Making the decision to lease a car is a lot different from knowing how to get the best deal on that lease. You should take as much time with this part of the process as you would if you were purchasing a vehicle on your own–after all, your choices will affect your budget and finances for at least a few years to come.
Leasing a car provides a way to have low monthly payments, and it comes with the peace of mind that you’ll have a premium warranty. You never have to deal with the hassle of selling your car, and it’s very convenient if you aren’t staying in the same city for more than a couple of years. It’s also a great way always to drive the latest models of your favorite vehicles.
Leasing is not for everyone, but for some, it’s the best or only option. Before you sign a contract. take the time to understand the terms–here’s how to snag a great deal in the process.
What Factors to Consider When Leasing
When leasing a car, you can figure out what monthly payment you can afford in a similar way that you would if you were buying one–with a few critical differences. Ask yourself:
How Much Do I Drive?
Unlike a car that you own outright, a vehicle that you lease will have a lot of restrictions in terms of how far you can drive throughout the lease. It’s essential to take a realistic stock of how often and how far you are driving to figure out your needs, avoiding the costly mistake of going way over your mileage budget.
How Much Can I Afford per Month?
The most significant cost that comes with a lease is, of course, your monthly payment. You should also make sure to calculate fueling costs and plan a little bit of wiggle room for extraneous circumstances.
Can I Meet All of the Terms of the Deal?
Once you have taken a good look at your budget and your driving patterns, take a good hard look at potential lease agreements and make sure you can meet your end of the bargain; not being able to do so will be extremely costly.
To help answer those questions, make sure you have the following figured out: Am I planning on being in the area at least as long as the lease terms? Am I expecting any job changes or road trips that would make the mileage limit unrealistic? Will I be happy with this vehicle for the full duration of the lease?
How to Find a Good Deal
The best place to find a great deal on a lease is to check with the car manufacturer themselves. Choose a few brands that you like, and surf the manufacturer website–they will often advertise the best deals directly from there. Try also searching for [Car brand name] + “new car incentives” or “lease specials.” You can expect to find deals that can lower monthly payments or sometimes lower amounts due at signing. Manufacturer deals change from month to month so keep checking back to see what’s new if you’re not in a rush.
Put as Much Money Down as You Can
The biggest secret to getting a great deal on a lease is putting down as much money upfront as you can realistically afford to. While a low down payment may feel like a good deal, you’ll generally pay much more in the course of the lease than you would if you put more down upfront. This minimizes your payments in the long-term.
Mind Your Mileage
The fees for going over your mileage allotment can be steep–often in the range of $0.25 per mile. If you know that you’re going to want to drive more than your lease dictates, consider asking about buying more mileage upfront.
If you know that you won’t need as many miles as the lease stipulates, consider trying to negotiate a lower monthly payment by slashing the mileage.
Are Lease Specials Worth It?
From time to time, you might see a special offer that could make leasing a vehicle seem worth it. Typically, a lease special will advertise a lower monthly payment or a reduction in upfront fees.
As with everything else, try not to be enticed by shiny photos and sparkly advertisements. You should still do the same calculations you usually would when figuring out whether or not it is affordable.