Today it is no longer necessary to use the conventional car rental services as there is something now known as car sharing. Although similar to car rental in so far as you do not buy a car, you just rent one to use when you need one, there are several differences between car rental and car share. First of all, at least one of the car share companies requires that you pay a membership fee, something that car rental companies do not. However, unlike car rental companies, car share companies allow you to rent a car for periods of hours, not just days. Car share companies are usually easier to pick up and drop off as, using zipcar as an example, you have a zipcard which allows you to unlock the car you have booked and so you just go to where it is parked, use your zipcard and away you go. However, this does mean that you have to return the car to where you picked it up and so unlike rental cars you cannot pick up one place and drop off at another. With a rental car you will have to pay for any as you use and will have to buy insurance, a share car though already has gas and insurance. This though as an advantage is perhaps becoming a little redundant as most credit card companies will offer you free car insurance for a rental car, if you use their card to pay for the rental. One big disadvantage with a share car is that they could be in a mess or even have some mechanical problems when you pick them up. The reason for this is that you order a certain car for a certain time and that car may have only just been returned by another user. If that user had not had the car cleaned, you will receive it in that same dirty state. In some instances, if the previous user is late returning the car, you could be stuck without a ride until they do show up. With a rental car company this could never happen as, if you are not happy with the condition of the car you are offered, you simply refuse it and get offered an alternative. These car shares though can work out more convenient than a rental car and can in some instances be cheaper, especially if you make use of a Zipcar promo code which are widely available for at least first time users. Car share is becoming increasingly popular though but as they are mainly better suited for rentals within a city, they are usually only available in cities, not towns like most car rentals are. As they do become more popular though, car shares are available in an increasing number of cities within the United States and have now also become available in Canada and some European countries, like the UK, France and Germany. Regardless of how popular they do become though, it is unlikely that they will completely replace traditional rental cars.
By Patricia Jones | Published March 23, 2016