I’m a believer in signing up for a car-share membership even if you have your own wheels. My debate position is unassailable: A zombie apocalypse could break out when you’re nowhere near your parking spot, and you’d need to find another way to escape.
But there’s a better (and potentially more likely) reason: You could be on vacation.
The typical car rental experience is the worst. You shuttle from the airport, wait in line and fill out reams of paperwork before you can get on the road.
People who pack a Zipcard can skip all three of those steps and still drive off from dozens of spots around the world, including a growing number of airports and transportation hubs, says Scott Hall, Zipcar’s general manager for the District. (“It works the same in London. It works the same in Barcelona,” Hall rattles off.)
Competitor car2go doesn’t offer that level of flexibility — yet. Members of the point-to-point service recently scored regional access, which means their cards work in all 14 of its North American locations (including the southern suburbs of L.A., as of Friday). But by the end of the year, says car2go’s Adrianne Andang, it should be a global service as well.
Enterprise CarShare, the newest business to get into the D.C. market, isn’t quite as helpful for travelers. To access vehicles in its other cities, you must join the local program there. (The application and first-year annual membership fees are waived.) Don’t want to deal with all that? Members get a 10 percent discount off of Enterprise Rent-A-Car vehicles.
A car share membership really pays off, Hall says, when it comes to gas (which is included) and parking. There’s always somewhere to stash your vehicle for free, which beats shelling out $20 a night for hotel valet. Tourists in D.C. have an extra sweet deal: car2go and Zipcar allow users to park in metered spots for free. (Parking rules vary by city, Andang cautions.)
If you’re picky about what you’re driving, that’s another factor in favor of Zipcar, Hall says. You can reserve something fancier (BMW, Mercedes or Cadillac, perhaps?) for a night on the town, or grab a family-friendly minivan the next day.
Changing it up might also help throw off those zombies.
Read previous columns: