Category Archives: Leasing

Benefits of leasing

Despite aggressive low-interest financing, cash-back offers and other
purchasing incentives offered by leading auto-makers to buyers, leasing
numbers keep increasing steadily over the years. Leasing is not only an
attractive financial proposition to most auto-consumers, but also a
lifestyle and preference choice.

Benefit Number 1: Keeping up with the latest trends

Leasing is sometimes more of a personal and lifestyle choice than a
financial one. Many people are not comfortable with the idea of owning a
vehicle over a long period of time. They’d rather keep up with the latest
trends of the industry and drive the latest models every two to three
years.

Leasing a car gives you the convenience of having the latest technology
and safety innovation, such as an electronic stability system, DVD
entertainment systems and advanced stereo equipment. If you are willing to
forego ownership for the latest set of wheels, than leasing is your best
option.

Benefit Number 2: Purchasing Flexibility

Leasing also offers purchasing flexibility: it allows you to defer the
purchasing decision while using the car. You don’t have to haggle with your
mechanic over repair expenses, deal with hefty maintenance bills or worry
about a depreciating asset. Provided you can keep the vehicle in good
condition and stay within the contracted mileage allowance, you’re
effectively getting a test drive for the length of your lease.
At the end of your lease, you can purchase the vehicle or simply turn in
the keys and walk away. No questions asked.

Benefit Number 3: Cash Flow

Leasing offers many short-term benefits. It reduces your initial cash
outlay as you do not have to pay the large down payment required for car
ownership. You only pay for the depreciation on the car – only the part you
will use during your lease, not the entire vehicle. This results in lower
monthly payments and frees even more cash. This cash can be put to use more
intelligently elsewhere than the questionable investment of owning a
depreciating asset. If you are self-employed or use your car for your job,
then you can write off your leasing payment as a business expense.

Benefit Number 4: Negotiating Leverage

Although it may seem a little unorthodox in this industry, almost
everything about leasing is negotiable. If you know all the fees involved,
you can lower your monthly payments, negotiate the purchase price of the
vehicle at the end of the lease and contract additional miles on top of
your mileage limit. You can also do some shopping around and compare deals
from different auto-insurers to get the cheapest GAP insurance for your

Dealer Leasing Tricks

Too often when it comes to auto-leasing, people get so dazzled by the
myriad terms and the jargon thrown their way that they end-up paying
through the nose, relying on a dealer’s “help” than their own informed
decision.

Here is a look at some of the tricks dealers use to pad their profits and
leave the customers shelling hundreds of dollars more than the deal should
be worth.

Trick 1: Leasing always a better deal than buying

Dealers use the lure of lower-monthly payments to entice customers to sign
for long-term loans, with terms stretching for five years or more, making
the payments even lower. There are two catches with such lengthy contracts:
higher mileage, exceeding the prescribed limit, and hefty repair costs.
With
leases charging on average 10 to 20 cents a mile for any extra mile over
the agreed amount in the contract, and warranties only covering three
years, you leave yourself wide open for hefty charges for excessive
mileage and wear and tear.

Trick 2: Cheap 2-3% APR rate on your lease

The dealer is not quoting the interest rate you would be paying on your
lease; he’s rather giving you the lease money factor. Whilst similar to an
interest rate and important in determining your monthly payment, a more
accurate rate is calculated by multiplying the money factor by 24. For
example a “cheap” 3% money factor is 24 X 0.003 = 7.2%. This gives you a
better sense of what your annual interest rate on your lease contract is.

Trick 3: Stress-free early lease termination

Dealers know consumer driving needs change and they would like to have the
option of getting out of a lease commitment sometime down the road, before
their lease ends. Truth of the matter is, when you sign for a lease, you
are effectively saddled with monthly payments for the remainder of the
lease term and there is little-choice of getting out early. Lease contracts
carry hefty financial penalties for either defaulting on monthly payments
or terminating the lease earlier than the scheduled term.

To avoid being on the receiving end of such tried-and-true tricks, educate
yourself about leasing. Get down to the nitty-gritty and understand what
the leasing terms used by dealers mean. Crunch the numbers along with him
and understand how they arrived at the monthly payment figure. Don’t sign
anything until you’ve understood all the terms and your numbers much those
of the dealer. Do not let the dealer pressure you into signing; you are the
one to determine whether the agreement is right for you.

Auto Insurance and Leasing

When leasing a car, it’s easier to stick with the same company for your
auto insurance. What you don’t know, however, is that you may end up
paying too much for your coverage and it’s better to look elsewhere for
lower rates.

