There are so many different subscription services these days that it’s hard to keep track. You can have everything from wine to meals to chocolate chip cookies delivered to your door for a monthly fee.
One subscription service that is starting to emerge in this already crowded market is car subscriptions — for a monthly fee, you can borrow a car without worrying about leases or credit checks. What is a car subscription and is it worth the cost?
What Is a Car Subscription?
To get a new car, traditionally you must lease it from the bank. You pay monthly for it, and while you have a warranty that covers some repair work, it’s up to you to take care of the car for the term of your lease. It’s a great alternative to putting down a large down payment and purchasing the car, especially if you don’t have the necessary funds. Insurance and maintenance are up to you, though.
Now, you have an alternative to a traditional lease — you can have a car that you love, without having to worry about insurance or maintenance, for a monthly payment and a two-year contract. While it can run a little bit pricier, it’s not too different from how you purchase a new cell phone.
All the Options
Have you ever wished that you could change your car out every few weeks when something new came on the market, or you just got tired of the car that you’re driving? Book by Cadillac lets you do just that — you can change out your car up to 18 times a year for a monthly price and a one-time enrollment fee. That’s a new car every three weeks if you use all 18 car swaps.
If you’ve got a deeper pocketbook, or just need a sports car in your life, Porsche Passport lets you choose between eight and 22 models between $2000 and $3000 a month along with that one-time membership fee of $500.
If you need something a little more price-friendly, Canvas by Ford allows you to subscribe to use one of a fleet of used vehicles that are less than three years old. Their plans start at $429 a month, which is closer to the price of a regular car payment.
It only includes 50 miles, so if you have a long commute, it will cost you to add more miles. As a bonus, though, the longer you keep the car, the less it costs you. Plus, if you don’t use all the miles you paid for, they roll over to the next month just like cell phone minutes used to.
These are amazing ways to try out new cars or enjoy cars that you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, but are they worth the cost?
No Additional Costs
With a car subscription, you’re not responsible for maintenance, insurance or even the cost of roadside assistance. This can easily save you a couple of hundred dollars a month — or more if you drive a junker that breaks down more than it drives.
You also don’t have to worry about the cost of car ownership. With most of these programs, there are no hidden costs or fees. You simply pay your monthly subscription and the car is yours for another 30 days.
For car companies, this may be a way to target the millennial generation as this group could kill car ownership and a myriad of other industries. The jury is still out as to whether this has had an effect yet or not — millennials have a bad reputation for killing all sorts of things, from diamonds to paper napkins, so time will tell.
While Cadillac’s program requires a two-year commitment, Ford’s doesn’t require any sort of contract. At the end of your subscription, you can simply return the car to the dealership if you’ve had enough. This is super handy if you only need a car for a month to help you move, make it back and forth to work or something else.
Subscriptions playing on driver psychology could make the roads safer. Driving a shiny, new or even a new to you car makes you inherently more careful behind the wheel. It also helps prevent insurance problems in the event of an accident — all insurance claims are handled directly by the company, and if the accident isn’t the driver’s fault, they’ll be behind the wheel of a new car in no time.
On the other side of the coin, car subscriptions can be more expensive than car ownership. Ford might only cost $429 a month, but you’re paying extra for miles. Cadillac’s program costs $1,800 a month and Porsche can top out at $3,000. It’s great if you’ve got some extra money to play with, but for most people, it’s more cost effective to buy a used car outright or lease a car from the dealership.
Benefits Over Downsides
The benefits of a car subscription service seem to outweigh the downsides. If you’ve got the disposable income, it’s a great way to live out your millionaire dreams, changing cars every few weeks, or just renting a car for a month when you need one.
The biggest downside of these programs is the cost. Whether these programs are worth the money is up to you. If you want a car that you don’t have to maintain or insure, and all you pay for is gas, then a car subscription program is right up your alley. If you prefer to drive a project car or something that you can work on, a subscription service isn’t for you.
These are plenty of ways to get your hands on a car — and subscription services are just one of them. Car subscriptions might not replace traditional car ownership, but they’re an interesting concept, and it’s exciting to see where they go in the future.