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Car subscription services: What are they?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Most people need a car to get to work or school. But purchasing a vehicle can be incredibly expensive. Not to mention, all the costs associated with car ownership, like gas, auto insurance and maintenance. 

To make car ownership more accessible, several companies have started offering a car subscription service. It sounds like a more convenient and affordable option, but car subscription plans have both pros and cons to consider. Keep reading to learn about this type of service, how much it costs and if it’s the right option for you. 

What is a car subscription service?

A car subscription is a service provided by some car manufacturers and third-party companies that allows drivers to pay a monthly fee to use a variety of vehicles without having to own them. Some car subscription plans even cover the cost of insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance. 

How do car subscription services work?

Vehicle subscription services are similar to traditional car leases. In exchange for a monthly fee, drivers get access to various types of vehicles, ranging from SUVs to electric cars. Typically, you reserve a vehicle in advance, and schedule a pick up or drop off time. After signing the necessary paperwork, you can drive off the lot and return the vehicle at the end of the agreement period.

How much is a car subscription service?

Car subscription programs vary in price. Depending on the manufacturer, types of vehicles available, mileage and the services included, the monthly fees range anywhere from $449 to $3,000 a month.

For example, Audi offers a $995 per month subscription program that gives you access to the S3 and S4 sedans, Q5 SUV and the TT. With BMW’s subscription service, you get access to the 4 Series, 5 Series and X5 for a $1,399 monthly fee. 

Compared to renting or leasing a car, joining a car subscription program could be more or less expensive. It depends on the plan, the vehicle itself and the terms of the agreement. You might have fewer costs with a car subscription service, but there are limitations to bear in mind.

Pros and cons of a car subscription service

Car subscription services offer a lot of flexibility and convenience. But there are some drawbacks to consider. Here are some of the pros and cons of a car subscription service:

Multiple vehicle swaps Cost might be higher than owning a vehicle
Insurance and maintenance cost includedMileage limitation 
No long term commitment necessaryCan’t have unlimited drivers
Cancel at any timeSmoking and pets not allowed in the vehicles

Pros of car subscription services

Car subscription services have many benefits. First, you get the flexibility of driving many different vehicles, so you never have to commit to just one. You also don’t have to worry about insurance costs, maintenance or roadside assistance because they are included in your monthly fee. The ability to cancel anytime is a major plus since you don’t have to commit to the subscription in the long term, like you would do with car leasing.  

Cons of car subscription services

Car subscription services are not right for everyone. Some of these subscriptions will cost more than owning your own vehicle and there are usually mileage limitations, as with a lease. If you travel long distances or like taking road trips, a subscription may not be right for you. Also keep in mind that most car subscription services don’t allow multiple drivers, pets or smoking, which could be a drawback for some people.

Car subscription services and auto insurance

Most car subscription plans do not require you to have your own auto insurance. The cost of insurance is automatically included in your monthly fee. While this seems like a benefit, it can actually be more expensive in the long run.

The insurance that comes with car subscription services is standard. Your age, credit score and claims history are not factored into the price. There’s a chance you could probably get a cheaper rate with a personal car insurance policy. You also don’t have the opportunity to compare insurance rates with a car subscription service.

What are the best car subscription services?

Some of the best and most popular car subscription services are:

  • Audi Select
  • Access by BMW
  • Nissan Switch
  • Porsche Drive
  • Care by Volvo

Audi Select

Audi Select vehicle subscription service has two tiers available. The Core Collection tier runs at $995 per month. The other tier available is called the Premiere Collection and costs $1,395 per month. 

Why is it right for you? 

This subscription offers unlimited mileage for every vehicle, with the only out-of-pocket expense being fuel. It also includes concierge service with pick-up and drop-off.

Access by BMW

The Access by BMW program offers two tiers, as well. The entry level tier costs $1,099 per month, with limited vehicle options. Drivers can also upgrade to The Legend tier for $1,399 per month, which has more vehicle options.

Why is it right for you? 

BMW uses a mobile app for car reservations and drop-offs. There are no vehicle swap restrictions, and your subscription fee includes insurance and roadside assistance.

Nissan Switch

Nissan Switch vehicle subscription service has two tiers available. The Select tier runs at $699 per month and the Premium tier is $899 a month.

Why is it right for you? 

With a price point considerably lower than most manufacturers, Nissan’s subscription program offers many of the same features, such as insurance, delivery and vehicle maintenance.

Porsche Drive

Previously known as Porshe Passport, Porsche Drive is one of the most expensive car subscription services on the market. It offers two tiers, Launch runs at $2,000 per month and Accelerate is $3,000 per month.

Why is it right for you? 

Porsche Drive is expensive, but if you’re a die-hard Porsche lover, you’ll get quite a lot for your money. There are no restrictions on vehicle swaps or mileage. In addition to the typical features included with car subscriptions, you also get a full-detail car wash.

Care by Volvo

With Care by Volvo, you get every Volvo model as part of the subscription program, with no exceptions. It starts at $600 per month and goes up to $700 depending on the vehicle you choose.

Why is it right for you? 

Although this program has mileage limits, Volvo will forgive $1,000 in mileage overages and vehicle damage at the time you return your car. However, it only lets you swap cars every 12 months.

Considerations for car subscription services

  • Flexibility: Being able to drive different vehicles each month without commitment
  • Mileage: Most plans include mileage restrictions
  • Geography: Some auto subscription plans are only available in select markets  
  • Price: Ranges from $400 to $3,000
  • Insurance: Included feature in most car subscription programs

The takeaway: 

  • Car subscription programs make vehicle ownership more accessible
  • Most plans include insurance, roadside assistance and maintenance
  • Subscription plans may or may not be cheaper than owning your own car

Using a car subscription service has several key benefits. For one, it allows you to get behind the wheel of a luxury model that you may not be able to afford otherwise. It’s also a good option for frequent travelers who may prefer luxury transportation wherever they go. However, it’s not a good solution for every driver. Before choosing a car subscription service, weigh the pros and cons and compare the cost to that of regular car ownership. You may find that purchasing your own vehicle is a cheaper option in the long run.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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