Where Can I Swap a Lease?

Lease swaps allow you to drive a leased car for a short time without the hassle of renting it.

2018 Hyundai Elantra Value Edition Capital One

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Imagine the luxury of driving a nice car that you can enjoy for a short time while paying far less than the cost of a rental. That’s a lease swap.

With a lease swap, you’re basically assuming the balance of a lease in exchange for that short-term driving experience. The time period typically ranges from one to three years.

Unlike the bare-bones rental cars of the modern day, lease swaps’ are heavily swayed towards higher-end cars, crossovers, trucks, and SUVs.

Where can I find a lease swap?

The financing arms of major car companies such as Ford, Toyota, and General Motors advertise such lease deals, as well as private individuals who may have experienced unusual circumstances which require them to sell the vehicle. Online marketplaces such as Swapalease and Leasetrader feature deals for leases ranging from a few months to several years.

It can be a reasonable way to try out a vehicle, such as an electric vehicle (EV) or a large luxury SUV, before taking that deeper plunge into car ownership. However, like any car purchasing or leasing decision, it’s a numbers game. You need to do the math and also make sure the miles offered on the lease cover the amount of driving you typically would drive in that time period.

What should I consider before buying a lease swap?

Coming out ahead in a lease swap means you need to be numbers savvy and take the time to read the fine print.

There are three major costs you need to calculate:

  • Your monthly payment
  • The remaining length of the lease
  • Any payments required to assume the lease along with a ‘disposition’ fee

Also be aware that any damage to the vehicle that you or the prior owner inflict may become your financial responsibility—and then there’s the credit issue.

What are the potential costs of a lease swap?

If the current driver has poor credit, then the finance company is likely going to charge you a higher monthly payment than you might have obtained on your own lease. Even if you are a super-prime customer, the terms of the lease do not change.

The down payment is really nothing more than a one-time fee from the finance company just in case you have bad credit. If you have excellent credit, or at least credit as good as the current driver of that car, you shouldn’t have to pay a down payment.

What’s an example of a great deal?

Nickolas Beck, a Capital One customer, found a great deal on a well-kept Mercedes-Benz SUV.

“I took over the lease on a Mercedes GL550 which cost $102,000 when it was new. The cost was only $663 a month for 12 months, and I had a driving allowance of 25,000 miles,” Beck said.

Lease swaps can be a win-win for everyone. But success requires basic numbers crunching and the willingness to be patient. Not every deal is a good deal in the used car market, and lease swaps are no different.

What else should I do before signing the dotted line?

Always get the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic and verify that all the required maintenance is up to date. You don’t want to be the poor schlub who assumes responsibility for a car that never had its oil changed.

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Steven Lang
Steven Lang is a special contributor to Capital One with nearly two decades of experience as an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction. Some of the best-known auto publications turn to him for his expert insight. He is also the co-developer of the Long-Term Quality Index, a survey of vehicle reliability featuring over two million vehicles that have been inspected by professional mechanics.