When you lease, the vehicle that you will drive belongs to the leasing
company. They want to make sure that their investment is covered in the
event the vehicle gets damaged, totalled or stolen. They typically want
to get covered for the difference between what your auto-insurer pays and
your outstanding leasing obligations at the time of the accident or
damage. This is called GAP, short for Guaranteed Auto Protection, and is
usually included in the leasing contract.
If your leasing company is called BMW Financial Services, Chrysler
Financial or any other finance division of an automaker, then chances are
your GAP insurance will be offered by the same lease company.

You are under no obligation to accept GAP insurance included as part of
your lease agreement. Why pay an insurance premium if you could get the
same coverage for a lower price?
Invest some time shopping by comparing quotes from other insurance
companies, including your existing one. Ask for discounts that you already
qualify for and adjust your coverage accordingly.

Lease Trading

Ever wanted to terminate your lease early, comfortable with the thought you
weren’t going to be hit with hefty fees? You can if you transfer your lease
to someone else.

Trading a lease is the best option for people who want to terminate a lease
early and don’t want to pay the large termination imposed by most lease
agents. It can also be an alternative to get out of a lease for far less
than you would otherwise pay your original lease company for extra mileage
and wear-and-tear charges that can run into the thousands of dollars.
For a small fee, you can advertise your car lease for assumption to a large
number of potential buyers on the look-out for leases on the Internet. Such
services include LeaseTrader.com, the originator of online lease-trading
and the biggest online marketplace where most lease transfers take place,
and smaller marketplaces such as BreakAlead.com and TradeAlease.com

Before swapping your lease, make sure your leasing company approves lease
transfer transactions. Caution must be exercised in choosing a lease
swapping service: make sure they facilitate the whole lease transfer
process, offer online or telephone customer-service help and registered
buyers undergo stringent credit checks.

Independent Car lease companies

To lease, you have two possible choices: either lease through a dealer’s
finance source or through an independent lease company.
A conventional dealer has a captive finance source, which can be the car
manufacturer’s financial company, such as BMW Financial Services, Honda
Motor Credit or General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), or a major
national bank such as Chase Manhattan.
Independent lease companies are no financial obligation to any single
one manufacturer financing source, but work with dealers anywhere in the
country.

So which one is better?

Conventional dealers provide better lease-deals on limited-time promotions.
Factory-subsidized cars that have subvented money factors and residuals are
very attractive lease deals and can be very hard to beat anywhere else.

Independent lease companies can offer you unbiased and professional advice
on vehicle selection regardless of make and model. This is because they are
not tied to a single manufacturer or financing source, unlike conventional
dealers who have to sell specific models. They can also be more flexible
regarding negotiating lease terms like residual value and mileage.
Ultimately, if you prefer a more personal and customer-oriented
relationship with your leasing agent, then you will do well with an
independent leasing company.

Lease Financing

For auto-consumers, crunching the numbers is one of the most difficult and
confusing aspects of leasing.
Take the finance charge on a lease for instance. Most people just don’t
understand how this is calculated on capitalised cost AND residual value
instead of just the capitalised cost. For most, it seems plainly obvious,
just as is the case when purchasing, that a charge should be levied on the
capitalised cost of the vehicle.

Well, no quite! When you lease a car, you’re only using the car over a
specified period of time with the option of buying the car. The residual
value represents the “loan balance” at the end of the lease. If you add it
to the capitalized cost and divide by two, you’ll get the average
capitalized cost outstanding over the lease term. Let us suppose you’re
leasing a car with a capitalized cost of $25,000 and a residual value of
$15,000. You average balance over the lease term, irrespective of how long
it is, is $20,000 – the sum of the two divided by two -.
Using this sum works because the money factor is the annual interest rate
devided by 24, rather than 12. Continuing with our example and assuming an
interest rate of 6% APR:
$30,000 X (6 per cent / 24) = $75
(Capitalized cost + residual value) X (interest rate / 24) = Monthly
finance charge
This finance charge is added to the depreciation charge to calculate the
monthly payments on your lease.

Auto Leasing Scams

Car-leasing has been lauded as a more attractive alternative to buying,
offering in the process the flexibility to drive a new car for less. The
reality, however, is that leasing is an option that is fraught with many
pitfalls for the average customer. Leasing regulation does not require as
much disclosure as buying a vehicle. This has given rise to many leasing
scams that trick the customer into believing they are into a good deal
when, in effect, all he is getting is a rough deal on the dealer’s terms.

Here we look at some of these common scams and how to avoid them

Artificially low interest rates:

Some dealers quote a lower interest rate when in reality it’s much
higher. They do this by either purposefully quoting the money factor as
the interest rate or calculating the loan without amortizing some closing
fees, like the security deposit, into the loan lease. Take the money
factor for example: this is typically expressed as a four decimal digit,
something like 0.004. Some dealers quote this as a 4% interest rate when
in fact you need to multiply it by 24 to get a rough idea of the interest
rate on your loan. In this example, the interest rate is a much higher 9.6%
than the “quoted” rate of 4%.
Make sure you crunch the numbers and understand the formula they use to
calculate their interest rate. Look out for any fees not factored into the
calculation. If you are not satisfied, do not enter into the lease
agreement.

