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Using Zipcar car sharing for a couple of hours a day here and there is an effective and cheap way to get some errands done. However, returning the car on time in some situations can be difficult due to unforeseen circumstances like traffic or a breakdown. What do you do in these situations? Let's find out.

If you are returning a Zipcar late, then your best option is to extend your trip via the app, SMS, or by giving the Service Members team a call (which they will be able to do). If you can't extend your trip, you need to contact Zipcar support at 866-4ZIPCAR.

We will go over precisely what your options if you find yourself in a predicament and are unable to return your Zipcar on time. We will also cover what late fees apply, how much they are, if there is a grace period, and more. Read on to learn how to save money on Zipcar late penalty fees.

Returning Zipcar Late? Do This

If you find that you are running late during your trip and think that you might be in a position whereby you will not be returning your Zipcar on time, there are only two possible options available to you regarding resolution with the company;

  • Extend your trip if the option is available
  • Call Zipcar support and inform them

Extending Your Zipcar Trip

The best option you have available to you when running late is the ability to extend your trip. Doing this will allow you to forgo the penalty fees (which we will discuss later) that will apply to Zipcars that are returned late.

It would help if you remember that Zipcars can be booked by the hour (or by the day) and all you will need to do is extend your trip for the additional amount of time that will allow you to get the car back to its home location (Zipzone for Zipcar Flex).

Take note that this is only possible if the car has not already been booked for that time slot.

How Can I Extend My Zipcar Trip If I Am Running Late?

Extending your Zipcar trip is easily done using the mobile app, which is available for both iPhone and Android. You will only need to open up the app, view your “current trip,” select “extend,” and tap the “update trip” button to extend and verify your trip.

Sometimes, you can also extend your Zipcar trip by sending a text or by giving the Service Members team a phone call, and they will be happy to do it for you.

Calling Zipcar Support

If you find another booking in the allocated time frame, are unable to extend your trip because of it, and you are positive you will be late, then the only other option available is to call Zipcar support. They will be able to assist you from there.

What Happens If You Are Late Returning A Zipcar?

Returning your Zipcar late will incur a late penalty fee, which will be charged to your account. Depending on how late you are, the fee will increase per hour with a maximum fee resulting when 3 hours is reached.

You will also incur additional charges for the extra time that you used the car.

Is There Any Leeway For Returning A Zipcar Late?

There is, in fact, no leeway or grace period for late returns of Zipcars. It is within their terms and conditions and part of their community rules that all members must return the cars promptly on time, and if not, a late penalty fee will be charged.

What Are The Fees For Returning A Zipcar Late?

For all regions where Zipcar is active, the late fee will increase per hour up to a maximum of three hours, although the fees will differ depending on the region.

In the U.K., customers will be charged £35 per hour, up to the 3-hour maximum, including the added additional usage of the car.

For U.S. and Canadian users, the late fee will increase per hour. The fees for each hour are as follows;

  • 1 to 60 minutes late ($50 CAD)
  • 61 to 120 minutes late ($100 CAD)
  • 121 minutes late and over ($150 CAD)

Do Late Fees Apply To Zipcar Flex?

For Zipcar Flex, the above late fees will not apply. This is because Zipcar Flex users have 48 hours of usage and must return the car to the approved parking bay before the time is up.

Helpful Tips On How To Avoid Returning A Zipcar Late

Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid a scenario of returning your Zipcar late and incurring those additional penalty fees.

  • You should reserve your car well in advance, making sure to book an additional slot (hour) for the return trip. This will only cost the 1-hour rental fee.
  • Always consider traffic and use a GPS to determine the fastest route back to the car's home location.
  • Use the app, call support, or text to extend your trip if you are running late.
  • Turn on the app's notifications to keep you updated on how long you have before the car needs to be returned.

What If I Pick Up My Zipcar Late? Can I Return It Late?

No, you will be billed the full amount for the time reserved for the car, and you will need to return it before the allocated time booked for the car has expired. If you fail to do so, then you will be charged the appropriate late penalty fees.

Will Zipcar Refund Me If I Return Early?

When you book a Zipcar, you technically have it for the duration of your reservation, and other members cannot book it or use it during that time frame. As such, even if you return the car early, you will still have to pay the full amount for the reservation, and you will not be refunded.


We discovered that there are basically only two options available for you when returning a Zipcar late: extending the trip or calling Zipcar support, and only extending the trip allows you not to incur the late penalty fees.

However, you will only be able to extend your trip if the car has not already been booked. As such, you should consider the helpful hints we suggested to always return your car on time because the additional fees are quite high.