If you leased a car that you don't need but still have a significant amount of time left in the contract, you may be considering getting out of the lease. Unfortunately, you can’t simply return the car to the dealership penalty-free, but you may be able to get out of the lease without damaging your credit score. There are a few different actions you can take, depending on the terms of your lease and your individual situation.
Find a new owner to take over your lease, if your contract permits transferring. You’ll have to pay a transfer fee, but your credit will not be impacted. Lease trading like Swapalease.com, LeaseTrade.com and LeaseTrader.com serve as an intermediary between lease holders who want to get out of their lease and people interested in taking over a lease.
Pay off the remainder of the lease if you’re financially equipped to do so. Expect to pay the balance and an early termination fee.
Enter into an agreement to lease a different car from the same dealership in exchange for getting rid of the car you’re currently driving. Know how much equity there is in your current car, because if there’s negative equity, the remaining balance you owe may be rolled into your new lease, resulting in enormous monthly payments.
Check the terms of your lease to ensure you're free from all obligations to the vehicle after the transfer is completed. For example, you don't want to be held liable if the new lessee stops making payments. Review your credit score 30 days after you've gotten out of your lease to make sure it didn't take a hit.
- CarsDirect: Terminating a New Car Lease Early
- Mint.com: How to Get Out of a Car Lease
- Money-Zine: Terminating a Car Lease
- Insurance Information Institute. "Understand Your Car Insurance Obligations for a Leased Vehicle." Accessed Sept. 21, 2020.
- Insurance Information Institute. "Automobile Financial Responsibility Laws By State." Accessed Sept. 21, 2020.
- Check the terms of your lease to ensure you're free from all obligations to the vehicle after the transfer is completed. For example, you don't want to be held liable if the new lessee stops making payments.
- Review your credit score 30 days after you've gotten out of your lease to make sure it didn't take a hit.
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.