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Auto Leasing

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Fees involved in leasing

Mention auto-leasing and most people will automatically assume a low-
monthly payment. There is actually more than what meets the eye, and a
number of fees are involved at various stages of the lease process.

At the beginning of the lease, you have to pay a refundable security
deposit, typically equivalent to one monthly payment, to safeguard against
non-payment and any incidental damage done to the car at the end of the
lease. You are also required to pay an administrative charge, called
acquisition fee. Other fees include licenses, registration, title and any
state or local taxes.

During your lease, and you expected to honour your monthly payment
obligations. Any failure to do so will result in late-payment charges.
You have to pay any traffic tickets, emission and safety inspections and
ongoing maintenance costs. Ending your lease early will result in
substantial early termination charges.

At the end of the lease, expect to pay any excess mileage costs, charged
at 10 to 20 p a mile. Any incidental damage done to the car, and deemed to
be above normal, will result in excess tear-and-wear charges. Finally, if
you choose not to purchase the vehicle, then you have to pay a disposition
fee.

The residual value of leasing

If you are in the market to lease a vehicle, you will hear the term
"residual value" recur like a leitmotif. A residual value does not only
affect your monthly payments, but is equally used by leasing companies
to determine any penalties should you break your lease early and how
much to pay if you decided to buy the vehicle at the end of your lease.

Let us first start by looking at the meaning of residual value. The
term "residual value", refers to the value of something after it has
been used for some time. In leasing lingo, it refers to the
depreciation of the vehicle's value over the life of its lease.
So how does it exactly affect your monthly payments? When you lease a
car, you pay for the car's value that you use over the lease length.
Suppose you leased an $18,000 car for 2 years: the leasing company
needs to estimate the value of this car in two years time in order to know
how much of the car you will be using during your lease term. That's where
the "residual value" comes into the equation. If the residual value is
estimated to be $13,000 at the end of your lease, then your monthly
payments will be calculated on the $5,000 you will use over 24 months,
giving an average monthly payment of $208.3 (plus interest, tax and fees).
How about if the car is expected to lose half its value over the same
period? In this scenario, you will be using $9,000 over the same period,
leaving you with a higher monthly payment of $375 (plus interest, tax and
fees).

As you can see, residual values are a key factor in determining how much
money to pay on your lease and the higher the residual value, the lower
your monthly fees. This works in reverse if you build a bond with your car
and decide to purchase it at the end of your lease. If we stick with the
same example above, the lower monthly payments in the second scenario come
at the cost of paying substantially more to buy your car at the end of the
lease.

So, since the residual value is so important, how do I know which one is
best for me? Well, it all depends whether you want to purchase the car at
the end of your lease. If you don't want to make a large down payment and
you want low monthly payments, then a car that holds with a higher residual
value is a good deal. If you are thinking of purchasing the car at
lease-end, then you need to balance low-monthly payments with a moderate
residual value.

Auto Insurance and Leasing

When leasing a car, it's easier to stick with the same company for your
auto insurance. What you don't know, however, is that you may end up
paying too much for your coverage and it's better to look elsewhere for
lower rates.

When you lease, the vehicle that you will drive belongs to the leasing
company. They want to make sure that their investment is covered in the
event the vehicle gets damaged, totalled or stolen. They typically want
to get covered for the difference between what your auto-insurer pays and
your outstanding leasing obligations at the time of the accident or
damage. This is called GAP, short for Guaranteed Auto Protection, and is
usually included in the leasing contract.

If your leasing company is called BMW Financial Services, Chrysler
Financial or any other finance division of an automaker, then chances are
your GAP insurance will be offered by the same lease company.

You are under no obligation to accept GAP insurance included as part of
your lease agreement. Why pay an insurance premium if you could get the
same coverage for a lower price?
Invest some time shopping by comparing quotes from other insurance
companies, including your existing one. Ask for discounts that you already
qualify for and adjust your coverage accordingly.

Buy a car at the end of your lease

You've come to the end of your lease and you like you car enough you want
to keep it in the driveway. Just like buying a used car, there is some
research to be done to nail a good deal.

