Can You Lease A Car With Bad Credit?

Cars! They get you from one place to another place. Sometimes that other place is work. If you have a job and you don’t live within walking distance or close to good public transportation, you’ll probably need a car to get there!

But we don’t have to tell you that cars are important. And we don’t have to tell you that they’re expensive either. That’s why many people choose to lease a car instead of buying it outright. And then you’ll only have to commit to a few years.

But what if your credit isn’t so hot? Can you still lease a car? And should you?

How does leasing a car work?

First of all, it’s important to understand that when you lease a car, you in no way own that car. It’s essentially the equivalent to renting an apartment. Much like renting an apartment, there are pros and cons to leasing. The main disadvantage is that you aren’t building any equity in the thing you’re leasing, so once that lease is up, you won’t have anything to show for all the money you’ve spent. However, unlike a house or apartment which might increase in value, especially with renovations, cars are notorious for very quickly losing their value. So it might not be that much of a downside, comparatively.

And there are advantages to leasing. Aside from the shorter commitment we alluded to earlier, you may not be fully on the hook for repairs. Although you’ll still need insurance, you may be able to bring a lease back to the dealer for certain repairs, just like you can have a super fix a problem at your apartment. Eventually.

So if you are approved for a lease, you’ll sign on for the length of time you’d like to lease the car, and then make your monthly payments. You’ll also likely have a limited number of miles you can drive each year you have the lease or else you’ll have to pay an additional fee.

But how will your credit influence your chances of being approved for the lease?

Credit cars. 

Unless your credit is in a really bad place, you’ll probably be able to get some kind of lease. But it’s going to be less than ideal to say the least.“Most people think of their credit score as a black and white number, but having a bad credit reputation is more of a gray area,” advised Jonas Sickler, marketing director for (@repmgmt_com). “Your credit score can be lowered by a number of factors that won’t affect your ability to lease a car. What will? Bankruptcy, more than 90 days of credit card delinquency and recent charge-offs will all raise flags when you sit down to discuss financing. Still, some companies are willing to overlook a tawdry credit reputation if you’ve turned things around and have a steady income source. However, you’ll pay more for your past indiscretions with a much higher rate.”

But is it a good idea?

Assuming your credit isn’t so bad that you’re denied a lease outright, are the increased rates Sickler mentioned worth it? Or are their better methods to get a car out there?

Walter Zeiss (@WalterZeiss), public relations lead for offered a couple notes in favor of leasing with less than great credit, assuming you’re able to make all of your payments: “Your bad credit will begin to eventually improve. Generally speaking lease repayments tend to be somewhat cheaper than auto loan repayments, so leasing could be a good short term alternative.”

But he also outlined the downsides: “Leasing isn’t the best option to improve your credit rating, auto loans will actually do a better job at improving your bad credit rating faster. Most likely you’ll need to pay a large upfront fee before beginning the lease. Your credit rating is an indicator of how you behave and manage your finances, so taking on a large financial burden probably isn’t the best idea. You still won’t own the car, so you would be much better off saving up and purchasing your own car outright and avoiding high interest fees. Bottom Line: While leasing a car with a bad credit rating is completely 100% achievable, there is much more sense in trying to get an auto loan or go one step further and save up to purchase your own car instead.”

Okay, but I really want to… 

If you do decide you want to lease a car anyway, there are steps you can take to make it better for yourself while you’re still working on your credit.

Sam Olmsted, writer and consultant for Superior Honda, told us what some of those steps are: “Although it’s not ideal, leasing a car with bad credit is possible. The simplest course of action is to wait and strive to build up your credit so that you’re in the best financial position before committing yourself to a contract. However, if you need to lease a car quickly, here are some tips:

“Save cash – Chances are your dealer will require a larger cash down payment to mitigate their risk if you have bad credit.

“Be prepared to pay more – Good credit scores instill trust in the transaction and lead to lower interest rates. Those with bad credit will likely have to pay a higher interest rate.

“Research lease takeovers – For those who are having trouble leasing a car due to bad credit, it is possible to take over another person’s lease. Typically, these takeovers don’t require such a strict credit check, though they may be done by a third party and not a dealer.”

Whether you decide to lease a car or go a different direction, it’s important to know what you’ll be getting into. Now happy driving and enjoy these related posts from OppLoans:

How have you dealt with transportation and financial issues? Have you ever taken out a bad credit loan to fund a vehicle? We want to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Jonas Sickler is responsible for building and executing the digital marketing strategy at (@repmgmt_com). The broad scope of his role encompasses strategic content creation, web analytics, and developing and deploying targeted digital campaigns from concept to completion.
Walter Zeiss (@WalterZeiss) is the public relations lead over at, where he heads up a small team of eager writers and content creators. In his spare time he’s a car enthusiast that likes to spend his time consuming the latest info about high-tech cars and seeing as much motorsport as he can.
Sam Olmsted is a writer and researcher for Superior Honda, a new and used car dealership outside of New Orleans, LA. Sam researches the automotive industry’s top trends and latest news. He spends time writing about the latest car releases, newest technological features and upgrades, the best tips and tricks on vehicle maintenance and servicing, and more. Sam also works to create marketing materials and promote the dealership online on a variety of platforms.

The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.