Why Buy or Lease When You Can “Subscribe” a Car
There’s a new way to get a car. You know about buying cars and leasing cars, but do you know about “subscribing” cars? It’s a new way of getting a car and it offers some distinct advantages over traditional car ownership methods. Here’s what you need to know.
Car Subscription 101
Car subscribing is similar to leasing a car but with an important difference: you don’t have to keep a specific car for the duration of the lease. With a car subscription service, you purchase the rights to many cars. That’s right, you now have the option to take home and drive any one of a number of cars, not just one. What you pay is a monthly subscription fee for complete access to the fleet.
Subscription pricing structures vary depending on who offers the service and the types of cars they have available. There are flat rate plans that allow you to use a car month-by-month and there are more flexible plans with fees that are adjusted for the type of vehicle you want and mileage you drive monthly.
Book by Cadillac was one of the first car subscription services and it comes in at $1,800 per month. Sponsored by the Cadillac company themselves, this subscription service lets you swap cars up to 18 times per year so there’s lots of flexibility. Other car subscription services are more affordable. Canvas is a Ford-based subscription service and it has pricing structures that start as low as $400 per month. For those that would like a step up, Care by Volvo is a company-backed subscription service that starts at $600 per month. Liberty Chrysler of Hinesville, GA told us that Chrysler is looking at an affordable subscription-based program to be available soon.
Similar to car leasing programs, most subscription services have limits as to how many miles you can drive. Some subscription programs have you choose your mileage at the start of each month and adjust the amount you pay accordingly. If there’s a month where you don’t drive as much as usual, you pay less money. On the other hand, if you plan to drive more than normal, then you simply pay more for that month. simply up the mileage for that month and you’re covered.
A typical car subscription includes insurance coverage as a part of the monthly fee. This insurance typically complies with the minimum requirements dictated by your state and local laws. It’s important to review the policy, though. You should take a close look so you know exactly what kind of coverage is provided. It might have higher deductibles or lower limits of liability than what you are used to.
Damage Not Included
Maintenance costs are covered when you use a car subscription service. Some cover things like worn out tire treads, but a tire puncture is still your responsibility. Normal wear and tear might be okay, but anything beyond that could cost you at the end of your subscription so be sure you understand the difference. You can also incur extra charges for any damage to your vehicle, so clipping a curb and destroying a tire rim will cost you. Check carefully to see exactly what is and isn’t covered to avoid any surprises at the end of the subscription term.
Availability is Limited
Since the whole idea of car subscription services is new, you may find that availability is limited. The good news is this is an expanding business model so new services are regularly joining the ranks. If you happen to live in California, then you have the widest number of choices by far, but there are car subscription services available nationwide.