The 7 Best Car-Subscription Services in Canada

By Lois Tuffin | Published on 11 Sep 2023

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    Doesn’t owning a car feel like a hassle some days? The time-consuming process of buying, leasing, and maintaining a vehicle can eat up valuable hours of your life. Luckily, car-subscription services have emerged as a convenient and flexible alternative. 

    In this article, we will explore the top 7 car-subscription services in Canada, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. So buckle up and get ready for a smooth ride!

    What is a car-subscription Service?

    A car-subscription service is a subscription-based model that allows you to use a car for a set period. Usually, you get access to it anywhere from a few hours to several days. Some require you to keep a car for a minimum of a month, while others offer the flexibility to pick up a car only when needed. Instead of owning one vehicle, you have the freedom to switch between different cars, depending on your needs. It’s like having a virtual garage where you can choose the perfect ride for every occasion.

    In Canada, these services often take care of essential elements like car insurance and routine maintenance, such as oil changes. Overall, this all-inclusive experience removes much of the hassle associated with car ownership.

    car-subscription services have gained popularity in recent years due to their convenience and flexibility. Imagine having the option to drive a sporty convertible during the summer months and switching to a rugged SUV for winter adventures. With this service, you can easily adapt your changing lifestyle and driving preferences without buying, leasing, or maintaining a car.

    What Are the Benefits of Using a car-subscription Service?

    The benefits of car-subscription services are truly remarkable. Firstly, they eliminate the need for a long-term commitment, giving you the flexibility to change vehicles whenever you desire. Whether you need a sleek sedan for a business meeting or a spacious SUV for a family road trip, car-subscription services have got you covered.

    But the advantages don’t stop there. car-subscription services often include maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance. As a result, they spare you the headache of dealing with these responsibilities yourself. Imagine never having to worry about scheduling a service appointment or searching for the best car insurance coverage. After all, a car-subscription service takes care of all of these essential tasks for you.

    Furthermore, some car-subscription services often provide additional perks, such as concierge services, delivering the car to your doorstep. This level of convenience saves you time and effort, making your car-subscription experience even more enjoyable. 

    The 7 Best car-subscription Services in Canada

    Every company offers services that appeal to different types of users based on the cars and the time frames offered. By understanding what each one delivers, you can find the right one for you.

    Roam

    Founded in 2020, Roam has made a noteworthy impact on the Canadian automotive scene despite its relatively young age. Operating out of Toronto, it offers a veritable smorgasbord of vehicles for the discerning driver. 

    Would you describe yourself as an enthusiast craving a high-octane experience or a daily commuter looking for fuel efficiency? Either way, Roam has you covered with a line-up that includes more than 40 models from more than 16 different manufacturers. From gas and electric sedans to SUVs and pick-up trucks, this diversity aims to cater to various tastes and needs.

    Flexibility stands as one of Roam’s cornerstone attributes. The service offers short-term plans that start from just one month. However, you have the added flexibility to extend to a three-month plan if that better suits your needs. Also, you cannot secure a luxury vehicle on a monthly plan due to their popularity with long-term plan holders.

    Sign-up is easy and you can drive up to 3,000 kilometres per month (limited to 2,000 for the first month). If you go over, Roam will charge you $1 per kilometre. As for cost, prices range from $771 to $2,469 a month, plus additional fees. These include a $149 membership fee, HST and a $1,000 refundable deposit, starting the day you pick up your vehicle.

    Canceling is also painless with a 10-day notice. With no lease contracts or interest payments, you simply pay as you go with your credit card. This comes as a breath of fresh air in a market that often demands long-term commitments. 

    Roam’s commitment to customer convenience doesn’t end there. Comprehensive auto insurance, routine maintenance like oil changes and 24/7 roadside assistance come with your subscription. In short, you get a car that suits your lifestyle, while bypassing the often perplexing world of car insurance and maintenance. 

    You can also put five additional drivers on your plan so you can share your car with other family members. Before you do, budget for the extra $75 per person. Also, only drivers in its Tesla for Uber program can use Roam vehicles for ride sharing, package or food-delivery services. 

