04 July 2006

Zipcar vs. Flexcar - Help Me Decide!

decisions, decisions!
I'm hoping some of you out there have already made a decision - that you either regret or not - on whether Zipcar or Flexcar was the right choice for your carsharing needs. Maybe you're still trying to figure it out yourself....Either way, I need your help taming my indecisive mind!

Not long after we moved to the District, we realized we didn't need our second car, Sparky the Saturn. To avoid the perceived hassle of selling it ourselves, and without the easy switcheroo of trading it in for another car, we took it to the nearest CarMax and left with the spare change they offered. While we're hardly in the position where we physically need two vehicles at the same time, it has happened a couple of times in the past year, and one of us has been SOL for the day - or relying on the generosity of a coworker or friend. The fact is, sometimes we still need two cars, most importantly for vet and dentist visits in the burbs, neither of which is Metro accessible or readily available to see us on a Saturday. And this post isn't to argue why my dentist and vet are still in a Red state; if I'd found an amazing gynecologist while we were out there, I'd need carsharing for yet another appointment. Point being, some doctors are worth the trouble once you find them. Now I just need help deciding which company is going to get me there....


  1. If both carsharing programs are equi-distant and the fees associated with are the same, then I say go with zipcar, since you have a variety of brands to choose from. While you may not need a bigger car, you never know when you might want to help someone move and need a pickup truck or something similar. Also, just a thought for me, is Flexcar available in other cities? Zipcar can be used in Boston, NYC, Chapel HIll, San Fran, and now Toronto (i think is the city), so that can be helpful as well.

  2. I Flex but don't Zip, but that's just because Flex showed up first in my neighborhood.

    Couple of thoughts:

    * Flexcar is available in other cities too.

    * I know that Flexcar will waive the membership fee for Arlington residents. Will they for DC? Will Zipcar? Worth looking into.

    * Last time I looked (which was months and months ago) the pricing schemes were slightly different, but pretty comparable overall.

    * Zip is definitely cooler, but Flex does have an occasional oddball car.

  3. Before I worked for Flexcar, I joined with them because a couple of Zipcar members told me about some the hidden fees they'd encountered, and Flexcar had better daily rates. Now that I work here, I know a lot more reasons to join with us.

    Flexcar doesn't have innumerable varieties of cars, but therefore doesn't have to have innumerable hourly rates for each of them. All of our standard sedans are Honda Civics or Honda Civic hybrids, which are all $9/hr on our Standard Plan, and are reliable and easy to drive. Also, our fleet is approximately 40% hybrid, which makes ours one of the largest private hybrid fleets in the country (I point this out since other entries/links seem to indicate you're of the greener variety of consumers).

    We do have several locations where we park SUVs (Honda Elements), trucks (Toyota Tacomas), and minivans (Honda Odysseys), as well as a smattering of Honda Accords. They're available for a flat $2 more per hour (so, $11 if you're on the Standard Plan) whenever you need to haul a piano home from Leesburg (and let's not ask how I know that). You can search by vehicle type or neighborhood/location at http://www.flexcar.com/default.aspx?tabid=219.

    As Dan pointed out, your Flexcar membership is good in other cities (San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and Atlanta). Also, we currently have a promotion code ("DriveFlexDC" on the first page of the application) that will credit your membership fee back to your account when you drive within 60 days of joining.

    I think I've touched on everything that has been brought up so far in this post, but I can of course answer any other questions you might come up with. You can reach me by e-mail at melissa.esposito@flexcar.com.

    Enjoy your day!

  4. I used to use Flexcar in Seattle, after test driving the zipcar system when I moved to the Bay Area, I switched over.

    One of the distinct advantage to Zipcar is the simplicity of their rates. You can either pay $50, $75, $175, $250 to opt-in on their discounted rate(10-15%), or pay per use starting at $8.75. Don't forget you also get 125 miles included with any rental, even for just 1 hour. When you go over the milage, you simply pay a flat rate of 20-30 cents a mile.

    There is also an incredible array of car selection, especially in DC. You have small Scion xA, Mini up to Escape Hybrid, Honda Element, even funky Miata , Mini convertible, or the green conscious Toyota Prius or luxurious BMW 325 and Volvo S40 (all of the above cars are available in DC)

    I don't need to go into the full sales pitch since their site does a great job. In my area Zipcar offers much more competitive rate and larger selection of cars. After using their 30 day test free trial I switched over and couldn't be happier with my decision!

    Zipcar also does an awesome job at community spnosorship in our area including AIDS walk, Sponsor Bicycle Event, you can even volunteer to drive elderly around town for credit toward your zipcar.

    I'd highly recommend giving zipcar a try. You can use the coupon code "ASWZDYYA" to get $50 free driving credit toward your first month membership.

    Good luck!

    ps. I do not work or affiliate with Zipcar in any professional manner. I don't get anything out of the coupon code either, just wanted to pass the zipcar buck! :)

  5. Yay for the replies so far, and thanks! I'm still torn, and with the tie - and passion - in loyalty so far, I'm not sure if I'm that much closer to a decision just yet. Keep 'em coming!

  6. flexcar gives you unlimited miles (zipcar charges you after 125), plus you get credit for filling the car with gas, and getting the car washed, all paid for by them. I think they are also better in terms of their insurance policy and their applicant age restrictions are not as severe.

    here are some links to check out so you can compare:

    i don't work for zipcar/flexcar and have actually never used either, but almost did join flexcar a few months back!

  7. I don't know anyone here, I found this blog post via google because I, too, was trying to decide between flex and zip. Thanks to these comments (and Matt's fantastic $50 code), I just joined Zipcar. Previously, I was dazed by all the info for both choices-- now I feel like I've gone with the right company. Thanks, perfect strangers! :)

  8. Whew! I'm glad this could be of help to you, Anna. Again, thanks to everyone who chimed in.

    I finally decided on Flexcar - perhaps it was the combined sweetness of melissa and shoofly or the simplicity of their system compared to Zipcar's. I also liked the fact that they'd credit you for filling up the tank or washing the car on their dime. In true jaime fashion, however, I waited until just a week before the dreaded dentist appt. Zipcar's site led me to believe I'd be approved in time; Flexcar's did not. I really didn't want all the choices - I'm afraid it will just double the time it should normally take to reserve a car ("Ooooh, I've never driven a Mini...God lord, a VOLVO!"), but at the same time, I'm happy they have a number of cars nearly identical to ours, so there shouldn't be a learning curve on parallel parking.

    Matt's coupon code is the real deal (thanks!), and once you sign up you get a seemingly infinite number of discounts with local and national Zipcar partners when you show your card. If you're content with just getting in a car and driving off into the sunset without all the frills, then Flexcar's probably the best choice for you.

  9. I got an e-mail from someone who recently found this post saying that "DriveFlexDC" promo wasn't working, so I wanted to come back and leave updated information. The "DriveFlexDC" promo expired on December 31, 2006. For the month of January, we're offering new members their first year of membership for free. Go to http://www.flexcar.com/Default.aspx?tabid=103 and click on your city and learn how to take advantage of it (or, after January, you can see at that link what special deals are currently in play).



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