Save Money With Zipcar
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Save Money With Zipcar

Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 12:12 pm
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Owning a car is becoming increasingly expensive these days, but now there is a new option for getting around: Zipcar. Zipcar allows you to borrow a car when you need it for a fraction of the cost of owning your own car. By choosing to car share with Zipcar, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars a month!

Who is Zipcar Right For?

Zipcar is a great option for anyone looking…

  • … to save money. Zipcar members report an average monthly savings of over $500 in comparison to owning a car.
  • … occasional relief from public transportation.
  • … to escape the expenses and hassles of owning a car.
  • … for a weekend getaway car. For example, Zipcar has cars at many universities, which is a great option for students living on campus.
  • … to reduce their carbon footprint and go green (Oh yeah, Zipcar offers hybrid options too!).
  • … for an occasional second car.
  • … for a little fun. Let’s say, you own a mini van, but you want a convertible. Zipcar has those too.
  • … for a little utility or practicality. Perhaps you already own the convertible, but you need a truck or SUV once in a while. Zipcar can do that.
  • … for a company car.


How Does it Work?

Getting into a Zipcar is quick and easy, just follow these steps:

  1. Join. First you have to apply. Once you are approved, you will receive a Zipcard which will grant you access to the Zipcar of your choice.
  2. Reserve. You can reserve a Zipcar online or by phone, for an hour or a whole day.
  3. Unlock. Walk to your Zipcar’s designated parking space, hold you Zipcard up to the windshield, and voila! The doors unlock and it’s all yours.
  4. Drive. Gas and insurance are included, all you have to do is return the Zipcar to its parking spot at the end of your reservation.


How Much Does it Cost?

First, go to and enter your location in the search bar. There are two plan options: the occasional driving plan and extra value plans. The occasional driving plan is best for first time car sharers and new members because there is no monthly commitment and you pay as you go. There is an annual fee of around $60 and an application fee of $25 (exact prices vary by city/university). In San Francisco, for example, the driving rates on this plan start at $7.75 per hour or $68-$72 per day. In comparison, the cheapest rental car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in San Francisco is over $110 per day.

The extra value plans are best for people who want to use Zipcar frequently as their primary mode of transportation. This plan requires one of four monthly commitments: $50, $75, $125, or $250. With this plan there is no annual fee and you will receive discounted driving rates. The more you drive, the more you’ll save.

To put the savings of car sharing in perspective, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that car ownership and operation is the second largest household expense in the United States. According to statistics from 2004, the average family spends over $600 a month on car expenses! Car sharing can free up a large portion of this money.

How is Zipcar Different from Rental Cars?

Unlike rental cars, Zipcar is there anytime you need it, for as little or as much time as you need it. All-in-all, if you think car sharing could suit your lifestyle, then Zipcar might be just the thing for you. It is easier and more cost-effective than owning or renting a car.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.