Car sharing vs. car rental: and Zipcar vs. Flexcar vs. Zipcar and
Also, have you tried to reserve a car when you're younger than 25? Oy vey. Some states it's ok, some states slap you with HEFTY fees. Car sharing doesn't do that. In fact, it's set up to be friendly to young adults in cities.
So I'm a Flexcar member and I just read all about the changes that are happening and what I need to know as a Flexcar member about the transition to Zipcar. And I'll tell you this. It's not a merger. It's a buyout.
Flexcars are becoming Zipcars. Flexcar plan members are being transitioned to Zipcar members. We have to pick a Zipcar plan. This will happen in DC in January
Let me tell you... the Zipcar plans aren't NEARLY as nice as the Flexcar ones. There's more fees, less plans to choose from and everything costs more. And the plan I currently use and love isn't available via Zipcar. It's the Auto Assurance plan. I commit to paying $9 a month for 6 months, I get 3 "free" hours of driving and then driving at the regular price from then on. As someone who does usually use a car 1x a month, but usually not 2 or 3, 3 hours at $9 is a lot cheaper than between $6 (for the deep discounted cars) and $10 an hour. But that plan is going away with the change over.
The annual fee for Zipcar is more... $50 a year. The cheapest hourly rates for cars is more for Zipcar.
Zipcar makes you agree to a plan and then they take the money from that plan to use the car, and then you just "refill" your plan money when you've used it up. Quite like Verizon does with their pre-paid cell phones. The cheapest plan is $50 a month, quite steep for someone like me. There's also a $75, $125 and a $250 plan. (However, they state that with some of those plans, you can do rollover driving credit. I need to find out more about this.)
Flexcar had you pay a certain amount a month and then the rates decreased. The cheapest "plan" you could get there, other than the one I mentioned above and the "pay nothing a month, just pay as you go at a higher rate" plan that they both have, is $30 a month, with choices also at 75, 150 and 200.
Oh, and Flexcar gives you a small kickback on your bill when you fill up the car when needed. They do the same with washing the car. Zipcar has none of that.
In short, this feels less like a merger and more like "big bad evil corporation" just bought out the smaller company with the better options. I'll have to see how much I like Zipcar after the changeover to see if I keep my account. It might just not be worth it in the end.
(Flickr image by Steve Rhodes.)