Zipcar in DC: Is It Worth It?

As someone who lives in the city and no longer owns a car, it was important that I was able to have access to some sort of transportation (outside of the public means) in case I needed it. When I (E) moved to DC four years ago and sold my car, I decided to get a yearly Zipcar membership. At the time I was only 21 and the thought of paying extra every time I rented a car was not ideal. Although I’ve only used Zipcar over the past few years, it’s been a huge help in getting around both within and outside of the city. I did a quick overview of the positives and negatives of Zipcar-ing in the district.

Pros:

  • Affordable, multiple membership options and tons of cars all over DC.
  • A typical membership costs around $70/year in addition to paying hourly which ranges from $8-$15 (depending on the type and size of the car).
  • You can pick them up and return them to the same spot OR do a one way ride (which needs to be booked at most 30 minutes in advance).
  • Great customer service that answers emails (and calls) in a timely manner.
  • Great for moving as you have the option of borrowing anything from a mini-cooper to a painters van.
  • Since it’s a “hip” company, their app works really well and allows you to unlock (and find the car), extend your trip, and easily contact support.
  • Gas is included (and the gas card is inside the car) so you never have to pay out of pocket for gas BUT if you do, save the receipt and they will reimburse you.
  • Toll passes are included in (most) cars for convenience and Bluetooth is also installed in mot cars (great for playing music or taking calls on long trips).
  • There are also options for insurance (as low as $9 a month) in case you do not have your own policy (or want to have all of your bases covered).
  • All cars that I’ne rented have been clean, returned on-time and with an acceptable amount of gas remaining in the tank.

Cons:

  • Every car includes 180 miles/day. If you go over this, you will be charged more (although no an absurd amount). If you’re looking to go on a road-trip across multiple state lines, I would suggest going with a different car sharing service.
  • Although there is a toll pass in the car, the cost of tolls are not included in the membership and will appear later on your statement (keep this in mind if you’re traveling through NYC).
  • While I have not experienced any setbacks with cars being returned late, dirty, or without gas, this is always as possibility as others are also using the same cars.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Zipcar (or another car-sharing alternative) as I’ve used it to move three times and on countless trips to visit family. If you’re planning on taking weekend trips (or multiple day-long trips) and are over the age of 25 I would suggest renting an actual car from National, Hertz, etc. as you will probably save money.