    Pricing$149 membership fee
    $913-1,376 per month for a sedan
    $1,054-2,057 per month for an SUV
    $1,621-1,746 per month for a hybrid or EV
    $2,327 per month for a truck
    Extras:
    $25 processing fee for traffic tickets over $400 or Hwy. 407 charge
    $99 for an extra 1,000 km/month
    $150 per month to add winter tires (for three-month subscribers and up)
    $250 restocking fee for last-minute returns
    $250 deep cleaning fee for interior stains, odors, bodily fluids or pet hair
    $500 – $750 refundable security deposit ($1500 for  luxury vehicles)
    $849 restocking fee if you cancel a three-month plan within 30 days
    $2,500 for smokers
    Car Insurance Deductible$2,500 ($5,000 more expensive vehicles) An extra $50/month secures up to $1,000 in incident coverage
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne month
    Types of Cars AvailableMore than 16 brands, such as Toyota, Kia, Nissan, Volkswagen and Chrysler
    Eligibility RequirementsValid Ontario G or G2 driver’s license; age 23 or older; one year of insurance history coverage; mo major criminal convictions or moving violations; driving record clear of at-fault collisions in the previous three years; approval by Roam’s insurance provider
    Geographical AvailabilityGreater Toronto Area and southern Ontario. Clients pay fees for delivery of $50 for 5 km from its Etobicoke location; $100 for 5 to 25 km; and $150 for 25 to 50 km.

    Communauto

    Communauto often gets described as a car-sharing service, but its offerings align closely with the value proposition of car-subscription services. Communauto’s unique model allows for extreme flexibility, offering cars on a trip-by-trip basis. This makes it essential for potential users to ensure there are Communauto locations conveniently situated near their residences. 

    Operating in Ontario, the service features a large fleet of vehicles for varied durations. Whether you need a car for an hour, a day or longer periods, Communauto has options tailored to your needs.

    The company provides two distinct services to cater to different customer requirements: 

    1. the one-way FLEX service in Toronto and Hamilton 
    2. a round-trip reservation service available across a wider region 

    The FLEX service offers the freedom to pick up a car and leave it at any location within designated zones. This makes it ideal for impromptu or one-way trips. FLEX service is currently only offered in Hamilton and Toronto. However, drivers visiting these cities can access FLEX vehicles. 

    FLEX cars also get 30 minutes free blocking time; a 20-minute credit for refueling and up to 15 minutes to sweep snow off a vehicle. Further, a FLEX pass gives you 20 FLEX trips of 30 minutes or less at no cost. At the 31st minute, you pay $55 to $70 per month, depending on our plan.

    The round-trip service, on the other hand, better suits planned outings. Cars get picked up from and returned to specific stations at pre-set times. This service allows for bookings up to a month in advance. As a result, it gives you the peace of mind that a vehicle will be available when you need it.

    Communauto makes joining easy and budget-friendly with a free open-plan membership. For those needing more specialized services, you can sign up for additional plans ranging from $5 to $30 per month. All plans cover gas, insurance and maintenance costs. The Communauto App simplifies the process of finding available cars, which are widely dispersed throughout key areas in Toronto.

    Pricing41 cents per minute (on an open membership) or $35 cents on a plan
    up to $10.50 per hour; or $50 per day; 75 km included per trip with 22 cents/km extra
    Round-trip vehicles $3.05-$10.50 per hour, depending on the plan and location; or $21.65-$50 per day (30 cents/hour or $3/day more on weekend days)
    Extras:
    Surcharge of 15% for utility vehicles and 10% for family vehicles. 
    $2.50/month for each additional driver in a family
    $1.50-$2.50 per phone transaction to reserve or modify order
    For paid members, $500/person or a family rate of $750 for a refundable membership bond if you leave within a year
    Car Insurance DeductibleDamage protection plan gives you coverage up to $300 for $8.50 per month; $300-$600 for $6.50 per month or $1.10 per trip for more. Drivers can waive this fee if they have coverage via the credit card they use to pay the account.
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne minute
    Types of Cars AvailableToyota Prius C or V, Corolla or RAV4; Kia Rio, electric Niro or Nissan Mini Cargo 
    Eligibility RequirementsAge 19 years or older; hold a full driver’s licence from your province;clear of any conviction for serious or criminal conduct, including impaired driving, for three years; a limited number of demerit points and collisions, based on the duration of your driving experience; a good credit record or a $500 membership bond 
    Geographical AvailabilityQuébec, Ontario (Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Guelph, Ottawa and Kingston), Alberta (Edmonton and Calgary) and Nova Scotia (Halifax and Dartmouth)

    Steer EV

    Steer EV specializes solely in electric vehicles, making it unique in the car-subscription market. The company originally started in Washington, DC, and expanded to Canadian cities. It launched in the Toronto area in March 2021 and also operates in Vancouver. Steer EV’s fleet boasts more than 300 options.  

