Can you end a car lease early?
Yes. If you want to break your car lease early, the lease may allow you to do so by returning the leased car early to the dealer and paying the early car lease termination fee required by your lease terms.
Car lease termination fee
In most cases, the car lease termination fee may include a set dollar amount fee plus the difference between the lease balance and the vehicle's value. So depending on how much time remains on your lease, it may cost more to terminate your contract than it would to continue making your monthly payments until the end of the term. Your contract should have details about how much it will cost to end your lease early.
Other ways to get out of a car lease early
If you can't afford to pay your car lease's early termination fees, consider these alternatives to breaking your car lease early:
Buy out the lease and sell the car
Many lease contracts include a buyout option that allows you to purchase the car at the end of the lease or possibly even before then. If you're allowed to buy out the lease before it's over, you'll be responsible for paying the rest of the lease payments and fees and the residual value of the vehicle.
After purchasing the car, you can put it up for sale to recoup your money. If the leased car can be sold for more than the residual value you paid for it, you may be able to sell it for an amount comparable to what you paid the leasing company. If it's worth less than the residual value, you may not get all your money back in the sale. Learn more about if you should buy out your car lease.
Roll your payments into a new car lease
If you're planning to lease a new car after you get out of your current contract, you may be able to roll over your remaining lease payments into a new lease. This will increase the monthly payments on your new lease, and you may end up paying more than the new leased car is worth. Learn about car insurance for a leased car and check out our leasing vs. buying a car calculator.
Transfer the car lease to someone else
Many — but not all — leasing companies allow you to transfer your lease to another person. Read your contract to find out if yours will let you. Transferring the lease is typically the most cost-effective way to get out of your lease, but you'll need to find someone to take it over. Online services, such as Leasetrader and Swapalease, help people who want to get out of a lease find people who want to take over one. These sites charge a fee, but you'll typically pay a lot less to list your vehicle than you would to terminate your car lease.
When you transfer a lease to another person, they become legally responsible for making the payments for the remainder of the contract. Depending on the terms of the transfer, your responsibility might end when the lease transfers. However, some leasing companies may require you to serve as a co-signer on car insurance. If you're a co-signer, you'll be responsible for the payments if the new lessee doesn't make them.