Until recently, there were only two ways to get behind the wheel of a car you wanted: buy it or lease it. Finally, we have a third choice – car subscription services. Many of them only operate in specific locations as they “test drive” these programs, but they could be nationwide in the near future. So, what are they?
What are Car Subscription Services?
Car subscription services allow you to drive new cars, but you don’t actually own them and you aren’t required to drive them for a set number of years. You simply pay a monthly fee and drive any car that the company offers. Then, when you want something different, you just choose another to drive.
Let’s say you want an SUV to take the family to Tahoe this weekend. Simply take your sedan back to the dealership and exchange it for an SUV. Better yet, use an app and have the new car delivered to your home or office. No money changes hands, no questions are asked. Nice!
To add to the convenience, most of these services have an all-inclusive fee. This means they cover your maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance as well.
Advantages of Car Subscription Services
There are several reasons drivers like the car subscription service method.
Convenience – Most everything is handled on an app. Your new car is delivered to you.
Flexibility – Change cars at will without buying or leasing.
Possible cost savings – You don’t pay any financing charges or down payments.
No negotiating – Drive any model on offer, no questions asked.
No commitment – You can usually cancel the service after the very first month.
Disadvantages of Car Subscription Services
On the other hand, you might not be interested in one of the car subscription services for the following reasons:
You never own the car. This means you can’t race or customize it, and damage is a larger concern.
Heavy restrictions are imposed, including vehicle tracking that registers total mileage and lawbreaking activities like speeding.
You don’t need to switch cars that often. Subscribing for a single car may not be the best option.
You like negotiating. Hey, some people do!
Top 10 Car Subscription Services for 2019
We’ve put together a list of the top ten car subscription services for 2019. Let’s dive into the details to see if one of them works for you.
1. Access by BMW
Access by BMW is a two-tiered service. The first is called Legend. This costs $2,000 each month, but gives users access to the X5, M2, 4-Series and 5-Series. If you want more than that, you’ll need to upgrade to the $3,700 M Tier to drive the X5M, X6M, M4 Convertible, M5 or M6 Convertible.
Simply order the vehicles through the BMW app. They don’t impose any restrictions on swaps, and the monthly subscription price does include your insurance plus roadside assistance.
Availability: This pilot program runs strictly in Nashville for now.
2. Care by Volvo
This program is slightly different because it requires you to drive the car for at least twelve months before upgrading to a newer version of the same model. In addition, they currently only offer plans on the XC40 crossover and S60 sedan.
Prices start at $700 a month for the XC40 and $750 a month for the S60 sedan. Coverage includes 1,000 miles in overage or vehicle damage protection. It also comes with a road hazard plan plus a service and maintenance plan. Of course, everything you do is also completed through the app and the company claims signing up only takes five minutes.
Availability: Nationwide. That’s right, everywhere.
3. Porsche Passport
There’s nothing cheap about this program, but you do get a lot for the price you pay. Porsche Passport comes in two tiers with the first one called Launch. This requires you to pay out $2,000 a month but allows you unlimited access to the Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne and Macan. It’s by far the sportiest car subscription service around.
If you have some more money to burn, you might prefer the $3,000 a month Accelerate plan. You have access to the 911 and Panamera as well when you make this jump. Insurance is included, but prepare yourself for a $1,000 deductible. They also include full-detail washes and no mileage restrictions.
Availability: Unfortunately, if you aren’t in Atlanta you won’t be able to participate in Porsche Passport just yet.
4. Lexus Complete Lease
Lexus is beginning their Complete Lease car subscription program during the start of 2019. We don’t know all the pricing details as of yet, but we do know it will launch with only the Lexus UX crossover and it consists of a two-year, 20,000-mile lease that includes all insurance and maintenance fees.
Availability: Boston, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles to start.
5. Mercedes-Benz Collection
This car subscription service offers an extensive selection of cars to drive. There are two tiers with the lowest level being the $1,595 per month Reserve. This allows users access to the GLE350 SUV, E400 and C43 AMG. Upgrading to $2,995 each month puts you in the Premier tier. This allows access to an S550 Roadster, G550 SUV or the C63 S sedan.
Plans include insurance, a month to month commitment, service, maintenance and roadside assistance.
Availability: It’s not available in every area, so you would need to check your zip code to see if you are allowed to shell out this much cash to Mercedes.
6. Drive and Host by Porsche
If you are in the Atlanta area, you can also subscribe to Porsche. It’s slightly different than the other programs, and more like a rental service. You can choose to drive a car from four hours to one week and each choice has mileage limitations. The costs vary based on the model you want.
Aside from that, they also offer short-term loans through Turo, a car rental service. This plan is only available in the San Francisco and Los Angeles area.
Availability: Atlanta, San Francisco Bay Area, and Greater Los Angeles for now.
7. Audi Select
Audi Select has launched with one tier for $1,395 a month. It allows you access to the S5 Coupe, A4, A5 Cabriolet, Q5 and the Q7. That’s more of a selection than some of the other car subscription services. Insurance and maintenance come with the price and you get unlimited miles as well.
Audi allows for two car swaps each month plus two days of free car rentals through Audi’s Silvercar agency.
Availability: This service is only available in Dallas for the time being.
Looking beyond the manufacturer car subscription services, there are a few third parties that operate while offering substantial discounts. For example, Canvas is backed by Ford Credit and gives users access to models that are a couple of years old and just off-lease.
There are varying subscription lengths and mileage packages available. Of course, insurance comes with the plans as well as Ford’s Protect Premium Maintenance Plan. Subscription lengths vary from one to 12 months. The longer you go, the cheaper the plan is. Right now, your most affordable option is a Ford Fiesta S sedan, but they also have the Ford Mustang Convertible. With this car subscription service, you do need to choose a mileage plan to go with it, so prepare to pay extra if you drive a lot.
Availability: Greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
You pay for this car subscription service weekly, depending on what car you choose. Then, you also have to pay for the mileage. Unlike Canvas, you don’t need to decide how long the subscription plan will be. That offers more flexibility, especially if you travel a lot. Insurance and routing maintenance is included plus all the models are a couple of years old.
Availability: Currently offered in some parts of Texas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia.
If you want an electric car subscription service, Borrow is the best option out there. They offer drivers the chance to use EVs for three, six, or nine months at a time. Of the two tiers, the City Plan uses the Nissan Leaf or Fiat 500e and starts at $399 a month depending on your length of rental.
The Premium Plan gives you access to a Volkswagen eGolf or BMW i3 and may soon be offering the Tesla Model 3. This starts at $524 a month if you sign up for nine months. Unlike the other car subscription services, insurance is not included in the payments, but roadside assistance and maintenance are.
Availability: Greater Los Angeles.
Are Car Subscription Services Worth It?
If you desire to get the best deal possible and save money, these car subscription services probably won’t work for you. If you prefer to have an arsenal of cars available to you at any time, it might not bother you to spend this much on a car you don’t own.
Car subscription services offer distinct advantages and disadvantages over owning, leasing, renting, or Ubering your way around town. Just be sure you understand all of the terms and conditions before moving forward.
Title Gods specializes in recovering lost car titles and solving all kinds of title-related issues. We are not attorneys. This article is not legal advice.