First, you need to know the cost of buying out your lease. Read the fine
print of your contract and look for the "purchase option price". This
price is set by the leasing company and usually comprises the residual
value of the car at the end of the lease plus a purchase-option fee
ranging from $300 to $500. When you signed on the dotted line, your
monthly payments were calculated as the difference between the vehicle's
sticker price and its estimated value at the end of the lease, plus a
monthly financing fee. This estimated price of the car value at the end
of the lease is what is termed in leasing jargon "residual value". It is
the expected depreciation -- or loss in value -- of the vehicle over the
scheduled-lease period. For example, a car with a sticker price of
$40,000 and a 50% residual percentage will have an estimated $20,000
value at lease end.

Now that you know the cost of buying out your lease, you need to determine
the actual value, also termed "market value", of your vehicle. So, how
much does your car retail for in the market? To pin down a good, solid
estimate you need to do some pricing research. Check the price of the
vehicle, with similar mileage and condition, with different dealers. Use
online pricing websites, such as Cars.com, Edmunds.com and Kelly Blue Book
for detailed pricing information. Gleaning pricing information from various
sources should give you a fair estimate of your vehicle's retail value.

All you have to do now is compare the two amounts. If the residual value is
lower than the actual retail value, than you're into a winner.
Unfortunately, there is a good chance a car coming off a lease is a little
on the high side.

Don't despair though. Leasing companies know as much that residual values
on their vehicles are greater than their market value and as such are
always on the look out for offers. You can knock down on the price of your
leased vehicle with some smooth negotiating tactics. Put forward a price
that is below your actual target and negotiate hard until you wind up near
that figure.

How to avoid extra costs at the end of your lease

$250 to dispose of your vehicle, $1000 for extra miles you put on the clock
and $200 to replace the light bulb and the worn tyres -- lease agents
constantly nickel-and-dime consumers when their lease runs out.
Here's a rundown of what can trigger those fees, and some steps to take in
self-defense.

Disposition fee: leasing companies charge you if you choose not to buy the
vehicle at the end of your lease. This fee is set as compensation for the
expenses of selling, or otherwise disposing of the vehicle. It typically
includes administrative charges; the dealer's cost to prepare the car for
resale and any other penalties. Make sure this fee is stated clearly in the
contract and is agreeable by you before signing on the dotted line. At
lease-end, you are left in no position to negotiate as the dealer can apply
your refundable security deposit towards this fee.

Excess mileage charges: Almost all leasing companies will charge a premium
for each mile over the agreed upon mileage stated in your contract. This
penalty can be as high as 25 cents per mile and can add up quickly. To
avoid the risk of running thousands of dollars in excess mileage penalties
at the end of your lease, always check the "per mile" charges in your
contract and be realistic about your mileage before you sign any contract.
If you think the limit is unrealistic given your commutation needs, then
negotiate with the dealer to get a higher mileage or contract for
additional miles.

Excess tear-and-wear charges: Another potential cost at the end of the
lease is any incidental damage done to the car during the lease. This is
deemed any excessive damage done to the normal tear and wear of the vehicle.
Notice the use of the terms "deemed", "excessive" and "normal". There is no
standard formula to define what's "excessive" and "normal" and it's up to
the leasing company to assess -- or deem -- the damage and determine what
they are going to charge. This leaves you at the mercy of unscrupulous
leasing agents who set stringent tear-and-wear standards. Make sure you
read the description of these standards, understand them and agree to them.
If your leased vehicle is damaged prior to the end of the lease, you may
find it cheaper to repair the damage yourself than pay the excessive charges
of the leasing agent. In the event of a dispute over the charges at the end
of your lease, get an independent third party to do a professional appraisal
detailing the amount required to repair any damaged parts or the amount by
which tear-and-wear reduces the value of the vehicle.

Using lease calculators

Want to calculate your monthly lease payment? Consider using a lease
calculator

If you are considering a car lease, then you might want to know some key
figures involved in the deal: the monthly lease payments, the overall cost
of the lease and how much savings can be made compared to purchasing the
vehicle.

A lease calculator relieves you from the stress of having to know the
complex underlying lease formulae used in calculations. You simply plug a
number of figures into the calculator and hey presto! You get a detailed
rundown of detailed payments, taxes and total lease costs.

Figures you need to get from your dealer about a specific lease you're
interested in include: capitalized cost, estimated residual value at the
end of the lease, the number of months in your lease and the money factor.
Make assumptions and change some of the figures to see how it affects your
lease payments. For instance, residual value is an "estimated" value of what
the vehicle will be worth at the end of the lease. You can input different
estimates to cover different scenarios and assumptions.

