Living in a big city comes with advantages and disadvantages. I could rattle off a few, but one of the biggest advantages is endless transportation options. Both Julie and Kathryn moved to Philadelphia from cities where we both relied on our cars for everything. But now, after living in a big city, we started to wonder if we actually needed to own a car. We decided to do that math. Per month, I was spending $1,080 ($400 car payment + $300 parking + $180 insurance + $125 monthly gas + $75 maintenance). That averages up to and around $12,960 a year! That’s a lot of money just to shade a parking spot in South Philly. It was time to start rethinking car ownership.
Trust us, we thought long and hard about this and really researched our options on ways to get around the city. If you live in the city, walking is the norm. We are fortunate enough to live within walking distance from work (extra cardio FTW!) so a car wasn’t necessary. Our biggest concern was those days we needed to drive outside of our walking bubble or for those long hauls at the mall or grocery store. Instead of going through the hassle of renting a car or being the “annoying one” of your group of friends who always ask to borrow their car, we have the perfect solution: Zipcar.
For those of you who haven’t heard about Zipcar, it’s life changing! You pay $7 a month (depending on location) for a membership, which includes gas, insurance, and up to 180 miles per use (if you go over the 180 miles, you pay a little extra). After that, the only charge you have is when you reserve a car. Those charges are based on car type and length of time. Obviously, if I want to rent a Mercedes for a few hours it’s going to cost more than a Honda Civic. But hey, sometimes you have to treat yourself!
Once you sign up for membership you will receive a Zip Card in the mail (the card is how you lock and unlock the car and activate your ride), then you download their user-friendly app and you will be on your way to Zipping! What we love most is the ability to book in advance. If you have an upcoming meeting in the middle of the week, no problem, you can reserve your zip car for future days and know how much it will cost you before even reserving the car. Just choose your date, time frame, car (which determines the hourly rate) and pick-up location from either Zipcar.com or from the app and you are all set. You will receive an email confirmation with all the details along with instructions. And don’t worry, their support staff is super friendly and they’re there for you around the clock.
The six simple rules to follow when using Zipcar:
- Keep the car clean (remove your items and trash after each use)
- Report any damages (ideally before you start driving the car)
- No smoking in a Zipcar
- Fill up the tank when it gets low (it’s included with the cost, and you wouldn’t want to get into a car that was empty so respect others and fill up the tank when it gets below a quarter tank)
- Keep pets in carriers
- Return on time (if you’re going to be late at all, be sure to call the support team so they can inform the next driver)
Zipcar has been a game changer in our lives and if you are ever thinking about car sharing, be sure to check them out. It indeed is the most straightforward system to navigate. People think you lose your independence because you don’t own a car and we can tell you that it’s not the case with Zipcar. And as you can tell from our calculations above…it was a smart move.
Here are some things we have learned and for you to keep in mind:
- Always have your card with you. You use it to lock and unlock the car (keys stay in the car at all times) and you cannot operate your vehicle if you don’t have it.
- Since gas is included be sure to always keep the tank full. Helps pay it forward to the next rider.
- Always return the car where you picked it up.
- Give yourself enough time to do your errands and get the vehicle back on time. You have the ability to extend your time throughout your ride but only if the car is still available.
- Reserve in advance as many cars book quickly and you don’t want to be stuck without a car nearby.
- Enjoy the freedom of not being nailed down with all those car expenses and go buy yourself something special with all the money you will save!
- Using Zipcar for work? After each ride, Zipcar will provide you a detailed receipt for easy expense reporting.
Have you ever used Zipcar or any car sharing company? Please share your experience.