Terminate your lease early for a low penalty

This is an all-time leasing scam. You ask your dealer how much you will pay
if you want to terminate your lease and he tells you: “You want to get out
early? Sure thing, you only pay an early termination fee of $300”. What he
is quoting is only the small administrative penalty of early termination,
there is a much stiffer penalty called early termination fee and this runs
into thousands of dollars.
Do not confuse the early termination administrative penalty with the
termination fee. Read the small print carefully and know exactly how much
you will get charged should you terminate your lease before its scheduled
end.

Pay for an extended warranty you don’t need

This is another shell game to inflate the dealer’s profit at your expense.
The dealer slides an extended-warranty into the deal whilst it’s already
factored into the monthly payments, or he tricks you into buying a 36-month
warranty on a 24-month lease.
You do not have to pay extra money for a warranty already built into your
payments or for one that goes well beyond your lease term.
They might slip an extended warranty in. Don’t be fooled, the warranty is
already factored in.

No security deposit

Any dealer who advertises a $0 security deposit is not telling you the
whole story. A security deposit is always factored in the lease under the
provision for disposition fees.

Leasing Glossary

In order to get a good leasing deal, you need to understand leasing jargon.
Read through this leasing glossary to get an overview of the basics:

Acquisition fee: A fee charged by a leasing company to begin a lease. Not
all leasing companies charge an acquisition fee but if charge it starts at
about $300 and is seldom negotiable.

Capitalised cost: The total selling price of the leased vehicle This also
accounts for taxes, title, license fees, acquisition fee and any optional
insurance and warranty items you elect to fold into the lease and pay
overtime rather than upfront.

Depreciation fee:
Forms part of the monthly lease payment charge and accounts for the loss
in the value of the car at the end of the lease. The vehicle’s list price
minus the expected residual value at lease end is divided by the number of
months in the lease to give the depreciation fee. Suppose you decide to
lease a vehicle with a retail price of $23,500. The leasing company
estimates that after a three year lease, the vehicle will be worth 35% of
its original retail value, or $8,225. The difference, $15,275, divided by
the number of months in the lease, 36 months, gives us the depreciation fee
($424)

GAP insurance Pays off the lease balanced if the vehicle is wrecked, stolen
or totalled.

Inception fees any fees that are due at the beginning of a lease. These
typically include a security deposit, acquisition fee, first monthly
payment, taxes and title fees.

Mileage allowance The maximum number of miles a leased vehicle can be
driven a year without incurring an excess mileage penalty. A typical
mileage allowance is 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, although this is
negotiable with your leasing company.

Mileage charges a penalty that you incur if you exceed your mileage
allowance on a leased vehicle. Typical mileage charges are 10 to 20 cents
per excess mile.

Money-factor A fractional number, such as 0.00043, used in calculating your
monthly lease payments. You can get a rough estimate of the annual
percentage rate on your lease by multiplying the money factor by 2,400. If
a dealer quotes a money factor such as 3.4 than you can get the equivalent
APR, 8.16, if you multiply by 2.4.

Residual value Residual value is the amount of money the leasing company
says your leased vehicle will be worth when your lease ends. Higher
residual values lead to lower monthly payments but higher lease-end
purchase cost if you decide to keep the vehicle.

Security deposits an up-front amount that your leasing company required at
the beginning of a lease to safeguard against non-payment. This is
generally refundable at the end of your lease.

Termination or Disposition fee The amount you have to pay the leasing
company at the end of your lease if you decide not to purchase the vehicle.

Wear-and-tear charges Extra charges you have to pay at the end of your
lease for any wear and use the leasing company considers above normal

Go green and save on your lease

Hybrid vehicles’ popularity has sharply grown from a couple of thousands
in early 2000 to close to 300, 000 by the end of 2005. The trend is
rapidly catching with the auto-leasing industry with generous tax credits
and incentives on offer if you go green.

Beginning in 2006, businesses and taxpayers who lease, or purchase, an
environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle will be eligible to
claim federal income tax credits worth thousands of dollars. Individual
states also offer generous incentives, including hybrid state tax credits,
new High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes access and discounted thruway tolls
for alternative-fuelled vehicles.
And that’s not all you can save from going green! You can now save on your
parking fees at a number of universities and some auto-insurance companies
are offering insurance discounts for hybrid-vehicle owners nationwide.

If you want to take advantage of these incentives and contribute to energy
conservation then visit HybridCenter.org and complete a personal profile
about your driving needs and habits. You will get in-depth advice on hybrid
models that would make economic sense to you and local, state and federal
incentives available where you live.