Best Car Sharing Services Compared: A Guide To Short-Term Car Rentals

Americans today are looking for the most cost-effective ways to move about. As the average price for a new vehicle continues to increase, car sharing services have become a viable option.

You can think of car sharing as a short-term rental service, enabling you to drive a specific vehicle when and how you need it. And while car sharing has a lot of upsides, there are particular drawbacks you need to consider as well.

This guide will help you determine which car sharing service is right for you.

What Are The Advantages of Car Sharing?

  • Expenses: Car sharing helps you save on gasoline, parking fees, maintenance costs, taxes, vehicle registration, insurance, and various other fixed monthly costs. Those expenses are inclusive in the per-minute or per-hour cost of renting the vehicle.
  • Occasional Use: Car sharing is a practical alternative for those on a budget who don’t necessarily need a full-time vehicle.
  • Selection: Easily able to choose what you need for specific trips. Need a small car for a quick run to the shopping mall or grocery store? Do you need a larger truck for moving, or an SUV for a family vacation? Many car sharing services and the vehicles they offer are accessible via an app on your smartphone.
  • Flexible: Car sharing services are an easy and affordable way to get behind the wheel without buying or leasing the vehicle, or beholding yourself to a preset public transportation schedule.
  • Green: If you are concerned about carbon emissions and pollution, then consider a car sharing service. You can choose a hybrid or – in some cases – a fully-electric vehicle for your trip.
  • Easy: Car sharing is nothing more than choosing the vehicle you want, and waiting for it to arrive at your home. When you’re done, return the car and that’s basically it.
  • Passive Income: Car sharing allows you to earn money from your privately-owned vehicle(s). New cars are cheap to run but expensive to buy. Car sharing services will give you the ability to maximize the use of a particular vehicle. Going on a long business trip abroad? Instead of parking your vehicle at the airport lot, car sharing gives you the opportunity to earn money while you’re away.

What Are The Disadvantages of Car Sharing?

  • Costly: Car sharing is costly if you need to drive every day. This also holds true if you cover a lot of miles on your typical work day commute. If this is the case, leasing or buying your own vehicle is more economical in the long run.
  • Range: Car sharing services may sound convenient, but not if you live far away from parking garages or drop-off points.

What Are The Types of Car Sharing Services?

  1. Traditional car sharing where a company owns the cars; and
  2. Peer-to-peer car sharing, where you rent the vehicle from private car owners or lenders.
This comprehensive guide will take you through the basics of car sharing and help you pick a service that’s right for you.

Traditional Car Sharing Services

Zipcar

Zipcar logoZipcar was established in 2000 and is one of the most popular car sharing services in the United States. They are a traditional service as a subsidiary of Avis Car Rental. As of July 2019, the service is available in more than 170 cities in 44 states, as well as Canada and Europe.

Zipcar offers a bevy of driving plans, including one for occasional driving with no monthly commitments, and an extra value plan for frequent drivers. The monthly rates will vary by city and model. You can expect to pay a daily rate of $66.00 to $78.00 for a 24-hour period or approximately $8.00 to $10.00 per hour depending on the chosen plan.

The monthly driving plan is $7.00 per month while the extra value plan is $50.00 per month. New customers can enjoy $25.00 in free driving credits; students may also receive special discounts and credits.

Photo: Zipcar.

What Are The Pros of Zipcar?

  • Location: Available at almost all airports and college campuses in the United States.
  • Selection: Zipcar has a huge fleet of cargo vans, pickup trucks, luxury vehicles, SUVs, and hybrid cars.
  • Peace of Mind: The service comes with 24/7 roadside assistance and a rental option of up to seven days.
  • Range: Every reservation includes 180 miles per day. If you need more, Zipcar will simply charge an additional $0.45 per mile.
  • Gas & Insurance Included: Each vehicle comes with a gas card. You can use it to fill up the tank and Zipcar will handle the rest. All Zipcar members are covered with comprehensive insurance.
  • Simple: After applying online, your Zipcard is mailed to you, giving you access to thousands of vehicles worldwide. Book your ride, tap the Zipcard on the car’s windshield to unlock the vehicle, and you’re ready to hit the road.

