guide will walk you through the simple process of "how to book a Zipcar for a day."

Booking a Zipcar for a Day

Step 1: Sign up for a Membership Plan

To access the vast fleet of Zipcar vehicles, first-time users need to establish a membership:

  • Visit the official Zipcar website or download the app on your smartphone.

  • Peruse the different membership plans available, such as occasional driving, monthly driving, or business plans.

  • Complete the online registration form by providing personal details, contact information, and necessary identification.

  • Your driving record and license will undergo a quick review. Once approved, you’ll receive a Zipcard or can use the app for car access.

Step 2: Choose Your Vehicle and Reservation Time

Once your membership is active:

  • Log into your Zipcar account.

  • Utilize the platform’s search function to view vehicles available in your preferred area.

  • Consider the type of vehicle you require—compact, SUV, or luxury—and its availability during your desired timeframe.

  • Clearly specify the start and end times of your reservation, especially if you intend to rent the vehicle for an entire day.

Step 3: Review Your Reservation Details

Accuracy is vital at this stage:

  • Reconfirm the vehicle model, date, and time slot you've chosen.

  • Take note of the pick-up location and any special instructions related to your reservation.

  • Ensure you’re aware of the vehicle's fuel policy and any additional charges or fees that may apply.

Step 4: Select Payment Method and Agree to Terms & Conditions

Before confirming your reservation:

  • Choose from the various payment options available, including credit and debit cards.

  • Familiarize yourself with Zipcar's rental policies, guidelines, and any associated terms and conditions.

  • Ensure you understand any penalties, extra charges, or fees that could be incurred based on usage or mishandling.

Step 5: Finalize Your Reservation and Pay the Fee

The final step involves:

  • Double-check all provided information.

  • Confirming and processing the payment for your reservation.

  • Upon successful payment, Zipcar will send a detailed confirmation via email, including all pertinent reservation information.

What to Expect Upon Arrival at the Pickup Location

Locate Your Vehicle

Upon arriving at your pickup location, finding your reserved Zipcar should be your primary focus. The vehicle will be positioned in a predefined area for your convenience.

  • Navigation tools: Zipcar sends a map within the confirmation email to make the process straightforward. Alternatively, the Zipcar app features a GPS function to guide you seamlessly to the car's exact location.

  • Verification: Once you're near the expected spot, visually verify the car using distinct identifiers. Checking the make, model, and license plate number ensures you don’t mistakenly access a vehicle not intended for use. This step is crucial, especially in densely populated pickup points where multiple Zipcars might be parked close together.

Retrieve Keys from the Lockbox or Rental Desk

Gaining access varies based on the location and specific reservation:

Most Zipcars can be unlocked using the Zipcard or the mobile app. In particular cases, keys may be stored in a nearby lockbox or at a rental desk. Ensure you’re briefed on the procedure before your reservation to ensure smooth access.

Get Acquainted with the Vehicle's Features and Amenities

Before diving into the streets, take a few moments to understand the vehicle you'll be driving.

  • Familiarizing with Controls: Depending on its make and model, each vehicle might have slightly different controls. Ensure you know how to operate basic functions like headlights, windshield wipers, and turn indicators. It might sound fundamental, but a brief check can make your journey more comfortable and safer.

  • Comfort and Entertainment: Delve into the car's multimedia system. Understand the basics of the audio system, Bluetooth pairing, and navigation tools if available. Additionally, get to know how to adjust the seats for maximum comfort and how to operate the climate control, ensuring a pleasant environment inside the car during your trip.

  • Vehicle Inspection: Before setting off, it's a good practice to inspect the car for any pre-existing damages or anomalies. Look for dents, scratches, or any potential issues that were present before your usage. Documenting and reporting such issues immediately can prevent misunderstandings and potential disputes when you return the vehicle. Remember, as a part of the Zipcar community, ensuring the car's well-being is a shared responsibility.

Start Your Journey!

As you embark on your Zipcar journey, prioritizing safety is essential. Buckle up every time, ensuring your own protection and safeguarding any fellow passengers on board. Before driving away, take a moment to get a real feel for the car: the pedals' response, the steering wheel's grip, and the mirrors' clarity.

On the road, always uphold driving ethics. Abide by speed limits, stay vigilant at intersections, and be mindful of pedestrians and other vehicles. While Zipcar offers the freedom of mobility, it’s vital to remember that, as the driver, you hold the reins of responsibility. Drive responsibly, cherish the journey, and ensure that your Zipcar experience is both enjoyable and safe for everyone involved. Safe journeys ahead!

Things to Keep in Mind Before Returning the Car

Refuel Before Returning if Necessary

One of the many benefits Zipcar offers its users is a straightforward fuel policy. When reserving a Zipcar, most bookings come with a specific amount of fuel included. As you utilize the car, it's essential to keep an eye on the fuel gauge. If you notice the fuel level approaching or dropping below a quarter tank, it's time to make a pit stop at the nearest gas station.

In every Zipcar, you'll find a gas card, typically stowed in the glove box, which is intended to cover your refueling costs. This card is a handy tool that ensures members don't have to bear the fuel expenses. However, it's a community courtesy and Zipcar policy to return the vehicle with at least the same fuel level as when you picked it up. Doing so not only demonstrates consideration for the next user but also ensures you avoid any additional fees or charges that might be levied for returning a car with less fuel.

Additionally, always ensure that the gas card is returned to its designated spot in the car after use. It's essential for the next driver, and misplacing it could lead to inconveniences and potential charges. Taking a few minutes to refuel and reset ensures a smooth end to your Zipcar experience and readies the vehicle for the next user.


Can I extend my Zipcar reservation if I need the car longer?

Yes, you can extend your reservation via the Zipcar app or website, provided the vehicle isn't booked by another member immediately after your initial reservation time. Requesting an extension as soon as you realize you'll need more time to avoid potential scheduling conflicts is advisable.

What is Zipcar's cancellation policy?

There's no fee if you cancel a reservation more than 3 hours ahead for short bookings or 24 hours for longer ones. However, canceling within these windows may result in a full reservation charge. Always check Zipcar's site for the latest cancellation policy details.

Are pets allowed in Zipcars?

Pets are allowed in Zipcars but must be kept in a locked carrier at all times. This policy ensures the car remains clean and allergen-free for all members. Any damage or excessive dirt from pets can result in additional fees.

Do I need to pay for tolls when driving a Zipcar?

Yes, all toll fees incurred during your reservation are your responsibility. Some vehicles may have an electronic toll collection device, but it’s always good to be prepared with an alternative payment method.

What should I do if I get into an accident with a Zipcar?

Your safety is paramount. First, ensure you and all passengers are safe. Then, notify the police and ensure an official report is filed. After addressing immediate concerns, contact Zipcar’s 24/7 emergency line to inform them of the incident.


Booking a Zipcar offers a seamless and cost-effective solution for those in need of temporary transportation without the hassle of owning a car. Whether for a quick errand or a day-long adventure, understanding "how to book a Zipcar for a day" equips you with the flexibility to move around at your own pace. Embrace the freedom and convenience that Zipcar provides and navigate the urban roads with confidence and ease. Safe travels!

Dive into our article to discover the latest Zipcar discount codes. Don't miss out – ensure a more affordable ride today with the guides by Keep Driving.

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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