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Swap a Lease: How to do a Car Lease Swap

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Whether you’re looking to get out of your current car lease or take over one, swapping a lease can offer some serious advantages. But lease swaps aren’t always easy to do. Here’s the process of swapping a car lease, as well as its pros, cons and some alternatives.

How to swap a lease as the current lessee

1. Check with your current leasing company

Some automakers don’t allow you to swap a lease. If they don’t, you do have other options to get out of a car lease early. If they do, find out what fees are involved and how much they are.

2. Advertise your lease

Tell your friends and post your lease as available on social media. You may also want to consider one of the businesses below, which connect people who want out of or into a car lease:

3. Have the new driver apply to the leasing company

The lessor will do a credit check on the person who wants to take over your lease. There may be an application fee that you could elect to cover on the other person’s behalf as an incentive.

4. Complete the paperwork and transfer the keys

If the new driver is approved, both of you will need to complete the transfer paperwork and sign on a few dotted lines. When the lease agreement is finalized, the new driver can pick up the car and the keys.

How to take over a lease if you want in

1. Find the right car lease for you

Start your search online. You may be able to find car lease takeover opportunities on sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. If you’re new to leasing or want a refresher, here’s important car leasing terminology.

2. Contact the seller

Message or talk with the current lessee to find out more about the car and the car lease. If possible, inspect the car in person or ask the seller to send detailed images, such as current photos of the odometer. Also ask if they’re offering any incentives, such as covering application or transfer fees.

3. Apply to the company

You’ll likely have to fill out a financing application form for the lessor, who’ll pull your credit report. If your credit isn’t the best, you may want to work on improving your score.

4. Sign some papers and get the keys

If you get the green light to take over the lease, you and the current lessee will need to sign a few papers, which you may be able to do completely online. Determine how you’ll pick up or receive the car with the seller. Typically, 30 days after signing, you’ll start making payments on your new lease.

Pros and cons of a lease swap

Pros of taking over a lease

  No down payment: By taking over an existing lease, you can take advantage of low monthly payments without having to offer a down payment.

  Cash incentives: A common incentive is when the current lessee offers to cover the transfer fees that a leasing company may charge, often to the tune of a few hundred dollars.

  Best terms on not-the-best credit: You generally need great credit to lease a vehicle, but you may only need good credit to take over a vehicle lease. If you are unsure what your credit score is, you can check your credit score here.

  Rights to the car: When you take over a lease, you obtain all the rights that the first lessee had, including warranty coverage and lease-end options, which can include special rebates and incentives that are offered exclusively for customers who trade in a leased car.

Things to consider when taking over a lease

  Legwork: Taking over a car lease isn’t as easy as getting a car from a dealership. You’ve got to do the legwork to find the right lease takeover, contact the current lessee and negotiate any fees.

  Timing: The exact car you want may not be available. You may have to settle for another vehicle or wait until the right car comes along.

  Potential up-front fees: You may have to pay an application fee to the leasing company, and you’re not guaranteed to be approved. The leasing company may also charge a transfer free to process all the paperwork and put your name on the lease.

  Potential lease-end fees: You could be liable for damages you didn’t cause and miles you didn’t drive if the car already has high miles and lots of wear and tear. Consider scheduling an independent inspection before you sign.

Alternatives to a lease swap

If you’re looking to ditch your wheels

Sell your car: As a lessee, you have the right to purchase the car at any point during the lease. If you find a buyer, you could buy the car from the leasing company and immediately sell it or have another person buy it through you. Here’s information on car lease buyouts.

If you’re looking for cheap wheels

Lease a used car: Rather than take over a lease, you may be able to lease a used car. Used vehicles are already less expensive than new, and used leasing could produce an especially low payment.

Buy out of state: If things are expensive in your neighborhood, look at buying a car out of state. Peer-to-peer marketplaces, such as Craigslist or eBay, may have some great deals. If you’re concerned about buying online, read more about how to avoid car scams on Craigslist.

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