What Are The Cons of Zipcar?

  • Drop-Off Location: You are required to return the vehicle where you picked it up.
  • Added Fees: You’ll get hit with penalty fees ($50.00 to $150.00) for late returns and low fuel.

Verdict: Zipcar is available in more cities and airports across the country, and offers competitive rates within a range of plans. The widespread availability makes it an ideal choice for business travelers too.

If you join using our link, you’ll get a $25 free credit when you create an account.

Enterprise Car Share

Enterprise CarShare logoEnterprise Car Share is found in a handful of U.S. cities and on 130 college campuses. The service is also available in the UK and Canada. Enterprise Car Share is part of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and leverages the company’s experience in the rental car industry. While rates are competitive, the reach in the U.S. is limited.

If you live in New York City, Enterprise Car Share offers two types of plans: Smart Saver and pay-as-you-go. Smart Saver charges an annual membership fee of $40.00 and will cost you around $79.00 to $175.00 daily; and $9.00 to $18.00 per hour depending on the chosen vehicle. Pay-as-you-go starts around $50.00 per month with hourly rates starting at $7.65. Houston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis are among the other major metropolitan areas Enterprise Car Share covers.

What Are The Pros of Enterprise Car Share?

  • Gas & Insurance: Both are included.
  • Location: Available in airports and on college campuses.
  • Range: Lengthy mileage allowance of 180 miles to 200 miles.
  • Flexibility: Offers customized plans for small businesses and government agencies.
  • Selection: Enterprise Car Share offers sedans, pickups, hybrids, and electric vehicles.
  • Rates: Slightly lower rates than other car sharing services. You can rent a vehicle 24/7 by the hour, per day, or overnight depending on your needs.

What Are The Cons of Enterprise Car Share?

  • Less Flexible: You must return the car where you picked it up.
  • Rates: Nothing is set. Rates will depend on the time of day or day of the week.
  • Availability: Enterprise Car Share is not available in most U.S. metropolitan areas. As of this writing, only 11 cites appear on their website.

Verdict: With the ability to rent a vehicle by the hour, Enterprise Car Share is best for shorter trips. The service also includes free pick-up if you reserve a vehicle from a non-airport location. However, the limited availability in the U.S. might mean you end up using another service anyway. Enterprise Car Share is, however, much more expansive in the United Kingdom.

Car2Go

Car2go LogoCar2Go was established in Germany in 2008. It is now available in many North American and European cities and comes with no annual or monthly fees, and no membership costs. Their service model lets you grab an available vehicle from designated parking lots in your city. No reservations required! After you’re done with the trip, the process ends by parking the vehicle in the appointed spot and walking away. You don’t need to return the vehicle to the same pick-up point either.

The rates of Car2Go will vary by vehicle model and location. Typical rates start around $0.41 per minute and around $14.99 per hour. Daily rates start at less than $85.00.

Photo: Car2Go.

What Are The Pros of Car2Go?

  • Gas & Insurance: Both are included.
  • Rates: No membership fees and no late return fees.
  • Peace of Mind: 24/7 roadside assistance is standard.
  • Grab & Go: Per minute rentals are available, making it ideal for short trips around the city.
  • Flexibility: No need to return the vehicle to the same pick-up point. Return it to the appropriate “Home Zone” and you’re done!

What Are The Cons of Car2Go?

  • Selection: Smaller fleet of available vehicles.
  • Availability: The service is not yet available at airports and covers fewer cities.

Verdict: Car2Go needs to increase their coverage and service fleet to fully compete in the market. However, the hassle-free return policy and competitive rates are a strong point of Car2Go.

