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Choosing the Best Car Sharing Service
While all of the top car sharing services offer basic vehicles and a standard level of coverage features, certain companies stand out by catering to specific groups of customers. The lists below recognize which car sharing services perform the best in key feature areas and highlight services available in several major cities.
The 4 Best Car Sharing Companies in Seattle
The 3 Best Car Sharing Companies in New York City
The 5 Best Car Sharing Companies in Chicago
The 4 Best Car Sharing Companies in Portland
The 3 Best Car Sharing Companies for Businesses
The 4 Best Car Sharing Companies in Washington D.C.
The 4 Best Car Sharing Companies in Boston
The 3 Best Car Sharing Companies for Students
What Car Sharing Features Matter and Why?
Mobile is an important category that covers the features of a car sharing service's mobile phone applications. The main platforms for mobile apps are iOS and Android. Within these apps, car services perform a range of functions. Most enable you to make, change, or cancel a reservation from your phone. Some apps actually unlock the doors and get you access to the keys. Others show the nearest car to you on a map and provide you with directions to that vehicle.
- Android App - An Android mobile application is available.
- Apple App - An Apple mobile application is available.
- Cancel Booking - You can cancel your reservation on a mobile app.
- Favorable Reviews - Android and Apple apps have a combined 3.5 stars or greater from app users.
- Get Directions to Car - You can get directions from your current location to the shared car.
- GPS Locating - The mobile app can use your GPS location to find shared cars near your current location.
- Lock/Unlock Doors - You can lock/unlock doors with the mobile app.
- Map View - You can view available cars on a map.
- Mobile Website - The company has a website optimized for mobile devices.
- Modify Reservation - You can modify your reservation using the mobile app.
- Reserve a Car - You can reserve a car through the mobile app.
Reservations is a very important category because it tells you how, where, and when you can reserve a car. All services offer an online reservation system, but many also offer dedicated mobile apps for reservations on the go. The Reservations section also tells you if you can cancel or amend a reservation online and if you can book on the same day or if you must do so in advance. In addition, this category lets you know if you can use an international driver's license to book a domestic reservation.
- Availability Map - A map is accessible online that shows where cars are available in real time.
- Book in Advance - You can reserve a car in advance for a specific date in the future.
- Cancel Reservation - You can cancel your reservation online.
- Change Reservation - You can change your reservation online.
- International Driver's License - You can book a car if you have an international driver's license.
- International Reservation - You can book a car outside of the country you live in.
- Online Reservation - You can reserve a car online.
- Reserve Anywhere - You can book a car when you travel to a different city or state.
- Same-Day Reservation - You can book a car for use the same day as the reservation.
Itinerary explains the features that could affect what type of trip you plan with your car sharing service. Whether or not the service allows one-way trips or if you need to bring the vehicle back to its original location is included in this category. Itinerary also tells you if the service is near major airports, if the service allows overnight trips, and if you can go over 100 miles without incurring additional fees. These details make Itinerary an important category to consider for most customers, particularly long-distance travelers.
- 100 Miles/Day - You can drive 100 miles per day without having to pay an extra fee.
- Airport - You have access to vehicles that are nearby major airports.
- One-Way - You can use the shared car for a one-way trip.
- Overnight - You can keep the car overnight.
- Round Trip - You can use the shared car for a round trip.
Membership Benefits tells you what features are included in the price when you rent a vehicle. The most popular examples are fuel, insurance, roadside assistance, and tolls. Most car sharing services include an insurance policy of up to $1 million and 24/7 roadside assistance so customers and passengers are always protected. This is an important category because it lets you know if you'll be hit with any hidden fees above the advertised price.
- Fuel Included - Fuel is included in your membership at no additional charge.
- Insurance Included - Insurance is included in your membership at no additional charge.
- Roadside Assistance - 24/7 roadside assistance is included when driving a shared car.
- Toll Fees - The car sharing company pays toll fees.
The Rental Time category describes how you get charged in relation to the time you rent the vehicle. Most car sharing services impose an hourly rate. Others also include daily and weekly rates in case you need the car for a longer period of time. Some services even offer a by-the-minute rate for people making short trips. Rental Time is an important category for understanding how you will be charged for your trip and for selecting which rate is appropriate for your specific needs.
- Daily - You can rent a car and be charged at a daily rate.
- Hourly - You can rent a car and be charged by the hour.
- Minute - You can rent a car and be charged by the minute.
Support encompasses any other way the car sharing service helps you through the process of renting a car. Sometimes, problems occur with online bookings or you may have a question about an upcoming trip that you want to ask ahead of time. Phone, email, live chat, and social media support are several ways car share services provide support functions. Several services also have physical office locations you can visit for questions.
- Email - The company has an email address you can contact for support.
- Live Chat - The company offers live chat support.
- Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
- Social Media - You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.
Vehicle Options describes what vehicles the car sharing service offers for you to borrow. While some services only provide one type of vehicle, others give customers many options to ride in style, haul a load, or cheaply get from point A to point B. Car options range from compact cars and luxury sedans to hybrids and vans. This category is important because, as an example, you don't want to sign up for a service that only offers smart cars when you really need a van to haul your roommate's new couch.
- Compact Car - You have access to a selection of compact cars.
- Full-Size - You have access to a selection of full-size cars.
- Hybrid/Electric - Hybrid or electric vehicles are available.
- Luxury - You have access to luxury cars.
- Pickup Truck - Pickup trucks are available.
- SUVs - SUVs are available.
- Van - You have access to minivans or cargo vans.
Learning Materials encompasses Frequently Asked Questions sections and video tutorials that a car sharing service publishes on its website. These tools are dedicated to answering your questions about the service or to teach you how the service works. Videos are an effective medium for learning because service representatives visually demonstrate the steps for selecting, using, and returning a vehicle, making it very clear how to use their system.
- FAQs - The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
- Video Tutorials - The company provides video tutorials.
The Plans category identifies the different plans for individuals, businesses, universities, or government entities offered by a car sharing service. Many car share services cater to different needs and tailor plans to a variety of groups. This is a less important category for an individual, but some services provide distinct plans for households, for instance, which is advantageous since it offers low rates for families with multiple drivers.
- Businesses - A membership plan designed for businesses is offered.
- Government - Plans are available that cater to government agencies.
- Household/Family - Household or family plans are available.
- Individuals - A membership plan designed for individuals is offered.
- Universities - Plan are available provide shared cars on university campuses.