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PopCar versus Car Next Door: Comparison & Rates

Sam Ficek

Car sharing has taken off over the last few years in Australia, with a choice of platforms offering different models for hiring and pricing plans. You may have seen the friendly Car Next Door logo on the side of a car on the freeway, or a PopCar fleet car parked in the city. While both allow you to hire a vehicle for short trips of just an hour or longer, there are some big differences between the two services.

To help you decide which provider is best for you, we’ve compared the cost of hiring a vehicle from Car Next Door and PopCar, using four common travel scenarios.

Why car sharing?

There are many benefits to car sharing. It’s an easy and affordable way to always have access to a vehicle whenever you need one, without all the ongoing expenses of owning a car. Not only will it save you money, but it’s convenient and easy to use, with all transactions completed online and via an app. There are also some other surprising benefits to car sharing that you’ll love.

Cheaper than owning a car

According to the NRMA most cars sit idle 95 percent of the time. But no matter how much you drive a car, some costs don’t change. Insurance, registration, ongoing servicing, depreciation, and storage are all a part of owning a car. With car sharing there’s no ongoing registration, insurance or maintenance costs. You only pay each time you hire. For people who don’t need to drive every day, it’s a very cost effective and convenient way of getting around.

Car sharing avoids all the ongoing costs of owning a car.

Better than traditional car rental

Car sharing is more affordable and easier to use than traditional car rental. Traditional car rental only permits bookings by the day, but car sharing gives borrowers the flexibility and convenience of booking by the hour as well. The average cost of a single car sharing trip travelling 15 kilometres is $32.00 - even less on some car sharing platforms like Car Next Door.

Convenient & easy to use

With traditional car rental, borrowers need to travel to a central depot to pick up their car. With car sharing, vehicles are dispersed across the city, allowing borrowers to find cars in their local area - or in their own street. With a downloadable app for searching and making bookings, and cars dispersed across the city, car sharing is now as convenient as catching a bus.

Borrowers use an app to locate and book cars in their local area.

Change up your wheels

There are additional benefits to car sharing than just cost and convenience. Borrowers can choose a vehicle to match their journey, with a choice of small hatches, SUVs, vans, and even luxury cars available for hire. Choose a van to pick up furniture, a comfy SUV for a holiday, or a convertible for a summer trip to the beach. You can’t do that when you own a car!

Better for the environment

If you’re concerned about your environmental footprint and CO2 emissions, there’s more good news. Car sharing platforms like Car Next Door help to reduce CO2 emissions by encouraging the sharing of privately owned vehicles, rather than purchasing new vehicles. This also helps to reduce congestion on the roads.

How does it work?

Whether it’s joining up, making a booking or getting access to your vehicle, everything is done online, via an app or is automated. To join up, simply enter your details online. Once you’re verified and you’ve downloaded the app, you can start searching for vehicles in your area. The whole process of joining takes no more than a day or two, and there’s no time consuming paperwork. All you need is a full license and credit card.

Depending on the car sharing platform you join, access to your vehicle is either via a pin and swiping your membership card (in the case of PopCar), or from a lockbox on or near the car (with Car Next Door). There’s no need to visit a counter to pick up keys. At the end of your journey, simply return the car, and you’re on your way.

With car sharing, all transactions are completed online and via an app.

Fleet-based and peer-to-peer car sharing

It may seem like all car sharing services are the same, but there are some important differences. One of the main differences is between fleet based services like PopCar and peer-to-peer car sharing like Car Next Door.


In fleet services, cars are owned by the car sharing business. Vehicles are parked on the street in designated car parks and tend to be centralised in inner city areas, with less cars in outer suburbs and regional areas. PopCar is a fleet based car sharing business.


In a peer-to-peer car sharing service like Car Next Door, the vehicles are owned by private individuals who use a car sharing platform to rent out their car when they aren’t using it. The advantage of peer-to-peer (or neighbourhood) car sharing over fleet services is that they tend to have a broader reach. With more vehicles dispersed throughout the city and outer suburban areas, it tends to be much easier to find a vehicle in your neighbourhood.

Peer-to-peer car sharing has more cars in the city and outer suburbs than other forms of car sharing.

How do I choose the right car sharing service?

Choosing the best car sharing service involves finding the service with the best coverage in your area and the best membership plans and insurance policies.

Are there cars available in my area?

A good car sharing service is one where you can always find a car when you need it and you don’t have to travel far. Determining how many vehicles a car sharing service has, and how many are in your local area is crucial. If you live in the suburbs or regional areas, a peer-to-peer service will likely have more cars available in your area.

