Mistakes to avoid when leasing a car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our aim is to assist you make better financial choices by offering you interactive tools and financial calculators that provide objective and original content. This allows users to conduct research and compare information for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make Money The deals that are displayed on this website are provided by companies that compensate us. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories and other categories, unless prohibited by law. Our mortgage, home equity and other products that lend money to homeowners. This compensation, however, does have no impact on the information we provide, or the reviews appear on this website. We do not include the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

8 minutes read. Published 11 January 2023

Dan Miller Written Dan Miller Written by Points and Miles Expert Contributor Dan Miller is a former contributor to Bankrate. Dan covered loans, home equity and debt management in his writing. Edited by Chelsea Wing Edited by student loans editor Chelsea is with Bankrate since early 2020. She is invested in helping students navigate the high costs of college and breaking down the complexities that are associated with student loans. The Bankrate guarantee

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We receive compensation for the promotion of sponsored goods or services, or by you clicking on certain hyperlinks on our website. Therefore, this compensation may affect the way, location and when products appear within listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage, home equity and other products for home loans. Other factors, such as our own website rules and whether or not a product is available within the area you reside in or is within your own personal credit score may also influence how and when products are featured on this website. While we strive to provide an array of offers, Bankrate does not include information about each credit or financial products or services. You can get a car to drive for a predetermined number of months and miles. It’s similar to leasing an apartment in lieu of buying a home. There’s no long-term commitment to make, however, you have to be responsible for the cost. Leasing a vehicle is often lower than buying it with an . Drivers can save on average $138 per month in monthly payments as per the 4th quarter in 2022. But there are pitfalls to be aware of. Seven mistakes to avoid while leasing a car Leasing may lower your costs, but it can be very costly if you don’t read the fine print. Avoid these five common mistakes if you decide to lease your next car. 1. In the beginning, you’re paying too much. Car dealers advertise low monthly lease payments for new cars, however you could have to pay several thousand dollars upfront to get the affordable monthly payment. This money will cover a part of the lease in advance. If the car is destroyed or stolen within the first few months, your issuing company will be reimbursed for the cost of the car, but the leasing company would likely not reimburse your down amount. You’d lose your carand the upfront cash you paid to the leasing company will essentially disappear. It is recommended that you pay no more than about $2,000 upfront when you lease a car. In certain situations, it may make sense to pay nothing upfront and roll all of your fees into your monthly installment. If something happens to your vehicle before the end of the lease then at the very least, the leasing company doesn’t own a big chunk of your money. 2. Do not negotiate the lease agreement. Certain elements of lease agreements typically include the buyout price. The amount you’ll pay the dealer if you choose to purchase the vehicle when the lease is over. Disposition fee: This charge is used to pay the costs of the dealer for preparing your vehicle for sale after it’s been returned. Gross capitalized cost: Also referred to as the price of sale for the vehicle and it affects the monthly installment and the buyout price. The allowance for mileage: Leases include the number of miles you’re allowed to travel each year. not adhering to the limit will result in additional charges unless you purchase the car when the lease expires. Money factor: The price you’ll pay to lease the car — basically, the interest rate. In the event that you do not negotiate these figures, it could result in you leaving thousands or hundreds of dollars in cost savings on the table. 3. Not buying gap insurance If you drive a leased car, you should take out . The “gap” is the gap between the amount you owe on your lease and the car’s value. Let’s say your contract states that at the end of your lease, you will be able to purchase your car at $13,000. If you are involved in a crash and destroy the car prior to when the lease expires, your insurance company will determine the current value of the car and then pay the amount to the dealership that is the owner of the vehicle. Suppose the insurance company says that the market value is $9,000. In this case, you’ll probably have to pay $4,000 out of pocket to cover the difference between the lease’s residual value and its actual market value — in the event that you don’t are covered by gap insurance. The gap coverage will take care of the difference. A lot of leases offer gap insurance. The leasing company may sell you gap insurance but you may find a cheaper policy option with a traditional insurance company. Whatever the case, the insurance coverage is well worth the cost. 4. Do not underestimate the miles you’ll travel in a car To avoid extra charges, know your driving habits before leasing a vehicle. Consider your daily commute and how often you take long drives. You can request a higher mileage limit in case you are certain that you’ll travel more than your agreement allows. However, that will probably increase the amount you pay each month due to the fact that more miles lead to a higher depreciation. It is common for lease contracts to include annual mileage limit of 12,000, 10,000 or 15,000 miles. If you exceed those mileage limit, you could be charged up to 30 cents per mile after the expiration term. If, for instance, you exceed the mileage limit by 5 miles, you could wind up owing an extra $1,500 — or 30 cents per mile- when you turn the car in at the expiration of the lease. 5. Insufficient maintenance on the vehicle If the car you own has damage that is beyond normal wear and wear, you could be on the hook for extra charges when the time comes to take it back to the seller. If a car has an injury but the damage is smaller than the length of the edge of a driver’s licence or business credit card most businesses will consider it to be normal usage and will likely not charge a penalty. If the leasing firm considers any damage to be too severe, it could charge additional charges. The definition of normal use can vary from dealer to dealership. The lessor will examine the car before you turn into them and check for scrapes and dents on the body and the wheels as well as damage to the windshield and windows and tire wear that is excessive and scratches or stains on the interior upholstery. Don’t assume that your inspector will be gentle. 6. A car you are leasing for too long? Make sure that the lease duration matches or is shorter than the warranty period of the vehicle. Warranties differ from manufacturer manufacturer, but they typically last the equivalent of 36,000 miles or three years, depending on what comes first. If you keep the car for longer than the warranty time it may be necessary to think about the possibility of an extended warranty. If not, you’ll be responsible for repair and maintenance costs for a car you don’t have while paying monthly lease payment. It’s best to purchase the vehicle if you plan to lease it for an extended time frame, suggests Barbara Terry, a Texas-based automotive writer and expert. “If the driver owns the car it would be his responsibility to pay for the vehicle and maintain it and repairs, but he’d be able to remain driving the car for many years without worrying about a mandatory monthly lease fee,” Terry says. Make use of an calculator to determine the best option for you. Whether leasing or purchasing an automobile will save you more cash over the long term. 7. Do not think about lease-specific insurance requirements If you’ve previously financed a car or truck, you’re likely to know that the majority of lenders require you to have collision and comprehensive insurance. If this is your first time however, you may not be aware that you might also need to increase the limits of your liability. The liability coverage portion of your insurance policy covers for medical expenses and property damage when you’re responsible for an accident. In addition to comprehensive and collision the majority of leasing companies require you to have minimum liability limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, in addition to $50,000 for . It is possible to see this referred to as 100/300/50 on your insurance documents. Based on the current liability insurance, these limits may increase your coverage, which could already be higher than you’re used to after the addition of your new vehicle. To avoid surprises it’s a good idea to get an insurance quote for the car you’re interested in before signing on the dotted line. How to lease a car A car lease is a way to “borrow” an automobile instead of buying a new or used car. The typical contract is a three-year or four-year contract and an in-depth , so there are many factors to consider before signing this long-term commitment. Choosing to lease instead of buying a vehicle is a fantastic way to drive a newer vehicle with the most recent technologies and features at a lower money per month. If you’re looking to lease a car, follow these steps: Do your research . You can lease almost every type of car that was that was released in the recent model years. You will want to narrow down the type and the brand you’re interested in first while considering how the cost can be incorporated into your budget. Be sure to pay attention to your driving habits and how the vehicle will fit into your lifestyle. Bankrate tip

