Zipcar doesn’t give you money back for returning a car early. Car-sharing fees are charged at the time you make your reservation. However, it’s much better to be early rather than late, as Zipcar does charge late fees. To learn more about Zipcar’s policies, as well as some things to consider before booking, see below.

What Happens If You Return Zipcar Early?

It’s perfectly okay to return a Zipcar early. The car-sharing membership service, Zipcar, doesn’t offer any money back or discounts if you return your car early, according to a Zipcar representative we spoke with. When you book a Zipcar, you pay for the time period you need upfront, so no matter how early you bring the car back, you will be charged the same amount. For example, if you reserve a Zipcar for five hours and only use it for three hours, you will still pay for five hours of car-sharing. Returning the car early does not make it available to other users, so there’s no incentive to return the car early. You should, however, be sure to return the car on time to avoid late fees. Zipcar’s late fees start at about $50. If you think you are going to be late, you can try to extend your reservation through the Zipcar app. But, if someone else has reserved the car after you, you may not be able to extend your time.

Note pleased with Zipcar’s policy? Here’s the early return policy for other rental car companies.

Tips for Booking Your Zipcar

Before you make a reservation, you might want to consider the following to avoid paying for hours you aren’t going to use:

  • Consider the areas you’ll be traveling through. Is there often a lot of traffic at the time of day you’ll be taking that route? Map tools do their best to factor traffic into travel estimations, but the algorithms aren’t always perfect.
  • Consider the time you’ll spend at your destination. If you’re visiting a museum, you’ll need to budget for more time than you would for a trip to the grocery store, for example.
  • Factor in any stops you may need to take. This includes stopping for gas or food or taking a bathroom break.
  • Zipcar suggests adding an extra 15 to 30 minutes to your reservation. The extra time should cover any unusual traffic conditions or other issues. Reservations can be made for as little as one hour or up to 14 days.

In Summary

If you do a Zipcar return early, you will not get any money back. However, it is definitely better to return a car early instead of late, as late fees start at $50.