How much does it cost?

For car sharing to work it needs to be affordable. Look at plans and calculate some typical trips to work out the best provider.

If I have an accident, what will I have to pay?

Unfortunately accidents do happen. Before you choose a car sharing business, learn about your insurance liability, and how much extra it costs if you want to lower your premium.

Do they have the type of vehicle I need?

Fleet car sharing services tend to have less variety in the types of car available, though this might suit some drivers who prefer to borrow the same car each time.

Pop Car Versus Car Next Door

Now that you know about the benefits of car sharing and what to look for when comparing car sharing services, let’s jump into a comparison of PopCar and Car Next Door.


PopCar is a small fleet based service with a total of 144 cars centralised across the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Byron Bay. PopCar has 56 cars in Melbourne, 77 in Sydney, 6 in Canberra and 6 in Byron Bay.

  • Fleet car sharing
  • Monthly Plans
  • Book by the hour or day
  • Minimum rates from $9.90 to $5.50 per hour

Car Next Door

Car Next Door is a peer-to-peer car sharing service with over 3,000 vehicles available in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Tasmania. Car Next Door has over 1,600 cars in Melbourne and Sydney, 397 in Brisbane and 80 In Perth.

  • Peer-to-peer car sharing
  • Monthly Plans
  • Book by the hour or day
  • Minimum Rates from $5.00 per hour

Location and availability of cars

When comparing the volume and coverage of vehicles in Australian cities and regional areas, it’s clear that Car Next Door comes out as the winner over PopCar. Car Next Door has cars located in more major cities across Australia and also has more cars available throughout metropolitan and regional areas. For borrowers located in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, and many regional areas between Sydney and Brisbane, Car Next Door is a better choice.

Car Next Door has more vehicles across Australian cities and regional areas than PopCar.

Plans & Pricing

Calculating the cost of a car sharing journey with PopCar and Car Next Door is based on:

  • how long you require the vehicle;
  • the type of vehicle you choose, and;
  • the distance you travel.

Rates vary depending on the type of vehicle you hire. A small hatch is cheaper to hire than a sedan, an SUV or a luxury vehicle. Borrowers are also charged for the number of kilometres they travel.

PopCar and Car Next Door provide different membership plans, with cheaper rates when you travel more often.

New borrowers: Standby & Featherweight

For new borrowers, both PopCar and Car Next Door have an introductory rate and charge no monthly fees. Hourly and daily hire rates on PopCar’s Standby plan are considerably more expensive compared with the equivalent Featherweight plan with Car Next door -  $9.90 per hour with PopCar, compared with $5 with Car Next Door. The difference in rate is even more stark if you want to hire a car for a day, with rates beginning at $80 with PopCar and $25 per day with Car Next Door.

Frequent borrowers: Often & Heavyweight

Both providers also offer memberships with reduced rates for those who regularly need to borrow a car. Day rates on PopCar’s Often plan begin at $59, while on Car Next Door’s Heavyweight plan, day rates still start at $25. With Car Next Door hourly and daily rates all start at $5 and $25 respectively, no matter what plan you’re on. As we’ll see below in the cost comparison on four different journeys, this is where Car Next Door has the edge over PopCar on price.

Below is a summary of the different membership plans offered by PopCar and Car Next Door.

Popcar plan    Often    Occasional    Standby        Membership fee    From $19.90 per month    From $7.70 per month    Free        Booking fee    no fee    no fee    no fee        Hourly rate    From $5.50    From $7.90    From $9.90        Daily rate    $59    $59    $80        Distance rate    40c per km    40c per km    40c per km        Included Km    100km on daily rate    100km on daily rate    100km on daily rate        Damage liability    $1,500 - $2,000    $1,500 - $2,000    $1,500 - $2,000

**Damage Liability: if you have an accident the maximum you will pay is $2000. To reduce your liability to $0 PopCar charges $1.50 extra per hour.

Car Next Door    Featherweight    Heavyweight        Membership fee    free    $19        Booking fee    $16.99    no fee        Hourly rate    from $5    from $5        Daily rate    from $25    from $25        Distance rate    from 21c/Km    from 21c/Km        Damage liability    $2,000    $500

*Damage Liability: if you have an accident the maximum you will pay is $2000. To reduce your liability to $500 Car Next Door charges $1.50 extra per hour or $18 per day.

