How to get a high-mileage lease

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In a Nutshell

A high-mileage lease allows you to drive more than the 10,000 to 15,000 miles you’re typically allotted when you lease a car. That can mean a higher monthly payment — but it may be worth it. The fees you’d pay for exceeding your lease’s mileage cap could cost a lot more. If a high-mileage lease seems too pricey but you’re worried about exceeding the limits of a regular lease, you may be better off buying a car instead.
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If you love driving a new car every few years, but you’re afraid leasing won’t work because you’ll exceed the typical mileage limits — you may want to consider a high-mileage lease.

High-mileage leases can come with a higher monthly payment, but in return you get to drive more miles than with a standard car lease.

Let’s take a look at when high-mileage leases may be a good idea, and when you should probably stay away. We’ll also give you some alternatives to consider if a high-mileage lease doesn’t fit your needs.



What is a high-mileage lease?

Most car leases come with mileage caps, usually between 10,000 to 15,000 miles a year. Going over your mileage cap can be costly, usually ranging from 10 to 25 cents per additional mile driven.

If you know you’re likely to exceed your mileage allotment, some lessors will allow you to negotiate for a higher mileage cap in what’s often referred to as a high-mileage lease. Keep in mind that a high-mileage lease will generally cost you more money. But the increase in your monthly payment can be less costly than what you’d pay in excess mileage charges.

Some lessors may even promise to refund your money for the extra miles if you don’t end up using them.

When is a high-mileage lease a good idea?

A high-mileage lease could be a good idea if you like to have a new car every few years and you drive more than the typical 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year.

Putting a lot of miles on a car causes it to depreciate faster. And if you finance your lease, this can mean higher monthly payments to help make up for the increased depreciation.

While a high-mileage lease will often cost you more than a traditional lease, it may be your ticket to walking away from the car without paying mileage overage charges when your lease is up.

When is a high-mileage lease a bad idea?

If you don’t think you’ll exceed the normal mileage cap over the life of a standard lease, a high-mileage lease probably isn’t worth the cost. Instead, you’ll likely be better off going with a more typical lease (with mileage limits on the higher end) and keeping a close eye on your odometer.

Another consideration: For higher-priced cars, you may pay less buying the vehicle than you would taking on a high-mileage lease — even after factoring in the extra depreciation cost. You’ll want to make sure that a high-mileage lease will actually save you money over the term of your financing compared to buying.

Before making a decision between leasing or buying, do the math and select the option that best works with your finances.

Not sure if a high-mileage lease is for you? Consider these alternatives.

When you lease, you’re primarily paying for depreciation costs, which can add up if you drive a lot.

If you do a lot of traveling or commuting in your car, you may want to avoid leases altogether. Instead, you may want to consider buying the car and driving it until you’ve built up some equity.

1. Purchase the car instead

Even if you know for sure that you’re going to want a new car in a few years, buying could still be a more affordable choice than leasing.

For example, let’s say that you think you’re going to put 20,000 miles a year on your car and the high-mileage lease would cost you an extra $6,000 over the life of the lease. Check out Kelley Blue Book’s car value tool to see how those miles could affect the car’s depreciation. If the extra depreciation would be less than $6,000, then the high-mileage lease is too expensive.

In this case, you might be better off financing the car and saving each month to pay the difference between what your car will be worth at trade-in and what you’ll owe.

Plus, what if you end up driving fewer miles than you anticipate? As a car owner, that can work in your favor because the vehicle may have a higher market value when you go to sell it or trade it in.

2. Buy out your car lease

Your lease contract may give you the option to buy your car from the dealership at the end of the lease. In that case, if you’ve accidentally racked up more miles than you were allowed, you can avoid excess mileage fees by buying your car outright.

Of course, this won’t work if you’re set on getting a new car. But if you’ve found during the term of your lease that you’ve fallen in love with the vehicle, you’ll enjoy the double bonus of avoiding expensive mileage charges and keeping a car you really want.


Bottom line

Before signing any lease, consider whether it fits your budget and lifestyle. Also weigh the average number of miles you drive in a typical year, how often you think you’d like to get a new car and how high of a monthly payment you can afford.

After taking everything into account, you may decide that a high-mileage lease may be a good choice. As with any financing decision, make sure that you shop around for the best deal.


About the author: Clint Proctor is a freelance writer and founder of WalletWiseGuy.com, where he writes about how students and m… Read more.