HOUSTON - If you have a high monthly car lease payment and need to cut costs, one way to do it is to find a driver to take over your lease.
A company called SwapALease says they've seen a 71% increase in people looking to unload auto leases since the pandemic began.
Maybe you leased an expensive car before the crisis began, but you can't afford it anymore. Most leases will let you transfer the lease to someone else so that you don't have to keep paying it.
"We had a huge uptick in people looking to get out of their lease," said Scot Hall, Executive Vice President of Operations at www.Swapalease.com
You can turn a leased vehicle back into the dealership, but that can cost you.
"If they wanted to simply trade-in that lease or sell that lease, they might find themselves in a negative equity position or underwater, if you will," explained Hall.
Instead, SwapALease matches leasees with people who want to takeover a lease. The company reports the biggest increase in swaps right now on the BMW 5 Series, Ford Expeditions, and Lexus GX 460's.
"People have maybe had their hours cut back, maybe they've lost their job unfortunately and can no longer pay for that lease that they've got," said Hall.
It can pay to take over a lease, such as avoiding a down payment, having a shorter lease term, or the vehicle is still under warranty.
For the lease holder, Hall says SwapALease charges a one-time $60 membership fee and advertising packages start at $100. He says the buyer usually pays a $100 credit check fee and a $200 to $300 transfer fee.
Hall says the process usually takes a couple of weeks and the company helps with the paperwork.
"We've definitely run across folks where they're very relieved they can get out of their lease for relatively little money. It won't hurt their credit in any way shape or form," said Hall.
There are several lease swapping companies to choose from. Nerdwallet also suggests leasees can consider buying and then selling the vehicle, or trading it in for a less expensive model.