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Consumer Watch: WeCar membership lets troops rent a car by the hour

Dec. 7, 2011 - 04:28PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 7, 2011 - 04:28PM  |  
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You may not need a car all the time. You may not be able to afford one. But if you need a car every now and then for an hour or two — or a day, or a weekend — a new option is coming to some military bases: WeCar.

It's a car-sharing service providing access to a car for an hour, a day or overnight, similar to programs such as ZipCar that have been popping up in U.S. cities and on college campuses.

Once you become a member, you can reserve a car online, go to the WeCar parking area on base, find your designated vehicle and hold your membership card over the sensor on the driver's-side windshield. The car will unlock, and the ignition key is in the glove compartment. When you're finished with the car, you return it to the same parking spot.

The program is available now at Fort Carson, Colo., and Fort Bragg, N.C. By the end of the year, it will be at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Schofield Barracks and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; and at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., according to officials at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which is offering the service through a partnership with the military exchanges.

What it costs

You pay a one-time application fee of $25. Rates, which include fuel, are $10 an hour or $65 per day. To keep the car from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. costs $40. Rates may vary depending on the location and other factors. For example, at Fort Carson, the rate is higher on weekends: $11 per hour, $70 daily, and $45 overnight.

The first 200 miles per car-share period are free, but additional miles cost extra, depending on the area. At Fort Bragg, it's 45 cents per mile.

Fuel, basic vehicle physical damage and state-required liability insurance are included in the standard rate plan.

How it works

Join. Visit http://www.wecar.com/military">the program website and select "Program Details" for your installation. After reading the details, if you want to join, select "Join Now" at the bottom.

The application form asks for information such as your address, the address where you want the membership card mailed, driver's license information and payment information. Once your application is approved, WeCar will mail you your membership card, with your member ID number printed on your welcome brochure. You and your spouse can drive the car.

Reserve your car. Use your member ID to get to the reservation page of the website. Cars can be reserved for up to seven days; the minimum is one hour. Cars with mobility devices for customers with disabilities are available with 48 hours' advance notice.

Know the terms. If you damage the car, you're responsible for the first $500. Review the terms and conditions on the application for each installation.

Fuel up. A gas card in the car's glove compartment allows you to refuel the car at any gas station that carries the Wright Express logo. Military exchange gas stations are part of the network. Members are responsible for refueling once the gauge falls to one-quarter full.

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