The cost of using ZipCar

About a year ago I tweeted about my ZipCar usage in 2015, and as I was doing my accounting I realised I should do a similar thing for 2016.

See, I’ve had my driver’s license for a few years now. Yes, I did own a car for a year because it’s notoriously hard to rent a car within your first year of having your license, but I got rid of it after a year.

Since about 2014 I have been living without a car and I have mainly been using ZipCar when I needed a car. If you’re not familiar with ZipCar, it’s one of those car sharing services where you pay an hourly or daily fee every time you want to use one of the cars parked conveniently near you.

The base rate for a ZipCar membership in London is about £60/year. For that, I get access to 2 cars within 5-minute walk of my home, another 10 within a 10-minute bus ride, and also every other car they have all over the UK. Those include some larger cars, minivans, and proper big vans that I sometimes use for a trip to IKEA.

Breakdown

Besides the yearly membership cost there is a fee for each individual rental. For the past year my breakdown came down the following.

Membership Fee       £59.90
Minivan 1 day 1x   £94
Regular car 1 day 1x   £64
Regular car 1 hour 5x £7 £35
Regular car 0.5 hour 2x £3.5 £7
Regular car 1.5 hour 1x   £10.5
Regular car (Weekend) 4 hour 1x   £34
Regular car () 4 hour 1x   £34
Audi A3 1/2 hour 1x   £8
Audi A3 (Weekend) 3 hour 1x   £28.5
Refunds       £10
Total   14x   £330.50
Average/trip       £23.61

In other words: for less than £24 a trip I’ve had 14 trips that included insurance (excluding a damage fee per incident) and fuel (up to a limit). I did a quick check on CompareTheMarket and if I were to buy a 12-year-old Ford KA for about £500 today I’d pay at least £800 for insurance alone!

Caveats

There are some obvious caveats here. Firstly I live in central London, my wife works in central London, and I work mostly from home. Commuting by car would be pretty impossible as it would increase travel time, be impossible to park the car, and just be absolutely impractical.

Because we do commute we do pay Transport for London (TfL), and we do easily spend quite a lot on Uber rides. All and all our monthly budget for commuting comes down to less than £300 per month. ZipCar really only makes up about 10% of that cost.

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