Zipcar has parked itself in Uptown Charlotte. What to know and how to use it

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Membership-based, grab-and-go on-demand car share service Zipcar has expanded to Uptown Charlotte.

The company, a subsidiary of Avis founded in 2000, is tailored to people that find owning a car too expensive (the company covers all gas, maintenance, insurance and parking spots), inconvenient to have in a city or rely on public transportation but crave the freedom that comes with a car. The fleet can be driven by the hour or day and there’s no limit on where you can go with them.

There’s now a car at the Element Uptown apartments. That’s in addition to the one at the Student Union parking lot at UNC Charlotte.

A Honda CR-V called “Comic” is parked outside of Element Uptown while a Honda Civic called “Elvera” and a Ford C-Max called “Cayla” are both at UNC Charlotte. The UNC Charlotte car has been around since fall 2015.

But it’s not quite as simple as grabbing Comic or Cayla and taking off. Here’s what you need to know.

Photo via Facebook

Photo via Facebook

Zipcar is a member-driven service, and only members are allowed to drive.

Application is a non-refundable $25 and as of now, the only plan available in Charlotte is the “Occasional Driving Plan,” which means you’re looking at a $70 year membership fee.

If you’re with another Zipcar member, that member can drive, but should damage be done to the car while a non-member is driving, it’s up to you to cover the fees and give up your membership.

The annual membership fee does cover gas, insurance, 24/7 roadside assistance and 180 miles every trip, but don’t think that that $70 covers your time spent in the car itself.

On top of the annual fee, expect to pay hourly or daily rates that vary depending on the day (weekends are always more expensive). You can book a car for up to seven days at a time.

Monday through Thursday, hourly rates for the cars at UNC Charlotte are $8.50 and a 24-hour reservation is $69.  On weekends, the prices go up to $9.50 an hour and $77 per day.

Prices for Comic, parked outside of Element Uptown, are substantially more expensive. Weekdays, you’re looking at $12.25 per hour and $84 per day. When the weekend rolls around, those rates go up to $13.75 and $94, respectively.

About actually getting a car…

You’ll need to make your reservation online, over the phone (there will be an extra charge for this) or on your Zipcar app. The keys will be waiting for you inside the car, which you’ll unlock using your Zipcard that the company gives you when you join.

There’s no limit on the number of miles you take, though Zipcar only covers 180 of them per reservation.

If your reservation is 24 hours or shorter, it’s an extra $.45 for each extra mile in standard cars and $.55 for premium vehicles and cargo vans.

The charge for additional mileage when it comes to reservations that are longer than 24 hours gets a little complicated. You’ll get 20 miles free of charge for each additional hour until you’ve hit 180 – then the $.45 and $.55 per mile charges kick in.

When your trip is over, all you have to do is return it to its starting point.

Just make sure you’ve left a quarter of a tank of gas, which you’ll buy using the gas card in the driver’s side visor. Leave the keys inside and lock the car using your Zipcard.

And yes, you can take your dog. Just keep him in the crate.

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Kylie Moore
Writer doubling as a travel, wine, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.