What Is The Best Carsharing Services?

Why choose a car sharing service over a traditional car rental company.

Today’s travelers have no shortage of options when it comes to renting a car. In particular, the rise of car-sharing services has revolutionized the way people travel.

According to an industry analysis by movmi and the Car Sharing Association (CSA), as of May 2019, car sharing is available in 59 countries, with 236 car sharing operators in 3,128 cities.

But why choose a car-sharing service over a traditional car rental company like Enterprise or Hertz?CSA Executive Director Pam Cooley says it often comes down to cost: Carpooling is usually cheaper than car rental companies, she says. In fact, it’s estimated that car-sharing prices are about 30 percent lower than car rental prices.

However, Cooley added, if you’re a traveler, you have to research what businesses are operating in your destination.

To help you narrow down your car-sharing options, let’s take a look at three of the largest companies in the industry: Zipcar, Turo and Car2Go. here’s a general overview of these services:


How it works: Zipcar users pay a monthly membership fee in exchange for a Zipcard, which they can scan on their device for less than a dollar. The windshield of the rental vehicle of their choice opens and locks the car at the beginning and end of each reservation. Each car has a reserved parking space (called a “family spot”) where at least a quarter of the fuel tank must be returned. Members make reservations through Zipcar’s website or mobile app, which is used to locate the rental car location.

What: Zipcar pays for gas, insurance and maintenance. It also offers dedicated parking spaces in many areas. All reservations include up to 180 miles of driving per day.

Cost: Membership fees start at $7 per month or $70 per year. In return, Zipcar members can rent a car from $7.75 per hour or $69 per day. (Rates vary by vehicle type.) Each car rental includes a free gas card, so customers pay nothing to fill up at the pump.

Launched in 2000, it is the world’s largest car-sharing service. The company operates in more than 500 cities and towns and on more than 600 college campuses worldwide.

Fleet: Zipcar offers members more than 60 different makes and models of vehicles, including Audis, BMWs, Mini Coopers, Prius hybrids, minivans, pickups and vans.

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How it works: Unlike Zipcar, Turo users rent cars directly from local owners. Owners can choose to price their own vehicles or let Turo price them based on local market data. Customers can book through Turo’s website or mobile app, and they can also set pick-up dates and times to suit their schedule. In exchange for the car keys, the owner will deliver the car to a customized location in town or at a nearby airport, or allow the traveler to pick up the car at a location of the owner’s choosing.

Contents: Depending on the vehicle, insurance is provided by the driver or owner of the Turo company. The owner can choose the number of miles or kilometers per trip, which can be a daily, weekly or monthly limit. turo offers 24/7 roadside assistance.

Price: In addition to the owner’s rental fee, there is a travel fee per vehicle (varies by location), a deposit and tax. (Some owners also charge a delivery fee.) Owners may also require renters to pay additional post-trip fees, such as cleaning and tolls. Usually, renters pay for their own gasoline. Car renters are not charged a membership fee.

Although Turo has a presence in many cities around the world, its main markets are in the United States, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Germany and the United Kingdom in Canada.

Fleet: Looking for an exotic or luxury vehicle? While car availability depends on location and availability, Turo production and models typically include Teslas, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maseratis and more. Economy cars, crossovers, minivans, and pickups are also available.

More about car sharing: Getaround personalizes the car rental experience


How it works: car2go is a German car rental company with a simple business model: Customers use the service’s mobile app to search for available vehicles in their area. Vehicles are parked on the street or in designated parking lots. Customers can use the app (no reservation required) to access the car, drive it as long as they want, and then park it in any legal parking space in the designated area, such as within the city limits, which means there is no need to return it to its original location. (It’s a nice convenience.)

What: Auto insurance is provided by car2go. The company also offers 24-hour curbside service and free parking in certain areas.

Cost: There are no annual or monthly fees or membership fees. Cars can be rented by the minute, hour or day. Prices vary by model, city and time of day. But to give you a benchmark: In Washington, D.C., a one-hour car rental starts at $16. Some pick-up and drop-off locations, such as airports, may charge an additional fee. In addition, customers pay a $50 cleaning fee for stains, smoke and pet hair.

Availability: The company operates in major cities in the U.S. and Europe, including New York, Seattle, London, Rome and Paris. One big caveat: In October 2019 car2go announced it will pull out of five North American cities: Austin, TX; Calgary, Alberta; Portland, Oregon; Denver; and Chicago.

Fleet: The company offers three types of vehicles: the Smart (a small two-seater perfect for squeezing into tight parking spaces), the Mercedes-Benz GLA (a hatchback that offers an extra cargo space) and the Mercedes-Benz CLA (a stylish four-seater sedan).

The verdict

The best car sharing service really depends on your needs. If you travel a lot and rent cars frequently, it may make financial sense to spend the money to become a Zipcar member, as the company offers relatively low rental rates. If you only need a car to get you from point a to point b, then car2go is a great option because you can leave the car wherever you choose. Meanwhile, Turo offers a number of sports cars that you won’t find at other car sharing providers.

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