AOL Autos reporter Bengt Halvorson offers consumers struggling with sky-high lease payments some advice on how to get out of their leases. According to Halvorson, simply breaking the lease and going the "voluntary repossession route isn't the best option because it can hurt your credit score quite a bit."
His alternatives, unfortunately, leave quite a bit to be desired: "If you do think you'll have a job a year from now, your lease is just a few months from ending, and your credit-card limits are high, you might want to consider simply paying off the remainder of the lease (the sum of all the payments yet due) on a credit card. You will of course be paying a lot of interest over the long run, but you'll be free of costly insurance payments on the newer vehicle and provided you can maintain your card payments you won't destroy your credit as you would going deadbeat on the lease."
The problem? Oh, where do I begin? Dramatically increasing the amount of credit card debt you carry can also hurt your credit score. And "if you think you'll have a job a year from now?" If you are so great at predicting your financial future, how come you ended up with a lease payment you can't afford? Borrowing money in anticipation of a brighter future is very, very, very rarely a ticket to sound financial footing.
His best alternative to a voluntary repossession involves finding someone willing to take over your lease: but in the current car market, that might not be so easy.
In the end, handing the keys back to the dealer might be the only way to emerge from the mess of your creation without adding to your already problematic debt load. And for that, taking a hit to your FICO score might be a small price to pay.
It might not be such a bad idea to stop relying on credit to finance your lifestyle, since it doesn't seem to have worked out so well so far.
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