Investing and Wealth Building

When is the Best Time to Lease a Car?

Leasing a car has become an increasingly popular option for American drivers over the past decade. The appeal is clear – lower monthly payments, less commitment, and the option to switch into a new car more regularly. However, finding the best possible deal on a lease requires careful planning and timing. In this guide, we’ll explore the best time to lease a car and more key timing factors that can save you significant money when taking out an auto lease.

Overview of Car Leasing

First, let’s briefly review the basics of leasing. With a lease, you essentially “rent” a new vehicle from a dealership for a fixed period of time, usually 2-4 years. At the end of the lease, you return the car unless you choose to buy it outright. It’s worth noting that this option can be particularly advantageous if you have a junk car that you’re looking to replace. You only pay for the vehicle’s depreciation during your contract term plus some fees and interest charges.

The main benefits of leasing include:

  • Lower monthly payments compared to financing a purchase
  • Minimal down payment, sometimes $0
  • No stress about reselling or trade-in
  • Driving a new, reliable car with predictable expenses

The downsides can include:

  • Strict mileage limits with overage fees
  • Excess wear-and-tear charges
  • No equity ownership for later trade-ins or sales

So if you want flexible, affordable access to driving a newer vehicle, leasing deserves a close look. Optimizing the timing of your lease deal is key though to maximize savings against depreciation costs.

Factors That Influence Leasing Costs

factors that influence leasing cost

Several key factors impact the pricing and discount opportunities when signing a lease:

  • Interest Rates – If broader economy rates set by the Federal Reserve rise, it can translate to higher money factor charges on a lease. So locking in competitive financing when rates are lower makes good financial sense.
  • Model Year and Availability – New models often lease better when first released since predicted residual values assume the car will retain higher worth. As inventory sits or a refresh year approaches, prices tend to decline.
  • Special Offers and Rebates – Manufacturers and dealers will periodically subsidize leases with discounted financing rates, upfront cash, or lower payment options as incentives. Seasonal sales events also bring opportunities here.

Timing leasing decisions around these types of factors can certainly help you score a financially-appealing deal. But you also need to know the recurring seasonal windows that routinely offer prime lease discounts.

The Best Time of Year to Get a Good Lease Deal

the best times of year for ideal lease deals

Pinpointing exactly when dealerships and auto companies will be most motivated to cut lease pricing takes some savvy planning. But generally these are the best scenarios on the calendar to find steep lease discounts:

When New Models Are Released

Most car manufacturers refresh each vehicle model every 4-6 years, with brand new generations entering the market between July and November. When the next year’s versions launch, dealers are highly motivated clear out inventory of the previous generation.

This translates to generous lease incentives and discounted financing to move the soon-to-be outdated vehicles. By timing your lease deal hunting to model changeover months, you can take advantage of these clearance savings. You give up some feature upgrades but drive away in an essentially new car for much less.

Major Holiday Weekends

Big federal holiday weekends are prime times dealers roll out juicy lease and purchase incentives. Nationwide heavy shopping periods like Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day all lure car buyers into showrooms. To remain competitive, many join the fray by lowering lease payments or subsidizing deals on particular models.

Even as holidays approach, anticipating dealership promotions can cue you to time requests for lease quotes right in line with the best sale event offers. Being flexible to bundle a new lease with your other major shopping makes for joyful savings.

End of the Month

Like all major sales operations, auto dealers set revenue goals tied to monthly and quarterly quotas. Sales managers compensate their teams based on target achievement, while brands reward high-performing dealerships via incentive programs too.

When the calendar approaches month’s end, underperforming dealers face pressure to catch up on deliveries. That inspires last-minute lease discounts to clinch deals before tallying the numbers. Simply asking for quotes in the final week of a month can result in outsized savings in this situation.

End of the Year

Eventually every calendar flips to December, which ushers even greater urgency around sales quotas. Most dealer principals and brand executives look to finish annual targets strong with bonuses at stake. Dealerships will discount across purchases and leases to lock in contracts before New Year’s Eve.

Layer this on top of the holiday shopping mood and you find showrooms ripe for bargaining. Lease shoppers willing to wait for year-end timing often leave with the steepest savings from desperation discounts. Just be ready to move fast once you spot the right incentives since competition is high.