As a final note of caution, bear in mind that lease calculators only do
calculations and check the accuracy of abstract mathematical formulae. They
do not tell you whether a lease is good or bad.

Single-Payment Lease

A prepaid lease is a new type of lease which has made its foray into the
market in recent times. In this lease, consumers forego the cycle of lease
payments if they make a large payment at the beginning of the lease.

There are two amounts in a conventional lease that incur charges and
determine your monthly lease payments. First, there is a depreciation
charge which accounts for the value the car loses during the lease term.
Second is a residual amount which is the projected value of the vehicle at
the end of the lease. The sum of these two charges gives the monthly
payments on your lease.The idea behind a pre-paid lease is to eliminate the
finance charges for depreciation and only account for residual value
charges in a single, pre-paid payment at the beginning of the lease.

Single-payment leases are devised with spendthrifts in mind: no cycle of
monthly payments, a new car every two to three years and no interest in
purchasing the vehicle at the end of the lease. You should only consider
this type of lease if you are concerned about not being able to make monthly
payments and have a lot of cash upfront.

How to spot a good car lease

Leasing has been lauded as your cheapest ticket to keep up with the
industry's hottest vehicles and trends. The jury, however, is still out
on leasing: with the industry long on hype and short on detail, it is
difficult to distinguish between a genuinely good deal and a downright
up-selling exercise.

So how do you spot a good deal?

First, you need to find out if there are any down payments on the lease. A
down payment refers to the lump sum amount that you pay upfront, either in
cash, non-cash credit or trading allowance, to reduce your monthly payment.
You should think twice before putting money down on a lease: not only are
you getting a rough deal, as you're essentially forfeiting the general rule
of leasing: not putting any cash upfront, but the money is not recoupable
at the end of your lease. There is another big disadvantage: in the event
of your car getting damaged or stolen, you insurance and the gap cost will
not cover the loss.

Mileage Limit

Most leasing companies allow you a limit of 45,000 free miles over the
length of a 3-year lease. This may seem like a good deal at first sight,
but when you consider it only comes to 15,000 miles over a 12 month period
it's not difficult to foresee why it might be difficult to stay within this
limit. Even people working from home have little trouble putting 15,000
miles on their cars.

If you exceed the mileage limit, the penalty for each excess mile can be as
high as 20 cents. This can add up quickly over the length of your lease: an
additional 4,000 miles a year over the length of a 3-years lease contract,
will end up costing you an extra $2,400 in excess mileage charges!
Be realistic about your mileage needs, especially if you have to regularly
commute over long-distances, before you sign the contract. Consider padding
the miles that you expect to use since it is less expensive to contract for
the extra before you sign than it is to pay the extra charges at end of
your lease.

Sales Tax

Sales tax is usually capitalized and added to the monthly payments.
However, some dealers choose not to include it in their calculations to
drive the advertised lease payments even lower. What they do instead is
state in the small print that the monthly payment excludes "sales tax".
Make sure you carefully read the fine print for any extra, hidden costs not
included in the advertised monthly payment. Unscrupulous fees that
typically slip through the cracks include sales tax, registration and title
fees.

Benefits of leasing

Despite aggressive low-interest financing, cash-back offers and other
purchasing incentives offered by leading auto-makers to buyers, leasing
numbers keep increasing steadily over the years. Leasing is not only an
attractive financial proposition to most auto-consumers, but also a
lifestyle and preference choice.

Benefit Number 1: Keeping up with the latest trends

Leasing is sometimes more of a personal and lifestyle choice than a
financial one. Many people are not comfortable with the idea of owning a
vehicle over a long period of time. They'd rather keep up with the latest
trends of the industry and drive the latest models every two to three
years.

Leasing a car gives you the convenience of having the latest technology
and safety innovation, such as an electronic stability system, DVD
entertainment systems and advanced stereo equipment. If you are willing to
forego ownership for the latest set of wheels, than leasing is your best
option.

Benefit Number 2: Purchasing Flexibility

Leasing also offers purchasing flexibility: it allows you to defer the
purchasing decision while using the car. You don't have to haggle with your
mechanic over repair expenses, deal with hefty maintenance bills or worry
about a depreciating asset. Provided you can keep the vehicle in good
condition and stay within the contracted mileage allowance, you're
effectively getting a test drive for the length of your lease.
At the end of your lease, you can purchase the vehicle or simply turn in
the keys and walk away. No questions asked.