    What sets Steer EV apart from other subscription services is its tailored approach to green driving. The company offers easy ways for curious motorists to dive into the world of electric vehicles without ownership or leasing. You can try out auto-pilot, self-drive and other features under the right conditions.

    Signing up is straightforward—simply download the Steer EV app and explore the available plans. Once you’ve picked your ideal vehicle and plan, just schedule a delivery time. A variety of options cater to different driving needs and lifestyles. For example, the Preferred Plan offers two vehicle swaps a month and includes access to a Tesla Model 3. You must request a swap by 5 p.m. the previous day and accept its first-come, first-served terms.

    For more variety, the Premier Performance Plan offers unlimited vehicle swaps. For example, you have choices ranging from Tesla Model S and Model X to a Jaguar I-PACE. Billing occurs monthly via credit card, starting from the day you take delivery of your vehicle.

    Costs vary and depend on your chosen plan and vehicle. However, the comprehensive package of services included remains consistent across all subscriptions. Insurance, routine servicing and maintenance, roadside assistance and even a concierge service are all part of the deal. Your monthly fee includes charging solutions inside or outside your home.

    However, this service isn’t for everyone. If you’re a die-hard fan of gas vehicles, you won’t find what you’re looking for here. You also cannot use a Steer car for rideshare, food delivery or taxi services. 

    Further, you cannot smoke, drive into the United States, have a pet outside a pet carrier or transport hazardous materials. And while the service boasts free delivery and no upfront subscription activation fee, it requires a 30-day notice for cancellations.

    PricingPremier Performance: $2,899, Preferred Plus: $2,199, Preferred: $1,899, plus 10% tax in Vancouver, 13% tax in Ontario
    Extras:$100/month fee (plus tax) to pause your subscription$125 credit for referring a new customer
    Car Insurance DeductibleSteer’s insurance policy provides up to $2 million dollars of coverage, yet customers must pay a $5,000 deductible for any major collision.
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne month
    Types of Cars AvailableBattery Electric vehicles, like the Nissan LEAF or Tesla line; Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, like Toyota Prius Prime and Porsche Panamera; and Hybrid Electric Vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Porsche Cayenne; all 2016 or newer
    Eligibility RequirementsAge 26 or older as the primary subscriber; 23 years or older as a secondary driver if approved; valid driver’s licence
    Geographical AvailabilityWithin 200 kilometres of Scarborough and Vancouver

    Zipcar

    While most commonly known as a car-sharing network, Zipcar also offers on-demand vehicles for short periods. Unlike traditional car-subscription services, Zipcar provides flexibility by allowing members to book cars by the hour or the day. This makes it particularly convenient for those who need sporadic access to a vehicle, without committing to ownership or leasing.

    Zipcar works in a straightforward fashion. First, customers apply online then use the Zipcar app to book a vehicle. After the trip, the car must return to the same location and the rental wraps up via the app. The process aims to be as hassle-free as possible, emphasizing user convenience.

    The cost of using Zipcar flexes to fit various needs. It has two primary membership plans:

    1. Monthly membership: Free for the first month, followed by $9 per month.
    2. Annual membership: $90 per year.

    Driving rates start at $14 per hour and go up to $105.75 per day but can vary depending on the vehicle and other factors.

