Have you heard of the new Fair.com app? If you haven’t, you probably will soon because it presents some big changes to how people pay for and drive their cars.
Fair allows customers to get a low-mileage, pre-owned car right on their phone, and turn it in whenever they want -- with no fixed term and no physical paperwork whatsoever. You can shop late-model certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles and used cars from real car dealerships; plus, all the shopping, checkout and payments are done within the app. You can get approved by scanning your driver’s license, sign for a car with your finger, then pick it up at the dealership.
If you are like me, you have wondered why an end-to-end app for getting a car has not been available before. In fact, years ago I searched for a service like this online and in my phone’s app store, but to no avail.
Fair is aiming to change the way people get cars by breaking up the standard two- or three-year lease agreement in favor of a flexible model that allows customers to return their car at any time. Want to drive a different car, SUV or pickup truck model every season or every year? It can now be easily done with Fair and – more importantly – at reasonable prices.
This arrangement may seem too good to be true for auto enthusiasts who are already regular lessees. You may also be wondering if there is a catch or how the prices compare to a standard lease from your franchise car dealership or a monthly rental car program. After all, how can you get a good deal if you can’t even negotiate?
Well, I’m happy to report that all Fair cars come negotiation-free since the app uses artificial intelligence to make sure it only accepts cars that are priced fairly. In fact, only about 20 percent of a typical dealership’s inventory qualifies for Fair. In addition, Fair backs its prices up with a guarantee that you won’t find a comparable loan or lease with a lower monthly payment.
Fair vs. Standard Lease: A Comparison
For comparison’s sake, let’s take a look at a popular lease model: a 2017 Honda Civic LX. At the time of writing, Honda corporate lists a featured special lease on a 2017 Civic Sedan CVT LX at $169 per month for 36 months, with $1,999 due at signing. Fair offers a comparable version that doesn’t lock you in for 3 years. For example, as I look at the Fair app on my iOS device, I see a certified pre-owned 2017 Honda Civic Sedan LX in my area with less than 300 miles (essentially brand new) for a start payment of $1,000 and $200 per month. This represents savings of $1,000 up front. And while Honda offers a slightly lower monthly payment, you’d be locked in for 3 years—about the time it’ll take you to make back the difference in the down payments. Also, Fair’s offer includes a warranty, routine maintenance and roadside assistance. So Fair’s offer provides the benefit of being able to return the car any time along with clear upfront savings, with a trade-off of driving in a certified used or used car instead of a new one. We like that Fair has embraced price transparency and lets you see your payments with taxes and fees and a sample contract right from the get-go.
Renting a vehicle from a rental car agency with a monthly discount is, of course, another alternative. But if you’re renting for any more than a few months, Fair ends up being more economic and allows you to select any car you want that is listed in the app..
If you are intrigued about this new model for car ownership, I encourage you to take a test drive of the Fair app. It’s only available in Southern California for now, but will be expanding to dealerships near you over the next year.