What Else Do I Need to Know About Car Subscription Services?
The services will typically check your credit and driving history before they let you join. The services want to ensure you can pay for the car each month and that you're a safe, responsible driver. You'll typically need a credit card to sign up, and in most cases, you will have to agree that the company can periodically check your driving record while you're part of the service.
The cars aren't brand-new. Most car subscription services offer relatively new used cars. The exception is Care by Volvo: The 2019 XC40 you select is yours alone for a 24-month subscription. You have the option to switch into another trim level of the XC40 at 12 months.
There are usually mileage limits. Some services let you select your mileage and build that cost into the monthly subscription fee. Others, such as those from Cadillac and Volvo, have set annual or monthly mileage allocations. In all cases, you'd pay for each additional mile if you exceed the limits, just as you would if you leased a car. Some car subscription programs, including Porsche Passport and Drive Flow, have no mileage limits.
There might be restrictions on how you use the car. Companies are managing large fleets of cars and promising short turnaround times for subscribers who want to change vehicles. To do that, they have to keep the cars in good condition. And to minimize loss, repairs and reconditioning, they will put limits on what you do with their vehicles. These vary, but here are some examples:
Cadillac requires that you transport your pets in carriers, unless they're service animals. If your dog does ride outside a cage or carrier, you'll pay a repair and cleaning cost.
Many services, including Ford's and Cadillac's, don't permit any smoking in their cars. Others may charge an "excess wear and tear" fee if there's a persistent odor when you turn in the car.
Additional drivers might have to be authorized by the company in advance (unless it's an emergency situation).
Not surprisingly, drinking and drugs are forbidden. Cadillac says it has a zero-tolerance policy, and it requires users to agree that they will not use alcohol or illegal drugs before or while driving one of its vehicles.
Depending on the service, your use might be limited to the continental United States. No jaunts to Canada or Mexico.
You may be tracked.The companies want to know where their cars are, not only in case they're stolen, but also in case a subscriber's credit card maxes out or a subscriber violates the service agreement.
Cadillac's vehicles have OnStar, which collects and reports such information as GPS location, speed, airbag deployments, crash avoidance alerts, and braking, swerving and cornering events, according to OnStar's privacy agreeement.
Insurance coverage may differ from what you have now. Most services include insurance in the monthly fee. Fair is an exception: It allows you to use your own insurance or, if you qualify, you can buy coverage from Fair and include it in your monthly fee.
The limits and deductibles vary, and they might not be what you have now. If you decide to sign up for a car subscription service, you might want to review the coverage with your insurance agent to see if what's offered is right for you.