Tips for Finding the Best Lease

Find your best car leasing deals

Beyond well-timed requests, you can further stack advantages in your favor to ensure a winning lease deal:

  • Check Your Credit Score – Excellent credit (690+ score) unlocks the most aggressive lease pricing and incentives. Monitoring your rating lets you request quotes when your profile is strongest.
  • Research Interest Rates – Follow the Fed’s rate decisions and dealer financial offerings to time asks when financing costs sink to recent lows.
  • Compare Multiple Dealers – Important for both pricing leverage and catching timely discounts, so cast a wide initial quote net.
  • Negotiate All Fees – Scrutinize documentation/acquisition fees to chip away unnecessary costs from your effective payment.
  • Look for Layered Offers – A join promotion that bundles a competitive interest rate deal with lease cash back incentive packs a twin savings punch.

Getting preapproved financing early also asserts your serious buying power when combined with these other steps.

Can Bad Credit affect leasing?

leasing with a bad credit

Obtaining a car lease with poor credit is challenging but achievable through diligent work across a few key areas. Improving your credit score over 6-12 months combined with leveraging tactics like sizeable down payments, cosigners, specialized subprime leasing programs, and negotiating protections around score changes can help those with damaged credit secure a quality car lease.

With concerted preparation and persistence finding flexible approvers, a favorable lease agreement awaits, despite previous financial stumbles.

Reasons not to lease a car:

Leasing may also fall short if you desire flexible extended ownership terms or foresee needing a car for 5+ years. While lease durations typically cap at 4 years, loans easily spread costs over 6-8 years. Pre-paying loan depreciation upfront via leasing deprives you of a usable asset exactly when reliability matters most.

Similarly, leasing prohibits capturing a vehicle’s maximum value by selling or trading it while still holding decent worth after your driving needs end. Unless you know both exact model preferences and targeted ownership lengths, leasing’s defined constraints may not serve you well.

Carefully project your intended retention timeline before assuming a lease appropriately fits. 10 Considerable Reasons Not to Lease a Car
In this article I focused this passage on how leasing fails to provide flexible ownership duration compared to purchasing via longer-term loans.

Key Takeaways

Finding the optimal timing to begin a new car lease rests on a few key ideas to remember:

  • Model refreshes bring older generation clearance deals
  • Major federal holiday weekends spark nationwide incentives
  • Late month and December urgencies incentivize dealership discounts
  • Strong credit and rate shopping prep you to capitalize at the right moment

Essentially – blend your flexibility to align with dealer motivation intervals and you’ll lock in significant lease savings at the moment of maximum opportunity.


What is the worst time to lease a car?

The worst times are often January through March when vehicle demand is lower and dealers have less incentive to discount pricing. Some experts also warn against leasing too late into a model’s lifecycle when outdated tech or designs impending changeover may leave you with regret down the road.

How far in advance should I research lease deals?

Ideally you want to begin monitoring lease incentives and predictions on next model changes/redesigns 6-9 months before your current contract ends. This allows enough lead time to assess your options and identify the best new lease to sync with optimal discount opportunities.

Should I put money down when leasing?

In most cases, avoid large down payments when leasing. Unlike financing a purchase, extra down money rarely changes the monthly cost by much and is hard to recoup if there’s an accident or early lease termination. Putting zero or a few hundred down preserves flexibility in many lease cases.

Can I negotiate the terms of a lease?

Absolutely. Although lease contracts look fixed, many components have wiggle room if you negotiate properly. You can bargain the capitalized cost, money factor (interest), fees, lease term length, mileage allowance, and more. Get informed on fair values for your vehicle’s lease terms and politely press for concessions.

Is leasing cheaper than buying?

Over shorter ownership terms of 2-4 years, leasing generally provides lower total motoring costs than buying thanks to lower monthly payments. But for longer holding periods or higher mileage needs, buying often becomes the more affordable option despite higher payments. Crunch the numbers carefully for your situation.

Brian Morgan
Brian Morgan is an expert in loans and financial regulations. With a wealth of experience, he's a go-to authority in demystifying complex financial concepts. As a prolific writer, Brian provides valuable insights, making him a trusted guide in the ever-evolving landscape of finance.

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