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    • MSE Archna
    • By MSE Archna 4th Mar 09, 4:53 PM
    • 1,874Posts
    • 6,140Thanks
    MSE Archna
    The Great 'Car Clubs Cost Cutting' Hunt
    • #1
    • 4th Mar 09, 4:53 PM
    The Great 'Car Clubs Cost Cutting' Hunt 4th Mar 09 at 4:53 PM
    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.

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    Last edited by MSE Martin; 24-03-2009 at 7:31 PM.
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  • Mad Marty
    • #2
    • 24th Mar 09, 11:30 PM
    • #2
    • 24th Mar 09, 11:30 PM
    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
    • #3
    • 24th Mar 09, 11:43 PM
    Reduced Car Club membership - Waltham Forest
    • #3
    • 24th Mar 09, 11:43 PM

    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...
  • Nick Knows
    • #4
    • 25th Mar 09, 8:15 AM
    • #4
    • 25th Mar 09, 8:15 AM
    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
    • By aless02 25th Mar 09, 9:23 AM
    • 5,115 Posts
    • 34,754 Thanks
    • #5
    • 25th Mar 09, 9:23 AM
    • #5
    • 25th Mar 09, 9:23 AM
    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!!
    Mummy to Finn - 12/09; Micah - 08/12!
    • chrisgeller
    • By chrisgeller 25th Mar 09, 11:09 AM
    • 66 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    • #6
    • 25th Mar 09, 11:09 AM
    • #6
    • 25th Mar 09, 11:09 AM
    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!
  • Rosstafa
    • #7
    • 25th Mar 09, 11:50 AM
    • #7
    • 25th Mar 09, 11:50 AM
    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.
  • Mountain Goat
    • #8
    • 25th Mar 09, 12:28 PM
    • #8
    • 25th Mar 09, 12:28 PM
    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
    • By marklee 25th Mar 09, 3:17 PM
    • 66 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    • #9
    • 25th Mar 09, 3:17 PM
    • #9
    • 25th Mar 09, 3:17 PM
    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
    • By marklee 25th Mar 09, 3:22 PM
    • 66 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    One final Money Saving 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.
  • glassishalffull
    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.
    • rcherryuk
    • By rcherryuk 25th Mar 09, 5:57 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    We are members of both Streetcar and Zipcar so can only comment on those!

    I'd like to explain about something mentioned in an earlier posting:

    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.

    This was really inconvenient for us and was caused by an organised gang who were breaking into the cars and stealing the petrol card (you have to fill the tank if its less than 1/4 full,but you pay with this) and number plates!

    However we complained loudly and were given several hours credit as compensation.

    So far we've had a better experience with Zipcar, it gives you more inclusive miles and we like the fact that we have 4 different models of car to choose from, recently we had to book the BMW 318 as we had 4 big adults and luggage that wouldn't fit in a Golf.

    Here in E14 most of the cars are in well lit spots but we have found that the cars for both are often dirty, it's not uncommon to find takeaway refuse in the foot wells (and bits of car in the boot) and both have a problem with members smoking in the car when it's actually against the law to do so.

    For us it gives us options, especially as e are currently experiencing weekends out of 4 with no DR and Jubilee line as well as being smack on the diversion route for the Limehouse Link & Rotherhithe Tunnel, both of which are often closed for 'engineering works'

    I for one will be glad when the Olympics come as all the engineering works are scheduled to finish in 2012!!

    • pjw123
    • By pjw123 25th Mar 09, 7:57 PM
    • 28 Posts
    • 42 Thanks
    Like a lot of other respondents, I have joined 2 clubs. Streetcar for driving in S London, and whizzgo for North East England. I previously shared cars with my best friend, and we kept up this arrangement for about 10 years. I worked out the cost of my half of this as 457.50 per year, before depreciation or maintenance. I drive very little, so it wasnt worth it.
    As an infrequent driver there are things I have not got used to. With streetcar, i tend to set off the alarm as I havent got used to central locking. Also as i am more usually a cyclist, i dont always remember about bus lanes. streetcar charge £10 to administer the PCN. OUCH.
    I am using Whizzgo tomorrow, for the first time. taking the train to York then driving to Middlesbrough to see OH. I will have the car for 4 days, which will be quite expensive, but will mean we can do a boot sale, and get around the beautiful countryside and coastline without having to wait for buses and trains.
    When I have travelled between london and the northeast previously, I have always broken the journey at a travelodge, which is extra cost.
    • Lexxi
    • By Lexxi 25th Mar 09, 8:26 PM
    • 2,112 Posts
    • 2,881 Thanks
    Street cars mostly seem to be around London. We've just offered the use of the pub car park where we are (it's our pub) You get free membership and a few other bonus' there's more info on the site. Trying to get OH in on it as his car cost a fortune and when we move we won't really need it as we'll be in the town centre
    • matchmade
    • By matchmade 26th Mar 09, 8:07 AM
    • 57 Posts
    • 41 Thanks
    Clearly these Carclubs are only of use if you live in a heavily urbanised area, have a lifestyle where you don't use cars very often, and don't mind all the time spent getting to and from where the carclub vehicle is parked. The only potential saving is on depreciation, maintenance, insurance and car tax, as petrol costs will be the same, or substantially higher given the mileage charges (which seem a rip-off given the unlimited mileage offered by many car-hire firms). Any savings may well be lost in hefty bus and train fares, plus car or van hire costs, and the car-club's own fees. Also, no one has mentioned these car clubs' policy regarding damage and scratches to the car: if they are ignoring rubbish and dirt or tobacco smoke, do they not charge if the vehicle is damaged, scratched by branches or vandalism, or left covered in mud? If a car owner loses a wing mirror or gains some scratches, they either ignore it or fix the problem themselves with zero labour cost: who takes responsibility for all this work at a Carclub?

