Get FREE membership of the Zipcar car sharing club – but avoid the Avios deal

I like car share club Zipcar.  We have a membership in London and there are about 15 cars within a 15-minute walk of our house.  The nearest, which is available 80% of the time, is literally 30 seconds away.  £6-£7 per hour for the car, plus £59.50 annual fee, is a lot cheaper and easier than owning a car.

(Long-term HFP readers may remember that, slightly bizarrely, I was interviewed for Management Today a couple of years ago about my use of Zipcar, Uber and Gett.  Terrible photograph.)

The process is very simple.  You book your car via the Zipcar app or on their website.

You initially unlock the car using a credit card-sized membership card or via your smartphone.  The keys are in the glovebox.  At the end of the rental, you reverse the process.

The first 60 miles driven per day are free with a charge from 25p per mile thereafter.  You do not pay for petrol, for insurance or for the London congestion charge.  Minor damage (scratches etc) is also not charged as you just return the car to a street parking bay and it isn’t examined by anyone.

If the petrol tank drops below 25% full, there is a fuel charge card in the car to allow you to fill it up without using your own money.

If you live in South London, you can even use a Zipcar for one-way trips using the new Zipcar Flex feature I wrote about a few months ago.  Full details of the areas covered are here.

You can find the nearest Zipcars to your house by using the tool on this page of their website.


A couple of years ago Zipcar got even better.  They teamed up with Avios, and suddenly I was earning 50 Avios every time I took out a car.  There is also a 1,000 Avios bonus for signing up and paying the £59.50 annual fee.

Zipcar has overhauled its membership fees in a very positive way

At some point recently, Zipcar has totally overhauled its membership package.  You can now join for FREE for a limited period if you are in London.  See here for details.

You have nothing to lose by signing up.  You never know when access to a car at short notice will come in useful.

There are actually three price plans now available as you can see on this page of their website.  These are their London prices:

FREE (limited offer) membership – pay from £8 per hour for the car, or

£6 per month – get a £6 monthly driving credit (expires if not used) and pay from £6 per hour for the car, or

£15 per month – get a £15 monthly driving credit (expires if not used) and pay from £5 per hour for the car

The £6 per month package is better value if you are sure you will use a car at least once per month.

The free option, however, is worth having as an ’emergency’ back-up even if you don’t plan to use Zipcar on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, the free membership is not available in Bristol, Maidstone, Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow or Edinburgh where Zipcar also operates.

But don’t sign up to the Avios offer

Unfortunately, the Avios offer via this British Airways / Zipcar sign-up page has not been adjusted to reflect the new Zipcar pricing scheme.

If you sign up via the BA link, you pay an annual fee of £60 but receive NO monthly driving credits.  This is a poor deal, to put it mildly, even though you will get 1,000 Avios for joining and 50 Avios per trip.

It is far better to take the £6 per month option via their new pricing scheme and receive £6 per month of driving credit.

I can only hope that the Avios offer is overhauled soon to match the current pricing plans offered to the general public.

The sign-up page is here if you want to give the free plan, or one of the other new plans, a go.  You never know when it might come in handy.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Sadly 4 months too young to sign up. 🙁

    • Damn, I wish I was anywhere near this being the case! Annoying for offers but otherwise enjoy 😛

      • You’re not THAT old Alan! Younger than me I think ….

        • Haha despite my grey(ing) hair I am indeed younger than you, Rob – still many years past the qualification requirements for a Zipcar sign-up, sadly!! 😛

  2. Aeronaut says:

    Zipcar also offer an overnight rate (Monday-Thursday, 6pm-9am) for the hire of many of their cars but also their vans of £29, which can come in very useful if you need to shift some stuff.

    They actually offer a separate Zipvan membership plan at £19.50 a year, but as far as I can see this new ‘Basic’ plan (which will have a £19 joining fee come the new year) is better value and gives access to their Zipcars as well.

    • the_real_a says:

      B&Q and Costco do Hertz vans on hourly rental at £10 per hour (not sure about central London however)

  3. Big fan of Zipcar here as well. That said, I’d recommend checking out DriveNow which covers parts of north London (Haringey, Islington and Hackney, I think).

    Tends to be much more expensive than Zipcar billed by the minute, but has competitive hourly packages and has offered one-way rental since it launched. In my area the big attraction is that you can usually get a DriveNow car at no notice, when all the Zipcars can be booked up at weekends.

    Not sure if there’s an opportunity to earn any points while using DriveNow, but might be worth a look.

    • Aeronaut says:

      DriveNow seems to be making a go of the one-way offering in London , and Zipcar had jumped on board with its Flex service. Hopefully they’ll both have more luck than car2go, a Daimler subsidiary successfully operating the same one-way car club model in a number of European cities, which didn’t last long when it came to (parts of) London and also Birmingham a few years ago.

      I guess, and I think it’s a point that Rob also made, that the one-way car club model is in competition with Uber et al – why hire a car and drive it yourself for a one way city journey when you can just hire a car with a driver, and not worry about parking etc.

      • The competition between Drivenow, Zipcar and Ubeeqo seems to be hotting up. I’m regularly renting cars now for a full day for less than the cost of a full tank of petrol! And with these schemes petrol is inclusive (but not unlimited mileage).

        They have big backers with big pockets so i just hope it continues a bit longer!

        • Which reminds me, also loving all the MyTaxi discounts flying around. 50% off journeys starting or ending at London airports this month (including Luton! lol). Do they still pay Avios since they dropped the Hailo name?

        • Not seen any MyTaxi codes, feel free to send them over.

          The plan is that they WILL introduce Avios to MyTaxi when the IT is ready. At the moment, old Hailo customers are still getting Avios from MyTaxi but I guess they are being added manually.

