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Car subscription services in Australia

A car subscription gives you ongoing access to a car without the costs of owning it. Here's how to compare your options in Australia.

If you need a car regularly but don't have anywhere safe to park it or want to avoid the costs and hassles that come with owning a car, you could consider a car subscription service.

With these services, you pay a regular fee to use a car. Each service has its own eligibility criteria, costs and choice of cars.

How does a car subscription work?

A car subscription service lets you pay a regular fee to use a car. Your subscription fee typically covers the vehicle rental, registration, insurance, maintenance and assistance. You typically have to cover the cost of fuel and tolls and may be charged additional usage fees, depending on the service.

Most car subscription services in charge a fee per week or per month and allow you to cancel your subscription at any time. You'll typically have a choice of cars through the subscription. You may also have more options if you're in a major city such as Sydney or Melbourne, compared to smaller cities or regional areas.

There are a number of car subscription startups in Australia. Some manufacturers and dealers also offer subscription services.

Compare car subscription services in Australia

ProviderHow it worksWhere it's availableKey costsEligibility
carbar AustraliaYou create a free account and search for a subscription car on the carbar website. A weekly car subscription price is shown for each option, which covers most essential costs and the first 26,000km you drive.

You can have the car delivered free within 50 kms from Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. You can also pick it up from one of carbar's offices in these 3 cities.

You can swap your car or cancel your subscription any time. However, any unused part of your payment is non-refundable. So, returning on the last day of the payment cycle is recommended.

Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane
  • Around $174 to $674 per week
  • Credit/debit card transaction fee: 1.75% + $0.30c per transaction
  • You pay for tolls and fuel
  • Additional fees and charges may apply
  • Australian or international driver's licence
  • Australian Medicare card, Australian passport or an international passport
  • Proof of residential address
  • Most recent 3 months' of bank statements showing regular income
  • Completed driver declaration
CarlyYou choose from a range of cars (including EVs) and pick a monthly subscription plan from Entry, Medium or Large. The minimum subscription period is 30 days.

You can get between 1,000 and 2,800 km free each month, depending on the subscription plan.

The service can be cancelled at any time by giving 30 days notice in writing.

Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and central coast NSW
  • Around $217 to $357 per week
  • Excess kilometres charged between $0.10 to $0.30 per km, depending on the plan
  • You pay for tolls and fuel
  • Be between 21 years and 75 years old
  • Have a full Australian driver's licence or a valid international licence
  • Provide Medicare details or other requested details
  • Agree to an online bank statement assessment and a potential credit check
HelloCarsYou can choose your car and then choose from the Economy, Cruise and Explorer plans. The Economy plan has the lowest prices and the Explorer plan has the highest prices, with Cruise plans in between.

You're free to swap cars every 90 days on the Cruise and Explorer plans or can pay a $350 fee to swap at any other time. The minimum subscription period starts from 30 days on the Explorer plan.

You get between 210km and 740km fee per week based on your membership.

  • From $169 to $409 per week
  • $399 joining fee on some plans
  • $500 to $2,500 refundable security deposity
  • Excess kilometres charged at a rate of $0.38/km
  • Late fees apply for any missed payments
  • Early return fee may apply if you return the vehicle before the minimum subscription period
  • Be at least 21 years old and not more than 75 years old
  • Hold a valid Australian (P2/green Ps or higher) driver's licence, or an equivalent international driver's licence
  • Have no criminal, drug or drink driving convinctions for the past 5 years
  • Have not made 2 or more motor insurance claims in the last 3 years
  • Agree to an online ID and credit check
MotopoolYou have a choice of 3 plans: Starter, Value and Premium which each have different costs and kilometre limits and delivery options. The weekly kilometre limits range from 250km for a Starter plan, to 750km for a Premium plan.

There is a minimum subscription term of 3 months with the Starter and Value plans, and a minimum subscription term of 2 months with the Premium plan. After the minimum term, you can cancel, pause or swap vehicles. Similar to other car subscription services, the vehicle options include economical cars, EVs, SUVs and more.

Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney
  • Around $194 to $469 per week
  • $250 joining fee to sign up for Starter or Value plans
  • May need a security deposit
  • Additional kilometres are charged at 0.33c per km
  • You pay for fuel and tolls
  • Be at least 21 and not over 80 years of age
  • Have at least 12 months driving experience
  • Have a valid Australian driver's licence (or equivalent) for the class of vehicle, with no restrictions or conditions
  • Have no history of licence suspensions or cancellations in the last 3 years
  • Have no criminal, drink or drug driving convictions in the last 5 years
  • Have not made two or more motor insurance claims in the last 3 years
  • Have not been bankrupt within the last 7 years
  • Provide requested identification, legal and financial documents

Will I save money on a car subscription service in Australia?

That depends on several factors, including:

  • The distance you drive per year. Drivers who travel way above the national average of around 13,000km annually may save money. The more you drive, the more a vehicle will depreciate in value. As you clock up the kilometres, a vehicle's mechanical components wear out at an accelerated rate. You'll speed through service intervals and a car will need more work at each service interval.
  • The kind of car you drive. The vehicle you drive may also make a car subscription more financially viable. Specifically, premium vehicles that depreciate rapidly have higher maintenance, insurance and servicing costs and are slugged with higher luxury car taxes. These types of vehicles may be more cost-effective through a subscription service.
  • If you commute by public transport. You could save if you commute to work on foot, by bike or using public transport. In theory, you could then subscribe to a service only for the months where you need a car. Suppose you went 10 months per year without a car, you'd spend less than if you had to maintain, insure and register a car that sat on your driveway 90% of the time. With that said, several subscription businesses require users to commit to minimum 3-,6- or 12-month blocks.

What are the advantages of using a car subscription service?

Why would anyone want to sign up to a car subscription plan? What are the advantages of doing so?

  • Flexibility. You can change your car if you need a specific type of vehicle or simply for variety.
  • Breakdown/customer care. Most subscription services include roadside assistance, 24/7 customer care, in-car connectivity with the car company and emergency services plus onboard Wi-Fi/4G.
  • Hassle-free. With the service provider taking care of all the typical car costs, all you have to do is pay your monthly fee and fill up the fuel tank.
  • Try a car long-term. Suppose you want to buy a sports car or luxury vehicle, that's a big purchase. Using a subscription service, you can try the exact model you're interested in over an extended period, giving a true-to-life impression of what a car is like to own.
  • Peace of mind. Running a new car means a warranty covers you, so you generally won't have to worry about any unforeseen repair bills.

What are the downsides of signing up to a car subscription service?

Like anything in life, there are always downsides to consider as part of your decision.

  • Harder to add additional drivers. Adding an extra driver requires the pre-approval of the subscription company, complicating the matter if you need a friend or family member to drive the car in an emergency.
  • Could cost more than traditional financing options. Though we don't have any fixed prices and definite commitments for car services opening in Australia yet, it's likely they'll cost more than traditional car financing unless you fit into the above money-saving scenarios outlined above.
  • You're paying depreciation on a car you don't own. Car companies aren't non-profit organisations, so they'll pass the value of depreciation and maintenance onto you, packaged into your monthly sum. Once they're done with the car and come to sell it, they'll maximise their profits because you footed the devaluation bill.
  • Deposit/membership fees. Some of the car subscription programs require a sizeable deposit and or membership fee to join.
  • Mileage/usage limitations. It's likely services will apply yearly kilometre limits and possibly restrict the driver to private use only with no business or commercial trips allowed.
  • Limited model choice. Car manufacturers are limiting the models available as part of subscription plans while they conduct viability evaluations.
  • GPS tracking. To verify how many kilometres you've travelled and also when and where you're journeying to, you might have to carry a location-tracking device. This also covers the company if the car is stolen or your billing method defaults.
  • Cars may not be new. Although car manufacturers will no doubt supply you with a new or nearly new model, some of the startups may have a fleet of older cars that are up to 6 years old and have over 100,000km on the clock.
Picture: Getty Images

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