Car2Go vs Zipcar: Which service is right for you?

By | March 12, 2015

Car2Go vs Zipcar: Which service is right for you?



Many millennials find themselves thinking: Car2Go vs Zipcar.  At the age of 30, after having a car since I was 16, I decided to sell my car and not purchase a new one.  I live and work in downtown Seattle.  Financially and logistically it no longer made sense for me to own a car.

In Seattle, as in many other dense urban areas, car sharing is quickly gaining popularity.  The two big companies are Car2Go and Zipcar.  A third company, ReachNow, is now in Seattle and Portland.  But these companies may be useful to more than just city dwellers.  The frequent traveler may want to add a membership to their arsenal of weapons of the trade (and their mixed metaphors).  First, here are the main differences between the two:

Zipcar vs Car2Go

car2go vs zipcar

To boil it down, Car2Go is ideal for quick trips from Point A to Point B within the city.  Zipcar is for longer trips that start and finish at Point A, with ability to go to Point B, Point C, & Point D in between.  I don’t like to think of these companies as competitors, but as complimentary to one another.  Maybe rather than Car2Go vs Zipcar, it should be Car2Go & Zipcar.

So why would either of these be a good option for a traveler?  Let me explore Car2Go vs Zipcar for you.

Lots of cars available

Lots of cars nearby

Zipcar Example

When I was visiting San Fransisco for pleasure I was staying at Fisherman’s Wharf.  The parking there was very expensive and public transit was easy.  For most of my stay I used the BART or MUNI.  However, I wanted to go visit some friends in Palo Alto for an afternoon.  So for a few hours I reserved a Zipcar from my iPhone app (they had a number of cars available near my hotel).  I walked to the car, used my RFID enabled membership card to unlock, got in and explored the area.  Then I returned it to the reserved home space of that car and tap out to lock the car again, making sure to leave it with at least 1/4 tank of gas.  Way cheaper and more convenient than renting a car.

Looks like you can’t park on the Mall

Car2Go Example

I haven’t used my Car2Go membership in other cities but I can imagine a scenario in Washington DC.  I am finished touring the White House and I want to get back to my hotel but it’s late and my feet are tired.  So I pull up the iPhone app, reserve the closest available car (IF there is one available and near by), walk to the car, use my RFID enabled membership card or the app itself to unlock, get in and drive to my hotel.  Maybe it is low on gas so I fill it up to get a free 20 minutes of drive time.  When I get to the hotel, I would just park the car at any on-street parking spot and tap out to lock the car.  Done.

Now, if you are doing a mileage run and are only going to be in a city for a few hours, Zipcar actually has cars at a number of airport locations.  Might be a fun way to see Baltimore (or wherever else you go for those coveted miles).

Zipcar does have the $6 monthly membership fee so may not make sense to sign up unless you know you are going to use it frequently.  There are often promos for $50 drive credit when you sign up; search online or ask me in the comments and I can send you a link.

Car2Go, however, is a simple one time fee (then pay as you use), so I don’t see a reason not to get a membership for $35.  Often times they have promos where they wave the membership fee altogether.

Interested in alternative means of transportation?  Check out my post on Bolt Bus or read about the new car service ReachNow.

What is your take on the Car2Go vs Zipcar debate?


Zipcar now offers one-way trips including drives to the airport and monthly commuter plans in certain markets.


Note:  I am not paid by Car2Go, ReachNow, or Zipcar.  I am not a spokesperson.  They do not pay me to write about their companies.  These are just my thoughts about these useful services.  However, if you want to sign up and support this blog, you can do so below:

  • If you want to sign up for ReachNow and support this blog, you can get a $20 credit through this link (note: you need to be on a mobile device to get this).  Full disclosure, I get $20 credit too. 
  • If you want to sign up for Zipcar and support this blog, you can get a $25 credit through this link.  Full disclosure, I get $25 credit too.

4 thoughts on “Car2Go vs Zipcar: Which service is right for you?

  1. Garry Potts

    Very helpful comparison—especially the one-way trips difference. Thanks!

    1. Alan Post author

      Thanks! Glad it can help. I definitely find both services helpful at different times.

  2. SirFrancis

    If you are staying for four days for a wedding of your best friend and you happen to be best man in. My frat brothers are also part of the wedding and used zipcar to attempt to reserve a car for me, which still has not com in the mail till today. My flight leaves tomorrow and returns Sunday evening which would you personally use seeing as I have both apps on my Iphone?

    1. Alan Post author

      Do you need a car the entire four days? Or just for getting around the city? If you need a car the entire time, Zipcar would probably be a better option for you. Just getting from point A to point B? Try Car2Go or ReachNow (if in Seattle or Portland).


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