The Pros & Cons of Leasing a Low Mileage Car

by Shanan Miller ; Updated July 27, 2017

Low mileage leasing offers a lower lease payment. Leasing is based on expected depreciation, so if you choose to take a lower mileage option, the vehicle won’t depreciate as fast. Before pursuing a low mileage lease, consider your driving habits, vehicle needs and the financial repercussions of going over your contracted mileage allowance.

Lower Monthly Payment

A lower monthly payment is the ultimate benefit of a low mileage lease. Leasing is based on the vehicle's depreciation, which is affected by the term and mileage you choose. For example, a leasing bank might assume that a three-year old vehicle with 30,000 miles on it might depreciate by 48 percent during the lease term. The same vehicle with 36,000 miles on it depreciates more, so the depreciation percentage, or the amount you pay for during the lease, increases along with your monthly payment.

Driving Habits

As long as your low mileage lease matches your driving habits, the option is beneficial. A low mileage lease may not suit someone with irregular driving habits. A lower mileage allowance, such as 10,000 miles per year, may prove hard to maintain, as it offers less than 1,000 miles per month. To benefit from the low-mileage option, your driving habits should be stable. If you commute to work, constantly drive your family around or are unsure about your future job or house location, you might want to increase your mileage to avoid potential penalties.

Mileage Penalties

Because your lease is based on expected deprecation, going over your mileage allowance results in penalty fees. The amount a leasing bank might charge differs, but expect to pay anywhere from 10 to 18 cents per mile over your contracted mileage allowance. This can prove expensive if you go over your mileage substantially. For example, if you exceed your allowance by 6,000 miles, you may pay between $600 and $1,080 in penalty fees, based on 10 to 18 cents per mile charges. You must pay the leasing bank for the fees; otherwise, non-payment is reported to the credit bureaus.

Considerations

If you question whether you can meet the mileage requirements for your lease, adjust the mileage to match your driving habits. Rather than limit your vehicle use to obtain a low monthly payment, check price differences for 12,000 or 15,000 miles per year. The cost to increase your mileage allowance is not substantial; it may cost you less than $10 a month to increase the leasing mileage allowance. Ask your dealer to show you the monthly payment for both.

About the Author

Shanan Miller covers automotive and insurance topics for various websites, blogs and dealerships. She has extensive automotive experience, including auction, insurance, finance, service and management positions. Miller has worked for dealer sales events around the United States and now stays local as a sales and leasing consultant for a dealership.