If you have no credit history or a bad credit score, leasing a car can be more of a challenge. You can still apply for a lease, but approval will depend on the dealer’s minimum requirements and even if you are approved, you will likely need to pay a higher interest rate, put money down upfront, or both.
Credit history is one of the primary factors that dealers use to assess you when you apply for a lease, with the other being your current income. Your credit score is essentially a measurement of how likely you are to pay back your debts. While a car lease may not be exactly the same as a debt, it’s similar enough that dealers will still use your credit score to determine the risk in leasing you a car.
If you don’t think you have any credit, the first thing you should do is request your credit reports from the three credit bureaus, which are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The law entitles you to one free credit report from each of these credit bureaus per year. Even though you may have done nothing to build your credit, you could still have credit from bills you’ve paid, if the companies you paid reported to the credit bureaus. It’s also a good idea to get your credit reports so you can see your credit scores and know exactly where you stand.
Next, you should look up dealers in your area and see what their minimum borrower requirements are. You may need to call them to get this information, but you can quickly find out if your credit score will meet their requirements. Keep in mind that it’s better if your score is well above their minimum, otherwise you’ll need to pay more for the lease.
If your credit score isn’t that high, you should consider spending three to six months improving it before you apply for a car lease. It could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the term of your lease. It isn’t difficult to improve your credit score as all you need to do is get into the right financial habits. You need to pay your bills on-time or early, and it’s also a good idea to get at least one credit card, use it and pay the balance off every month. Doing this will quickly improve your credit score.
There is an alternative option where you can get a good deal on a lease without a high credit score, and that’s taking over another person’s lease. Most lease contracts are transferable, and there are multiple sites online that connect people who have leases and want to get out of them with people who are looking for leases. This type of deal can benefit you and the other person. They are able to get out of their lease contract with paying penalties, and you can get a lease without a high credit score or any upfront costs. Just keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for the car once it’s transferred, so you should check that the original person on the lease didn’t damage it.
It’s always smart to get your credit score as high as possible. If you need to get a lease without a high credit score, though, it’s possible to do so. You’ll just need to shop around until you find a dealer who will approve you, and be prepared to pay a bit extra either upfront or over the term of the lease.