Cost comparison on different trips

The tables above provide a summary of pricing differences between PopCar and Car Next Door. The best way to really compare the two providers, however, is to put them to the test with some real life scenarios. We’ve done a cost comparison on four very different journeys:

  • A three hour shopping trip
  • A day trip out of town
  • A four day ski holiday
  • A one week holiday

Trip type*    Car Next Door price    PopCar price        A three hour shopping trip    $32.19    $37.30        A day trip out of town    $47.74    $80        A four day ski holiday    $398.92    $508        A one-week holiday    $478    $741

*See the Notes below for details of the type of vehicle and specific plan selected for each journey.

Three hour shopping trip

Picking up groceries and running some errands typically takes around three hours. All you need is a small hatch to get you through traffic. You’ll be travelling 20 kilometres.

For three hours and 20km of travel, you’ll pay about $37.70 for PopCar, and $32.19 with Car Next Door.

A shopping trip cost comparison

A day trip out of town

Hiring a car for a full day gives you maximum flexibility and allows you to travel a bit further, visit a friend for a long lunch or spend the day out of town. We’ve calculated a typical day trip to the Northern Beaches in Sydney or to the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne.

When you hire a small hatch with PopCar for a day, you get 100 kilometers of travel included. With Car Next Door you just pay for the kilometres you travel. In our day trip scenario, you’re only travelling 75 kilometres, so Car Next Door is a much better option. But even if you travelled 100 kilometres, Car Next Door will still cost less, so it’s better value for money.

You’ll pay around $80 for PopCar, and $47.74 for Car Next Door.

A day trip - one day and 70km

Four day ski trip

With a bumper ski season scheduled, you and your friends decide to head for the ski fields. With all that ski gear, you need a roomier car, so you hire a comfy SUV. You decide to leave early Friday morning and head home on Monday afternoon, so you’ve got about three full days on the ski fields.

Melbourne ski trip: For a return trip for four days from Melbourne to Hotham you’ll pay $508.00 with PopCar and $398.92 with Car Next Door.

Sydney ski trip: If you’re travelling to Thredbo from Sydney, you’ll pay $579 with PopCar and $492.64 with Car Next Door.

A four day ski trip - 4 days and 724km

One week holiday

Pack up the SUV, it’s time for a holiday in the country. A week’s holiday in Orange is just what the doctor ordered. Visit wineries, sample local produce and visit galleries in the picturesque, volcanic hills, only 300 kilometres from Sydney. If you’re in Melbourne, head north for an Echuca escape on the Murray. Cruise the river on a paddle steamer, explore galleries and visit local breweries in this historic region of Victoria.

You’ll pay around $741 with PopCar and $478.00 with Car Next Door.

One week Holiday - 7 days and 600km

PopCar Versus Car Next Door: who wins?

Car Next Door is the clear winner when comparing travel costs on four different journeys. Compared with PopCar, Car Next Door is cheaper for short trips of a few hours and for longer journeys up to a week. Daily rates are significantly cheaper with Car Next Door, and deliver even bigger savings on journeys for multiple days, compared with PopCar. In addition, on Car Next Door’s Heavyweight Plan, the insurance premium is automatically reduced to $500.

Car Next Door is cheaper than PopCar for short trips of a few hours and longer journeys up to a week.

Hiring with Car Next Door

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the benefits of car sharing, and how it works, and you’re excited to try it out. We think you’ll agree that neighbourhood car sharing with Car Next Door is the most affordable, convenient and sustainable way to car share, and keep local money in the hands of locals.

Not only does Car Next Door have more cars located throughout the suburbs in more Australian cities than any other car sharing service, but for short and long journeys, Car Next Door provides the most competitive pricing. And that’s not all. To offset CO2 emissions, Car Next Door supports reforestation projects across Australia. With a quick and easy way to join, pet friendly vehicles, and no lock-in memberships, you can start searching for all sorts of vehicles in your local area today.


To cost each of the trips above, we compared similar pricing plans at Car Next Door and PopCar. The three hour shopping trip and day trip were calculated using PopCar’s Standby Plan and Car Next Door’s Featherweight Plan. Both were based on hiring a small hatch.

For the two longer trips, we upgraded the vehicle to a more comfy SUV. With Car Next Door, we’ve assumed a cost for the hire of an SUV of $40 per day and a distance rate of 33 cents per kilometre. We’ve also assumed you’re on Car Next Door’s Heavyweight Plan. For the two longer trips with PopCar, you’re also hiring an equivalent sized SUV for $88 per day. You get 100 kilometres included in your travel, with the remaining charged at a rate of 25 cents per kilometre. You’re on PopCar’s Occasional Plan, to get a cheaper day rate.

Both PopCar’s Occasional Plan and Car Next Door’s Heavyweight Plan include a monthly fee. We haven’t included these in the individual calculations for each trip.

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