Car buying services such as Edmunds are a great way to get ready-made new-car deals without all the stress and uncertainty of long negotiations with tireless car dealer salespeople. We also recommend Car Deal Finder. Get as many quotes as you can to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
How it works
Understand that these services don’t actually sell cars. Only licensed car dealers can do that. What they do is work with such dealers nationwide to provide a written guaranteed price that can be redeemed at a participating dealer, without the need for further negotiation. The prices are often better than most customers could get on their own.
The services are free to potential car buyers and are especially valuable to those who know little about how cars are priced and how to determine a fair buying price. Novice buyers often want to negotiate monthly payments, which not a good way to get a good deal. Dealers can manipulate a car deal to create just the right payment for a customer, but when the deal is examined closely, it can be a terrible deal and worse than deals negotiated by more savvy customers.
What about leasing, not buying?
But for those who are interested in leasing, not buying, the question arises: “How can I use a car buying service if I want to lease?”
Since car buying services are designed for people looking to purchase a car, it’s not immediately obvious how they might be used for someone who is interested in leasing a car.
First, if you’ve visited other parts of the web site, you may know that vehicle price is the most important factor of a good lease deal. This means discounted price, not full sticker price.
The discounted prices offered through car buying services can apply directly to leasing. The same price can be used to either buy a car, or lease the same car.
Having said the above, there is one exception. Sometimes, when you receive a low price offer from a car buying service, that price contains not only a dealer-provided discount but also a rebate or bonus from the dealer’s car company as part of a limited-time promotional incentive. Frequently, that rebate or bonus is only available to customers who want to purchase, not lease. The same car company may be offering an alternative lease deal that already has the rebate or price discount built-in.
So what to do?
Always get a price quote from one or more car buying services for any vehicle you think you want to lease. If the price doesn’t include a car company restricted rebate or bonus, then that’s the price you can base your lease on, without need for haggling. If the price does contain a restricted rebate, then ask the dealer if there’s a corresponding promotional lease offer that would be a better deal for you.
Keep in mind that if you find that there is a promotional lease deal that you like, it will require a high credit score. If you don’t know your most current credit score, you should get it before visiting your dealer. You can see your current credit report and FICO® score from Experian. This will allow you to have a good sense of whether you’ll qualify for the deal.