        • Here’s the link, i think it’s open to everyone, seems to be valid until the end of September, no code required. But pretty sure you need to type in the destination into the app before you hail the cab (rather than just whisper the airport name in the cabbie’s ear).

        • Also, just to mention their weekend 50% off anywhere to anywhere is still running as well:

  4. the real harry1 says:

    I see from the FAQ:

    What if the Zipcar space is taken or blocked?

    Call us on 0333 240 9000 and we’ll work with you to find a nearby parking space.
    If there’s another car in the Zipcar spot, please make a note of the make, model, and number plate of the unfortunate offender so that we can have them towed away.


    has this happened to anybody? (ie space blocked)

    • Yes, very often. People don’t care.

      • Aeronaut says:

        The dedicated car club bays I regularly pass by in London seem to be quite well respected.

        Perhaps it depends on how fierce the relevant London Borough is at enforcing parking restrictions (which is often pretty fierce in my experience!).

        • It’s happened to me. They are totally cool. All you need to do is park it in a nearby space, wherever, and call Zipcar to tell them. They inform the next renter where the car is. Should it get a ticket before the next person picks it up, Zipcar pays it.

          My biggest issue is spaces with tight gaps due to bad parking by others. In general, Zipcar users like me don’t drive very often. This means that we are less confident about trying to reverse a car into a tight parking space, especially as it is an unfamiliar car.

          I know which local Zipcars are in ‘end of row’ parking spaces and I prioritise those, since I know I will have no trouble at all parking it.

  5. I tried ZipCar flex. My review is not so positive.
    It is very handy for moving and parking in south London, but if there’s something odd with the car, then you have to call them and report it.
    I once found a starbucks cup and a cigarette hole, another time a scratch on the outside.
    Reporting can only be done after you are in the car and, sadly, you are charged £0.29 a minute to report damages (you are already renting), plus the call to customer service.
    It took me 8 minutes on average to report damage and customer service says that it is a customer liability to report, therefore unless the operator feels good, you are not going to get the money back. And, also, you just lost 8 minutes of your time.

    • It’s true that you need to report issues with the car, but there is a phone holder and cables to connect to the car, so you could easily put the phone on speaker and make the call while driving (which I had to do when the previous driver left the windows open during a thunderstorm and I got into a wet car!).

      Overall I have found the Flex service to be really convenient and in general a lot less expensive than an equivalent journey with Uber… Though it would be good if the Zipzone was bigger. 🙂

  6. the real harry1 says:

    O/T BBC Newsnight knockumentary (or is it?) – 5 mins from 10/08:

    interesting that the ‘BBC strategy is/ isn’t flawed discussion’ is all going so mainstream

  7. This is a deal?

    You can hire a car for 24hrs for £10

    • the real harry1 says:

      not with free petrol

      • Aeronaut says:

        And not from just around the corner and without having to go to a car hire counter and faff around.

        • Are you really going to spend 30 minutes travelling to your nearest Hertz or Avis to ‘officially’ hire a car – with all the paperwork – just for a 40 minute drive to Ikea?!

          Walk out of your house, round the corner, open the car, get in, drive, done.

          The joke is that even I bought a car, the state of parking on our road means that I would end up parking it further away from our house than the nearest Zipcar!

  8. I just spent the weekend driving around Berlin in a variety of BMW and Minis with DriveNow, with well over 1000 cars available. Amazing service and only £4 to join. I think the low costs were attractive too.

    If you fancy giving it a go in London or abroad please use my link

    Many thanks

  9. Off topic – have reversed a 4500 credit I had for taking out a mobile contract, so my account is now negative. This had to be manually credited in the first place, how do i get it resolved – phone call?

  10. To say they “operate” in Edinburgh is a little disingenuous. They have a car or two at the airport. Handy for members coming up from elsewhere I imagine, but rather useless if you live here. The main option here is Enterprise’s Car Club.

  11. OT – What is the best way to get the Hertz “5 star” status that comes with Platinum Amex? – I already have an account set up, and the webpage just seems to take me round in circles

  12. i’m on a Streetcar Founder Member rate … which appears to be a combination of no annual fee, and prices form £6 per hour.

    But it’s fairly hard to find a £6 per hour car – not many Ford Fiestas out there, and that’s the weekday hourly rate. At weekends the cheapest rate is £8.50 per hour.

    On the upside, there are also a handful of Ford Fiestas where you only pay £3 per hour (£4 per hour at weekends), but you don’t get any free mileage – useful for short trips.

  13. They have a couple of them on the top of my street but I still have my Provisional. Should past my test before October but then I think you need to have held a full license for a minimum of 12 months before you can use their cars

  14. Every time I have used them – in the US, haven’t used in UK – it worked out to be more than renting a car from hertz.
    I also would have had the hertz car for a full 28hrs (using the 4hr amex plat bonus).

    The zipcars I have used were also utterly filthy inside and out..

    Going to try car2go soon

  15. The photograph is not THAT terrible! At least you are holding a burgundy passport and not wearing a burgundy suit!

    • But the guy took about 100 shots, they were not spoilt for choice!

      My track record on photo shoots is not good though. When I did the Daily Mail last year, they came to the office and took about 100 shots across four different locations, some of me, some of me and Anika. The only photo they used was one of me and my wife on holiday in Dubai which was the sole picture I had on my phone of both of us on holiday ….

      • Oh 🙂 as someone who has been on both sides of this, I know, this could be annoying, but you should ask them to seek your approval before publishing – this is normal (unlike asking to see the article!)

  16. can’t get the website to work past the second page (after entering username and password for joining up), tried safari and chrome..

  17. hotaeke says:

    Through AMEX Platinum, are you covered in the same way when using Zipcar as when using any of the legacy car rental companies (Hertz, Avis)?