Benefit Number 3: Cash Flow

Leasing offers many short-term benefits. It reduces your initial cash
outlay as you do not have to pay the large down payment required for car
ownership. You only pay for the depreciation on the car -- only the part you
will use during your lease, not the entire vehicle. This results in lower
monthly payments and frees even more cash. This cash can be put to use more
intelligently elsewhere than the questionable investment of owning a
depreciating asset. If you are self-employed or use your car for your job,
then you can write off your leasing payment as a business expense.

Benefit Number 4: Negotiating Leverage

Although it may seem a little unorthodox in this industry, almost
everything about leasing is negotiable. If you know all the fees involved,
you can lower your monthly payments, negotiate the purchase price of the
vehicle at the end of the lease and contract additional miles on top of
your mileage limit. You can also do some shopping around and compare deals
from different auto-insurers to get the cheapest GAP insurance for your
lease.

Lease Financing

For auto-consumers, crunching the numbers is one of the most difficult and
confusing aspects of leasing.
Take the finance charge on a lease for instance. Most people just don't
understand how this is calculated on capitalised cost AND residual value
instead of just the capitalised cost. For most, it seems plainly obvious,
just as is the case when purchasing, that a charge should be levied on the
capitalised cost of the vehicle.

Well, no quite! When you lease a car, you're only using the car over a
specified period of time with the option of buying the car. The residual
value represents the "loan balance" at the end of the lease. If you add it
to the capitalized cost and divide by two, you'll get the average
capitalized cost outstanding over the lease term. Let us suppose you're
leasing a car with a capitalized cost of $25,000 and a residual value of
$15,000. You average balance over the lease term, irrespective of how long
it is, is $20,000 -- the sum of the two divided by two -.

Using this sum works because the money factor is the annual interest rate
devided by 24, rather than 12. Continuing with our example and assuming an
interest rate of 6% APR:
$30,000 X (6 per cent / 24) = $75
(Capitalized cost + residual value) X (interest rate / 24) = Monthly
finance charge
This finance charge is added to the depreciation charge to calculate the
monthly payments on your lease.

Go green and save on your lease

Hybrid vehicles' popularity has sharply grown from a couple of thousands
in early 2000 to close to 300, 000 by the end of 2005. The trend is
rapidly catching with the auto-leasing industry with generous tax credits
and incentives on offer if you go green.

Beginning in 2006, businesses and taxpayers who lease, or purchase, an
environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicle will be eligible to
claim federal income tax credits worth thousands of dollars. Individual
states also offer generous incentives, including hybrid state tax credits,
new High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes access and discounted thruway tolls
for alternative-fuelled vehicles.

And that's not all you can save from going green! You can now save on your
parking fees at a number of universities and some auto-insurance companies
are offering insurance discounts for hybrid-vehicle owners nationwide.

If you want to take advantage of these incentives and contribute to energy
conservation then visit HybridCenter.org and complete a personal profile
about your driving needs and habits. You will get in-depth advice on hybrid
models that would make economic sense to you and local, state and federal
incentives available where you live.

Leasing used cars explained

Leasing a used vehicle can be an attractive deal in many ways, no least
getting you into that luxury model or SUV, for lower monthly payments than
a brand new one. Be prepared, however, to do some more homework to dissect
a good deal.

As with new car-leasing, your price research should focus on the key
figures that are the initial market value and the estimated residual value
of the used car. This is harder to predict since there is no factory-set
sticker price on used cars, and the residual percentage is very much pegged
to a subjective current retail value. Use different sources to get a rough
idea of the value of the used car: your local dealerships, internet
car-evaluating tools, such as Edmunds.com and Cars.com, to name but a few.
Another way to pin down a good estimate is to compare the lease on your
given car to a lease on a new-car with the same make and model. This should
give you a better picture of the difference between leasing new and going
for used. Just like leasing a new car, used vehicle leasing is more
attractive when residual values depreciate the least. You stand a better
chance of finding a bargain in the high-end, luxury vehicles that keep
their values better as used cars.

