woman leaning on zipcar rental car
women leaning on a zipcar rental car

What is the difference between Zipcar and Traditional Car Rental?


Car sharing has been around for long time but it’s often not understood what the differences are between car sharing and traditional car rental so we wanted to get to the bottom of the differences to ensure you’re using the right service for you.


What is car sharing?

Car sharing or car clubs allow individuals and businesses to have access to a personal vehicle without being tied to ownership. Car clubs are a key component for future sustainable transport solutions across cities all over the world. As travel needs change car sharing provides a mobility solution for short-term car use through the sharing economy. To find out more, click here.


Car sharing vs car rental?

We’ve put together a few comparisons below to help you make up your mind about which service is right for you.

Pick up and drop off

finding a zipcar

Pick up and drop off

Car sharing provides people with convenient street side car rentals often within a short walk of your door that you can access 24/7. Car rental offices normally operate office hours and require you to travel via public transport or by others means to get there. Picking and dropping off cars with a car sharing service is very simple, it’s all done via an app, that opens and closes the car, so as long as you’ve parked the vehicle where it should be then you’re free. Whereas car rental requires a bit more interaction before you can get the keys and start your journey.

Prices and Fees

pricing up a zipcar

Prices and Fees

Car sharing is very flexible, offering short term rental options that allow you to rent by the minute, hour or day. The pricing is fixed so you know what you’re going to pay no matter how far in advance you book. Check out our pricing page for more information

Car rental prices are less fixed as they depend on how far in advance you book the car and the demand for vehicles at the time, generally speaking the further ahead of time you can book the better price you get. The key differences coming when you’re looking for longer term rentals which are much more affordable from car rental companies, especially when you plan ahead of schedule.

How easy is it to sign up?

sign up easily

How easy is it to sign up?

To use Zipcar’s car sharing service you need to register in advance of using the service. Members are approved within 48 hours and will be able to book a car via our app or website as soon as you’re approved. It’s really easy, all you need is a couple of pictures of your driving license and a good driving history. 

For car rental services you will need to register an account when you book the vehicle. Then once you’ve arrived at the rental office you will need to ensure you have you driving license to hand as you won’t be able to get on the road without it.


couple looking at computer


Both services include insurance that allows you to drive the cars. If you’re looking for extra cover you can add a waiver to your account Currently you need to add waivers to your Zipcar account which will cover you for a full month of driving reducing your excess by two thirds for £9.95 or £14.95 to completely remove the excess on any damage fee.

Mileage and Fuel

Zipcar outside restaurant

Mileage and Fuel

Zipcar includes all the fuel costs within the booking, plus 60 miles free mileage per day. Anything beyond that is charged at £0.25/mile. 

Mileage limits vary by rental company. They range from around 20 miles/30km per day to 250 miles/400km per day. Before you travel, you can check the number of miles/km your deal includes. All fuel costs are to be covered by yourself


What's the verdict?

For short journeys car sharing offers increased flexibility and if you don’t need the car on consecutive days then you can let someone else use it for a few days, then easily book it again as and when you need it. For longer journeys where you need the car each day over a long period of time, car rental better suits your needs

Why Rent a Zipcar?

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Save money

We pay for fuel, parking, Congestion Charge and insurance – so you get access to a car without all the hassle of owning one!

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Rent a car locally

Zipcars live just around the corner. We've got the largest car sharing fleet in the UK (not that we're boasting) and you'll find us in cities across the UK. 

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Drive on-demand

Whatever you need wheels for, we’ve got them. Rent cars and vans by the minute, hour or day when and where you need them.

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Live greener

We’re the perfect addition to buses, trains and bikes for those times when you just need a car. We've also got hundreds of electric cars in our fleet.