What are Car Subscription Services?

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Drive a New Car every Month
Imagine driving a new Audi, Lexus, or Porsche every month. You can do just that with a car subscription service. Think of this service as being similar to any pay-as-you-go monthly program. It's like streaming TV shows, only you get to drive a car instead. You can choose the car you want to drive for one month, then swap it out for another car. These programs generally last for one, three, or six months, though a few services offer cars for a full year. You pay a monthly fee until you return the car.
Various car subscription services have different mileage allotments, car model options, and different application requirements. When your subscription ends, you return the vehicle with a full tank of gas, just like a rental car. The cost for these services depend on how upscale the car is as well as the size of the vehicle and the location of the rental, ranging from $250 to over $3,000 per month.
While these services are pricey, they can be worth it if you need a quick or temporary transportation solution. Maybe you are visiting Los Angeles and want to splurge on driving a Porsche 911 for a few days. A subscription service offers you premium vehicles direct from the manufacturers or third party leasing companies.

Lease or Subscribe?

Leasing a car is great for people who don't want to enter into a long-term loan for a vehicle. You can lease a car for a few years and then turn it in for another new car, allowing you to drive the latest model with the newest technology every few years. You are basically renting a car that you will never actually own. 

  • With a lease, you have to pay a down payment, a monthly payment, you also must pay for car insurance, maintenance on the vehicle, and repairs during the lease.
  • With a car subscription service, you don't own the car, just like a lease, but you are renting the vehicle for a much shorter time and the terms are much more flexible. 

Also, unlike a lease, you don't pay for car insurance or maintenance with a subscription. While this may sound intriguing, car subscription services are expensive. In fact, they can become cost-prohibitive in just a matter of weeks. Still, if you want to tool around in a fancy car for a few days and even swap it out for another model cool car for a few days more, a subscription service might be for you.

Subscription Services from Car Manufacturers

You may be surprised to learn that several automakers offer car subscription services directly to consumers. While they are each different in a number of ways, you can rent a new automobile directly from Audi, Lexus, Porsche, or Volvo. 

Let's take a look at each of these services.
Audi Select
This service is only available in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and is focused on a Core Collection including the A4, Q5, S3, and TT models, and the Premier Collection that adds the Q7, S5 Coupe, A6 sedan, and A5 cabriolet. Cost for the Core Collection is $995 per month while the Premiere Collection goes for $1,495 per month. You are allowed to swap out two cars per month and there is a cap of 180 days to rent. We know Dallas is a big metropolitan city, but don't you think this service should be offered in major cities across the country?

Lexus Complete Subscription
If you happen to live near Microsoft in Bellevue, Washington, or Hewlett Packard in San Jose, California, you can get a Lexus ES, IS, NX, RX, or UX model delivered right to your door with this subscription service. Sadly, the vehicles could be up to two years old, and you can't rent any of the sportier models. The monthly fee is $995, you are allowed one vehicle swap per month, and there's a $495 activation fee.

Porsche Drive
Experience a different Porsche every day or every month. Porsche Drive is flexible as subscribers can rent Porsche models by the day or keep a single car for up to three months. Choose between a 911, Boxster, Cayenne, Cayman, Macan, Panamera, or the Taycan all-electric sportscar. Locations include Atlanta, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, Monterey, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. 

Single vehicle subscription for one or three months runs $1,500 to $2,600 per month and a multi-vehicle subscription costs $2,100 to $3,100 per month. Daily rentals are available for $245 to $395 per day with a $2,500 security deposit.
Care by Volvo
Volvo offers what is basically a two-year lease on select model cars that you are allowed to drive for up to 15,000 miles per year. Unlike a standard lease, Volvo pays for the car insurance and maintenance on the vehicle. With this service, you can drive an XC40, S60, XC90, or XC60 for one year and then swap it for another model for the second year. At the end of the lease, you can purchase the car if you've fallen in love with it, just like a tradition al lease.

Prices vary by the car model and trim level and do not include tax. The monthly payment for an XC40 can range from $600 to $675; the S60 goes for $650, the XC60 is $700, and the XC90 can range from $775 to $875 per month. Cars are available all across America except for California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North and South Dakota, and New York.

AAA Car Subscription
You all know about AAA. Those with a membership can call for 24-hour road assistance or towing service should your car break down. But AAA also offers car rental in northern California for as little as $11 per day. Membership in AAA is not a requirement, and the company will refund your subscription if you cancel within three days or 100 miles of driving. However, cars in this limited program are several years old and include the Volkswagen e-Golf, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and various Toyota models, and the service only operates in Sacramento and Davis, California. Prices range from $449 to $649 per month.
Subscribe with Enterprise
This rental car company allows you to look through its fleet of cars to find a vehicle you might like to rent. These include products by Chevy, Ford, Jeep, Dodge, Nissan and Toyota and you can swap out four vehicles per month. The program is only offered in Minnesota, Missouri, and Nevada and the cost is $1,499 per month with a $250 activation fee.

Hertz My Car
Hertz Rental Car allows long-term rentals that include car insurance, maintenance, and an additional driver is included. This subscription service, fanfare please… is available nationwide. You can swap cars twice a month and there is a two-month minimum. Available cars include vehicles from Chevrolet, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen. Prices range from $599 to $1,399 per month depending on the vehicle, trim level, and location. There is a $250 activation fee and surcharges apply in certain states.

We are including Sixt+ in our list of third party subscription services because it is more flexible than its rental car company rivals, doesn't charge an activation fee, and it offers quality luxury vehicles from BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and Land Rover that are valuable if you find yourself in a major metropolitan city and need a car for a month or longer. Upscale vehicles are available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle… you get the picture. Prices range from $569 to $1,329 per month and you are allowed one car swap per month with a one month minimum.

Third Party Subscription Services
Besides auto manufacturers, you can also use third party subscription services through companies such as AAA, Enterprise, Hertz, and Sixt+. There are over 20 companies that currently offer subscription services and they all offer very different terms. For instance, your mileage allotment can vary from 500 to 3,000 miles per month and not all services include car insurance, plus some impose a number of extra fees.

Some of these 20 services are only available in a few states, offer spotty service, or only offer used cars that can have up to 70,000 miles on the odometer. For those reasons, we have trimmed down the list of offerings to the following four third party subscription services and even these are not available everywhere. Make sure you have read and understand all the details of your subscription contract before you pick up the keys to your short-term lease car.

The Wrap Up 
Car Subscription Services are not for everybody. They are expensive, are only offered in specific areas, and there is often no guarantee that you'll be able to rent the car you really want unless you pony up for a specific car by automakers Audi, Lexus, Porsche, or Volvo. Still, the idea of driving a new car every month for a few months could be a gas. 

As mentioned earlier, companies offer very different terms for these services. Mileage allotment varies, some don't include car insurance, and watch out for extras fees and taxes. All that said, the idea of tooling around Los Angeles in a Porsche 911 one day and the new all-electric Taycan the next is definitely on my bucket list.