Uber's Partnership With ZipCar Could Mean Easy Money For Drivers

Renting from ZipCar by the hour to drive for Uber could be a good way to make fast money. Or not.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema
Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

Last week ZipCar announced a pilot program with Uber to trial renting certain vehicles in its Boston fleet by the hour to ride-sharing drivers. Uber drivers would pay $12 an hour in addition to a $7 monthly membership fee, and while ZipCar would take care of maintenance and insurance, they'd be on the hook for gas, tolls, and any fees incurred.

How it works

The program is marketed as an easy way to try out driving for Uber, but its terms may not be that favorable for the average Uber driver, who earns approximately $15 an hour on average, according to survey conducted by The Rideshare Guy. Even assuming a rate of $20, after paying for the ZipCar drivers may walk away with only $8 for an hour's labor, which is $3 less than the Massachusetts minimum wage, news outlet Quartz points out

However, it could also be used as stop gap if driver's vehicle is out of commission, or if the casual driver wants to cash in on high Uber demand due to an event. Time the rentals to coincide with surge pricing, and the new arrangement could be a very good deal, especially since many other car rental partners charge by the week. It also could be used as a way to attract more drivers in cities, where car ownership is often difficult and expensive.

Ride-share drivers have many rental options

ZipCar isn't the only rental arrangement Uber has made to offer rentals to its network of drivers. Enterprise will rent vehicles to drivers for $215 per week, plus taxes and fees, with insurance and maintenance included. Hertz has a similar program, and rents to Uber and Lyft drivers for $180 per week. However, Lyft has a unique arrangement with General Motors that uses a tiered fee system that decreases based on the number of rides. With ExpressDrive, drivers pay $149 per week plus $.25 per mile if they give less than 45 rides in a week. If they complete between 45 and 74 trips during week, the rate drops the per mileage fee, and it lowers down to $0 if they give more than 75 rides per week. With these options and rates, it's easy to trial ride-sharing to make some extra cash. How much they make will require a bit of good timing.