Is a car subscription worth it? The benefits & considerations
Is a car subscription worth it?
When you’re presented with an idea that completely challenges the status quo, it’s easy to wonder “is it worth it?” Car subscriptions are no different. As a concept, car subscription reinvents the traditional idea of car ownership and transforms it into a whole new idea: car usership. It’s the subscription model we know from Netflix or Amazon Prime, but for driving – and that takes some getting used to when we’ve only ever known owning a car, or at least having one on finance.
In this article, we’ll explore the idea of whether car subscriptions are worth it, and who they’re best suited to. If you’re pushed for time, the key takeaway is that car subscription is worth it for those who value convenience and flexibility in their vehicle ownership.
What is a car subscription?
Car subscriptions work a bit like a monthly car rental. You have the car of your choice on your driveway for your exclusive use, just like owning a car, but rather than taking care of all the different expenses associated with it, such as tax, insurance and maintenance, these are all covered by a single fixed monthly payment.
Just like a Netflix subscription, you pay that monthly fee until you decide to cancel, which you can do at any time – and you can swap the car for a different one any time you like as well. Car subscriptions therefore give you much more freedom as a driver, as you’re not tied into any lengthy contracts. You’re also not lumbered with a car that you’ll have to sell on before changing to a different one, and you don’t have to worry about any unexpected costs, such as a new windscreen or tyres.
What is the difference between subscription and leasing?
There are a number of key differences between a car subscription and leasing a car, or more commonly obtaining a car under a personal contract purchase (PCP). These include:
- Upfront cost: a PCP agreement typically requires a substantial upfront payment as a deposit, with a further lump sum at the end of the contract should you wish to keep the car.
- What’s included in the payment: with a PCP or lease, the monthly payment you make only covers the car itself – none of the running costs, which you’ll need to budget extra for.
- Contract length: PCP agreements are typically two to four years in length.
- Lack of freedom in a lease: if your circumstances change and you need to swap the car or get it off your hands completely, you’ll usually be subject to hefty fees to get out of the contract early.
Now let’s look at how this compares with the benefits of car subscription.
Benefits of a car subscription
In stark contrast to leasing, PCP or traditional car ownership, car subscriptions offer an incredible amount of flexibility. The benefits include:
- Freedom: you can switch to a different car model or end the subscription at any time, so you can adapt quickly to changing circumstances such as a new baby or new job.
- Convenience: forget admin hassle and running costs – car subscriptions mean that all you’ll have to think about is a single all-inclusive monthly fee that covers everything except fuel or charging. That includes insurance, maintenance, servicing, road tax, breakdown cover and tyres.
- No long-term commitment: car subscriptions have none of the commitment of long-term leases or car loans – you’re only ever tied in for a month at a time.
- Access to a wider range of cars: car subscriptions let you try out different models and brands without having to buy or lease them.
- Lower upfront costs: car subscriptions have low upfront costs compared to all other options, with just one month’s subscription fee due upfront, which you then get back when you hand back the keys.
- No maintenance worries: all maintenance and repairs are taken care of by the car subscription service provider, so you’ll have the peace of mind that you won’t have any unexpected expenses to cover. Valuable reassurance given that 19% of us have taken on debt to pay for servicing costs.
- Reduced total cost: overall, car subscriptions can entail a lower cost compared to traditional car ownership options, and particularly the total committed cost of ownership once you take into account upfront payments and running costs.
In short, a car subscription offers a degree of freedom that you’d never get with other ways of having a car.
Who should consider a car subscription?
Car subscriptions have something to offer most drivers, but there are some situations where it’s particularly well suited. For example, if you’re looking to commit to buying a car but want to try out a few different makes and models first, car subscription is the answer.
Thinking longer term, a car subscription is a great way to enjoy the perks of a new car without the financial outlay. So, if you’re looking for a brand new car with particular features, or perhaps want to make the eco-conscious switch to electric without the financial risk entailed in investing in emerging technology, a car subscription will do this.
The flexibility of a car subscription also means it’s ideal if you see your circumstances changing in the future. Whether that’s starting a family, the kids flying the nest or a change of jobs that means you won’t have to commute, there are lots of different lifestyle changes that might mean you need to swap your car. You might even no longer need one. With a car subscription, that’s not a problem.
In fact, the only circumstances in which a car subscription wouldn’t be quite right for you is if you’re a young driver (you’ll need to wait until you’re 25), or if you have a poor credit rating or previous driving convictions. Bear in mind that you’ll only be able to have one subscription car per household, unless you have just one driver allocated to each – so if you both need to be able to drive both cars, subscription may not work for you.
Is a car subscription worth it?
In a word, yes! The unbeatable freedom and flexibility offered by car subscriptions makes them more than worth it, and if you’re someone who also values convenience then you’ll appreciate the simplicity they offer. Even better, you could be picking up the keys to your new car within seven days.
Take a look at our subscription cars and see what you could be driving next week.