The 5 Best Car Sharing Companies in Chicago

Midwesterners love their cars, but it can sometimes be tough to justify the high cost of vehicle ownership in the Windy City. With two major airports nearby and millions of people in a tightly packed city, Chicago has become a hub for car sharing. From big name brands to individuals renting out their personal cars, the Chicago car sharing scene has it all.

Zipcar, a leader in shared transportation solutions, makes car sharing in Chicago easy. With vehicles strategically located around the city and several office locations in the area, finding and using a Zipcar is a snap. The mobile apps for iPhone and Android let you find vehicles near you. Use your app or Zipcard to access a vehicle and drive off, then simply return it to the same spot you picked it up for guaranteed parking. Manage the reservation from your phone and even honk your car’s horn from the app if you can’t remember exactly where you left it. Although you can’t take one-way trips, with 180 miles per day included, you can get just about anywhere in the Chicagoland area without those dreaded extra fees.

If you’re looking for unique vehicle types, then RelayRides is for you. This is because RelayRides is a peer-to-peer car share service, which means that individuals who are not using their cars rent them out by the day or week to others in the area. RelayRides has many vehicles types in Chicago, from a Prius to a Tesla and many in between. If you’re going to Midway or O’Hare airports, you can park without spending any money by renting out your vehicle to incoming travelers while you’re away. When you return, you simply drive off in your newly washed car.

Hertz jumped into the car share business with technology. It equips all of its Hertz 24/7 car share vehicles with their NeverLost® GPS system and Bluetooth connectivity. This system has street-level GPS plus current weather and O’Hare and Midway flight information. Because of Hertz’s many locations, they are one of the few car share services that allow one-way trips, which means you can get to many places from Chicago’s central location within the U.S. If you need a truck or van to haul a load, Hertz 24/7 has partnered up with Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, to rent trucks and vans by the hour from any of the Lowe’s locations across the U.S.

Enterprise CarShare is a force in Chicago with their many locations at both airports and throughout the city. With several plans to choose from, you should be able to find the right one to fit your needs. Rates start at just $6.75 per hour and include full damage and liability protection for every trip. One drawback is that Enterprise does not offer a mobile app, so managing your reservations on the go is a bit more challenging. However, you can still access the mobile website on any Internet-capable phone or tablet.

Getaround lets you rent vehicles from other people who want to earn income from their idle cars in Chicago and other cities in the U.S. This peer-to-peer system provides access to many types of vehicles. Most peer-to-peer services charge by the day, but Getaround is unique in that it gives renters an hourly rate, which enables much shorter trips. So, with Getaround, you can rent any car for just a few hours instead of paying for a full day. If you’re a car owner, the Getaround Carkit, a near field communications system that works with the renter’s iPhone app, enables secure access to your vehicle by a renter without you having to physically hand off the keys. Each Carkit is equipped with GPS tracking technology, tamper detection, and optional engine immobilization to give you peace of mind.