    PricingMonthly membership free for the first month, then $9 per month, or annual membership for $90 per year. Driving rates start at $14 per hour and go up to $105.75 per day. 200 km per day (then 58 cents/km)
    Extras:$25 credit for referring a new customer
    $30 fee if gas level falls below 1/4 tank when returned 
    $50 fee for returning a car late, on top of charge for extra time
    $50 fee for smoking or leaving litter 
    Car Insurance Deductible$1,000 for a first incident, then any further damage gets covered by Zipcar’s insurance
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne hour
    Types of Cars AvailableSedans like the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Mercedes-Benz; Honda CR-V SUV or Jeep Wrangler
    Eligibility RequirementsValid driver’s license; age 21 or older or 18 if a student at Centennial College, George Brown College, Humber College, McMaster University, Mohawk College, OCAD University, Toronto Metropolitan University, Seneca College, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of Toronto or York University
    Geographical AvailabilityGreater Toronto Area

    Enterprise CarShare

    While you may know Enterprise for its traditional car rental services, Enterprise CarShare offers a model that resembles car-subscription services. However, these vehicles typically get rented on a much shorter basis — by the hour or day. 

    Enterprise CarShare simplifies the car rental process. After joining and receiving approval, you’ll get a membership card in the mail. Using the mobile app, you can reserve a car, specifying the model and duration you need it. To access the vehicle, you can either use your membership card or the mobile app to unlock it. 

    Once your trip ends, return the car to its designated parking space and sign off using your membership card or the app. The process unfolds quickly with automation.

    The cost structure includes a $45 annual membership fee, plus hourly rates from $9.25 and up to $88 daily. These rates cover fuel, physical damage and liability protection, and round-the-clock member service support. The costs can vary depending on several factors including the car model, day of the week and time of day.

    Overall, Enterprise CarShare combines the flexibility of short-term rentals with the benefits commonly associated with longer-term car-subscriptions. It also allows you to drive outside of Canada. Consequently, it offers a versatile solution for those with varying transportation needs.

    PricingKeep It Simple Plan: $45 per year, hourly rates from $9.25 and daily rates from $88; comes with four levels: economy, compact SUV and small cargo vehicles; Smart Saver 50 Plan: $50 per month, hourly rates from $8.33 and daily rates from $79.20; comes with four levels: economy, compact SUV and small cargo vehicles; Smart Saver 200 Plan: $200 per month, hourly rates from $7.86 and daily rates from $74.80; comes with six levels: economy, compact, mid-size, full-size, cargo van, and luxury. For luxury level: $29 application fee, hourly rates from $14.49 and daily rates from $120.60
    Minimum rates per vehicle type:Economy – $7.86 hourly; $74.80 dailyMidsize – $10.33 hourly; $79.48 dailyFullsize – $11.02 hourly; $90.31 dailyCompact SUV – $11.73 hourly; $91.16 dailyCargo Van – $12.41 hourly; $104.55 dailyLuxury – $13.69 hourly; $113.90 daily
    Extras:200 km limits (additional km cost $0.31-$0.38/km)$2.50 for call centre reservations and extensions$3.95 per trip on Hwy. 407, plus applicable tolls $50 fees for failure to return CarShare gas card, to clear up pet hair on seats or litter within carInconvenience fee for a late return that impacts another driver
    Car Insurance Deductible$1,250. Drivers can buy additional coverage for $1.75/hour, $14/day or $105/year or use their credit card coverage. 
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne hour
    Types of Cars AvailableEconomy, midsize, full size, compact SUV, cargo van or luxury, even some electric or hybrid
    Eligibility RequirementsValid driver’s licence and credit card
    Geographical AvailabilityDowntown TorontoCentennial CollegeGeorge Brown CollegeHumber CollegeOCAD UniversityToronto Metropolitan UniversitySeneca CollegeUniversity of TorontoYork University

    ShiftRide

    ShiftRide offers a unique twist to car-subscription services. In short, it serves as a marketplace where car owners and dealers can list their vehicles for lease. Founded in 2016 and based in Toronto, ShiftRide focuses mostly on southern Ontario with 10 other locations across Canada. 

    The platform allows vehicle owners to set their own terms, such as price, subscription length, mileage limit and other restrictions like pet or smoking policies. As a subscriber, this gives you the freedom to browse the marketplace for a car that suits your needs and budget. At a time of rental-car shortages, this opens up new options.

    ShiftRide’s payments automatically get charged to your credit card 24 hours before your subscription starts or renews. Costs differ based on the vehicle and its corresponding subscription package, with a mandatory refundable deposit.

    The service includes more than just the use of the car. ShiftRide also covers routine maintenance and provides ongoing support and insurance. All cars are less than 15 years old with fewer than 250,000 km, which adds a level of reliability.

