And what’s not to love? Subscriptions let you have everything you could ever need ― from video content to clothes ― delivered to your home without ever having to interact with an actual human. They’re fast, they’re easy, and now they’re available to drivers, too.
Car subscription services, which essentially act as short-term leases, allow just about anyone with a clean driving record, good credit and a smartphone to hop into the car of their choice for a monthly fee and no long-term commitment. Even better, costs such as maintenance and roadside assistance, and often even insurance, are also included in the membership fee.
Intrigued? Here’s a closer look at how these services work.
Taking The Pain Out Of Car Buying
When you consider all the pain points associated with traditional car buying and leasing, it makes sense that things have progressed toward app-based services.
“I think that a lot of people will just want to know what the total cost is,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Autotrader, which is owned by the same company that owns subscription service Flexdrive. For example, if you see a car lease advertised at $199 a month, that figure doesn’t include maintenance, insurance and other costs associated with driving the vehicle.
“Imagine if you were subscribed to Netflix for $9 a month, but later if you find out that if you want it to work really well, that’s $9.50. And if you want Disney movies, that’s $10,” said Moody. “People don’t really want all these perceived tricks.”
Plus, buying or leasing means you’re locked into driving that same car for at least a few years. What if that zippy coupe no longer makes sense when you start a family? Or you get a new job in a non-car-friendly city like New York?
Today’s generation of drivers simply want to know the bottom line when it comes to their cars, without having to deal with auto shops, dealerships or insurance agents. And they don’t want to be on the hook for years to come.
So it probably comes as no surprise that, according to Moody, the ideal customers of car subscription services are financially well-off young adults who are more interested in saving time and eliminating hassle from their lives than pinching pennies.
“You’re probably going to pay more for the service in the long run,” he said.
But how much more, exactly? That depends pretty heavily on which service you choose. So far, car subscriptions are available through third-party companies that offer a range of brands, as well as through certain car manufacturers themselves. The latter tends to be the pricier option, but both have pros and cons.
Third-Party Car Subscription Apps
For more cost-conscious drivers who want to try out different types of vehicles from various brands, third-party car subscription apps ― as opposed to subscribing directly from an automaker itself ― can be a good option. “They’re not [for] car enthusiasts,” said Moody. Rather, these often pre-owned vehicles serve as hassle-free tools to get from point A to B.
If that sounds like you, you might want to give one of these apps a try.