Subscribing to a car? Yes, it’s a thing and it could save you $$$

It can save you hassles, maintenance and more - does subscribing rather than buying a car make sense? In some cases, it's a yes.

Forget traditional ownership, a car subscription is ideal for drivers who value convenience and flexibility. Plus car maintenance becomes someone else’s problem.

By Bron Maxabella 

Buying a car is among the biggest purchasing decisions we make in our life. While it used to be a ‘new or used’ debate (for the record, my money’s on used), these days there’s another option to consider as well.

Many people lease a car when they fly somewhere new for a holiday, but have you ever considered a similar arrangement at home as well?

No more mechanic’s bills

Car subscription services offer a way to drive a car without the commitment of buying or leasing. 

You don't need a large upfront payment like you do when you buy a car outright. Instead, you hang onto your money and simply pay an ongoing weekly fee.

This makes it so much easier to budget and manage expenses. You get to drive away in a car you love without all the traditional hassles of car ownership – like car loans, insurance, registration, depreciation, even maintenance. 

Yep, unlike when leasing, maintenance costs are included in a car subscription. And if you’ve ever been hit by a catastrophic mechanic’s bill, you’ll know how much peace of mind that brings.

Here’s a rundown of the benefits of choosing a car subscription over buying or leasing a car.

Convenient, flexible and predictable

Unlike traditional car financing or leasing, a car subscription has no long-term contracts or commitments. You subscribe to a car for as long or short a time period as you like and you can stop or swap your car with as little as 2 weeks’ notice. “Hello, I’d like a blue car, please, I’m tired of red…”?

If you like swapping out your car to keep things interesting, then a car subscription might suit (and save in hassle and changeover costs)

No reselling or trading

With a subscription, you don't have to worry about selling or trading in your car when you're ready to upgrade or change vehicles. Simply return the car and choose a new one. Or if you’re done with cars for now, return the car and take an Uber home. Your choice.

Less risk

One of the most significant risks of buying a car is ending up with a dreaded lemon – a car that has hidden defects or problems. With a car subscription, you avoid this risk as the service provider takes responsibility for the quality and condition of the cars they offer.

As someone whose lemon-like Audi has single-handedly funded her mechanic’s retirement, I’m all over this advantage. 

Option to buy

Some car subscription services offer the option to buy the car at the end of the subscription period. 

If you’re prone to naming your cars because you’re so fond of them, this will be especially important to you.

Where buying a car pulls ahead

That said, there are few things to look out for before taking out a car subscription. 

For a start, you’ll most likely pay for all that convenience and flexibility. Car subscriptions are usually more expensive in the long run than buying a used car outright or even leasing. While the ease of a subscription makes it money well spent for most, this might not be the case for you.

Car subscriptions may also come with mileage restrictions, which limits the distance you can drive the car without incurring additional fees. So a car subscription may not be ideal if you regularly drive long distances (and it’s definitely not the solution for your grey nomad lap around Australia).

It’s also worth keeping in mind that while car subscription services typically include insurance coverage, the excess (the amount you pay in the event of an accident) may be higher than if you arranged your own insurance. This means you’ll most likely pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident.

Finally, keep in mind that with a subscription, you don't ever own the car. You’re not accruing equity in it, like you might if you bought a car through a loan or outright purchase.

Instead, when you cancel your car subscription you return the car and that’s that. This may or may not be an advantage, depending on how painful you find selling your old cars. For me, that’s excruciatingly painful, so a car subscription would suit me well.

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