January 27, 2021

Fair expands used-vehicle leasing with LendingTree partnership

Used-vehicle leasing subscription service Fair has signed on with auto finance marketplace LendingTree to offer short-term used-car leases. The move is part of the company’s strategy to evolve from its subscription-service roots into a multiservice mobility solutions provider, said CEO Bradley Stewart.

“Fair desperately needs to view itself not as a single-product company and has to view itself as a mobility solutions provider,” Stewart told Automotive News. “There’s a full spectrum of consumer finance products that should be available, starting with subscriptions, which is what the company was originally founded on.”

Bradley joined Fair last May amid a complete overhaul of the technology company’s business strategy. Fair pulled out of most of its active markets and cut staff in its pursuit to make the subscription model financially sustainable and profitable.

The Santa Monica, Calif., company now employs more than 200 people, down from 600, and currently operates in just two states — California and Florida. The company has served 80,000 customers across ride-share, subscription and leasing business lines.

The partnership with LendingTree is considered an indirect channel for the company, which principally operates as a direct-to-consumer model. Customers on LendingTree’s marketplace interested in Fair’s used-lease option can click through to a customized landing page through Fair.com, according to Stewart. Prospective customers are instantly prequalified for a month-to-month or two- or three-year Fair lease, and they can shop other local inventory available on Fair’s site. Every Fair subscription or lease comes with routine maintenance, roadside assistance and a limited warranty that lasts as long as the customer keeps the vehicle.

Fair’s subscription service operates via a mobile app that has consumers pay a “start” fee, followed by a monthly payment, to drive a vehicle. Extensive renovations to Fair’s site also allow customers to use the Web portal to obtain a Fair lease or subscription, though Stewart said customers still require a mobile device to complete the process.

The next step is to add auto loans to the services the company offers, Stewart said, which gives customers the opportunity to purchase their leased or subscription vehicle.

Stewart would not clarify the size of Fair’s auto portfolio except to say it was in the “hundreds of millions” of dollars.

Within the first few weeks of the partnership, more than 1,000 LendingTree users have been approved for Fair used-vehicle leases, Stewart said.

“Over time, I think it can be a tremendous resource,” he said.