How to use car2go for free

26 September 2013

About car2go

Car2go is a car sharing service that lets you unlock any of hundreds of Smart cars parked throughout the city (in Austin, TX there are over 300 alone), drive to wherever you need to go and then leave the car parked there. You pay per minute you drive the car but there are no monthly fees, insurance costs or fuel charges. The main advantage over other car sharing services such as ZipCar is that the cars are equally spread throughout the city and you don’t have to return the vehicle when you are done using it.

How to use car2go for free

Car2go is the most convenient form of transportation in cities like Austin, Texas but compared to other transportation choices it is expensive. Luckily I figured out a way to use car2go for free.

My technique for getting free Car2go rides centers around the 20 free minutes you get for filling up a car. If there’s a gas station on your route you only lose about 2-3 minutes filling up. That means you can get in 17-18 minutes of free driving - more than you usually use in one trip. I’ll give you a summary of the entire processes so you, yourself, can go out today and use car2go for free.

Start your trip with an eligible car2go

To get free minutes for refueling you need to use a car with less than 25% fuel. You can check whichever app/website you use to reserve cars and see which cars nearby have less than 25% fuel or even simpler you can visit which has a map of all nearby cars with less than 25% fuel. Choose the car that you want to take and then walk to the car. When you arrive at the car scan your membership card as usual and begin the rental.

At this point you need to know where you are going and which gas station is on the way. Choose a route with a gas station on the way and get driving - the clock is ticking. If you don’t know which gas stations are on the way to your destination you can again check which has all the gas stations on the same map and lists the three closest gas stations to each car.

Fuel up on the way to your destination

You can stop at any gas station you like and use the prepaid fuel card in the dash slot of the car2go to pay for the fuel. Fueling a car2go is exactly like fueling any other car. Before you get out of the card select “Get Gas” from the control screen and take note of the driver ID and mileage numbers which appear. To pay at the pump, slide the prepaid fuel card like you would a normal credit card, then enter the driver ID and mileage when prompted. Fill up the tank, take your receipt and you are done.

Finish the trip

Remember to put the prepaid card back into the dashboard slot and continue on to your destination. Next time you are at a computer login to your account and go see how many free minutes you have. You can use those free minutes to go refuel another car and so on. Just keep in mind that whenever you use free minutes your oldest minutes are used up first but the new minutes you get expire after 30 days. Of course if you have free minutes you’re not going to wait a month to use them. Last month I used car2go six times and spent $0.

Don’t have a car2go membership?

Car2go is available in Amsterdam, Austin, Berlin, Calgary, Duesseldorf, Hamburg, Köln, London, Miami, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, Stuttgart, Toronto, Ulm, Vancouver, Washington DC and Wien. Students can signup for free, there are often specials going on. A lifetime membership is just $35 so head over to and click ‘Become a Member’.