ZipCar Rental Rates & Pricing: Your Ultimate Guide

Published: September 1, 2023
Last updated: September 14, 2023

Navigating car rentals can be daunting, but with the emergence of services like ZipCar, many have found solace in easy-to-understand pricing models. In this guide, we will deep dive into the Zipcar rate system, offering you comprehensive insights so you can make an informed decision.

Overview of Zipcar

Zipcar, a pioneering car-sharing platform, allows its members to drive without the responsibility of owning a car. Available in many cities and university campuses, Zipcar has gained popularity among students, professionals, and those who need occasional access to a vehicle without the burdens of maintenance and parking. 

Zipcar boasts a user-friendly booking system. Their fleet offers a range from eco-friendly hybrids to luxury sedans. This versatility caters to varied needs. Zipcar is also dedicated to sustainability. Their efforts to reduce carbon footprints attract eco-conscious customers. Thus, Zipcar isn't just convenient—it's a green alternative to owning a car.

The Benefits of Using Zipcar Rates

Zipcar's pricing model is refreshingly straightforward. No hidden fees or surprise charges lurk in the fine print. This transparency means users can plan their trips without budgetary shocks. Additionally, the varied rate options cater to both short and long-term needs. Whether it's an hour-long errand or a weekend getaway, Zipcar offers affordable choices. It's this blend of clarity and versatility that gives users confidence in their selections.

Daily Rates

Overview of the Daily Rate System

Zipcar's daily rates provide a straightforward solution for those looking to have a car for extended periods. Rather than hourly charges, which might add up over long durations, the daily rate system ensures that users are charged a set amount, making it easier to predict and manage expenses. This price encompasses a full day, offering the freedom to go wherever you wish within the day without stressing about hourly ticking costs.

Advantages of the Daily Rate System

Opting for a daily rate with Zipcar is especially beneficial when your plans involve longer durations on the road. You're not constantly watching the clock, giving you peace of mind. The flat rate makes budgeting straightforward, as you know the exact cost upfront. Plus, the freedom of unlimited mileage ensures you don’t have to curtail your plans or be wary of extra distance-related charges.

Disadvantages of the Daily Rate System

However, everything has its flip side. If your plans only involve a few hours of car usage, the daily rate might not be the most economical choice. You'd be paying for a full day, even if you only use the vehicle for a short period. This can lead to feelings of not getting the most bang for your buck, especially when you realize an hourly rate might have been more cost-effective.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Daily Rate Plan

  • Duration of Use: Assess the total time you anticipate needing the car. A full day or more leans favorably towards the daily rate.

  • Short-term Needs: If your requirements span only a few hours, consider weighing the benefits of hourly rates against the daily option.

  • Budgeting: Understand your financial constraints. While the daily rate offers a predictable cost, it's not necessarily the most budget-friendly for short trips.

  • Unlimited Mileage: Factor in the distance you intend to cover. Extensive travel benefits from the unlimited mileage that comes with the daily rate.

  • Convenience: Think about the convenience of not watching the clock and having the car available for a spontaneous change of plans.

  • Comparative Costs: Always compare the daily rate against other available options. Sometimes promotions or member discounts can influence the decision.

  • Type of Activity: Consider the nature of your trip. If it involves multiple stops over the day, a daily rate might provide better value than hourly rates.

Hourly Rates

Overview of the Hourly Rate System

Zipcar's hourly rate system is intentionally tailored for individuals who require a vehicle for just a handful of hours. By booking with this system, users have the convenience of paying exclusively for the exact duration they plan on using the vehicle. This method not only provides substantial flexibility but also ensures cost-effectiveness, especially for shorter journeys or errands. Moreover, many hourly plans further enhance their value proposition by offering a specified number of miles per booked hour.

Advantages of the Hourly Rate System

The hourly rate system shines for those with short-term vehicular needs, such as running brief errands, attending meetings, or going on short day trips. Unlike other traditional car rental models, where you might pay for a full day, with Zipcar, you're charged only for the hours you reserve, preventing any undue expenses. Another notable advantage is the inclusion of mileage with many of these hourly plans. So, when you book for an hour or two, a predetermined amount of mileage is typically included, which can be a boon for short but essential trips. Furthermore, this system offers spontaneous booking freedom, allowing users to grab a car for a couple of hours without the commitment or cost of a full day.