Next, you need to check the initial mileage and the overall vehicle
condition. The maximum mileage on a used car should be no more than 12,000
miles a year. A 3-years old car with 50,000 miles on the clock is very
unlikely to make a good used-vehicle lease. Check for signs of excessive
use, like worn seat fabric, worn pedal pads and dirty engine, which might
indicate that the odometer has been rolled back. If the car is not
certified, you need to get it thoroughly inspected. Ask your dealer for a
manufacturer-sponsored certification program or have your car certified by
a qualified mechanic or inspection service.

Most used-car deals don't come with gap coverage. This is a special type
of coverage, normally offered on a new auto-lease, to cover the consumer if
the leased vehicle is lost, stolen or damaged. Typically, auto-insurance
policies cover only what your car is worth at the time of loss, not what
you still owe on the lease. The difference could run into thousands of
dollars. For peace of mind, do not enter into any used-car lease without
gap-coverage. Arrange it separately with either the lease dealer or your
auto-insurance company.

Independent Car lease companies

To lease, you have two possible choices: either lease through a dealer's
finance source or through an independent lease company.

A conventional dealer has a captive finance source, which can be the car
manufacturer's financial company, such as BMW Financial Services, Honda
Motor Credit or General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), or a major
national bank such as Chase Manhattan.

Independent lease companies are no financial obligation to any single
one manufacturer financing source, but work with dealers anywhere in the
country.

So which one is better?

Conventional dealers provide better lease-deals on limited-time promotions.
Factory-subsidized cars that have subvented money factors and residuals are
very attractive lease deals and can be very hard to beat anywhere else.

Independent lease companies can offer you unbiased and professional advice
on vehicle selection regardless of make and model. This is because they are
not tied to a single manufacturer or financing source, unlike conventional
dealers who have to sell specific models. They can also be more flexible
regarding negotiating lease terms like residual value and mileage.
Ultimately, if you prefer a more personal and customer-oriented
relationship with your leasing agent, then you will do well with an
independent leasing company.

Lease Trading

Ever wanted to terminate your lease early, comfortable with the thought you
weren't going to be hit with hefty fees? You can if you transfer your lease
to someone else.

Trading a lease is the best option for people who want to terminate a lease
early and don't want to pay the large termination imposed by most lease
agents. It can also be an alternative to get out of a lease for far less
than you would otherwise pay your original lease company for extra mileage
and wear-and-tear charges that can run into the thousands of dollars.
For a small fee, you can advertise your car lease for assumption to a large
number of potential buyers on the look-out for leases on the Internet. Such
services include LeaseTrader.com, the originator of online lease-trading
and the biggest online marketplace where most lease transfers take place,
and smaller marketplaces such as BreakAlead.com and TradeAlease.com

Before swapping your lease, make sure your leasing company approves lease
transfer transactions. Caution must be exercised in choosing a lease
swapping service: make sure they facilitate the whole lease transfer
process, offer online or telephone customer-service help and registered
buyers undergo stringent credit checks.

Luxury Cars and Resale Values

When it comes to ultra-luxury, high-end vehicle leasing, there is no doubt
that the best deals are those cars that hold their value. With this in
mind, we single out a few truths about residual values that consistently
apply to high-end leasing.

The most determining factor when it comes to resale values is public
perception of the brand, not its reliability ratings in quality surveys.
Take the Jaguar for example: it is consistently rated as a quality car, but
because of questionable reliability perception among the public, it takes a
sharp dip in value at the end of its lease-term

Higher-tech options and other cutting-edge features do not necessarily mean
the car will fare better. By the time your car is two years old, better
and cheaper systems will render the laser-guided cruise control, navigation
systems and built-in cell phone obsolete. Look for functional features,
such as automatic transmissions, power windows and wheel-drive to enhance
the vehicle's value in the used-car market.

Used-car buyers view less favorably luxury vehicles that come with big
incentives. These are perceived as questionable in quality and
reliability.




How to get out of a lease before your contract expires

When your lease is up, you can simply turn in the keys and lease another
car or buy a new one. But how about getting out before the lease ends?
Maybe you can't afford the sky-high payments on that silky Jaguar JX V6
model anymore or you've just had a baby and you need a larger and more
spacious vehicle?

Unfortunately getting out of a lease is not as easy as getting in! A
leasing contract is difficult and expensive to terminate early. Simply
turning in the keys and walking away from a lease can result in stiff
penalties. You credit could be ruined and you could even get sued for
breach of contract.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Actually, there is a number of
options available to you.

