Leasing a car instead of financing one can offer a lot of perks and benefits. You'll have a lower monthly payment, you aren't likely to run into repair issues and you get a new car more often than if you bought a vehicle. One caveat in leasing is the mileage restriction. Go over your allotted amount and you'll pay a fee for every extra mile on the odometer.
Just like when buying a car, there's room for negotiation when you discuss lease terms with a dealer. While some leases limit you to about 12,000 miles a year, it’s possible to get a higher number. Expect to pay a little more for that figure as the additional wear and tear reduces the car's residual value when you turn it in. Be careful what you ask for as there’s no refund for staying under your allotted miles.
Keep a mileage log in the car to help you stay on track. Consider budgeting a certain number of miles per month to help you stay under your prescribed limit while keeping an eye on your total. Remember, your mileage limit lasts for the life of the lease. How and when you use those miles is entirely up to you.
If you find yourself putting more miles on the car than you want, look into alternative forms of transportation to help you get back on schedule. For example, drive a different vehicle on occasion, sign up for a ride-share program, get a bicycle or take the bus or train. If you're planning a long road trip, look into renting a car as a cost-effective alternative to racking up more miles on your leased car.
At the end of your lease term you usually have the option of buying the car. This can be a smart financial move. You’re already familiar with the vehicle and its maintenance history so you’re not buying a mystery car. Buying the car also means you won't have to pay overage fees for extra miles you accumulate. You also won't have to pay extra if the dealer decides there are is excessive wear and tear on the vehicle.
Lisa McQuerrey has been an award-winning writer and author for more than 25 years. She specializes in business, finance, workplace/career and education. Publications she’s written for include Southwest Exchange and InBusiness Las Vegas.