How to Rent a Car by the Hour
by Joy Anderson, Guest Blogger
editor of GermanyAtChristmas.com
I can’t remember the first time I heard about Zipcar, but I remember the first time I rented one. I was on a trip to New York, staying down in Soho, and needed a car for only a few hours to travel north of the city. But I didn’t know how to rent a car by the hour.
I knew from past experience that renting a car in Manhattan from a traditional agency was very expensive and sometimes not even possible due to lack of available vehicles.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Zipcar, its motto is: “Wheels when you want them!” The company describes itself as “the world’s leading car-sharing network,” with more than 605,000 members looking for a convenient, cost-effective, and enjoyable alternative to car ownership, allowing you to rent a car by the hour if that’s all you need.
Zipcar’s self-service vehicles are available on-demand in reserved parking spots conveniently located in neighborhoods where members live and work. Members can rent a car by the hour or by the day at rates which include gas [yes, gas!], insurance, and more.
Zipcar operates a fleet of more than 9,000 vehicles in 15 major metropolitan areas (such as New York, Boston, and Chicago) and on more than 230 college campuses in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Back to my own experiences: I joined Zipcar right before that New York trip and, because I belonged to a particular professional association, I didn’t need to pay the $25 activation fee and only half the $50 annual fee. (Note: A number of companies have corporate Zipcar accounts that their employees can use.)
While you can join Zipcar online, I was in a hurry so I went to the Atlanta office and got my card right away.
This card acts as a key to any Zipcar anywhere, as long as you have a valid reservation. Hold it over the card reader on the windshield and it unlocks the vehicle (thank you, radio frequency identification technology). When reserving, you get to choose your preferred pick-up location and any available car that lives there.
I’ve used Zipcar more than once in Manhattan and also in Atlanta on a day when we needed a second car for a few hours. It is really great to be able to rent a car by the hour.
If you need phone support, the staff is smart and knowledgeable. Details about rates are on the Zipcar website. When I rented in New York I really appreciated having an EZ Pass on the windshield so that I could zip through tolls (billed back to your credit card). And you have got to love that free gas!!!
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