You can sell the car yourself and pay off the bank. This can be cost
effective if the market value of the car is close to the buy-out number.
Do not hesitate to exercise this option even at a loss if it happens to be
lower than the termination fee.

Your best option, though, is to transfer your lease for someone who would
"assume it" and take it off your hands. There is a whole set of potential
buyers looking for short-term leases without all the hassle and extra
costs. Check with family and friends or use the services of lease-
assumption websites, like swapalease.com, to list your car. Make sure you
check the credit worthiness of the new lessee and provide the car in good
condition.

Leasing Glossary

In order to get a good leasing deal, you need to understand leasing jargon.
Read through this leasing glossary to get an overview of the basics:

Acquisition fee: A fee charged by a leasing company to begin a lease. Not
all leasing companies charge an acquisition fee but if charge it starts at
about $300 and is seldom negotiable.

Capitalised cost: The total selling price of the leased vehicle This also
accounts for taxes, title, license fees, acquisition fee and any optional
insurance and warranty items you elect to fold into the lease and pay
overtime rather than upfront.

Depreciation fee:
Forms part of the monthly lease payment charge and accounts for the loss
in the value of the car at the end of the lease. The vehicle's list price
minus the expected residual value at lease end is divided by the number of
months in the lease to give the depreciation fee. Suppose you decide to
lease a vehicle with a retail price of $23,500. The leasing company
estimates that after a three year lease, the vehicle will be worth 35% of
its original retail value, or $8,225. The difference, $15,275, divided by
the number of months in the lease, 36 months, gives us the depreciation fee
($424)

GAP insurance Pays off the lease balanced if the vehicle is wrecked, stolen
or totalled.

Inception fees any fees that are due at the beginning of a lease. These
typically include a security deposit, acquisition fee, first monthly
payment, taxes and title fees.

Mileage allowance The maximum number of miles a leased vehicle can be
driven a year without incurring an excess mileage penalty. A typical
mileage allowance is 12,000 to 15,000 miles a year, although this is
negotiable with your leasing company.

Mileage charges a penalty that you incur if you exceed your mileage
allowance on a leased vehicle. Typical mileage charges are 10 to 20 cents
per excess mile.

Money-factor A fractional number, such as 0.00043, used in calculating your
monthly lease payments. You can get a rough estimate of the annual
percentage rate on your lease by multiplying the money factor by 2,400. If
a dealer quotes a money factor such as 3.4 than you can get the equivalent
APR, 8.16, if you multiply by 2.4.

Residual value Residual value is the amount of money the leasing company
says your leased vehicle will be worth when your lease ends. Higher
residual values lead to lower monthly payments but higher lease-end
purchase cost if you decide to keep the vehicle.

Security deposits an up-front amount that your leasing company required at
the beginning of a lease to safeguard against non-payment. This is
generally refundable at the end of your lease.

Termination or Disposition fee The amount you have to pay the leasing
company at the end of your lease if you decide not to purchase the vehicle.

Wear-and-tear charges Extra charges you have to pay at the end of your
lease for any wear and use the leasing company considers above normal

How to lease a new car?

Whether you lease a car to get into the latest models or have better purchasing
flexibility, getting a good deal is always bound to give you a lift. Use
these guidelines to help you spot one:

Check incentives: be on the look-out for factory -- subsidized lease deals.
Car manufacturers realise that consumers who lease vehicles from them are
more likely to be repeat customers than those who simply purchase vehicles.
Through their leasing companies, they adjust the residual value and offer
low financing charge. Other auto-manufacturers are also starting to give
incentives on leasing, called leasing subventions. They offer these
subsidies to put slow-selling models on the street, saving you even more
money.

Set up a competitive: bidding environment to get the lowest price. If you
already have an idea in mind of the make, model and trim level of your
desired car, attempt to calculate your own lease payment before you go
shopping to avoid paying through the roof. Check online comparison tools or
use a lease calculator to check your lease payment based on purchase price.
This gives you greater negotiation leverage as you solicit quotes from
various leasing companies.

Make sure you know all the fees involved at the beginning of your lease:
you may have to pay fees for licenses, registration and title. Other fees
include acquisition fees, freight fees and local or state taxes. At
lease-end, you may have to pay a disposition fee and charges for extra
mileage and any excess wear. Be aware that some of these fees -- like
acquisition and disposition fees -- are negotiable.

Know your mileage needs: almost all leases limit the number of miles per
year by imposing typically 10 to 20 cents per excess mile over 15,000 miles
a year. If you are the kind of high-commuter who puts 40,000 miles a year
on his car, then you might end up running thousands of dollars in hefty
penalties at the end of your lease. Be smart and negotiate a higher-mileage
limit or pad you excess miles at the beginning of your lease to avoid
robber tax rates for excess miles.

Almost all leases limit the number of miles per year by imposing fees
typically 10 to 20 cents per mile over 15,000 miles per year. If you are
the kind of high-commuter who puts a lot miles on his car, then these costs
can add up quickly. Negotiate

Include GAP coverage: make sure your lease includes GAP coverage. This
covers you in the event of the vehicle getting wrecked, stolen or totalled.
Without GAP insurance, you leave yourself wide open to thousands of dollars
in leased obligations. Check if the GAP coverage is included so you don't
pay it twice.

Leasing with bad credit

Have you been refused a car lease? Chances are you have less flawed credit
history. Know what's involved and what you can do to build good credit
history.

Credit score is a measure of your credit worthiness used by leasing agents
to determine whether you are eligible for a lease. You credit score is
based on your past and present credit history, and can range anywhere from
350 to 850. A measure above 720 is considered a "prime score" and will
land you the best rates. If you are below 640, then you are "sub-prime"
and will be considered bad rating by the bulk of leasing agents. This is
where all the trouble in getting that lease comes from.

Ask for your FICO Credit Score from the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO)
which details your credit score held by all three leading credit score
agencies in the country. Compare the three credit scores and determine if
any agency is holding erroneous credit data about you. Contact the
reporting agency and getting corrected.

If there are no mistakes in your credit report, then you can take some
steps to maximise your score to go above the threshold of 640. Pay your
bills on time and pay down any credit card debts you have. Do not take any
new accounts as this might increase the likelihood of you getting into bad
credit thus worsening your credit score.

Auto Leasing Scams

Car-leasing has been lauded as a more attractive alternative to buying,
offering in the process the flexibility to drive a new car for less. The
reality, however, is that leasing is an option that is fraught with many
pitfalls for the average customer. Leasing regulation does not require as
much disclosure as buying a vehicle. This has given rise to many leasing
scams that trick the customer into believing they are into a good deal
when, in effect, all he is getting is a rough deal on the dealer's terms.

Here we look at some of these common scams and how to avoid them

Artificially low interest rates:

Some dealers quote a lower interest rate when in reality it's much
higher. They do this by either purposefully quoting the money factor as
the interest rate or calculating the loan without amortizing some closing
fees, like the security deposit, into the loan lease. Take the money
factor for example: this is typically expressed as a four decimal digit,
something like 0.004. Some dealers quote this as a 4% interest rate when
in fact you need to multiply it by 24 to get a rough idea of the interest
rate on your loan. In this example, the interest rate is a much higher 9.6%
than the "quoted" rate of 4%.

Make sure you crunch the numbers and understand the formula they use to
calculate their interest rate. Look out for any fees not factored into the
calculation. If you are not satisfied, do not enter into the lease
agreement.

Terminate your lease early for a low penalty

This is an all-time leasing scam. You ask your dealer how much you will pay
if you want to terminate your lease and he tells you: "You want to get out
early? Sure thing, you only pay an early termination fee of $300". What he
is quoting is only the small administrative penalty of early termination,
there is a much stiffer penalty called early termination fee and this runs
into thousands of dollars.

Do not confuse the early termination administrative penalty with the
termination fee. Read the small print carefully and know exactly how much
you will get charged should you terminate your lease before its scheduled
end.

Pay for an extended warranty you don't need

This is another shell game to inflate the dealer's profit at your expense.
The dealer slides an extended-warranty into the deal whilst it's already
factored into the monthly payments, or he tricks you into buying a 36-month
warranty on a 24-month lease.

You do not have to pay extra money for a warranty already built into your
payments or for one that goes well beyond your lease term.
They might slip an extended warranty in. Don't be fooled, the warranty is
already factored in.

No security deposit

Any dealer who advertises a $0 security deposit is not telling you the
whole story. A security deposit is always factored in the lease under the
provision for disposition fees.

