How to Lease a Car With Less Than Perfect Credit

If your credit history reflects negative entries such as late payments on debts, credit card charge-offs or a bankruptcy, this will leave you with a much lower credit score than someone who pays all debts on time and has never had to file for bankruptcy. When you attempt to lease a vehicle, the automobile dealership will pull your credit score to determine the risk it will incur by allowing you to lease the car. Having less-than-perfect credit, however, will not bar you from ever getting a vehicle lease. There are steps you can take to increase your odds of being approved for the lease that you want.

Check your credit score before the car dealer does. It is important that you know what your buying power is. Always check your credit report thoroughly for any derogatory information that is either too old to still appear on your report or that you do not recognize. Requesting that the credit bureaus remove this information will increase your credit score and, in turn, increase your chances for a lease approval.

Choose the right type of car. As a rule, dealerships that offer American cars tend to have stricter credit requirements than dealerships offering foreign alternatives. Given that most car companies have comparable models, trying to find something you like and can be comfortable with at a Nissan dealership rather than a Ford dealership may be in your best interest.

Evaluate the various financing options available to you. You do not have to finance your lease through the dealership that offers the vehicle. Your bank, credit card company or even an online financier can finance your lease. Regardless of how high or low your credit score may be, it benefits you to shop around for the lowest rate.

Talk to your dealer about ways to decrease your risk factors and gain approval for a lease contract. Offer to make a larger down payment on the lease or secure a co-signer with good credit. Often a dealer will make concessions if you provide him with a good reason to do so.

Consider taking over someone else’s unwanted lease. Websites like specialize in connecting those who need a lease with those who need to get out of one. You will need to be approved to take over the lease, but the credit score requirements are often more lenient for an individual taking over a lease than an individual who initiates one.


  • Do not forget to budget for car insurance and regular maintenance on your vehicle.


  • Only lease a car if you are reasonably certain that you will want the car for the entire lease term. Some lease contracts do not allow you to transfer a vehicle to someone else, and you could end up with an exorbitant break lease fee.