The Great 'Car Clubs Cost Cutting' Hunt

Car clubs allow you to ditch your everyday car and hire one for as and when you need. They claim to be a cost effective way to manage your travel needs as they remove the need for costly insurance, breakdown and maintenance costs.

So we thought we'd tap MoneySavers' knowledge to find out your experiences, sums and top tips.

As well as suggestions, if you've switched to a car club please tell us.

How much you saved?
Do you use the car more or less?
What are the annual costs compared to your car?
How convenient do you find it?

Click reply to discuss.



  • I've switched. And I've saved myself lots! But only because I now don't need to drive to work every day. I use the car far less - I do more shopping online for example, since it is much cheaper to get Tesco to deliver than rent the car for several hours.

    Its the servicing and things that I've noticed saving on - with a car, there is always something that I need to pay for. I estimated a total, including petrol and depreciation, that my car was costing £200 a month. That's all disappeared. Instead, the amount you are spending is far more visible, and it can be quite a jolt to spend £30+ for one day (plus mileage). These days I might rent the car three or four times a month.

    I've only really used the car when I'll be driving it for most of the time - on round trips, picking up parcels, visiting friends for a couple of hours etc. I don't like the idea that I'm spending money for it to sit in a car park. So I use public transport much more than I thought I would.

    You do have to think ahead. It can be very irritating if you assume the car will be free, and someone else grabs it before you! You might not be able to grab it whenever you feel like it.

    Overall, I love how much I've saved, but I don't consider it a full replacement. I'm using trains and buses much more, and its usually cheaper to get a taxi for point-to-point travel.

    So think carefully - if you are organised, you mainly do round trips and you don't need a car every day, then you can save lots of money
  • thymely
    thymely Posts: 11 Forumite

    For any residents/businesses from the London borough of Waltham Forest that are considering joining a car club:

    Streetcar has set up 10 locations that you can pick up/rent a car club vehicle in the borough & is offering a reduced membership fee.

    In association with the council, £19.50 for the first year's membership (usually £59.50) for Waltham Forest residents if you sign up before 1st May 09.

    www(dot)streetcar(dot)co(dot)uk or call 0845 644 8475 for more info.

    Quote code = EARLYBIRDWF

    No connection with Streetcar or council, just noticed it in local paper, WFM.

    Hope this helps someone...
  • We use the WhizzGo cars in Southampton.

    I'd very much echo what Marty says. Running a modest second hand car used to cost me about £200 per month. Now we spend typically £120 per month with Whizzgo. You have to be a bit more organised because the cars are located a 20minute walk or bus ride from where we live. Also if it's tipping it down and you need to take the kids to school, well just get a taxi - you can afford to because you don't have a lump of metal depreciating on your drive!

    Getting hold of a car is not normally a problem.

    But our car use really is very low - normally 1 morning per week and probably two Saturdays per month.

    One point to watch is that for long distances the Whizzgo cars are not economic because there is a milage charge that kicks in after 40miles/day. For long journeys, and also if you want a car for the whole weekend it's better to hire from one of the normal hire companies eg Hertz - they usually do a 3 days for the price of 2 deal at weekends.
  • aless02
    aless02 Posts: 5,119 Forumite
    Just a tip we discovered while moving recently - StreetVAN is actually cheaper than Streetcar. £19.50/yr and £8.95/hr. If you know you will only need a vehicle quite rarely & baulk at the £50/yr Streetcar charges, this could work for you - provided you don't mind driving a big van around! We used this for moving house, but could be good for trips to IKEA, Costco etc. My husband has a small company car, but we needed something larger to move home with.
    top 2013 wins: iPad, £50 dental care, £50 sportswear, £50 Nectar GC, £300 B&Q GC; jewellery, Bumbo, 12xPringles, 2xDiesel EDT, £25 Morrisons, £50 Loch Fyne

    would like to win a holiday, please!!
    :xmassmile Mummy to Finn - 12/09; Micah - 08/12! :j
  • Unfortunately I’ve just signed up with Zipcar and been a bit disappointed.

    I need to get to Bristol from London and back for two days at the weekend. Avis quoted £93 which I thought seemed a bit much for 2 days.

    With Zipcar, I’ve found that there’s only two £45/day cars, and they’re both 5 miles away in Brixton. My nearest Avis is about a mile away.

    Zipcar has some that are closer to me, but they’re all £65 or £75 per day .

    Convenience aside, it’ll cost me 23p a mile for the extra mileage I do beyond the 60miles/day included with Zipcar. On the other hand, with Avis you just pay for your own petrol, which I reckon should be about 8p/mile.

    Even better, Avis do 6% cashback on TopCashback, so I’ve used that the pull the cost down to about £86.

    So all a bit of a shame really. I signed up to Zipcar using the code LONDON25, so it cost me £25, but I’ve £25 of credit sitting around.

    I’m sure I’ll use Zipcar eventually, but have been a bit disappointed that all the cheap cars for miles around have gone at the weekend. Shouldn’t be so surprised I suppose!
  • i looked into these schemes and calculated that unless doing a round journey within less than 8 hours, it seems to be cheaper to get a cab or just hire a car for 24 hours using a price comparison site. it also seems to be a con that you have to pay for excess mileage. Zip does not seem to have many cars, whilst streetcar seems to have more but cost slightly more. I would be interested to hear whether more people find that there are no cars at peak times or none a the cheap price, as above.

