Always the latest model in front of the door, no fear of depreciation, no hassle with maintenance costs: car subscriptions have many advantages. However, according to experts, there is sometimes an underestimated cost trap waiting at the end of the subscription period.

Anyone who buys a new vehicle usually buys or leases it. A car subscription corresponds to an all-round carefree leasing package. The tenant pays a monthly rate that covers everything – such as taxes, insurance and maintenance. Only fuel costs apply. The cars are preconfigured, extra requests such as automatic transmission instead of manual or choice of color are not always possible.

The term is often six or twelve months, but this varies depending on the provider. Short-term subscriptions are also possible. The costs depend on the term, monthly mileage and the value of the vehicle.

The subscription is also interesting because the renter receives a new car or a recent used vehicle without having to bear the acquisition costs. In addition, there is no loss of value for the subscriber. In view of the currently extremely high used car prices, this also means that you cannot take a positive residual value development of your car with you.

According to a report by “Automobilwoche”, however, a disadvantage has emerged in practice that many subscription customers do not even have on their list: dealing with signs of wear during the period of use. “One shortcoming for subscription customers is the return costs,” quotes the trade journal “Automobilwoche” from Joachim Deinlein from the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Because here there is a big difference between leasing and subscription: “In leasing contracts with a term of several years, small scratches on the paintwork and rims are usually considered signs of wear,” according to the “Automobilwoche”.

“For a subscription car with significantly shorter terms, tougher standards apply,” Deinlein continues. He reports costs that would have amounted to up to 2000 euros in individual cases. The subscription providers expect a brand new vehicle when they are returned. Especially those who travel a lot in the city center, where small “fight marks” can quickly appear in narrow parking spaces, on cycle paths or tiny multi-storey car parks and the polluter can rarely be determined, should be aware of this risk. In order not to let the costs get out of hand, you can have minor damage repaired by a smart repair provider and then usually get away with it much cheaper.

Assuming that, a car subscription can be a good alternative to buying or leasing, depending on your personal needs and finances:

If you decide to take out a car subscription, the following costs should be clarified beforehand: