How Do Car Subscriptions Work?

Subscriptions services are the gifts that keep on giving, and that’s why we love them. It’s not just about obtaining a product, but the experience of getting to “try before you buy.” Besides old school subscriptions for things like cable and internet, you can get subscriptions for beauty supplies, clothes, craft beers, and even bacon. Now, in 2020, car subscriptions are becoming a bigger thing too.

How do you sign up for a car subscription?

Car subscriptions are very similar to any other personal care or food subscription. You can do the initial sign up for what you want, and if you’re not into it, cancel the service when you’re done. Car subscriptions are here to disrupt the traditional options of buying a new or used car, leasing, or renting. With a car subscription, you can have more flexibility than you would with just buying or leasing.

Since car subscriptions are still so new, your region could be a determining factor in which services are available for you to sign up for.  Car subscriptions aren’t about owning or leasing a single car, but about having access to a wide range of vehicles, for a monthly fee of course. If changing cars every month or so is appealing to you, then a car subscription could be your ideal fit. You could show up one week to a function in an SUV, and in a coupe the next. 

How much do car subscriptions typically cost?

2020 Volvo XC90 | Volvo

The short answer is, it depends. A subscription like Care by Volvo is relatively new and costs around $650 a month. This covers the amount to drive the car, the car’s insurance, maintenance, and warranties. Prices are based on the models you pick. The catch here is that you can only switch your car every 12 months. 

The ACCESS by BMW service can range from $998 to $2699 depending on the vehicle you choose. This one definitely acts more like a typical subscription, especially compared to Volvo’s.  Third-party car subscription platforms like FreshCar start at $499. The Drive Flow service is around $850. 

Are car subscriptions worth it? 

Photo by Torsten Detlaff

Now, that also depends on what you want. Like we mentioned earlier, the selling point of a car subscription is the flexibility and the opportunity to drive a variety of cars. But, that can get pretty pricey as you can see, mostly because many of the most popular car subscriptions are for luxury brands. 

If we compare the monthly cost to that of a used car, a car subscription is definitely more expensive. However, a monthly car payment doesn’t include your car insurance or maintenance fees. While some carmakers are more flexible with the car selections you can choose from, they might not be as flexible with the amount of mileage you accumulate on the car so that’s another thing to consider.

Choosing to join a car subscription is ultimately about what you value. If what you value most is ownership, then this kind of service probably isn’t for you. Conversely, if you are interested in changing your cars more frequently, a car subscription might be worth looking into.