Car leasing firms have been emerging as people look to facilitate and expand the growing market. Uber, Breeze among others often market low or no credit requirements to drive home in your own car. But with rates being slashed nationally, does it really make sense to rent a car?
Uber allows all drivers accepted onto their platform to lease cars through their partners. They require very little money down and allow you to cancel your lease with a two week notice period after an initial 30 day period. They hook you up with their leasing partners and often require you to have no credit at all. They claim it is a great way for people who have bad credit to own their rideshare business with minimum paperwork.
Uber currently offers the program in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle, Maryland, Virginia, DC, Georgia, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Nashville. They also offer leasing through partners but NOT their Xchange program as well. This is important to know because sometimes you might be accepted for their leasing program but not the Xchange version. This is important because of depreciation miles allocated (more on that later). These are some of the cars they offer.
Breeze is a start up that allows week to week leases in the Boston, Seattle, L.A., D.C., Chicago and San Francisco areas. It also allows week to week car leases with two week opt out clauses after an initial 30 day period. They also offer only Toyota Priuses, and market it as an cost effective way to make the most of your gas money.
Breeze claims, “You’ll enjoy the freedom of working on your own time. You can work as many hours as you want, whenever you want. Many of our members take home more than $1,000 every week, even after weekly payments and vehicle costs!”
We decided to examine this claim.
What you should know before you think about leasing
Credit Check and Application Fee: Both Uber and Breeze have an initial application fee of around $250. Leasing Fees varies by city but on Breeze it seems to run an average of around $200 a week, while Uber has sample rates of $110-150 on its webpage through its Xchange program but rates in NYC for example are much higher.
With some exceptions, both programs require you to get your own insurance. In California, both require additional rideshare insurance.
You are responsible for your own maintenance . Breeze gives you no sops while Uber gives you an oil change and a tire rotation every 5,000 miles. While it is not a lot, every little helps here.
Breeze only gives you 31,200 depreciation miles a year. That is around 600 miles a week. Anything on top of that is charged an overage fee of 15 cents a mile. You also get charged a service fee for any balance carried on account. This is very important to know, as this severely limits the number of miles you can put on the car vs the potential savings from driving a hybrid. With gas prices low, the tradeoff is a costly one.
Uber Xchange gives you unlimited miles, but it is important to remember that not all Uber leases are Uber Xchange. You might get approved for a lease that has a mile limit and you must calculate if it is worth it yourself.
Both programs take their cut straight out of your rideshare earnings. This is after Uber and Lyft take their cut. This is also important to note because if you do not drive one week or two, you can accrue a balance and then struggle just to keep up with the minimums if your city hits a slow period. Accidents also can happen and put you behind. It is important to keep your eyes open to this when going in for a short term lease.
Does the Math work?
Lets take a look in Boston. Let’s do the math with a Breeze lease since there is no Uber Xchange available.
|Cost Per Mile||$1.22|
|Cost Per Minute||$0.18|
|Trust And Service Fee||$1.55|
For Lyft Line – you can drive 600 miles a week for a total take home of 600*1.22 = $732. Say this takes you a total of 20 driving hours that is another $216 in per minute driving fee. Add in some primetime and you generate a thousand dollars in revenue. This is driving at 100% utilization! Uber and Lyft take 20-25% off the top. This leaves you with $750-800 as take home. Then you pay Breeze their $200 plus taxes and fees and gas and you have about $550 in hand. These are all best case scenarios as well. This is assuming all the miles you drive in your Prius will be logged in as fares. This is simply unrealistic and makes very little sense.
Also you can return your car with two weeks notice after the first 30 day period. That is a minimum of $1450 you will owe the company before you have driven your first drive. The numbers are similar with Uber in terms of what you will owe.
Lets look at Uber Xchange in Seattle. Uber has given sample rates of $100 a month for a 2013 Camry. The major advantage here is that you can drive unlimited miles.
Base fare in Seattle is $1.35 a mile. Say you drive a thousand miles a week (and only probably @bungy can do this) and have only 30% dead miles. That is about $1500 in revenue. This assumes no Pools, a few surges, and per minute charges. You pay $300 to Uber, $100 to the leasing company and another hundred odd for gas.That leaves you a thousand dollars a week in hand that you still have to pay maintenance on, taxes on and still need to pay insurance and other expenses associated with owning a car. Again, these are all best case scenarios. With insurance deductibles also to account for this does not go far.
The main reason you should own a car vs leasing one is you can depreciate the cost of your car over five years. If you lease a car, not only do you pay weekly for the lease and pay all the maintenance, you do not get to depreciate the car against your taxes. The Blue Book Value of a 2013 Camry L for example is $20,000. That is an extra $4000 you can take off taxes every year as opposed to paying Uber a lot more for the same privilege.
Who should rent or lease?
The only cases where we recommend this if your credit is shot and Uber is your only hope. Breeze does not allow you to lease if you have had any recent bank repossessions. Uber might also bump you from its Xchange program and just to a regular leasing program that might have more rules.
The main issue with leasing programs is that it entices new participants with its low barriers to entry. However, if you do not know that you have to hit the road hard initially to make it work; or what expenses you are liable for, it can quickly turn into a disaster. With Uber looking to add a lot of new drivers to its system in the near future, they are going to heavily push their leasing program.
Have a plan
Plan your hours and days ahead. Do some research about how surges work in your city and what local rules are. Be prepared to work hard for the first couple of months at the very least to make sure you get ahead and figure out if this is really for you. It is better to decide in two months that you would rather own your own car and not owe the leasing program a lot of money and feel trapped with no way out.
Do you lease? Do you want to share your story? Email us!
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