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Services

Turo

Turo logoWhen it comes to peer-to-peer car sharing services, Turo is a hands-down favorite. However, there’s a catch: the service only offers daily or weekly rates, meaning it might only be ideal for longer driving scenarios. If you just need to go grocery shopping or run a few quick errands, why pay an entire day’s rate? In terms of selection, however, Turo is top-notch. The service offers the opportunity to rent a wide array of vehicles courtesy of local owners. This includes luxury sedans, premium SUVs, and even sporty cars or coupes.

Turo is available at more than 300 airports and over 4,500 U.S. cities. What we really like about Turo is the doorstep pick-up and drop-off feature. There’s no need to look for official home areas or parking lots, and the vehicle is sent to you at no additional cost. When you’re done, simply park it outside your house and Turo will collect it.

There are no sign-up or membership fees either. Daily rates start at around $18.00 to $30.00 with an additional rental fee of 10 percent. The owner of the vehicle will set the mileage rates (approximately 200 miles per day). The service will charge a fee of $0.75 per mile if you exceed the prescribed mileage.

Photo: Turo.

What Are The Pros of Turo?

  • Availability: Turo sends the vehicle directly to your location.
  • Selection: Wide array of vehicles including luxury and sports cars.
  • Rates: No membership or sign-up fees. The daily and weekly rates are lower than other services.
  • Passive Income: The owner of the vehicle gets a $1M liability policy and will pocket 75 percent of rental and over-mileage fees.

What Are The Cons of Turo?

  • Availability: The service does not offer hourly or per-minute rates.
  • Expenses: You will pay for your own gas. Fuel expenses are separate from the rental fees.
  • Other Fees: If you are under 25, an extra fee applies (an additional 20 percent based on the rental rate).

Verdict: Turo works well if you are doing a full day’s worth of driving, or need a vehicle for a longer period of time. Its widespread availability means you likely will have access to the service in larger U.S. metro areas.

Create an account on Turo and get started renting, or if you want to make money from your car, sign up here to list your car for rent.

Getaround

getaround logoSimilar to Turo, Getaround is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. But unlike Turo, it offers low hourly rates, making it perfect for short trips or occasional users. However, Getaround is only available in select U.S. cities, namely Washington D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Chicago, and Portland.

Rates start around $5.00 per hour and up to $45.00 per hour, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. Customers can also expect to pay a three percent booking fee for each trip. Daily rates will vary upon the owner’s behest as will the mileage limits. You can expect to pay $0.50 per mile if you exceed the limit, and a late return fee of $50.00 to $500.00, depending on the vehicle.

If you want to list your vehicle on Getaround, you’ll need to pay a one-time installation fee of $99.00 and a $20.00 per month subscription fee. The fees will cover the remote tracking and unlocking system.

What Are The Pros of Getaround?

  • Peace of Mind: Comes with 24/7 roadside assistance.
  • Rates: Lower per hour rates and no membership or sign-up fees (a perk for occasional users).
  • Selection: Good selection of vehicles including convertibles, luxury cars, vans, and exotic rides.

What Are The Cons of Getaround?

  • Expenses: You pay for your own gas.
  • Availability: Only available in a handful of U.S. cities as of this writing.
  • Passive Income: Vehicle owners receives 60 percent of the fees versus 75 percent with Turo.

Verdict: Similar to Enterprise Car Share and Car2Go, Getaround suffers from limited availability. However, the hourly rates make it ideal for shorter trips and one-off users.

Sign up for Getaround here.

Conclusion

Our top choice for a traditional car sharing service is Zipcar. The service is available in more cities and airports nationwide and offers a wider selection of vehicles. For peer-to-peer services, it’s hard to go wrong with Turo. The service might not offer hourly or per-minute rentals, but it does come with lower daily and weekly rates compared to other car sharing services. It’s also available in more cities.

Join Zipcar here and get $25 in free driving credits.

Do you have a car sharing service you use regularly? Let us know by commenting below or on our Twitter page.

Read This Next
Man calling for help because car broken down
Does Auto Repair Insurance Provide Enough Coverage?