Car subscription services offer simple, flexible alternative to buying or leasing a car

Car subscription services offer simple, flexible alternative to buying or leasing a car

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Author: Philip Reed, Nerdwallet
Published: 2:54 PM EDT April 9, 2018
Updated: 7:00 AM EDT April 22, 2018

Don't want to buy? Subscribe to your next car

https://www.khou.com/article/news/nation-now/car-subscription-services-offer-simple-flexible-alternative-to-buying-or-leasing-a-car/465-880f408b-4340-4ded-bf72-20ea5b598059

If you’d like to be able to switch cars depending on your needs, and even your moods, then you might want to subscribe to your next car.

Car subscription services offer a simple and flexible alternative to buying or leasing a car — you get a car commitment-free, for one monthly fee, and you can often swap it out for a different ride in days. You can even skip the haggling at the dealership and, instead, manage your plan on your computer or smartphone and have your wheels delivered to your door.

“This seems to be what people have been asking for all along — a negotiation-free way of driving a car,” says Matt Jones, a senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds. “And there’s no fear of buyer’s remorse — if you don’t like the car, jettison it and get something else.”

Subscribe and drive

Manufacturers such as Cadillac, Ford, Volvo and Porsche offer subscriptions to their cars, while companies such as Fair, Flexdrive, Clutch and Carma allow members to drive a variety of makes and models. Generally, subscribers pay an upfront fee. Then the car payment, insurance, maintenance and, in many cases, roadside assistance are bundled into one monthly fee.

Subscribers to Book by Cadillac, for example, can hop between different models of Cadillacs up to 18 times a year for $1,800 per month. With Ford’s service, Canvas, monthly subscription fees for pre-owned Ford vehicles start at around $400, depending on your vehicle and mileage. Meanwhile, Fair subscriptions start at $235 a month, according to Edmunds.

Additionally, unlike leasing contracts, which specify the term — usually 24 or 36 months — many subscriptions can be for as short as a month. Care by Volvo differs in that it requires a  two-year contract, and you can trade cars only after 12 months.

Subscribe and drive

Manufacturers such as Cadillac, Ford, Volvo and Porsche offer subscriptions to their cars, while companies such as Fair, Flexdrive, Clutch and Carma allow members to drive a variety of makes and models. Generally, subscribers pay an upfront fee. Then the car payment, insurance, maintenance and, in many cases, roadside assistance are bundled into one monthly fee.

Subscribers to Book by Cadillac, for example, can hop between different models of Cadillacs up to 18 times a year for $1,800 per month. With Ford’s service, Canvas, monthly subscription fees for pre-owned Ford vehicles start at around $400, depending on your vehicle and mileage. Meanwhile, Fair subscriptions start at $235 a month, according to Edmunds.

Additionally, unlike leasing contracts, which specify the term — usually 24 or 36 months — many subscriptions can be for as short as a month. Care by Volvo differs in that it requires a  two-year contract, and you can trade cars only after 12 months.

But there are restrictions

So far, most subscription services are available in only a few urban areas, but many companies plan to expand.

And while most plans deliver late-model cars, they’re not brand new. The cars will have some mileage and, possibly, minor evidence of wear and tear. Fair’s cars, for instance, may be up to 6 years old, with 70,000 miles, while Canvas seems to offer mostly 2015 model Fords.

Furthermore, some plans require that additional drivers be authorized in advance, and some prohibit smoking in the vehicles. And Cadillac and Flexdrive, for example, require that pets be kept in carriers.

As Jones reminds prospective users, “You have to remember, it’s not your car.”

NerdWallet is a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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