When you sign up for a car lease, you expect your financial situation and goals to remain the same until the end of the lease term. But what happens if your finances change or you need a different mode of transportation?
If this happens to you, you might want to ditch your lease. While the process of getting out of a car lease can be complicated, it is possible.
Here are the best strategies for getting out of a car lease early.
Table of Contents
How to Get Out of Your Car Lease Early
If you have a good reason to get out of your car lease early, it’s time to dive into your paperwork.
The number of options available to you varies based on the terms of your lease.
For most drivers stuck in a lease, there are a few ways out of the deal. However, they generally come with lofty fees.
We’ve found the top ways to get out of your lease early. Make sure to confirm whether or not these are an option for you by reading the fine print of your lease or talking to the dealership.
1. Lease Buyout
A lease buyout involves purchasing the vehicle outright. Once you own the vehicle, you’ll have the option to keep driving without a lease payment or sell the car on your own.
For drivers interested in owning their leased vehicle, many choose to wait until the end of the lease agreement to negotiate for the best deal. However, it’s possible to negotiate an early buyout if you’d prefer to move the process along.
Before you begin negotiations for a buyout, look at your contract. In some cases, there is a payoff schedule that outlines exactly how much the dealership will expect you to pay.
Of course, it never hurts to try to negotiate down from this price. The dealership tends to have the upper hand during negotiations since you are locked into your contract, but asking for a better deal never hurts.
Regardless of if you are able to negotiate for a lower buyout price, this option can get you out of the lease.
If you are planning to sell the vehicle, assess the current market conditions. In some cases, you might even be able to sell the car for more than you pay to buy out the lease since the demand for used vehicles is higher in today’s market.
2. Lease Trade-In
Not every car is suited for every situation, which means you may need a different vehicle if your life circumstances change.
For example, you might be welcoming a new member of your family into your home, which means you may need a blogger car. After all, a two-door vehicle makes toting around a new baby slightly inconvenient.
Or, your employment situation might change from a 10-minute commute to a 60-minute commute. As a long-distance commuter, switching from a large SUV to a smaller hybrid could help prevent fuel costs from ruining your budget.
If your issue with the lease is that the vehicle no longer works for your new situation, then a lease trade-in is a viable option. Most dealerships are open to the possibility of a trade-in.
While you’ll likely be charged an early termination fee, it might be spread out over the course of your lease payments for another vehicle.
However, in some cases, the dealership will waive the early termination fee altogether if your next vehicle is leased from their lot.
Ultimately, this option allows you to drive off in another vehicle that suits your needs better.
3. Terminate Your Lease Early
When you think of getting out of a car lease, terminating your lease early is likely the first option that pops to mind. It’s often an expensive endeavor, which is why it’s not at the top of our list.
Most car lease contracts include an early termination option. You can go this route, but there’s often a clearly stated termination fee in the contract.
Typically, the early termination fee is the difference between the car’s estimated value at the end of the lease and the sum of the remaining lease payments.
If you want to pursue this option, the early termination fee should be somewhere in the fine print of your contract. You can also call your leasing company directly to find out how much it will cost to have the lease terminated early.
Depending on where you are in the lease, this can be a very expensive option. If you’ve only been in the lease for a few months, the vehicle likely hasn’t depreciated enough to make this an affordable option.
But, if you’ve been in the lease for several years, the termination costs might be more reasonable.
Since this strategy is often costly, most drivers treat this as a last resort. That said, if you absolutely need to get out of the lease, an early termination could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
4. Transfer Your Lease
You might not want to drive this particular vehicle anymore, but that doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t be happy to take over the terms of your lease agreement.
Fortunately, it might be possible to transfer the remaining term of your lease to another buyer.
Before diving into this option, you should check with the dealership or leasing company. Some contracts have provisions against transferring your lease. Others are happy to allow the transfer as long as someone continues making the payments.
If you determine that transferring your lease is acceptable to your leasing company, then it’s time to find someone willing to take over your lease. For some people, this is as simple as reaching out to their network.
However, if you don’t know someone who wants to lease your vehicle, there are third-party services that will connect you with someone looking for a lease.
When you work with one of these platforms, the company may help with the logistical details of transferring your lease.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for the services of a third party. The exact costs will vary based on the company, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $100 to $400.
Nevertheless, if the company can help you get out of the lease, this might be worth the cost.
The details of transferring your lease will vary based on the contract. In some cases, you’ll be able to have the contract transferred entirely to the new driver.
But in other cases, the new driver will only take over the payments while your name legally stays on the lease agreement. If your name is still on the lease, then you’ll be on the hook for the payments in the event that the new driver flakes out.
When Is It Smart to Ditch Your Car Lease Early?
Everyone has different reasons for wanting to get out of a car lease. Your unique situation will determine whether or not it’s a good move to get out of your lease early.
If the vehicle no longer meets the needs of your household, then getting out of the lease might be a wise decision. For example, a growing family might need more seats than their current vehicle offers.
Other practical reasons include a change to your commuting situation. For example, if you move to an urban area with plenty of public transportation within walking distance, then you might be able to ditch your car altogether.
Or if your commute suddenly doubles, you might want to save on fuel costs by switching to a more efficient vehicle.
It may also be wise to get out of your car lease early if you realize the auto insurance costs on your leased vehicle are too high for your current financial situation.
In addition, the cost of getting out of your lease is a major factor to consider. Before moving forward with getting out of the lease, take a close look at the numbers.
If you can afford the cost of getting out of your lease, then making a change to your vehicle situation might be worthwhile.
When Should You Not Get Out of Your Car Lease Early?
While there are many practical reasons to get out of your lease early, a change to your vehicle preferences isn’t one of them.
For example, you might get tired of driving the same car. Although you may want to trade up to a more exciting ride, that’s usually not the best move to improve your finances.
Since breaking your lease often involves extra costs, it’s often better to ride out the lease unless you have a truly pressing reason to get out of it.
Take a look at the costs of breaking your lease. If you are comfortable with the costs of making a change to your vehicle and your budget can handle it, then there’s nothing standing in your way.
That said, staying in your lease agreement is often the more affordable move if you want a financially efficient solution.
There isn’t always a clear path to getting out of your car lease early. But, if you need to make a change to your vehicle situation, diving into the details of your lease contract will illuminate what options you have available.
When considering breaking your lease, run the numbers before making any final decisions. You might decide to ride out your lease to avoid the possible financial hit.
Otherwise, the numbers may support your decision to make a change.