Car Subscription Services: The Complete Guide to Getting the Car You Want
What does a new Porsche look like every month? How about getting into a nice long term rental without signing up for a whole year? This is a fantastic scenario for many pilots and enthusiasts alike, a scenario which until very recently remained mostly out of reach.
With the rise of auto subscription services, this dream can come true. This is because the subscription model offers consumers premium vehicles directly from manufacturers and third-party rental companies. These subscription services also offer a variety of flexible terms and vehicle choices that are not often found in the fine print of rental contracts.
Car subscription and leasing: what’s the difference?
Leasing has grown in popularity over the past few decades for several reasons. While this usually requires a down payment (no down payment leases exist but are the exception rather than the rule), the monthly payment is usually lower compared to financing the same vehicle through conventional means. Leasing is also a great option for drivers who don’t want to enter into a long-term loan deal. Terms are generally shorter and allow drivers to move around in a new vehicle every few years while avoiding the hassle of selling or trading in their current vehicle. The downside is that the tenant is obligated to insure, maintain and repair for the duration of the lease.
A car subscription service is similar to a lease only in that there is no personal ownership, but the terms are generally much shorter and more flexible. Insurance and maintenance costs are also included, unlike a lease. For those who hate commitment and don’t mind paying too much over a standard lease, lease, or finance contract in order to access the associated benefits, a car subscription is worth considering.
But be aware: most plans on the market, despite the inclusion of the “white glove” service, can become prohibitive in a matter of weeks. For those looking for a short-term stay, however, you can have a good time without worrying about long-term maintenance and depreciation. You can’t do this with a lease.
Which car manufacturers offer car subscription services?
Although Audi has a subscription service, its offering is narrowly limited and based only in Texas. It also doesn’t include any of its true performance cars like the RS3 and R8. On the plus side, customers get two days of rental from Silvercar (Audi’s rental company that mainly owns A4 sedans) anywhere else in the country and unlimited miles.
Location: Dallas-Fort Worth
Cars: Basic collection (A4, Q5, S3, TT); Premier (adds Q7, S5 Coupe, A6 sedan, A5 convertible)
Price: $ 995 / month (Core); $ 1,495 / month (First)
Restrictions: Two swaps per month, 180 days maximum, 25 years and over
Full Lexus subscription
If you live in the posh tech hubs of Bellevue or San Jose, you can have a fleet of Lexus SUVs and a sedan delivered right to your door. Most models look undesirable – we’d rather go through an LS, an RC, and the all-powerful LC – and cars can be up to two years old.
Pitches: Bellevue, WA and San Jose, California
Cars: ES, IS, NX, RX, UX
Price: $ 995 / month
Activation: $ 495
Restrictions: 21 years and over, 15,000 miles / year, one exchange per month
From the Macan SUV to the all-powerful 911 sports car, it’s a great way to experience one or more of Stuttgart’s best cars. Not surprisingly, Porsche’s program is the most expensive of all. But the loans are flexible from one day to a full month, and subscribers can keep a single car for up to three months at a time. The electric Taycan (in basic and 4S versions) is now available for daily rental or a single vehicle subscription. Charging is free if you stick to the 30-minute limit at a Volkswagen-funded Electrify America station, which are the fastest power stations in the country and in very limited supply.
Pitches: Atlanta, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, Monterey, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose
Cars: 911, Boxster, Cayenne, Cayman, Macan, Panamera, Taycan
Price: Subscription for a single vehicle for one or three months at $ 1,500 to $ 2,600 per month; Multi-vehicle subscription at $ 2,100 or $ 3,100 per month (plus taxes); Daily rental between $ 245 and $ 395 per day ($ 2,500 security deposit required)
Activation: $ 595 (canceled for three-month plan for one vehicle)
Restrictions: 21 years and over, 1,500 to 2,000 miles / month (subscriptions); Aged 27 and over, licensed for five years, 200 miles / day (daily rental)
Maintenance by Volvo
Volvo’s subscription service is technically a 24-month lease that includes full insurance, maintenance, and other additional insurance elements such as tire and wheel protection. Volvo is also waiving excessive wear and tear charges of $ 1,000 when cornering in the car. However, an “upgrade” to another car is available after 12 months in exchange for signing a new 24-month contract. At the end of the contract, subscribers can buy the vehicle at a predefined price, just like a lease. But unlike other services, monthly prices are just a starting point: they vary based on the exact car and don’t include taxes.
