If you took out a car lease only to find that, with a change in your circumstances, your can no longer afford your lease , you may want to check out LeaseTrader.com. The ten-year-old firm is in the business of matching drivers in the market for a short-term lease with those looking to get out of an existing one. For its trouble, the company collects a fee, of course.

The process, which has been OK'd by almost all the car manufacturer's financing departments, works this way:

  • Person A, the lease holder, posts the vehicle and details of the lease on LeaseTrader
  • Person B, who wants to pick up a vehicle on a short-time lease, selects yours
  • Person B's credit-worthiness is confirmed
  • The vehicle lease is transferred from Person A to Person B. The buyer is not required to pay an down payment to the leasing company.
  • Person A pays LeaseTracker $79 for the service and $149 for the transfer

While the average time between posting and transfer is 3-7 weeks, according to a LeaseTrader exec quoted in Advertising Age, the site is hoping to drop that significantly with a new marketing campaign. LeaseTrader claims that it has seen demand grow threefold as nervous drivers look to shorter term leases in an unstable economy.

A couple of caveats, however: people who find themselves with burdensome leases are often people who also don't understand how to negotiate favorable deals, so the lease you assume might be on the high side. You may also have to include a wide swath of the U.S. to find enough candidate vehicles; near my home, there were almost none. Extending my search to 1,000 miles found a number of them, but retrieving a vehicle from that distance would cost me something in time, mileage or shipping.

If you're looking for to get out from under your lease, or looking for a nice ride for a short commitment, this seems like an interesting alternative to consider.


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