car2go v. Zipcar

car2go (

What’s it cost? $35 one-time signup fee. 38 cents per minute, $13.99 per hour, $72.99 per day. Keep an eye out for promotions that lower or eliminate your registration cost.

What kinds of vehicles do they offer? Gasoline or all-electric Smart Fortwos. These are tiny and seat two occupants, max.

How do I use one? Walk up to it, unlock it with your membership card and take off. Reservations up to 30 minutes in advance are available (at 38 cents per minute, remember) online or via mobile app.

Where do they go when I’m done? Any normal street parking spot within the city’s “home area.”

Perks? Free street parking, free insurance, and if you take the time to fill it from below a quarter tank with free gas, you’ll be rewarded with 20 free minutes of driving time.

Keep in mind: Parking tickets (and processing fees) are ultimately on you. Text messaging abilities are a required part of membership.

The smartphone app: Is free. Maps the cars’ locations and tells you how much gas or electric charge they have.

The quick and dirty: Incredibly convenient, especially if you use the mobile app to locate cars. car2go’s spontaneous nature comes with an element of risk, however: unless you pay to keep your trip going, the car might not be waiting for you when you come out of the store.

Zipcar (

What’s it cost? Occasional-driving memberships start at $60 per year (with a one-time $25 signup fee), and can run $8-10 per hour and $73 per day. Portland State students and faculty can sign up for $15 on Zipcar’s website.

What kinds of vehicles do they offer? Just about everything you can imagine, from sedans and SUVs, to pickup trucks and moving vans.

How do I use one? Reserve online or with the mobile app, then unlock it with your membership card and you’re off.

Where do they go when I’m done? Back where you found them.

Perks? Free gas, 180 free miles, and free insurance for the duration of the rental. Reservations can be made days, weeks, or months in advance. Some even come with free admission to state parks and national forests.

Keep in mind: Return the car with at least a quarter tank of gas. Return it late and fees start at $50. You can extend your session on the go, provided that extensions don’t interfere with other reservations.

The smartphone app: Is free. Lets you locate and reserve cars, as well as lock, unlock, or honk the horn of the car you’re using.

The quick and dirty: Better for longer and more varied kinds of trips. Using a Zipcar is a bit like borrowing a friend’s car.