    For myself, I live in the suburbs where the bus service is slow and unreliable and never goes to the locations I typically visit. I would hate the loss of the freedom offered by my car, which is basically a mobile shed. It's a 12-year old model worth about £650, so depreciation costs are tiny, and even if maintenance costs are higher than with a younger car, it's worth every penny.
  • danb77
    Hope this helps someone...
    Originally posted by thymely
    Thank you! It helped me - I just signed up. :-)
    • marklee
    • By marklee 26th Mar 09, 2:01 PM
    • 66 Posts
    • 22 Thanks
    Just thinking about the mileage charges:

    1) All petrol is included for car clubs. So when you pay a mileage charge, that is not on top of any petrol charges you're paying.

    2) Most car clubs have a free mileage allowance (usually 30 miles). TBH if you live in an urban environment, you're rarely going to go over this when using the car for going to the tip / ikea / etc

    2) If you do need to go long distance, then yes, the mileage charges are more expensive than if you were to use a hire car and fill it up yourself. So you know what? If you know you're going to drive a long distance, then you ditch the car club and go and hire a car form a conventional place. The whole point here is trying to live without owning a car - so you should use both car clubs (short duration / distance) and car rental (long duration / distance) as appropriate.

    4) If you're going a short distance and taxis are cheaper - again, take the blooming taxi instead of complaining about car clubs being uncompetitive - all they are is one transport option out of many.

    Car clubs really aren't for everyone, especially if you live in outer urban areas where transport is sluggish. But they can work really well, particularly when used in conjunction with conventional car hire and a strong public transport network. The savings you can make are even bigger if you're a young driver, or would be parking your car on-street.

    I spend maybe £1,500 on public transport a year (inc taxis / minicabs), and £500 on car club usage / vehicle rental.

    A quick look online reveals that as a driver with no previous claims or endorsements, if I had a similar car to the ones Streetcar use, and parked on-street in my area, the cheapest insurance premium would be £1,200, with the same excess that Streetcar give me. (Might just be the area I live in - many companies on the price comparison site wouldn't even provide a quote for on-street parking in my area).

    So car ownership would involve:
    Insurance: £1200
    Parking Permit: £100
    Road tax & MOT: £150
    Breakdown Cover: £80
    Depreciation: £1-2000
    Petrol: Anyone's guess
    Maintenance: Anyone's guess
    Parking (when I would have used public transport normally): £1/hour
    Hassle Factor of Ownership: Priceless (!)

    So personally, it works out a lot cheaper and easier for me.
  • JaneAire
    Car club info
    There is a postcode search so you can check for your nearest car club at

    re: Lexxi - You are right that Streetcar are in London mainly. As you are in Manchester you should talk to WhizzGo who do have cars there already.

    I work for Commonwheels which is a not for profit car club, running in Oxford, Reading, Portsmouth and other towns. We work with local communities to set up car clubs in places where the commercial operators are not. Commonwheels can fit our technology into any car, so our members can donate their car, or company pool cars. see for more info.
    • ebonylight
    • By ebonylight 27th Mar 09, 11:27 AM
    • 838 Posts
    • 1,601 Thanks
    Personally I have found this thread useful so far and hope others want to post and join in.

    I recently moved to London, and since I had a car crash in August (an ongoing dispute) I have never bothered to replace my car (which was written off). It has become more and more irritating and expensive to keep buying train tickets to visit friends and family at short notice in Leicester and so I looked into the car club as an option so I could do this more cost effectively and in a more comfortable manner as well (I do miss the luxury of a car even though I have got very used to the tube now).

    Frankly I am not put off by the cons that have been posted so far as they pro's outweigh them! Plus I am apparently too young to rent a car whereas I fit the age criteria to join a car club (where is the logic in that?!)

    Thanks for your help - I have come to the conclusion this is the best option for me!
    End of 2010 I was £8,007.66 in debt
    Today's total: £7,297.06
    Member of The Blondettes
  • 4jax
    Don't be late returning it
    I'd endorse all that's been mentioned before. I joined City Car Club in October. I'm not a frequent car user and do use public transport wherever possible. A long trip is cheaper to use regular car hire.

    With a car club you have to give an end of hire time when you'll get the car back. If you underestimate the time, or get stuck in traffic, you get all kinds of unfriendly bleeps and reminders from the on board computer that you're late. Sometimes it's possible to pull over and increase the end time. If it's not you get fined and the stress of trying to get back on time is awful knowing someone else is waiting! So you end up overestimating your return time and that increases the price you pay.

    I also had my local car booked out from early in the morning and on arrival at 06.30 found it had changed to a model with automatic transmission. Maybe others wouldn't have been as thrown as I was - but I had to go back home, log into the system and find another car that was available for the amount of time I needed it.

    Although I'm using the system I miss the convenience of having my own car. Jury's out on the financial benefit though - haven't done the sums yet!
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