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Zipcar at Cal Poly

Fast, Convenient, Affordable and Environmentally friendly.

Life without a car just got easier!

Zipcar provides a self-service, on-demand car sharing program at Cal Poly. To use it, simply register as a member, reserve a car online or by phone, use your Zipcard to unlock the vehicle, and drive away. Return the car to the same location where you picked it up.

Zipcar branded with Cal Poly
  • Access Zipcars 24/7
  • Discounted hourly rates for Cal Poly students, staff, and faculty age 18 and older
  • As low as $8.50 per hour (gas, insurance, maintenance and 180 miles per day included)
  • Pay only $20 a year for membership fees
  • Access to Zipcars nationwide, even at 18 years old

This program is intended for personal and quick, local business needs for Cal Poly staff, faculty and students. A department business Zipcar account may not be used for personal travel.

To rent a vehicle for official University-related business travel needs, please visit University Travel.


Personal Membership Requirements

Age 21 and older

  • Have a valid driver's license and have been licensed for at least one year
  • Have had no more than two incidents (moving violations PLUS accidents) in the past three years and no more than one incident in the past 18 months
  • Have had no major violations in the past three years
  • Have had no alcohol violations in the past seven years

Age 18 to 20

  • Have a valid driver's license for at least one year
  • Have no incidents on their driving record


Step 1 – Join

Apply online through Cal Poly Zipcar. Once you are approved, you will receive your very own Zipcard by mail within three days to a week. Once you are approved, your Zipcard will be activated and ready to use. *See information above for department memberships.

  • Zipcar checks your driving record.
  • Zipcar emails you about the status of your application.
  • Zipcar sends your Zipcard to your billing address or activates your existing Zipcard.

Already a Zipcar member? Contact Zipcar to transfer to a Cal Poly membership.

Do you have a driver's license outside of the U.S. or Canada? You can apply. Visit Zipcar Foreign Licenses for instructions on how to provide them with your driving record.

Step 2 – Reserve

Once you have your activated Zipcard, reserve one of the Zipcars at Cal Poly or at any other Zipcar location for an hour or an entire day – you decide how long. Reservations can be made online at Zipcar or by phone at 866-4ZIPCAR.

Step 3 – Unlock

Walk to the car; hold your Zipcard to the windshield. The doors will unlock, and it's all yours! Your Zipcard will only open the car you've reserved during the time you reserved it, which means no one else can open your Zipcar during that time. (You will be instructed where to find the keys in the car.)

Step 4 – Drive

Drive away – and return the Zipcar to the same reserved parking spot at the end of your reservation. It's that simple. And remember, gas and insurance are included in the hourly rate. You just need to fill the tank using the Zipcar fuel card inside the car when it gets to 1/4 full.


As part of the application process, you will need to enter a personal credit card number. Zipcar accepts all major credit cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and Diners Club. Your personal credit card will initially be charged your annual fee and applicable taxes. Once you become a member, your driving charges will be charged to your personal credit card when you have completed a reservation.


You will be charged penalties if you do not adhere to the basic membership guidelines. All penalty fees are assessed by Zipcar. Penalty fees result from actions including returning the car late, returning the car with less than 1/4 tank of fuel, leaving the car excessively dirty, smoking in the car, and allowing pets outside of a car carrier while in the car.

Please note that someone who is not a Zipcar member cannot drive the Zipcar that a member has reserved. Anyone behind the wheel must be a Zipcar member for liability and insurance reasons. Membership can be revoked for unauthorized use.

Zipcar charges late penalty fees of $50 per hour with a minimum charge of $50 plus regular hourly charges. So, when you're making your reservation, book the car for an extra half-hour or hour if you have any doubt about being able to make it back on time.

You can also extend your reservation with Zipcar's automated telephone system (866-4ZIPCAR), but keep in mind that it's not always possible to extend your reservation once you have the car – another member may have already reserved it!

This is not a complete list of penalties. Please see Zipcar Fee Policy for full details.

Department Memberships

To begin the process for setting up a department business account, please email our Zipcar Account Manager, Forrest Anderson at and copy

Join Cal Poly ZipCar HERE for exclusive membership rates and discounts.

To change your membership plan from monthly to annual, annual to monthly, or a University membership, you may do so by accessing your account settings on Follow the steps HERE.

Zipcar FAQs

Zipcar provides a Zipcar FAQs page. Please note that this is the general Zipcar site, so some of the fees and rates differ from those offered to Cal Poly Zipcar members.

To begin the process for setting up a department business account, please email our Zipcar Account Manager, Forrest Anderson at and copy