Not only did I sell my car, I also canceled my car insurance. This is interesting because next weekend we need to get up to Santa Rosa, so that we can attend a 2 day long motorcycle safety course, and so we can attend Dawn’s bachelorette party.
The two options now available to us are: traditional rent-a-car (a la Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, etc.) or Zipcar. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?
Enterprise, for example, is only open from 7:30am to 6pm M-F, and 9:30am to 1pm on the weekend. Since I can only pick up and drop off the car within that window, I’ll end up renting the car for a little longer than I really need it. So if I pick it up at 9am Friday morning, drive to work, and then drive to Healdsburg (staying with Jean-Claude and Sabine), returning the car on Monday at 9am, it’d cost $94. That’s 3 days at the cheapest possible rate plus a CA tourism fee plus sales tax. Not bad, considering the overall flexibility it affords. And incidentally saving me and Stephanie a total of $10.88—the cost of both of our daily commutes to Sausalito and back. Damn that’s a lot all multiplied out like that.
Now let’s compare to Zipcar. Their daily rate for our cheapo plan is $65/day. The benefit is that we can schedule to pick it up and drop it off at any half hour interval of our choosing, 24 hours a day. We don’t have to fill out forms (except a simple web form to reserve the car), we don’t have to deal with rental agents, and both Stephanie and I can drive it. The only catch is that a car has to be available.
Given the greater flexibility of reservation times, we could probably get away with renting it from 7pm Friday night to 7pm Sunday night, only 2 days, for a total cost of $141 (sales tax included). On the surface that seems like it’d cost $47 dollars over Enterprise for one less day.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Zipcar includes all insurance and gas costs. We just have to pay the $5 bridge toll on the way home.
Enterprise on the other hand includes no insurance or gas by default, partly because most people who rent cars already have insurance. According to Enterprise’s website, they offer three types of optional insurance:
Damage Waiver $9-20/day
“waives or reduces the renter’s responsibility for loss of, or damage to, the rental vehicle”
Personal Accident Insurance $3-7/day
“provides the renter and passengers with accident medical expense, accidental death and ambulance expense benefits”
Supplemental Liability Protection $12/day
“provides the renter and authorized drivers with up to $1,000,000 combined single limit for third party liability claims”
Whoa. If I take the low end of those ranges (which happen to match the values on Avis’s website), for 3 days, that adds $72 to the total cost of the rental (plus $6 sales tax on top of that). Oh, and don’t forget gas. My rough estimate says we’ll be driving at least 200 miles. If our car gets around 25mpg, that’s at least $30 at $3.50/gal to fill’er back up.
So in the end, what seemed like a frugal $94 rental more than doubles to $202! I shouldn’t forget to mention that renting it an extra day does save us $11 in bus fares, bringing our total transportation cost for that time period down to $191.
That’s still $50 more than Zipcar, granted Enterprise comes out ahead at $64/day while Zipcar hovers at $70.
When it comes down to it, saving $55 overall, even though I’m actually paying $6 more per day, is totally worth it considering I can pick up and drop off the car on my schedule, and without human intervention. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that Zipcar has cool cars, like the Mazda 3, Toyota Matrix, Nissan Versa, and Scion xA. With Enterprise it’d be a Chevy no-name.