Updated on June 5, 2017
Maven recently launched their short term car rental service and has been expanding over the past few months. If you sign up now, you will get a free lifetime membership and $10 off (and now $15 off . The app is not exactly ready for prime time but it is promising once they get through the growing pains.
What Is Maven?
GM launched Maven which is essentially the same as ZipCar (currently offering $25 credit + 50% off annual membership) but with the main differences being:
- Maven has newer/better cars (from GM)
- No membership fee (free lifetime membership according to the website)
- Maven uses your phone instead of requiring a keycard (this is both good and bad)
- Maven allows members as young as 18 vs ZipCar's 21 years
The free membership is important for me because I don't need a short term car rental often so a membership is not worth it. Instead, I'll just take a Lyft/Uber/Gett/Via/Juno, or rent a car for the day with Avis for ~$50. Maven and ZipCar only really make sense if you need a car for about 3 hours or less (shopping, home depot run?) at which point I start running into the cost of a full day rental from Avis. It should be faster, in theory, to jump in a Maven car parked throughout the city vs going to an Avis rental counter, if everything works correctly. Big IF.
Update 12/27/16: MAVEN now offers unlimited WiFi for up to 7 devices. Nice feature but probably unnecessary for such short term rentals.
Free Membership & $10 Off (new $15 off)
- Download the App: iOS or Android or sign up on the Maven homepage.
- Wait for your account to be approved (1-2 days). Be sure to enter all the information including your drivers license and credit card otherwise your application may sit in limbo without any notifications that you are missing something.
- Use promo code REWARDBOSS to get $10 off your first rental [update: see this newer post for $15 off] thanks in advance if you use my referral code]. If it doesn't work, it is probably because you have not yet been approved yet. This is a special offer for my readers – I do not receive anything if you use the first code, but I do get referral credit if you use my referral code. Be sure you read this entire post before you sign up!
First (Frustrating) Experiences
Maven should still be beta testing as they are not quite ready, at least in the NYC area where they have 2 cars in downtown Jersey City. With a free membership and almost free first rental, it is worth a shot.
So far, 2 out of my first 3 attempts to use Maven have failed.
- FAIL: My first attempt to rent a car failed because of Maven's scheduling policy explained futher down in this post. I was a bit too slow to lock in the reservation which pushed me into the next time slot which required a 1 hour wait…as I stood outside the unrented car. I gave up because it was already late at night. Ideally, if the car is available, I should be able to rent it (at least sooner than 1 hour).
- SUCCESS: I booked the car but had trouble unlocking the car. After calling support and following their advice (turn off bluetooth, close app, wait 15 seconds, turn on bluetooth, launch app, try again), I got in. The Chevy Volt was fun to drive and overall was a good experience (except of course having to call customer service).
- FAIL: Maven allows you to get in the car about 8 minutes before your reservation, so I was there 10 minutes to get my money's worth (and deal with any issues). I had the same problem as before – the app wouldn't let me open the car. Maven's phone support offered the same advice. After about 5 minutes of trying that, they realized the previous renter never closed their reservation so they had me on hold ~10 minutes taking their sweet time trying to resolve that… while I was standing outside and VERY COLD. How can the car be available if the previous person never returned it? Still the app would not work and support just kept putting me on hold. It was a cold cold 30 minutes trying to rent the car. There was a second Maven car nearby but the rep was unable to help get me in it. They said I would have to make a separate reservation which due to the timing policy I explain below, that meant I would have to wait ~40 minutes more on top of the ~30 minutes already wasted. We decided to take Lyft instead and asked for a refund and was told they can't because it's already paid for. What?! Then I got on the phone and requested a refund and they agreed… which could take a couple weeks!
- Jan 2017: MIXED: For my 4th attempt, I was able to get in the car, but had a problem starting it. When I approached the car, I noticed the app was not showing “green” at the top, so I turned on blue-tooth. That didn't help, so I closed/restarted the app (which I learned from prior experiences) and boom, I got the green light and the car opened, but the car would not turn on. After 15 minutes of trying and 10 minutes on the phone with customer service, they removed a block/lock on the engine, rebooted the car a few times and I got the car running. I asked Maven to extend my reservation the 15 minutes I lost but they could not and said I would be charged a $50 late fee if I go over my original 2 hours. For $37 I could extend the reservation for 1 hour but all I needed was my 15 minutes back, so I extended it then asked for a refund. The previous renter did not plug in the car so there was not much charge and I was not able to plug in the car because the charger wouldn't release from the street outlet. Or maybe I didn't do it right but I'm only going to spend so much time standing out in the cold trying to do it. The next driver will be using gas.
This is why using the phone App vs key card (like the Zipcard) can be good or bad. It's great if the app works (and you don't need to carry around an extra card). Maven has been in touch and says they will be making some improvements which would address some of the items I have highlighted.
Maven's Scheduling Rules
UPDATE: 2/15/17: Maven says “goodbye to waiting 30 minutes before starting your trip”. It was never ‘just 30 minutes' (see below) so I hope that means there is no waiting period at all.
Maven's system needs at least 30 minutes to prepare for your reservation so don't expect to find an available car and to be able to just book it and jump in. Each reservation slot starts on an even 30 minute interval (10:00, 10:30, 11:00 etc). But you can't just book 30 minutes ahead. The fastest wait time is 31-60 minutes. For example, it's 10:29pm so you can book for 11pm (the fastest 31 minute wait). If you are too slow and don't hit the button in time and the clock turns to 10:30pm, now the earliest you can book is 11:30pm (a 60 minute wait). So, the soonest you can book a car is to add 30 minutes to the current time then round up to the next even 30 minute interval.
Maven also hasn't setup their credit card transactions to tell you the charge is from them. My statement said “INVOICE 11/xx/2016 3DETROIT MI xxxxxxxxxxx xxx-xxx” – I only guessed Maven because of “DETROIT”, where GM is based, then noticed the amount was about right.
Maven is rapidly expanding and is in the current cities:
- Ann Arbor, MI
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Jersey City, NJ (only 2 cars in the NYC area which may be a beta test)
- Denver, CO
- Los Angeles, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Washington, DC
Here are several offers available for new users, most of them are referral links so thank you if you use them!