Car leasing is on the upswing, with about one in four drivers choosing to lease a vehicle.
Most experts agree leasing ends up being more expensive. A comparison by Edmunds.com found that it costs $10,637 more to lease a new car over five years than to buy one.
But some people prefer leasing for a variety of reasons, such as always driving a car that’s under warranty.
“It does make more expensive cars more affordable in some instances. A lot of businesses lease. There are more tax advantages to do so,’’ said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com, in Cincinnati.
About half of those who sign a lease decide they’d like to terminate it early, which requires them to pay a penalty.
That’s where Swapalease comes in. It matches people who want to get out of leases with those who want to get into one.
“We are adamant about making sure the original lessee and the new lessee go through the proper procedures. We help them facilitate that,” Hall said.
Lease buyers pay Swapalease a $50 lifetime membership fee. Lease sellers can choose from three packages costing $59.95, $99, and $199, with varying levels of exposure on the website.
Leasetrader.com is a similar business where people can transfer or ‘‘sublet’’ their lease to someone.
People who like to switch cars often and want to always be driving a new vehicle may find leasing suits them.
When considering a lease, negotiate the terms as if you were buying the vehicle. Everything’s negotiable, from the purchase-option price to the mileage limit and down payment. A lower value can reduce your monthly payment. The government offers a guide on leasing at federalreserve.gov.
Carbuyingtips.com advises that consumers’ biggest complaint about car leases is getting the dealer to reveal the interest rate, known as the ‘‘lease money factor.’’ If the dealer refuses to tell you, go elsewhere.
Two aspects of leasing, in particular, can result in big expenses when the lease ends. The standard mileage allotment is 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, with some as low as 10,000. The penalty for exceeding the lease allotment can be steep.
‘‘One of the possible negatives is mileage restrictions,’’ Hall said. ‘‘That can be structured to meet your needs up front.’’
The leased car is not yours, so when you turn it in, you have to pay for any ‘‘excessive’’ wear and tear. The standards for excessive wear, such as body damage or worn tires, are in your lease agreement.
Under the federal Consumer Leasing Act, the consumer has a right to information about the costs and terms of a lease including:
■ The agreed-upon value of the vehicle, and upfront payments.
■ The length of the lease, and any end-of-lease fees and charges.
■ The mileage allowed and per-mile charges for excess miles.
■ The option to purchase either at lease-end or earlier.
■ Whether the lease includes Guaranteed Auto Protection insurance coverage, which protects you if the vehicle is stolen or totaled in an accident.