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How to Get Out of a Car Lease: 6 Easy Ways

While car leases can be a good way to try a vehicle out, what if you don't end up liking it? With leases lasting years, you may suddenly find yourself trapped behind the wheel of a car you can't stand. Unfortunately, the procedure to get out of a car lease can involve obnoxious paperwork, exorbitant fees, and even affect your credit. Luckily there are a few ways you can make this process simple and easy.

6 Ways to Get Out of a Car Lease Early

Way #1: Buyout the Lease

One option you can consider to get out of a lease early is to attempt a lease buyout: this involves purchasing the vehicle and reselling it to another dealership or private party. Most dealerships will discuss lease buyout options during initial term negotiations, with some only offering a buyout once you have reached the end of your contract. This isn't always an immutable clause in your contract though, and you may be able to discuss a mid-lease buyout later if you find yourself growing tired of your car. We recommend you check the current market price of your vehicle through our Vehicle History Report and compare it to the amount you still owe on the lease plus the buyout price. This will tell you how much you may lose or sometimes even gain from an early buyout.


  • With this method, it's possible you end up making money instead of losing it.
  • Terms usually exist within the contract to facilitate this process, making it easier.


  • Effort is required to sell the car; if you are looking for the quick way to get out of a car lease, this may not be the option for you.
  • While unlikely, it's possible that you can't find a viable buyer for the car. If you are operating within a certain time-frame, keeping the car on the market may test your patience.

Way #2: Transfer the Lease

Another way to get out of a car lease you can't afford is to attempt a lease transfer. This involves moving ownership of the lease to another party who then takes over responsibility for the vehicle and associated payments. Not all lenders will approve a lease transfer, so you'll need to discuss what circumstances have led to your current situation. Read through your lease agreement carefully to find any sections relating directly to transfers and see if you qualify. If you read the agreement but still aren't sure, contact your lender and discuss with them what your options are.


  • Transferring a lease can be significantly cheaper than paying an early termination fee.
  • Usually this is a much faster option than buying the lease out and selling the vehicle.


  • It's possible that a lease transfer isn't viable through your lender.
  • While not always the case, some contracts include a cause requiring the payment of a transfer fee, increasing the cost of getting out of your car lease.

Way #3: Negotiate With Dealership

Sometimes the best way to get out of a car lease is to simply go talk with the dealership (or whatever entity you are leasing the vehicle through.) Talk with them about the issues you are having and see if you can come to a reasonable solution that works for all parties. It's possible you may be able to find a way to get out of the lease; if not, you can discuss whether they would be willing to lower your monthly payments, or even better, suspend them temporarily until your financial situation improves. While more manageable payments won't release you from your contract, it will relieve the stress a bit and give you time to figure out what to do long-term.


  • If your discussion goes well enough (and you explain your situation thoroughly to an understanding representative) you may get out of the lease at next to no cost.
  • Negotiating can often lead to far more favorable terms; while it can't always get you out of the lease, it may very well lead to much more reasonable payments.


  • Asymmetric information. The dealership always knows more about your car make/model/year demand and market situation. If you can come to this conversation prepared, by exploring the goodcar.com tools such as Lease Calculator, Vehicle History Reports and Residual Values forecast, it could greatly help you in this conversation.
  • If the dealership isn't willing to work with you, this method could result in no change to your current situation
  • It's not always beneficial to let a lender know you are in a difficult financial situation; while some representatives may be sympathetic, others may see it as a red flag that you could be at risk of defaulting on your loan

Way #4: rade the Leased Car

If the main issue you have is with the vehicle, not the payments, trading the car may be your best course of action. Some dealerships will offer vehicle trade-ins that utilize similar lease terms, allowing you to choose a car that meets your specific needs. It's possible you may have to pay a small fee, but often this can be rolled into the monthly payments you'll make on the new leased vehicle.


  • This option is great if your main issue isn't so much the payments as it is the vehicle itself. Assembling a list of what you want in a car, especially after driving one you don't like, can lead to a much more satisfying lease experience.
  • It's possible to get a trade credit with this method, which may even result in you gaining money on the transaction (not in your pocket mind you, this would simply take cost out of a new lease with the same dealer).


  • You may find yourself disliking your new vehicle, meaning you didn't find the root problem you had with the original lease.
  • If there have been any changes to your credit since your lease began, it's possible you don't qualify for a new lease at all. If you do, you may find yourself making even higher monthly payments than you are currently.

Way #5: Pay the Penalty

It's not the most attractive option, but one way to get out of a car lease is to just pay the early termination fee. Your contract will most likely include a set number for termination that will be paid upon the vehicle's return. Prepare yourself for a significant termination fee and the possibility of added costs due to changes in the vehicle's value. If the car has depreciated in value, you may end up paying more than you would by seeing your lease until the end.


  • This option will be incredibly simple; this scenario is planned for in your lease terms, and your dealership will be able to walk you through the process with ease.
  • If the car has appreciated in value, it's possible you could even make a small amount of money by leaving the lease early.


  • The vast majority of the time you will end up paying a significant amount for your early termination fee.
  • Unless you have another way to get around, you are left without a means of transportation and less money to find a new one.

Way #6: Default on the Loan

The absolute worst option you can choose to get out of your lease is to default on your loan. Yes, this technically gets you out of your car lease, and one could argue it is the easiest way to do so. While defaulting is low effort initially, it will result in significant consequences later on. A default can destroy your credit score, making it incredibly difficult to rebuild. This will make getting loans near impossible in the future and may even lead to the repossession of personal property.


  • Although it's easy, it's not a great option.


  • Destroys your credit.
  • Will make getting another lease incredibly difficult.
  • Ethically questionable.
  • Could lead to property repossession.
  • Creditors will constantly try to contact you.
  • You won't have a car anymore.

Getting Out of a Car Lease Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Out of a Car Lease Without a Penalty?

Buying out your car lease or trading in your vehicle are two ways to get out of car lease without a penalty. Discuss with your dealership what your options are for a fee-free lease exit; otherwise, be prepared to pay your pre-agreed upon early termination fee.

How Do I Get Out of a Car Lease during COVID ?

If you don't feel comfortable going into your dealership during COVID, you can contact them on the phone or electronically to discuss getting out of your car lease. Most businesses have online accommodations for many of their day-to-day services, and a customer service representative can likely walk you through these procedures.

What if I Can't Afford My Car Lease?

If you can't afford your car lease you'll need to talk to your dealership or lender about your options. You can sometimes negotiate lower monthly payments or a temporary suspension of payments, which can give you time to recalibrate your financial situation.

How Can I Get Out of My Car Lease Without Ruining My Credit?

The main way that getting out of a car lease can affect your credit is by defaulting. As long as you discuss a legitimate lease exit with your dealership and follow a set procedure, your credit should remain unharmed. If you cease payments, however, your credit score will almost certainly significantly drop.

What Should I Do Before Leasing a Car?

Before leasing a new or used car, or any vehicle purchase, you'll want to do significant research. The best way to do this is by getting a vehicle history report. Be sure to use GoodCar's Car Lease Calculator and Car Loan Calculator before leasing or buying any vehicle. These comprehensive reports can provide you with multiple details about your car, including:

  • Accident history
  • Manufacturing origin
  • Whether it's been stolen or used in a crime
  • List of recalls
  • Vehicle value & residual values.