When budgeting, prepare to pay a small sum prior to leaving the parking lot to cover tax and charges. More than that, if you’d like to lock in lower monthly payments over the course of the lease, you can think about putting down additional cash.

Visit dealers Next, visit several dealers and do the opportunity to test drive. This will help determine what you are looking for. It is possible to call ahead and determine the current availability and whether testing is currently permitted. Bankrate tip

If you go to dealer locations keep in mind that you might be met with higher prices. You haven’t let the leasing market go unnoticed and while it still tends to be less expensive than buying be prepared for an increase in competition.

Negotiate the lease terms The majority of the lease terms are up for during the leasing process. And the negotiation phase is the only opportunity you’ll have to obtain the perks you want in writing. To be the best negotiator check current pricing on sites like Kelley Blue Book and remember to go beyond price. Bankrate tip

A great lease deal is one that will leave you paying as little over the life of the loan as is possible, with the beginning with a down payment. If you are afraid of negotiation take a trusted person to help you navigate the difficult discussion. Also, keep in mind that this could make negotiating the best lease terms more difficult.

Compare offers Make use of the internet and compare the offers that you can get to find the best price. Take a look at several dealerships before making a decision on the purchase of your car. Be aware of the monthly costs and mileage cap, the purchase price, the money factor and capitalized vehicle cost. Also, take a look at the costs the leasing company is charging, including the acquisition fee, disposition fee, and early termination fee to determine if the offer is comparable to similar offers. And don’t forget to inquire about the amount due at signing. Bankrate tip

When comparing lease offers, look at the fine print and the vehicle. When test driving be sure to observe how the car handles and whether it fits into your lifestyle.

Maintain the car during your lease Remember that you must turn in the vehicle at the end of the lease term. If it’s not in great condition, you could need to pay additional fees. Before leasing a car inquire about the rules on the lease-end condition. These guidelines define the kinds of damages you’ll need to cover before you return the vehicle. Bankrate tip

If the car is significantly damaged, owners will be charged full market prices for repairs. At the , you’ll have a few options. You can either turn in your vehicle to the dealer, buy the car , or lease a brand new car.

A car that you lease or. purchasing a car, consider your priorities when deciding whether to . Think about the amount of miles you travel annually; if you drive a lot the cost of leasing could become prohibitive. Think about the pros and cons of each option. Benefits of leasing

Cons of leasing

Because you’re not paying the entire cost of the vehicle, you will usually have smaller monthly payments.

After the expiration of the lease, the vehicle will no longer be yours. You will have to find another vehicle or purchase the vehicle you leased.

If owning a brand new or luxury automobile is important to you, your monthly lease costs will be lower than having a huge down payment to buy it.

Additionally, you may be required to pay a vehicle turn-in charge at the end of your lease if don’t lease another car through the dealership.

With a car lease, you are usually getting an entirely new vehicle. It can also help you save on maintenance expenses.

Most leases come with an allowance for mileage — in the event that you exceed the allowance, you’ll have to pay massive per-mile costs.

Next steps If leasing is the right choice for you, make sure to do your research, do your research, look around and make sure you get a lease that is compatible with your driving style and budget. Pay attention to your monthly fees and specifics and terms. In order to calculate your monthly payment amount and the amount of your monthly payment, the dealer will evaluate the worth of the new car in comparison to its residual value. Similar to any other transaction that involves financing, the better your credit score and the lower your interest rate.


Authored by Points and Miles Expert Contributor Dan Miller is a former contributor for Bankrate. Dan wrote about loans, home equity and managing debt in his writing. Written by Chelsea Wing Edited by Student loans editor Chelsea has been with Bankrate since the beginning of 2020. She’s dedicated to helping students to navigate the daunting cost of college as well as dissecting the complexity in student loans.

Student loans editor

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