Disadvantages of the Hourly Rate System

On the flip side, if your travel needs unexpectedly extend beyond a few hours, the accumulated hourly rate can quickly become more costly than a flat daily rate. Another caveat to be mindful of is the mileage cap. Some hourly rate plans might come with a restriction on the permissible driving distance within that hour. Exceeding this distance could trigger additional charges. Finally, popular times or peak hours might present challenges in terms of vehicle availability, or, in some instances, could carry a slightly elevated rate due to increased demand.

Factors to Consider when Choosing an Hourly Rate Plan

  • Usage Timeframe: Assess your exact car needs. This rate might be your best bet if it's just for a few hours.

  • Travel Distance: Evaluate the distance you intend to travel and check if it aligns with the included mileage.

  • Car Availability: Ensure that your desired car model is available during your preferred hours.

  • Purpose of Rental: If your plans involve multiple short stops, this rating system could offer the best value.

  • Comparative Costs: Always stack the hourly rate against other available rates and take note of any member discounts or ongoing promotions.

Membership Plans

Overview of Membership Plans

With an intention to suit the unique driving needs of its diverse clientele, Zipcar has rolled out a range of membership plans. These plans are meticulously designed to cater to everyone — from the sporadic weekend traveler to the daily commuter. The essence of Zipcar's membership approach lies in its adaptability, ensuring that members always find a plan that matches their driving patterns and budgetary considerations.

Benefits and Costs of Different Membership Plans

Occasional Driving Plans

This plan is the embodiment of flexibility. As its name suggests, the Occasional Driving Plan is tailored for individuals who don't need a vehicle on a routine basis but want access to one for unplanned trips, special occasions, or random errands. By paying a modest yearly or monthly membership fee, members have the freedom to drive whenever the need arises, only paying for the specific hours or days they use the car. One of the striking benefits is the avoidance of regular maintenance costs, insurance premiums, and other obligations tied to car ownership, making it a cost-effective choice for infrequent drivers.

Monthly Driving Plans

Designed with regular drivers in mind, the Monthly Driving Plans are for those who find themselves behind the wheel more often than not. These plans come with a consistent monthly fee, ensuring members enjoy reduced hourly and daily rates. This becomes incredibly advantageous for users who drive frequently, offering significant savings over time. Additionally, with a Monthly Driving Plan, members often enjoy priority booking and added perks, enhancing the overall car-sharing experience. The predictable billing cycle aids in budget planning, while the lower driving rates ensure maximum value for regular users.


How does Zipcar handle insurance coverage for its members?

Zipcar typically provides insurance coverage as part of its service. When you reserve a Zipcar, insurance is included in the rate. However, it's always a good idea to check the specific details and limits of the policy. If you're looking for additional coverage, you might consider purchasing your own supplemental insurance.

Are there any age restrictions for Zipcar memberships?

Yes, Zipcar requires drivers to be at least 21 years old for most places. However, on affiliated university campuses, students can register with Zipcar as young as 18 years of age. Always check local regulations, as they can vary.

Are there any additional fees with Zipcar rate plans?

Yes, late return fees or fees for exceeding mileage limits may apply.

Can I take a Zipcar to another city or state?

Yes, you can take a Zipcar to another city or state. As long as you return the car to its original reservation location and within your reserved time, you can travel freely. Always remember to factor in your return trip when planning your journey, especially when considering hourly reservations.

What happens if the Zipcar I've reserved has a mechanical issue or is in an accident?

Zipcar has 24/7 roadside assistance and customer support. If you face any issues, be it mechanical or due to an accident, you can contact them for assistance. Depending on the situation, they might provide you with another vehicle or offer other solutions to ensure your safety and convenience.


Understanding the Zipcar rate structure is essential to optimize your spending and enjoy the benefits of this car-sharing platform. Whether you're an occasional driver or someone who needs frequent access to a car, Zipcar's flexible rate system has something to offer everyone. Before you book your next ride, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each plan to find the one best suited to your needs.

Dive into our detailed guide to understand Zipcar’s cancellation policy for a hassle-free experience with the carsharing company. Stay informed and drive with confidence!

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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