Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things I Love About New York: Zipcar

I write quite often about the high cost of living in NYC - whether it's the fresh produce, or real estate or toilet paper - that last one is coming in a separate post. "But you don't have to pay for a car or car insurance or gas!" my Angeleno friends offer as consolation. Perhaps. My car was paid off when I left LA. But I digress.

When you need to get out of the City, sometimes renting a car is just easier than taking the train. Especially if your destination is some small town an hour and a half drive north of the city and taking the train would mean having your BBQ-hosting friends pick you up from the station.

In the past, City Guy and I have rented from the Hertz in our neighborhood. Convenient, yes, but the challenges numerous:
  • It's expensive. You go in thinking you're only going to pay $40/day, but wait, the counter person says, do you have insurance, and hey, it's impossible to find a gas station in Manhattan, so how 'bout prepaying for gas and how many miles did you say you were driving today?
  • They operate out of a garage that closes at 10 pm, so if you miss that return time, you have to park the car and pay for an additional day, even if you're returning the car in the morning.
  • If you have to park the car overnight, you may find yourself cruising the neighborhood to find an elusive open spot so you can save yourself another $40 in parking fees.
  • You never know what you're going to get. We'll reserve a Mazda and get a Chevy, for example, or worse, reserve a compact and get a honkin' SUV.
Which is why I have to tell you about my new love, Zipcar. This past weekend, City Guy and I used Zipcar for the first time since he signed up for membership a while back ($25 one time application fee and $50 for the year). Now that we've tried Zipcar, we'll never got back to Hertz. Here's why:
  • It was soooo easy! Just sign up for membership online. Pick up your Zipcard or have them mail it to you. Reserve a car online. The site shows you what cars are parked near you. Pick a car. Say how long you'll need it. Go to the car. Swipe your Zipcard to unlock the car. Voila! You're in, and wow - are those keys? Yes, they are. No upselling! No counter person or contracts to sign!
  • They have all sorts of cars. Driving is fun again. I really do hate those clunky fleet vehicles rental agencies use. Sorry GM and Ford. :( Just for kicks, we rented a BMW for $17/hr - that's the higher weekend rate too - only a couple dollars more an hour than a Mazda, and what a great ride.
  • Gas is included. Yup. They pay for the gas. We stopped at a station in the Bronx and all we had to do was use the gas card that was waiting for us in the car to pay. Sure, fill her up! And make that premium!
  • Insurance is included in the price, so no awkward decision making at the counter.
  • When you're done, you just return the car to where you picked it up and you're done. No one to check in with. No one eyeing you suspiciously.
  • Did I mention it's cheaper than renting from Hertz?
Not all cities are fortunate enough to have Zipcar yet, and I'm happy to live in one that does.


Child Care Chandler AZ said...

What a nice car!

<3 Lindsay

Fer*Cambe said...

Yeah I was thinking of getting a subscription to zipcar this coming Fall. I have to go into Westchester sometimes and hate Metro North.. Thanks!

(Like my first visit to the blog:)

The Girl Next Door said...

You definitely should! We rented a Mazda from Zipcar this past weekend for a trip to Long Island. It's definitely the way to go. And if you're running late, like we were, you can call and extend your reservation very easily - no penalty. Thanks for visiting!

Local Internet Advertising said...

Great post!

<3 Lindsay