This week I wanted to finally conclude my three-part post on transportation while on assignment. We last talked about getting around in a new city via mass transit. This week, we’ll take a look at another way to get from point A to B while on assignment.
If you fly to your location, whether you choose to use mass transit or not, there will probably come a time when you will want to rent a car. There are actually a few companies that advertise that they will pay for your car rental while on assignment. While this is true, you should weigh the benefit versus the cost.
While you might have a car provided or reimbursed through your company, as the saying goes, nothing in life is free. If you decide that you will take your company up on the offer of a rental car, be aware that you will not make the same hourly rate as if you declined this option. The difference, in my experience, can be anywhere from $3-$5 an hour, depending on your company.
On that high end, if you multiply $5 an hour, times the average 36 hour week, then multiply it times your 13 week contract, you are looking a over $2000 that could have been in your pocket rather than in a rental car. So, you will have to decide how important it is to have a car available 24/7.
Another option that I discovered when writing my book, is a company called Zipcar. This company offers an alternative to the conventional way we rent automobiles. After signing up for a membership with the company, you can rent a car by day, or, even by the hour! This is perfect for cities like New York or San Francisco where you might only need a vehicle for a few hours to go grocery shopping, but can either walk, or rely on mass transit, to get you to and from work.
Once you have a membership card, you can reserve a car online. The cars are parked in reserve spaces throughout major cities and since the spots are reserved, you never have to worry about having a parking spot when you return. It also means never having to wait at a rental car counter again.
Included in the price are a gas card (to fill up the car at any gas station), insurance, and mileage. To access a car after reserving one, you just hold your card up to a reader in the car and it unlocks the doors and allows the ignition to be start. The keys are hidden inside the car and safe since it can only be accessed by you. Time and mileage is downloaded from the car and simply billed to your account. Right now, the website shows cars in Phoenix renting for $8 an hour on the weekday, and a dollar higher on the weekend.
It’s a great concept and makes it easy to have access to a car in a big city like San Francisco or New York. To check out all the requirements, go to Zipcar.com.