You must be at least 18 years old to lease a car, and some leasing companies may have additional restrictions on who can drive leased vehicles. Because a lease is a legal contract -- and minors are restricted in their ability to sign contracts -- car-leasing companies have strict rules when it comes to those under 18.
Potential Age-Limit Exceptions
Some leasing companies allow teenagers to drive leased vehicles, but a parent must sign the lease. In some instances, this parent signs as a co-lessee on the leasing contract. If the intent of the lease is for a person younger than 18 to drive the vehicle, parents should check with a leasing company before signing. Some lessors don't allow anyone under 18 to drive the vehicle. Others require that you ask permission and have the teen included as a named driver on the lease. Typically, any vehicle lease restricts driving to the lessee -- or the lessee and his spouse -- without expressed permission.
Other Leasing Conditions to Consider
Beyond contract limitations, a lease for a person younger than 18 is often impractical, according to LeaseGuide.com. Leases normally restrict mileage to about 12,000 per year, which won't work for a teen driver who is active. There is also a lot of pressure on the lessee to keep the car in good condition, as repairs must be paid for and completed prior to returning the car and the end of the contract term. You can't modify a leased car either, so a teen who wants a souped-up speaker system or chrome wheels is out of luck.
Leasing vs. Buying
For young adults, 18 and older, leasing has become a more popular choice relative to buying, according to an April 2013 Fox Business article. The portion of young adults buying new cars began to decline sharply after 2007 as leasing became a more common way to obtain a vehicle.
Another major deterrent to leasing a car before age 18 is the potential for high insurance rates. LeaseGuide.com noted that leasing companies usually require fairly extensive insurance coverage, which is expensive on a teen driver.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Should I Know About the Differences Between Leasing and Buying a Vehicle?" Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Merriam-Webster. "Lease." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- AARP. "To Buy or Not To Buy." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What is a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)?" Accessed April 12, 2020.
- LeaseGuide.com. "Capitalized Cost – Cap Cost." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Autotrader. "Leasing a Car: Can You Negotiate the Price?" Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Edmunds. "The 'Residual Value' of Leasing." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Federal Reserve. "Keys to Vehicle Leasing: Future Value." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- LeaseGuide.com. "Money Factor—Explained." Accessed April 12, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Financing or Leasing a Car." April 12, 2020.
- Federal Reserve. "Keys to Vehicle Leasing: End-of-Lease Costs: Closed-End Leases." Accessed April 12, 2020.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.