Car subscription is a new and more flexible alternative to car leasing. To help you find the right service, we’ve reviewed all the car subscription providers for cost, flexibility, services and other features.
The way we consume is rapidly changing. Streaming services have changed how we watch our favorite television shows and movies. Delivery apps have changed how we buy our groceries and meals. When was the last time you actually bought a copy of your favorite band’s latest album?
Ownership is being redefined and the automotive world is no exception.
If you’re in the market for a new car that usually means one of two things: either leasing or buying. But with car sharing services and short-to-medium term rental services making leasing seem outdated, and the high financial commitment of ownership, sometimes neither of those two options are right for you. Enter the car subscription service.
“Subscription service? You mean like Netflix for cars?” Well, yeah, kind of. Think of it this way: leasing and buying mean multi-year commitments to one car, and rental services may only be ideal for a few hours or days at most. The idea of a car subscription service is to operate comfortably in-between those two options, bringing the convenience and flexibility of the digital age to how you drive. Like leasing, subscribers don’t own their car. Instead, subscribers pay flat monthly fees for access to a vehicle (or vehicles) and a variety of car-related options: from number of available models, mileage limits, and included insurance, to maintenance and damage cost coverage, roadside assistance, vehicle delivery and even fuel costs. Subscription services are all about providing you, the customer, the flexibility to tailor your car experience to your needs.
However, as with all exciting new ideas, there are bound to be some initial bumps in the road. With subscription services the issue is sheer volume and complexity. Everyone wants in and everyone has their own unique business model. Trying to navigate all the different services from various car manufacturers, dealerships, and startups can be tricky and some are definitely more right for you than others.
That’s where we come in.
We get it, like buying a new phone or deciding on dinner, with so many subscription services out there it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s right for you. An internet search can become a rabbit hole of conflicting reviews and opinions and, with anything car-related, there’s usually a lot of fine print to dig through. But with our easy-to-navigate web-site, and our in-depth, honest reviews of every subscription service out there, we’ll have you off of your computer and in your new car in no time.
Types of Providers
We all want to know who we’re buying from, right? When it comes to subscription services, there are three main types of providers: OEM’s, Third-party Providers, and Dealerships. All share similarities, like certain geographical restrictions, but there are important differences.
OEM’s, or Original Equipment Manufacturer, are services provided directly from the manufacturer. Subscriber’s monthly fees are paid directly to the manufacturer in return for access to select models and insurance, damage, and roadside assistance coverage. These are probably the ones you recognize. Care by Volvo, Access by BMW, Book by Cadillac – some OEM’s, like Porsche, provide more than one subscription program. The list goes on and continues to grow. In general, OEM’s tend to run on the more expensive side usually with their own “luxury” options, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. OEM subscriptions come with a standard of service that many Third-Party Providers can’t match.
That said, Third Party Providers bring a level of flexibility that singular manufacturers can’t, usually for lower monthly costs. Whereas OEM’s provide models from their specific brand, many Third-Party Providers offer cars from multiple brands, and a more customizable experience. You’ll also find some recognizable names with established rental companies like Enterprise and Hertz offering their own subscription services. With most of these providers offering used or off-lease cars, the niche for Third Party Providers is usually lower-cost and flexibility.
Finally, a select few Dealerships are adopting subscription services for the specific geographical regions in which they operate. These may be right for you if dealing with a more familiar, community-oriented face is something you value.
Subscription vs. Leasing
Why become a member of a subscription service instead of leasing? The key word is convenience. Not as big a fan of your car as you initially thought? With many subscription services you can swap it out for a different model – some even deliver it to you for free. Try doing that on a lease agreement. Need a minivan to haul the kids and their friends around and a fun sports car for weekends, but can’t afford to buy or lease two separate cars? Don’t worry, subscription services have you covered.
Then there’s the hassle of negotiating with sales people. With subscription services everything is one flat monthly fee – no haggling required.
Not sure how much you’ll be driving? No problem! With a variety of subscription services out there, you can find the perfect type of set miles restrictions to fit your lifestyle. Some services cover things like maintenance costs, new tires, sometimes even fuel. The idea here is to give you, the customer, the ability to find and customize the right experience for you.
Subscription vs. Buying
Look, cars are expensive – especially when you want to own one, and not everyone can afford the high cost of down payments or the burden of yet another loan to pay back. On top of that there are interest rates and credit scores to deal with.
And how long is it before the car you’ve just bought is out-of-date? Before you can’t plug in or charge your new phone or gadget? Of course there’s always the option to sell, but we all know that the minute a car is yours its value begins to depreciate.
With a subscription you don’t have to worry about any of that. No void warranties, no extra costs, and a list of customizable options from which to choose.
So how much is it?
Will you be saving money by foregoing a lease or buying a car in favor of joining a subscription service? Well, that depends. Along with monthly costs, the majority of services require you to pay an initial fee – which means subscriptions aren’t necessarily the cheaper option. That said, there are tons of services out there and each of them is trying to cater to a specific price point.
For example, Fair, a start up provider that offers more than 30 brands, has cost efficient options for around a hundred dollars a month, and luxury options for eye-catching cars for a couple thousand dollars more.
In general, the OEMs tend to be more expensive. Porsche’s Porsche Drive program with starts at $2,100 per month, with access to a larger number of models coming in at $3,100. But, obviously, you’re paying to drive a Porsche, where as Volvo’s service, Care by Volvo, starts at $700 with a $750 option for more expensive models.
Is it worth it?
Well, that depends. If outright ownership is something near and dear to you, maybe you should buy. And if you’ve found the absolute perfect car for you, in all aspects of your life, then leasing is a definite option. But if you’re looking for convenience and flexibility, with more options than you can shake a key fob at, it might be worth it to try a subscription service. Because whether it’s cost effectiveness, the ability to have multiple car models at your fingertips, or the benefit of flexible time commitments and cancellation terms, odds are there’s a subscription that’s right for you.