Can Car Sharing Cut your Travel Costs?

Car sharing services like RelayCars and ZipCar are becoming increasingly popular. They provide an alternative to car ownership, making them particularly useful for drivers living in urban settings. However, do they really save you money? How do rental fees for car sharing service measure up to other alternatives like traditional car rental or public transportation? It’s worth taking a closer look at how these services work to find out if they could help you cut your transportation costs.

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How Car Sharing Works

There are a variety of different car sharing companies and schemes, but the basic principles remain the same. Most require you to sign up for membership, which may require a monthly fee or a deposit. It’s best to shop around to compare these different terms of membership to find the most affordable option near you. There may be several different rate plans to choose from even within a single provider. Once you’ve become a member, you can then reserve cars as needed either online, over the phone, or by using a mobile app. There are usually several models to choose from, whether you have read this Subaru Forester review and determined you need an SUV for a family day out, or prefer a small and efficient Prius. The service will send you a card which can be used to unlock the car, and once you’ve reserved one you can then use this to pick up the car at the desired location.

One of the ways in which car sharing can save you money is that the cost of insurance and fuel are usually included in a single rate. You can drive it as much as you like for the designated time period, and only pay your membership fee and then the agreed upon hourly or per-mile rate.

Car Sharing vs. Car Rental

At heart, car sharing is quite similar to traditional car rental. However, it allows you to rent a car for a shorter period of time, such as for a couple of hours to get to an important job interview or run a few errands. You’ll only be paying for the time and distance that you travel, rather than pay extra for a full 24 hour period. Car sharing services also allow you to access a car at any time of day rather than simply during the workday. Cars are spread across town, so you can access them without travelling to the airport or central train station to get to a rental office.

A Greener Approach to Transportation

Car sharing can potentially save you money in comparison to traditional car hire or full-time car ownership. You only pay for a car when and where you need it. However, a further benefit is that it reduces your impact on the environment. Many fleets are composed of environmentally-friendly cars, and car sharing can lead to fewer cars on the road because they streamline use. Car sharing leads many drivers to use the car less, in a bid to save money. You can consolidate your trips and only reserve a car when you really need it.

In terms of time, money, and sustainability, there are numerous benefits to considering a ride sharing membership. For those who need to commute long distances or use a car for business purposes, it may be better to buy a car. Yet for those who only use a car occasionally, this is an alternative worth considering.