Pitches: Everywhere except CA, HI, MS, NC, ND, NY and SD
Cars: XC40, S60, XC90, XC60
Price: $ 600 to $ 675 / month (XC40); $ 650 / month (S60); $ 700 / month (XC60); $ 775 to $ 875 / month (XC90)
Restrictions: 15,000 miles / year
Which third-party rental companies offer car subscription services?
AAA car subscription
In Northern California, it is possible to rent a Volkswagen e-Golf for as little as $ 11 per day. That’s if you qualify for the state’s Affordable Access Program, a benefit derived from Volkswagen’s multibillion-dollar settlement with California over the diesel emissions scandal. AAA membership is not required and AAA will refund the membership if you cancel within three days or 100 miles. Most of the vehicles we could find in this limited area were several years old – including a 2016 Camry – and many traditional electric vehicle leases in California are much cheaper, even after factoring in insurance.
Pitches: Sacramento and Davis, California
Cars: Volkswagen e-Golf, Chevrolet Bolt, various Toyota models
Price: $ 449 to $ 649 / month (EV); $ 539 / month (sedans); $ 579 / month (SUV)
Restrictions: 23 years and over, three months minimum, 500-1500 miles / month (EV)
Borrow offers short-term used electric car rentals in Los Angeles. Maintenance is included on a choice of six EVs, but don’t jump right in for the Tesla. It’s a serious dough. Leases last three, six or nine months at a time. Borrowing does not offer delivery. You will need to collect the car from a tire store in West Hollywood.
Location: Los Angeles
Cars: Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Fiat 500e, Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Ioniq EV
Price: $ 199 per month for nine months (Smart) to $ 1,499 per month for three months (Tesla)
Activation: Reservation fee of $ 25, cleaning fee of $ 50 on return
Restrictions: 1,200 miles per month, 18 years and over, requires insurance
Subscribe with Enterprise
This program allows you to browse most of the corporate fleet, but at a steep price compared to Hertz. Since this is a traditional rental company, in most cases you cannot book the exact model in a given segment.
Pitches: Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada
Cars: Various business segments including Nissan Altima, Chevy Impala, Toyota Camry, Chrysler 300 or similar; Ford EcoSport, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder or similar; Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, Ford F150 or similar
Price: $ 1,499 / month
Activation: $ 250
Restrictions: 3000 miles / month, four swaps per month in same condition, two months minimum, refueling penalty, store pickup / return only, 25+, exact car not guaranteed
Fair is a fully digital leasing company. He works with dealerships in California and Florida to lease vehicles for three years, two years, or on a monthly basis. The company merged with Canvas, which offered new car subscriptions for Ford. Fair allows the customer to cancel their lease within two days and 100 miles.
Location: California and Florida
Cars: Thousands of vehicles from over twenty makes, most with less than 70,000 miles and five years or more.
Cost: Varied; Down payment and disposal fee required; a security deposit may be required
Restrictions: 18 years and over, credit check, proof of income, identity and residence; must have auto insurance, 10,000 miles per year, but additional miles can be added to the contract for a fee.
Hertz my car
Hertz, which is currently bankrupt and is selling a large part of its fleet, allows long-term rental with insurance, maintenance and additional driver included. The service is now nationwide.
Location: Nationwide (corporate sites only)
Cars: Chevrolet Spark, Ford Focus, Mazda 3 or similar; Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Altima or similar; Jeep Grand Cherokee, Infiniti QX60, Ford F-150 or similar
Price: $ 599 / month, $ 999 / month or $ 1,399 / month; Additional monthly supplement in parts of California, HI, MA, NY and PA
Activation: $ 250
Restrictions: Redeem twice monthly, 2,000 miles per car per month, two months minimum, credit check, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards enrollment, refueling penalty, 25+, exact car not guaranteed.
Sixt doesn’t charge an activation fee and appears to be more flexible with its vehicle choices and pricing than other major rental competitors – and it offers luxury cars from BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes and Land Rover. This is especially useful if you are in a large metropolitan area and need a late model car for a month or more.
Pitches: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and various cities in California, Miami and several cities in Florida, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle
Cars: Range Rover Velar, Kia Rio and various SUVs, sedans and minivans
Price: $ 569 / month to $ 1,329 / month
Restrictions: 21+ (18+ in New York; additional charge for certain vehicles and drivers under 25), one exchange per month, one month minimum, no delivery, security deposit required, exact car not guaranteed.