There’s a new way to get you into a new car. You know about buying cars, and leasing cars, but do you know about “subscribing” cars? It’s a new way of getting a car to use and it offers some distinct advantages over traditional car ownership methods. Here’s what you need to know.

Car Subscription 101

A car subscription service is the new alternative to buying or leasing a car. Instead of a loan or lease payment, there’s a monthly “subscription payment” that bundles multiple fees into one. Exactly what is included depends on which car subscription service you use. The pricing structures of subscription plans vary depending on who offers the service and the types of cars available. There are flat rate plans that allow you to use a car month by month and there are more flexible plans with fees that vary depending on the type of vehicle you want and mileage you drive monthly.

Costs Vary Widely

Monthly subscription fees can go from affordable to quite expensive. Book by Cadillac was one of the first car subscription services and it comes in at $1,800 per month. Sponsored by the Cadillac company themselves, this subscription service lets you swap cars up to 18 times per year, so there’s lots of flexibility. Other car subscription services are more affordable. Canvas is a Ford-based subscription service and it has pricing structures that start as low as $400 per month. For those that would like a step up, Care by Volvo is a company-backed subscription service that starts at $600 per month. 

Mileage Varies

Similar to car leasing programs, most subscription services have limits as to how many miles you can drive. Some subscription programs have you choose your mileage at the start of each month and adjust the amount you pay accordingly. If there’s a month where you don’t drive as much as usual, you pay less money. On the other hand, if you plan to drive more than normal, then you simply pay more for that month. simply up the mileage for that month and you’re covered.

Insurance

A typical car subscription includes insurance coverage as a part of the monthly fee. This insurance complies with the minimum requirements dictated by your state and local laws. The folks in the Finance Department at Liberty Chrysler of Hinesville, GA, suggested to us that it’s important to take a close look at the subscription policy so you know exactly what kind of coverage is provided. It might have higher deductibles or lower limits of liability than what you are comfortable with. Talk to your present insurance agent to be sure you understand the terms of the policy that the car subscription service provides.

Damage Not Included

Maintenance costs are covered when you use a car subscription service. Some cover things like worn out tire treads, but a tire puncture is still your responsibility. Normal wear and tear might be okay, but anything beyond that could cost you at the end of your subscription so be sure you understand the difference. You can also incur extra charges for any damage to your vehicle, so clipping a curb and destroying a tire rim will cost you. Check carefully to see exactly what is and isn’t covered to avoid any surprises at the end of the subscription term.

The Fun Part

One of the most appealing aspects of car subscription services is the ability to swap cars. Unlike a lease, which has you in the same car for a set period, car subscription services allow for more frequent car swaps. Limitations

Remember you aren’t buying a car, but rather using it for a set period of time. This means the car will go back to the subscription company at some point and it’s important that it be in good shape. To ensure they can reuse your vehicle, subscription companies often limitations and restrictions about how their cars can be used. As you might expect, this involves things like pets, smoking and kids.

Summary

Subscription services aren’t for everyone but they do offer some real benefits for certain drivers. At this point, most car subscription services are third-party meaning that they aren’t associated with a particular car-brand. With popularity picking up, though, more car manufacturers are offering programs to their dealer base.