Is Onstar Worth It? Analyzing The Cost, Features, And Alternatives

OnStar is a popular in-vehicle safety and connectivity system offered by GM. But should you opt for it when purchasing your next vehicle? In short, OnStar is worth considering for its emergency features and convenience perks, but isn’t necessary for all drivers. Read on for a full analysis.

This comprehensive guide will examine the pros and cons of OnStar to help you decide if it’s worth the additional cost. We’ll overview what OnStar offers, dive into the pricing and subscription plans, compare it to other connected car options, and provide tips for maximizing value.

Whether you’re debating adding it to your new GM vehicle or deciding whether to renew, our detailed analysis can help determine if OnStar is worthwhile for your needs.

Overview of OnStar’s Key Features and Capabilities

OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors, is a comprehensive automotive safety and security system that offers a range of features and capabilities to enhance the driving experience. From emergency and roadside assistance to in-vehicle WiFi, OnStar provides a host of services designed to provide peace of mind and convenience to drivers.

Emergency and Roadside Assistance

One of the key features of OnStar is its emergency and roadside assistance service. In the event of an accident or breakdown, OnStar can connect drivers with a live advisor who can dispatch emergency services or provide guidance on how to address the situation.

This service can be a lifesaver in critical situations and can significantly reduce response times in emergency situations.

Automatic Crash Response

Another important feature of OnStar is its automatic crash response. In the event of a collision, OnStar can automatically detect the impact and alert an advisor who can assess the situation and contact emergency services if necessary.

This feature can be crucial in situations where the driver is unable to call for help themselves.

In-Vehicle WiFi Hotspot

An increasingly popular feature offered by OnStar is the in-vehicle WiFi hotspot. This allows passengers to connect their devices to the internet while on the go, making long journeys more enjoyable and productive.

The WiFi hotspot can support multiple devices, ensuring that everyone in the vehicle can stay connected.

Remote Services like Key Access

OnStar also offers a range of remote services that can be accessed through a smartphone app. These services include remote lock and unlock, remote start, and even remote diagnostics. This means that drivers can control certain features of their vehicle from a distance, providing added convenience and peace of mind.

Navigation and Destination Assistance

OnStar provides navigation and destination assistance, helping drivers reach their desired locations with ease. OnStar advisors can provide turn-by-turn directions, suggest points of interest along the way, and even send directions directly to the vehicle’s navigation system.

This feature is particularly useful for drivers who are unfamiliar with an area or want to explore new places.

For more information on OnStar’s features and pricing, you can visit their official website:

OnStar Pricing and Subscription Options

Included trial periods for new vehicles

When purchasing a new vehicle equipped with OnStar, customers are often provided with a complimentary trial period. During this trial period, they can experience the full range of services and features offered by OnStar without any additional cost.

The duration of these trial periods may vary depending on the vehicle model and the dealership. It’s a great opportunity for customers to test out the features and determine if OnStar is worth the investment.

Monthly fees for various service tiers

After the trial period ends, customers have the option to subscribe to OnStar services. OnStar offers different service tiers, each with its own set of features and corresponding monthly fees. These fees can range from a basic package with essential services to a premium package that includes advanced safety and security features, navigation assistance, and even concierge services.

The pricing for these tiers will depend on the level of services chosen by the customer.

Longer-term subscription discounts

For customers who plan to use OnStar for an extended period, there are often discounts available for longer-term subscriptions. These discounts can provide significant savings compared to the monthly fees.

OnStar understands the value of customer loyalty and aims to reward those who commit to their services for a longer duration. It’s a win-win situation where customers can enjoy the benefits of OnStar while also saving some money.

Hardware fees for older vehicles

For older vehicles that do not come equipped with OnStar hardware, there may be additional fees involved. These fees cover the installation of the necessary hardware to enable OnStar services in the vehicle. The cost of the hardware fees can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

It’s important for customers to inquire about these fees before making a decision to ensure that they are aware of the full cost involved.

Pros of Choosing OnStar

Peace of mind from emergency features

One of the major advantages of choosing OnStar is the peace of mind it provides through its emergency features. OnStar offers automatic crash response, which can be a lifesaver in the event of an accident.

With this feature, OnStar can immediately notify emergency services and provide them with your location, even if you’re unable to make a call. This can save valuable time and potentially save lives.

Convenience perks like remote commands

OnStar also offers a range of convenience perks that can make your life easier. One such perk is the ability to use remote commands to lock or unlock your car, start your engine, or even activate the horn and lights from a distance.

This can be particularly helpful if you’ve misplaced your keys or need to warm up your car on a cold day.

Potential insurance discounts

Choosing OnStar may also lead to potential insurance discounts. Some insurance providers offer discounts for vehicles equipped with OnStar, as it is seen as a safety feature that can reduce the risk of accidents or help in the event of theft.

It’s worth checking with your insurance provider to see if they offer any such discounts.

Hands-free calling and navigation

OnStar provides hands-free calling and navigation services, allowing you to stay connected and find your way without taking your hands off the wheel. With OnStar, you can make and receive calls using voice commands, ensuring your focus remains on the road.

Additionally, OnStar’s navigation system provides real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions to help you reach your destination efficiently.

Cons and Downsides of OnStar to Consider

Recurring monthly service fees

One of the main drawbacks of OnStar is the recurring monthly service fees. While the initial subscription cost may seem reasonable, it’s important to factor in the long-term commitment and expenses. These fees can add up over time, especially if you don’t fully utilize all the features and services OnStar offers.

