For many years, the only way to obtain a car has been leasing, buying, or borrowing from family members. Now there is a new market emerging that seeks to change all that. Enter car subscriptions, which are a bit like leasing, but with less commitment. Let’s take a look at these services to see if they’re all they’re cracked up to be.

What Is A Car Subscription?

Car subscriptions have made themselves stand out in a few different ways. The most impressive is that they bundle everything together. Leasing or buying a car means also needing to have insurance and taking care of any maintenance issues. These new car subscriptions bundle all those things together. For a monthly fee, drivers get a car and insurance. Many subscriptions also take care of the maintenance.

The more expensive subscription options, such as those offered by Cadillac and Porsche, allow drivers to switch between cars. For example, subscribers can have one car to get around during the week, then switch to something else for the weekend. This can’t be done every weekend, as the most generous policy so far is 18 switches per year. Still, for those with lots of money and a love of cars, this service sounds great.

The less expensive options are more like leasing a car. They still bundle insurance and maintenance (in some cases), but the cars won’t be luxury vehicles. The cars will instead be gently used, and they can only be switched if something goes wrong with them.

Car Subscriptions Reasonable Limitations

Despite how good these deals may sound, most of these services are provided by companies that need to protect themselves. That means many of these subscriptions come with understandable limitations that nonetheless may make them less appealing to potential subscribers.

There are several of these that subscribers may see. Each company may use any or all of them. Some companies will impose mileage restrictions, only allowing a certain number of miles per month or year. Other companies will not allow their cars beyond the borders of the United States. Most cars are equipped with technology that allows the owners to track how and where the cars are used. People who defy the rules set by the company will probably face hefty fees, and the car will be revoked.

All the companies will definitely also check a potential subscriber’s driving and credit history before handing over the keys. They want their cars back in good condition, so that means only allowing responsible drivers behind the wheel. If you got a ticket, hopefully you took some traffic school online so you can be eligible for these services. As for the credit checks, these companies do not want to have to fight for the money they’re owed. Without decent credit, these companies won’t allow the cars out of the lot.

Are Car Subscriptions Better?

Ultimately, it’s up to personal taste, but there are a few situations in which car subscriptions are truly superior. If someone needs a car for three months, this service is better than just renting a car from the airport. If a driver is swimming in cash, the luxury car subscriptions can certainly be appealing.

However, for mere mortals, the cost difference isn’t that impressive. The price of the bundle is rarely less expensive than a car payment plus insurance. At least when a car payment is finished, the driver is left with a car. At the end of a subscription period, a driver is left minus thousands of dollars and with nothing to show for it.