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How to Get Out of a Car Lease

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 04, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Maybe the car you drove off the lot isn't what you need anymore, or maybe the monthly lease payment isn't something you can afford. But after signing all of that paperwork, is there any way to get out of a car lease early without having to pay an arm and a leg to do it?

As it happens, there's more than one way to terminate a car lease, each having its own costs and benefits.

Switch Your Lease

Transferring your lease to someone else is perhaps the cheapest way to get out of a car lease, but it may not be the easiest. By transferring your lease to another party, you may avoid any termination fees.

While there are a few websites that allow you to post your lease, where others can search for leases to take over, it may be difficult to find someone willing to take over your car and the payments. Transferring your lease might save you some money, but it may not save you much time. Also, you should check the terms and conditions of your lease, as some companies don't allow transfers.

Swap Your Ride

If you're simply looking for a different car, you may be able to return your current vehicle early and roll the payments into a new car. While this may avoid termination fees, you may still owe money on the previous vehicle, which could keep your monthly payments high.

Surrender Your Wheels

Simply returning the car is probably your most painful option. There are two ways of giving the car back to the dealer, and neither is financially appealing.

First, you could return the car to the dealership and request an end to the lease. However, you will likely have to pay an early return penalty and you may still be on the hook for the rest of the lease payments. Or, you could request a voluntary repossession, in which the dealer takes back the car. While this costs less money up front, repossession will likely hurt your credit score.

Make sure you read any lease terms carefully and be certain of your financial situation before signing a lease or a lease termination agreement.

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