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How To Spend Under $100 a Year on Transportation In Big Cities – Car2Go

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According to US Department of Labor, the average American spent $8,758 dollars on transportation alone in 2009. Transportation costs can easily add a huge portion to your monthly expenses, eating away at more and more of your savings. (Click image for full view).

consumer expenditures transporation

Getting around by car includes the cost of gas and insurance, not to mention monthly car payments. Taking the bus can be a big money saver. However, at nearly $2.50 per ride in cities like Seattle, you could be looking at nearly $100 per month. Don’t forget to include the time it takes to wait for the bus, ride the bus and then walk toward your destination, adding a huge dent in your schedule.

What if there was a way to get the benefits of the bus (low cost) and car (quick transportation) simultaneously? If you’ve ever driven with Car2Go, you know that this is the best way to get these two benefits.

Car2Go offers many incentives to their customers to save money. My good friend, for example, commuted back and forth to work every day using Car2Go for the past six months and only spent a total of only $60. I was astonished when I first heard this number, but quickly learned that anybody could do the same after he explained it to me.

Here we’re going to take a quick look at what Car2Go is and how we can use it to save a lot of cash.

What is Car2Go and How Does it Work?

Simply put, Car2Go is a car sharing service found in large cities throughout North America and certain European countries. The vehicles that are provided are these quirky, gasoline-powered, two-door smart cars. They may feel a little awkward at first, but you’ll quickly adjust as you get used to it.

They’re a little smaller than your average four-door sedan, but their size and maneuverability make parking a breeze. If you’re going for a quick trip to the supermarket or even wish to take a quick commute to work, Car2Go would be the perfect option.

Car2Go Smart car

The only downside is that you cannot drive these cars outside of their set boundaries. Yet this is nothing to worry about, as the zones in which you can drive Car2Go are usually plenty big, expanding just outside of the city limits.

In order to actually drive one of the cards, the first thing you need to do is order one of their membership cards. These cars work exactly like a normal debit card that your bank would offer you. You create an account online, deposit funds, and swipe the card each time you want to drive. If you choose to do so, you can also link the member card directly to your credit card.

There’s a small box on the front of every smart car that works as a sensor and detects the chip in your membership card. Hold the card for a few seconds next to the passenger-side of the windshield, and the car will recognize you as a current member.


You can get a membership card on their website at The cards cost around $35, but usually if you wait long enough there will be a special in which you can get it for free.

How Do I Find a Car to Drive?

Car2Go cars can be located anywhere throughout the city because they can be parked anywhere within their set zone provided that you park at a valid parking space. Once you get out of the car,  scan your membership card again to log-out of their system. This makes it available for the next driver to hop in your car.

Just like everything else, there’s an app for finding a car’s location. In order to find a car, launch the Car2Go app and wait for it to retrieve information about all of the cars nearest to your current location. All of the cars within walking distance will be placed on a map along with their distance away and the current amount in their gas tank.

Click on the car that you want to drive and reserve it. You have 20 minutes after reserving to make it to the car and scan your card. If it takes you over 20 minutes, someone else can go on the app and reserve the car in your place.

Need to go to a store? Find a car near you, scan your card, drive it to the store and park. When you finish shopping, find another car to reserve to take home.

Unfortunately, when you log out of a specific car, there’s usually a set timeframe before you can reserve that same car again. This prevents users from reserving the same car for the entire day.

Where Is Car2Go Available?

The good thing is that you don’t need to worry about not finding a car. Out of the six months that my friend has been using Car2Go, there has only been one incidence in which he could not find a car and had to take the bus to work. The amount of cars per city varies, but there are currently 500 in the city of Seattle and expanding.

Here are the cities that currently offer the Car2Go service:

  • Austin
  • Berlin
  • Calgary
  • Columbus
  • Denver
  • Dusseldorf
  • Florence
  • Frankfurt
  • Hamburg
  • Copenhagen
  • Cologne
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Milan
  • Twin Cities
  • Montreal
  • Munich
  • New York City
  • Portland
  • Seattle

Their business is expanding and growing quickly, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there are even more locations available. Make sure to check their website to find out if Car2Go is in your area.

What Happens if I Get in a Wreck?

If you get in an accident while driving a Car2Go smart car, you are covered under their insurance policy. Upon becoming a member you are already enrolled. Coverage completely depends on the state. You can check here for their current insurance policy.

The one thing that Car2Go insurance does not cover is any personal injury protection, no matter what state you are driving in. If you decide to drive Car2Go, make sure to handle the roads safely, especially if you’re driving on icy roads.

What are the Costs?

And here comes the most important part: the cost.

Car2Go’s policy is structured in a way that the more you drive, the cheaper the cost will be per mile. There is a one-time registration fee of $35 dollars. When they were first issuing the card, they had specials where this membership was free. Make sure to check back once in a while to see if these promotions are offered again.

Other than that, you are charged per minute. Here’s a chart that I copied from their website to give you an example for my city, Seattle:

car2go pricing structure

These fees can add up after a while, so it’s important to drive to your destination efficiently.

Car2Go Seems Kind of Expensive. How Can I Save Money?

Most Car2Go cars in the United States are gasoline-powered. This means that someone has to fill up the gas tank. In order to save time and money from paying their employees, Car2Go offers an incentive to their customers for getting the job done for them.

When you use your Car2Go app, you will be notified of the cars location along with the gas left in the tank per car. If the tank is less than 25% full, you can use your membership card and the touchscreen located on the dashboard to fill it up. Each time you fill up a car you are rewarded with 10 free minutes of driving time.


How My Friend Saved

Each time my friend found a smart car, he would do his best to make sure it was one that had a fuel tank filled at 25% or less.

In order to make it feel like not such a bother, each day after work he’d get some exercise by running to the nearest Car2Go smart car that he could fill up. He would then drive it to a gas station, receive 10 free minutes, and run to the next car and repeat the process to get another 10 minutes free.

On top of that, each time he commuted to work he tried his best to fill up a gas tank on the way there and on the way home. While it may seem like a hassle, I have to hand it to my friend for squeezing in time for exercise and essentially earning free money. In about a year’s time, he’s spent under $100 dollars in transportation fees.

Final Thoughts

If we compare this figure with the average transportation cost per person in America, we’ve saved a couple hundred over $8000 dollars. Have you ever driven one of these cars? I’m curious to know about your experience! Thanks for reading.

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