It’s important to carefully evaluate your needs and the value you’ll get from the service before committing to a monthly payment.

Spotty in-vehicle WiFi connectivity

Another downside of OnStar is the reliability of its in-vehicle WiFi connectivity. While having WiFi on the go can be convenient, some users have reported spotty or inconsistent internet connections. This can be frustrating, especially if you rely on the internet for navigation, streaming, or other online activities while on the road.

It’s worth considering if reliable WiFi connectivity is a priority for you before opting for OnStar.

Features limited without paid subscription

OnStar offers a range of useful features and services, but many of them are limited or unavailable without a paid subscription. This means that if you choose not to continue with the monthly service fees, you may lose access to features such as emergency assistance, vehicle diagnostics, remote start, and stolen vehicle tracking.

It’s important to weigh the value of these features against the ongoing costs to determine if they are worth it for you.

Privacy concerns over data collection

Privacy concerns have been raised regarding OnStar’s data collection practices. The service collects and stores various types of data, including location information, driving habits, and vehicle diagnostics.

While this data is used to provide personalized services and improve overall performance, some individuals may have reservations about their personal information being collected and potentially shared.

It’s essential to review OnStar’s privacy policy and determine if you are comfortable with their data collection practices before subscribing.

While OnStar offers a range of benefits, it’s crucial to consider these cons and downsides before deciding if it’s worth it for you. Assessing your needs, weighing the costs, and considering alternatives can help you make an informed decision.

How OnStar Compares to Other Connected Car Options

When it comes to connected car options, OnStar is a popular choice for many drivers. However, it’s important to consider how it compares to other alternatives in terms of features, cost, and reliability. Let’s take a closer look at how OnStar stacks up against other connected car options.

Vs. manufacturer-specific systems like Blue Link

One alternative to OnStar is manufacturer-specific systems like Blue Link, which is offered by Hyundai. While both OnStar and Blue Link offer similar services such as emergency assistance and vehicle diagnostics, there are some key differences to consider.

OnStar is available on a wide range of vehicles, not just one specific brand, making it a more versatile option. Additionally, OnStar offers services such as stolen vehicle assistance and roadside assistance, which may not be available with manufacturer-specific systems.

It’s also worth noting that OnStar has a proven track record and has been around for many years, while some manufacturer-specific systems are relatively new to the market.

Vs. third-party apps like Life360

Another alternative to OnStar is using third-party apps like Life360. These apps provide features such as location tracking, driver safety alerts, and family communication. While these apps may be more affordable compared to OnStar, they typically lack some of the more advanced features offered by OnStar.

For example, OnStar has the ability to remotely unlock your vehicle or provide emergency assistance in the event of a crash. OnStar also has a dedicated call center staffed with trained professionals who can provide assistance 24/7, which may provide added peace of mind for some drivers.

Vs. connected devices like automatic emergency response

Connected devices like automatic emergency response systems offer an alternative to OnStar. These devices are typically small devices that can be easily installed in your vehicle and provide features such as crash detection and emergency assistance.

While these devices may be more cost-effective compared to OnStar, they may not offer the same level of reliability and support. OnStar has a dedicated network and call center that is specifically designed to provide emergency assistance and support in the event of a crisis.

Additionally, OnStar offers other services such as vehicle diagnostics and stolen vehicle assistance, which may not be available with connected devices.

Tips for Maximizing OnStar Value

Take advantage of trial periods

Before committing to a long-term OnStar subscription, it’s a good idea to take advantage of any trial periods offered by the service. These trial periods typically last a few months and allow you to test out the features and determine if OnStar is a good fit for your needs.

During this time, you can explore the various services, such as emergency assistance, vehicle diagnostics, and navigation, to see how they benefit you on a day-to-day basis.

Compare subscription tiers to your needs

OnStar offers different subscription tiers, each with its own set of features and pricing. To maximize the value of your OnStar subscription, carefully evaluate your needs and compare them to the features offered in each tier.

For example, if you primarily use OnStar for emergency assistance and roadside assistance, you may not need the higher-tier plans that include features like remote vehicle access and stolen vehicle assistance.

By selecting the tier that aligns with your needs, you can ensure you’re not paying for services you won’t use.

Consider prepaid plans to limit costs

If you’re concerned about the cost of an OnStar subscription, consider opting for a prepaid plan. Prepaid plans allow you to pay for a certain number of months upfront, which can help you budget and limit your costs.

Additionally, prepaid plans often offer discounts compared to month-to-month subscriptions. By choosing a prepaid plan, you can enjoy the benefits of OnStar while keeping your expenses in check.

Maintain vehicle compatibility

When considering the value of OnStar, it’s important to ensure that your vehicle is compatible with the service. OnStar is available in a wide range of vehicles, but not all models and years may be supported.

Before purchasing a subscription or a vehicle with OnStar, check the compatibility requirements on the official OnStar website or consult with a sales representative. This will help you avoid any potential compatibility issues and make the most of the features offered by OnStar.


Overall, OnStar can provide vital emergency response capabilities and convenience features, but requires weighing recurring costs against your actual usage and needs. Focus the decision on the core safety services that could be invaluable in an accident, while viewing other perks as nice bonuses.

Look critically at alternative options as well. With smart evaluation of the pros, cons, and alternatives, you can make the right OnStar decision for your budget and priorities.

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