It’s all about flexible subscriptions nowadays. Whether it’s a TV streaming service like Netflix and Hulu or quirky subscription boxes for seemingly every hobby in existence, consumer data research suggests our collective obsession with subscriptions is unlikely to go away any time soon.
Consumers love subscriptions over ownership because there’s much more flexibility, convenience, and easier access to products and services.
But what about subscribing to a car service, as opposed to buying a used car or leasing one for a few years? While car subscription services aren’t typically the most affordable option for potential car buyers, the valuable perks oftentimes make the slightly higher cost worth a shot.
From car-specific subscriptions like Access by BMW, Care by Volvo, and Porsche Passportto, to car subscription services with more variety like flexdrive, Canvas, and Less, there are plenty of options for consumers seeking short-term car rentals.
If you’re interested in a monthly car subscription, then here are some things you need to consider before making a decision.
Are Car Subscription Services Worth It?
You Get to Drive a New(er) Car
One of the coolest perks about car subscriptions is they often give you access to new or slightly used cars that you likely wouldn’t be able to afford outright. Depending on the car subscription service, you might be able to swap out cars every couple of months. That way you never have to worry about getting stuck with a car that’s an unexpected gas guzzler has a driver’s seat that’s terrible for your posture, or you simply dislike.
This can be a much better option than a three to five-year lease for anyone who likes upgrading their cars more frequently. It’s also great for anyone who needs a new car but can’t afford a hefty down payment.
You’ll Have Quick Access to Reliable Transportation
Did you recently get in a car accident and need a new car ASAP? Or maybe you just got hired at a new job that requires a longer commute than what your bike or the bus can help with?
If you need quick and easy access to a new mode of transportation, then subscribing to a car service could be a great alternative. Consider these advantages,
- Swift access to cars in your area. Some services don’t even require a credit check, just a clean driving record, 3+ years of driving experience, and a debit/credit card in your name.
- No hefty down payment required upfront.
- Short-term commitments in most cases.
- No frustration-filled haggling process with car dealers.
- All-inclusive packages, depending on which service you subscribe to.
Wouldn’t it be great if your car insurance, car repairs, roadside assistance, and fees were all included in one convenient monthly payment? Some subscription services, such as flexdrive, offer all-inclusive packages so you can consolidate all of your auto-related expenses in one place.
Granted, you still have to cover the cost of gas and pay a $500-1,000 deductible if you’re ever involved in an accident, but everything else may be included in that single price you pay each month. Of course, that convenience factor comes at a price. You may pay as much as $1,900/month for a luxury car or as little as $400/month for a small, low-cost car.
Long-Term Costs vs. Benefits
On a long enough timeframe, leasing a car would be much more affordable than subscribing to a car service. This is why car subscriptions are primarily suitable for select groups of people, like those who want to change cars more frequently, those who need a car in a hurry, and those who will only be in a particular location for a brief period of time.
As with car ownership, the nicer and newer the car is, the more expensive it’ll be to borrow it through a subscription program. As tempting as it may be, it’s important not to get carried away with upgrading to newer cars all the time, as this can drive up your lifestyle costs.
So, is a car subscription really a preferable alternative to taking out loans for a depreciating asset? The answer depends on how often you drive, what type of car you want, and whether you value convenience over affordability.