How to Lease a Used Car

Is it possible to lease a used car?

The short answer is no — but yes, maybe.

Why not?

Beginning in October 2008, finance companies, banks, and independent car leasing companies in the U.S. virtually stopped leasing used cars. Even new-car leasing almost came to a halt. The Great Recession drove most independent car leasing companies out of business, and banks simply got out of the business altogether. Since then, used car leasing has essentially disappeared, except for some scattered high-end luxury-car leasing.

Maybe it was a good thing to happen because used car leasing, as it existed then, was never a good deal for consumers anyway.

When a lease is not a lease

Some used car dealers, particularly “buy-here-pay-here” dealers, advertise that they “lease” used vehicles, which is not true. The vehicles are sold with high-interest loans under very strict payment rules. Since these dealers don’t check customers’ credit, it may seem like a kind of rental or lease to customers who don’t know better.

Another type of used car dealer offers “rent-to-own” or “lease-to-own” vehicles, which are simply used car rentals, at very high rent rates. If a customer sticks with his contract, he will have purchased the vehicle — for considerably more money than if he had gotten a used-car loan in the beginning. These kinds of dealers aren’t common due to insurance and liability risks.

So how to get a real lease on a used car?

There is still one good way to lease used cars, and get good bargains – through a lease takeover, or lease assumption. It’s not a new lease; it’s taking over an existing lease of someone else’s now-used but almost-new car lease.

Here’s how it works.

People who are currently leasing but need to get out of the lease offer their cars and leases for taking over. Some are desperate and will not only let you take over their low lease payments, but will actually give you cash to make the deal more attractive.

Find these deals on, a company that helps “buyers” find “sellers” for a small fee, usually paid by the “seller”.

This is a great way to get a relatively new low-mileage car at a low monthly payment.

The single best way to drive a late model car at the lowest possible cost is to take over someone’s existing car lease — sometimes called a “lease swap” or a “lease trade.”

Why is a lease takeover such a good deal?

Many existing car leases were special low-payment deals that are offered regularly by car companies. Or the customer might have made a large down payment or traded a valuable vehicle to get low monthly payments. Now, some months later, the cars are still almost new and in great condition — and are being offered for takeover at the same low payment because the customer may now need to get out after losing a job or suffering other financial distress. Or they may be simply itching to get into a newer car before the end of their lease.

Most lease finance companies allow those leases to be transfered to someone else by simply paying a small transfer fee. Since the original lessee possibly got a great deal,  anyone taking over (assuming) the lease will inherit the same great deal, same low monthly payment, with NO MONEY DOWN, no upfront sales tax, and in many cases, a CASH incentive from the “seller.” There is no other way to get a late model car this cheap with payments this low.

How does a lease assumption takeover work?

Online companies such as Swapalease act as match-makers between people who want out of a lease, and people who want to take over a lease. is the largest online lease marketplace and has the largest inventory of lease takeover vehicles. Look over the vehicle listings and if you find a car you like, they help arrange the lease transfer with the lease company. The “seller” pays the fees charged by Swapalease.

Want to know more about assuming a car lease? Read our article, Short-Term Lease or Take Over a Car Lease for more details.

If a lease takeover doesn’t work out for you

If you can’t find a car you want at Swapalease, you may still be able to find a good used car at a price you can afford, especially when you have a large number of choices. We recommend Car Deal Finder as the easiest and fastest way to get real dealer prices on new and and used cars. They show you a huge inventory at dealers in your area.


While it is nearly impossible to find used-car leases today, it is still possible to take over an existing lease from someone who needs to get out due to financial difficulties. You get a late-model used car at a bargain lease rate.

Watch out for buy-here-pay-hear used-car dealers who claim to lease their vehicles. It may not be what is seems.


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