The Ultimate Guide to Car Subscriptions vs. Traditional Car Leasing in Canada

What you’ll be learning about today:

  • Pros and cons of traditional car leasing
  • Pros and cons of car subscription services
  • Comparisons between both methods of acquiring a vehicle

Last Updated September 25, 2023

5 min read

Hello, fellow drivers! The auto industry is in the midst of an evolution. Among the various choices popping up, one term that's becoming increasingly common is "car subscription". At Roam, our mission is to make your vehicle journeys as smooth as possible.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we dive deep into the nuances of how leasing a car works in comparison to the intriguing, new world of car subscriptions.

Traditional Car Leasing 101

Car leasing has long held its ground in the Canadian auto landscape, providing an attractive alternative to outright purchasing. At its core, leasing operates on a straightforward principle: you're essentially renting the car for an agreed-upon duration, much like leasing an apartment. This lease term defines how long you'll have the car, with most contracts ranging from 24 to 60 months. During this period, drivers are bound by a lease contract that stipulates monthly payments, often influenced by an initial down payment. Like any contract, there are mileage limitations, which, if exceeded, can incur additional costs. One notable component of a lease is the 'residual value', a projection of the car's worth at the end of the lease term. This becomes a crucial figure for those contemplating the purchase of the car once the lease ends.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Car Leases:


  • Predictable Payments: Your monthly cost is consistent.
  • Ownership Opportunity: You can purchase the car at the lease's conclusion.
  • Lower Upfront Costs: Typically, initial outlays are more budget-friendly than buying outright.
  • Credit-Building: By making on-time payments for your car lease, you can continue to improve and build your credit over time.


  • Time-Bound: Car leases necessitate a long-term commitment.
  • Mileage and Wear: Overstepping these limits can cost you.
  • Cost with Bad Credit: Without a good credit score, you may be required to pay a hefty down payment (and there is a chance you may not qualify for the lease at all). Additionally, missing payments can be costly - further negatively impacting your credit.
  • Borrowing Capacity: Leases also contribute to your overall borrowing capacity which can have an impact on borrowing for other products like mortgages or lines of credit. 
  • Termination Fees: Exiting a lease early could require you to pay hefty penalties.

Introducing Car Subscription Services

Emerging onto the Canadian automobile scene, car subscription services like Roam are redefining how consumers approach personal transportation. This innovative model stands as an intersection between traditional car leases and long-term rentals, offering a unique blend of flexibility and convenience. At its heart, car subscription operates on a straightforward model: subscribers pay a monthly fee, akin to a Netflix or gym membership, and in return, gain access to a vehicle without the burdens often associated with ownership. This means no worrying about depreciation, no wrangling with resale values, and no long-term financial commitments, often associated with a traditional lease contract.

What sets car subscription services apart, however, is the unparalleled flexibility it offers. Unlike traditional car leases that might bind you to a single vehicle model for years, car subscriptions offer the freedom to switch between vehicle types based on changing needs or whims. Dreaming of a summer with a sleek convertible? Or perhaps a sturdy SUV for those winter road trips? The choice becomes seamless with subscriptions. Furthermore, many of these services, including Roam, bundle essential services like insurance, and regular car maintenance. This comprehensive approach eliminates multiple hassles, allowing users to enjoy the drive without getting bogged down by the fine print.

Pros and Cons of Car Subscription Services:


  • Agility: No long-term commitment means unprecedented freedom.
  • Holistic Packages: Monthly subscription fees are all-inclusive.
  • Variety: Swap between vehicles as per your whims and fancies (fees can apply here).
  • Smooth Processes: Minimal paperwork and quicker processing.
  • No Debt: Without a loan or lease, customers don’t have to worry about borrowing money or financing to acquire a vehicle.
  • No Upfront Cost: Unlike leases, no down payment is required.


  • Cost Factor: The monthly fee might be slightly higher, considering the plethora of included services.
  • Limited Availability: Some brands or models might be rarer in certain locales.

Flexibility in Commitment – Lease vs. Subscription

In today's fast-paced world, flexibility is an essential asset. Traditional car leases, while beneficial for those who prefer a consistent vehicle for a few years, come with a fixed duration, often ranging from two to five years. Exiting a lease contract prematurely can lead to substantial penalties and negative impacts on one's credit score. Moreover, the lease term also dictates the amount of wear, tear, and mileage permissible, often leading to additional fees if these terms are exceeded.

On the flip side, car subscription services thrive on flexibility. The absence of a long-term commitment is one of its biggest selling points. Most car subscription services operate on a monthly basis, allowing users the freedom to opt in or out as their situation changes. For someone whose work or personal circumstances evolve rapidly, this model provides the flexibility of a short-term rental with the perks of longer-term access. Furthermore, the ability to switch cars as per individual needs or preferences, whether it’s a desire for a sporty car or a need for an SUV for family outings, is a bonus that traditional car leases can't rival.

Convenience and Additional Benefits

One of the standout attributes of car subscriptions is the suite of added benefits they usually bring to the table. While traditional car leases give you access to a vehicle, many other responsibilities—like insurance, regular maintenance, and occasional repairs—fall squarely on the lessee's shoulders. While some lease contracts might offer initial maintenance packages, in the long run, the onus is on the individual to manage these aspects.

Car subscription services, by design, incorporate many of these aspects into the package. Monthly fees often include insurance costs, taking away the hassle of securing a separate policy. Maintenance, a common pain point for many vehicle users, becomes a more straightforward affair with subscriptions, as services like Roam often include regular check-ups and even some repairs in the package. Some premium subscription services also offer perks like valet delivery, 24/7 roadside assistance, and even concierge services, thereby enhancing the overall driving experience.

The Future Outlook – Sustainability of Both Models

As we advance into an era marked by technological advancements and shifting consumer preferences, the automobile industry is bound to evolve as well. Traditional car leases have withstood the test of time and continue to appeal to a significant portion of consumers who appreciate the consistency and the allure of driving newer models without the long-term commitment of ownership.

However, car subscription services are not just a fleeting trend. Their rapid adoption suggests a shift towards valuing flexibility, convenience, and all-inclusive services. With urbanization, changing work patterns (like remote working), and the potential growth of electric and autonomous vehicles, the demand for flexible transportation solutions will likely rise.

In conclusion, while traditional car leases will remain a viable choice for many, car subscription services like Roam are carving out a significant niche, catering to a new generation of drivers who prioritize flexibility, convenience, and value. As with many industries, the key to future success in the automotive world will be adaptability and understanding changing consumer needs.

Impacts on Credit and Financial Health

A traditional lease may require credit checks and can affect your credit score. Regular, on-time monthly payments on a lease can positively impact credit but missed payments or defaults can harm it.

Car subscriptions, however, often have softer credit implications. Since they’re structured differently, they may not influence your credit score as heavily. Other car subscription brands may perform credit checks, but here at Roam you can rest assured - we do not perform any kind of credit check on customers.

Paving Your Path in Canada’s Automotive Future

With these insights, we hope your journey toward choosing between a car subscription and a traditional lease becomes clearer. Both avenues have their merits. Consider what aligns best with your lifestyle, financial health, and vehicular needs. Remember, it's not about choosing the 'best' but what's 'best for you'.

At Roam, we're aiming to simplify the car subscription experience for Canadians. With our free educational resources and information, we keep you informed and confident on the road. We're with you every step of the way.

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Disclaimer: Roam is not affiliated with or endorsed by any automaker in any way. All product names, trademarks, and trade names are the property of their respective owners.

Disclaimer: Roam is not affiliated with or endorsed by any automaker in any way. All product names, trademarks, and trade names are the property of their respective owners.