    I am looking at it from the point of view of a non-car driver at the moment, so they appear to increase costs rather than reduce current costs.
  • I looked in to these about a year ago, as I usually only use the car at weekends (walk to work during the week) but there were none where I live (Cardiff). I was also put off by the excess mileage charges - as a keen hillwalker I think nothing of driving to the Scottish Highlands for a long weekend, so they would probably bankrupt me!
    "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves" (Sir Edmund Hillary)

    AMAZON SELLERS CLUB member 0068
  • marklee
    marklee Posts: 66 Forumite
    I live in inner London and have been a member of both Streetcar and Whizzgo for two years – I joined two because at the time, Streetcar had limited availability (especially at weekends) in my area.

    I’ve only ever actually used Streetcar, and Whizzgo have withdrawn their cars from my borough, but I’ve kept both memberships as I’m a ‘founder member’ with both companies, which means that I don’t pay annual subscription fees (instead I paid a £150 deposit on joining).

    Thoughts on Streetcar:

    • I only use the cars roughly once a month (typically trips to the tip, parcel depot, or Ikea), and use public transport for the rest, so save a fortune compared to car ownership. Even if you own a car and use it more than once a month – paying £6 an hour for a car will push you towards public transport where appropriate – not a bad thing in my book . Remember you still have high costs with car ownership, but you don’t consider them on a trip-by-trip basis.
    • Absolutely zero hassle – I never have to pay for any maintenance or insurance.
    • All petrol is included – a fuel payment card is in the glovebox. (Hence the mileage charges over 30 miles)
    • Very convenient – I have two cars outside my front door and a total of eight within a ten minute walk.
    • In my area, you can always get a car ‘on demand’ midweek (including evenings) – weekends are a different story, see below.
    • Above and beyond the usual savings on maintenance etc, using a Streetcar means that I don’t have to buy a local authority parking permit, or pay a sky high insurance premium for on-street parking in inner London.
    • As someone under 25, it also means that I avoid mad age-related insurance premiums (but Streetcar do give me a higher excess).
    • Had no issues with damage charges, despite in one instance failing to notice & report serious damage to the car until after I’d driven off.
    • Friendly customer service, who you can call for free via the car’s speakerphone.
    • Vehicles are great quality, new VW Golfs, complete with all the trimmings (AC, decent stereo, ipod dock) – so probably a better quality car than anything I’d buy.
    • If you want to be guaranteed a car at Christmas to visit relatives, you need to book in the summer – cars over Christmas get booked up months in advance, as there’s no public transport. In 2007 Streetcar didn’t have a single car in London available for Christmas, when booking in late November.
    • Weekend availability ‘on the day’ can still be an issue – though in my area you can usually book a car the day before without too many problems.
    • Conventional car rental is usually more cost effective for longer rental periods – but as long as you’re aware of that, it’s a non-issue, as you can still live car-ownership free.
    • I wouldn’t recommend *some* of the locations for pickup by lone women after dark – we’re talking dark lock-up garages at the back of council estates. (Mind you, most are fine, and many of the scarier locations are being weeded out).
    • Friends on the Isle of Dogs have had local cars withdrawn (due to vandalism), without replacement – leaving them having paid an annual membership and struggling to get bookings for the remaining convenient cars.
    • Streetcar advertise a headline rental rate of £3.95 – this only applies to a tiny number of cars and is pretty misleading. Expect to pay the standard £5.95 per hour.
    • Streetcar have a nasty habit of changing their T&Cs / pricing structure without notifying their members – for example, they recently removed a price cap on overnight rental, without communicating it., and arbitrarily suspended their cancellation policy over last Christmas, changing their Ts&Cs to permit it.
    • I’ve also had billing errors with Streetcar, where a car has been faulty and I’ve been transferred to another car – they’ve billed me for both cars. So I’d suggest keeping an eye on your statements.
    Overall – if you live in an urban area with great public transport (e.g. inner London), and don’t use a car for work, then I’d totally recommend it. parking permits + MOT + petrol + maintenance + insurance (esp for on-street parking) + depreciation + hassle factor is simply not worth it if you’ll only use your car a couple of times a month.

    Streetcar are the biggest operator in London, so are massively convenient – but I do think that they sometimes abuse this position a bit. Having had no hands-on experience to other operators though, I can’t say whether or not any others are better or worse.

    The biggest factor for most people is availability and proximity of the cars to home - so check out a range of local operators. Streetcar may not be the best provider in your area. Whizzgo are pretty strong in Camden, for example, and their fees include free Congestion Charge. (Streetcar bill the cost back to you).

    RE comments around the cost for long distance trips – I've thought about this before, and in such a situation I’d probably get the train to the nearest big city, and then pick up a car from an operator in the city (hence why I’ve kept the Whizzgo membership, as they have better national coverage). Never done it though as the need hasn’t really been there.
  • marklee
    marklee Posts: 66 Forumite
    One final Money [strike]Saving[/strike] Earning thought - Streetcar will pay cold hard cash or driving credit in return for you letting them use your driveway or parking space for one of their cars.

    You will have to deal with people picking up / dropping off cars at all hours, and occasionally deal with angry neighbours grumbling that a Streetcar customer has parked the car in their driveway by mistake. But quite a few of their pick-up spots *are* people's driveways, so it obviously works well for some people.

    I don't know what they pay (never done it myself) - but I think it's location / demand dependent.

    Certainly an option for anyone looking to earn a bit of extra cash.
  • Streetcar: Although it probably is cheaper than owning a car, I find it's still cheaper to hire a car from my local car hire company or book a minicab than use my streetcar!

    The hourly prices are very high and the fact that you have to pick a car up up and drop it off at the exact same location is often inconvenient. Wouldn't recommend it if you use a car more than once a month.

    And as another user pointed out, it's cheaper to have your groceries delivered than to hire a streetcar for 2 hours and spend the time collecting them yourself, so it's not worth the bother.

    The mean mileage restriction Streetcar imposes is also severely limiting.
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