    Obviously, these cars are often older compared to what other subscription services might offer. Nevertheless, ShiftRide’s marketplace model provides a unique, flexible approach to car-subscriptions.

    Pricing$220 per week for a Hyundai Sonata to $1,950 per week for a Tesla Model Y, plus $1,000 refundable security deposit
    Car Insurance Deductible$1,000. Use your own insurance or ShiftRide’s.
    Minimum Rental PeriodSet by the car’s owner
    Types of Cars AvailableSedans, Jeeps, SUVs, electric cars, hybrids and truck from economy to luxury models
    Eligibility RequirementsAge 19 or older (car owner can set the limit higher); valid driver’s license; no more than 3 tickets or major accidents in the previous three years; no more than 3 demerit points; no major violations or alcohol/drug-related incidents in the previous seven years; no previous collisions that exhausted your ShiftRide deductible.
    Geographical Availability25 Canadian cities in Ontario (Brampton, Burlington, Fort Erie, Hamilton, Kitchener, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Richmond Hill, St. Catharines, Toronto, Vaughan and Waterloo), Nova Scotia (Dartmouth), Alberta (Calgary), Quebec (Dorval, Longueuil and Waterville), Manitoba (Winnipeg), British Columbia (Langley, Surrey and Vancouver) and the Northwest Territories (Whitehorse)

    Porsche Drive

    Porsche Drive takes the concept of car subscriptions to a new level of luxury. This program by Porsche Canada offers either monthly or three-month subscriptions. With one, you can drive a single Porsche model or any in the Porsche range, depending on your subscription type. For those seeking shorter commitments, Porsche Drive offers daily or weekly rentals through its Porsche Drive – Rental program.

    To get started, you simply download the Porsche Drive app and sign up. Once registered, you choose your desired subscription length, pick your Porsche model, and schedule a time for delivery. Monthly rentals come in both single and multi-vehicle subscriptions, while a three-month option is available for single-vehicle subscriptions. With both plans, you can drive up to 2,500 km per month.

    The cost of this luxury experience varies. A single-vehicle plan starts with a $750 activation fee, waived if you opt for a three-month subscription. Monthly rates range from $2,650 to $4,200 plus taxes. If you opt for a multi-vehicle plan, the activation fee remains the same, but the cost jumps to $4,500 per month, plus taxes. Payment is straightforward and conducted via credit card, with the first payment triggered upon delivery confirmation.

    One of the standout features of Porsche Drive is what’s included in your subscription. Beyond the use of a luxury vehicle, you’ll get insurance, concierge service, roadside assistance, maintenance and a seasonal tire change. You can also flip cars whenever you’d like. Further, you get treated to free delivery and pick-up within 50 km of a participating Porsche dealership. It is indeed a full-service experience.

    PricingSingle-vehicle subscription
    $750 activation fee waived with 3-month commitment
    Macan from $2,650/month
    718 Cayman from $3,050/month
    718 Boxster from $3,150/month
    Cayenne from $3,350/month
    Panamera from $3,550/month
    911 from $3,950/month
    Taycan from $4,200/month
    Multi-vehicle subscription
    $4,500 a month for the same seven models
    Extras:$1 per kilometre beyond the 2,500 kms monthly limit$25 administrative fee per toll or traffic violation$5,000 security deposit$250 to clean up pet hair or fumes from smoking or vaping
    Car Insurance Deductible$2,500
    Minimum Rental PeriodOne month
    Types of Cars AvailableAny Porsche model available at the time (see list above)
    Eligibility RequirementsAge 25 or older; valid driver’s license; continuous access to a mobile phone; valid credit card; live within the dealership’s service area; have rental-car and liability insurance; no secondary drivers allowed
    Geographical AvailabilityToronto, Vancouver, Kelowna and Montreal
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    Lois Tuffin has worked as a journalist since 1989, beginning in community newspapers in the Ottawa area. Subsequently, she managed three newsrooms in the Peterborough area for 15 years, winning every major industry award for her opinion pieces and leadership. Along the way, she never stopped writing and interviewing, fueled by an insatiable curiosity. As of 2020, she began her own freelance enterprise. Since then, she has written articles for Motor Magazine, Motor Age, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. As a finance junkie, she also has written business books in the style of The Wealthy Barber for clients in Canada and Saudi Arabia.