Buy or Lease?

It's the classic dilemma that faces every auto-consumer out there: Pay
cash upfront or forego the ownership and pay monthly settlements instead?
Buy or lease for a new set of wheels?

As is the case with every other common dilemma, there is no slam-dunk
answer. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it all depends
on a set of financial and personal considerations.

First, your finances. Affordability is clearly key, and you need to ask the
question of how stable is your job and how healthy is your general
financial situation. The short-term monthly-cost of leasing is
significantly lower than the monthly payments when buying: you only pay for
"the portion" of the vehicle's cost that you use up during the time you
drive it.

If you have a lot of cash upfront, then you can opt to pay the down
payment, sales taxes -- in cash or rolled into a loan -- and the interest
rate determined by your loan company. Buying effectively gives you
ownership of the car and that feeling of "free driving" that goes on
providing transportation.

If, say, you want to get into luxury models but can't afford the upfront
cash of purchasing the vehicle than you're a good candidate for leasing.
Unlike buying, it gives you the option of not having to fork out the down
payment upfront, leaving you to pay a lower money factor that is generally
similar to the interest rate on a financing loan. However, these benefits
have a price: terminating a lease early or defaulting on your monthly lease
payments will result in stiff financial penalties and can ruin your credit.
You need to make sure you carve out the monthly lease payment in your
budget for the foreseeable future, at least for the duration of the lease.

Besides the financial aspect, making a buy or lease decision depends on
your own particular lifestyle choices and preferences. Think about what the
car means to you: are you the sort of person to bond with the car or would
you rather have the excitement of something new? If you want to drive a
car for more than fives years, negotiate carefully and buy the car you
like. If, on the other hand, you don't like the idea of ownership and
prefer to drive a new car every two to three years then you should lease.
Next, factor your transportation needs: How many miles do you drive a year?
How properly do you maintain your cars? If you answer is: "I drive 40,000
miles a year and I don't really care much about my cars as I don't mind
dealing with repair bills", then you're probably better off buying. Leasing
is based on the assumption of limited-mileage, usually no more than 12,000
to 15,000 miles a year, and wear-and-tear considerations. Unless you can
keep within the prescribed mileage limits and keep the car in a good
condition at the end of your lease, you might incur hefty end-of-lease
costs.

How to calculate your lease payment

Understanding how to calculate your monthly lease payment makes it easier
for you to make an informed decision. Yet, most of us shy away from the
"complicated" math on our lease contract, leaving it up to the dealer to
do the payment formula.

Actually, it's not that difficult! Once you understand all the figures
involved in calculating your monthly payments, everything else falls into
place. These key figures are:

MSRP (short for Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price): This is the list
price of the vehicle or the window sticker price.

Money Factor: This determines the interest rate on your lease. Insist on
your dealer to disclose this rate before entering into a lease.

Lease Term: The number of months the dealer rents the vehicle.

Residual Value: The value of the vehicle at the end of the lease. Again,
you can get this figure from the dealer.

Now, let us calculate a sample lease payment based on a vehicle with an
MSRP (sticker price) value of $25,000 and a money factor of 0.0034 (this is
usually quoted as 3.4%). The scheduled-lease is over 3 years and the
estimated residual percentage is 55%.

The first step is to calculate the residual value of the car. You multiply
the MSRP by the residual percentage:

$20,000 X .55 = $11,000.

The car will be worth $13,750 at the end of the lease, so you'll be using:

$20,000 -- $11,000 = $9,000

This amount of $9,000 will be used over a 36 month lease period giving us a
monthly payment of:

$9,000 / 36 = $250.

This is the first part of the monthly payment, called the monthly
depreciation charge.

The second part of the monthly payment, called the money factor payment,
factors the interest charge. It is calculated by adding the MSRP figure to
the residual value and multiplying this by the money factor:

($20,000 + $11,000) * 0.0034 = $105.4

Finally, we get the approximate monthly payment by adding the two figures
together:

$250 + $105.4 = $355.4

To recapitulate, the sample formula looks like this:

1- Monthly Depreciation Charge:

MSRP X Depreciation Percentage = Residual Value
MSRP -- Residual Value = Depreciation over lease term
Depreciation over lease term / lease term (number of months in the lease) =
monthly depreciation charge

2- Monthly factor money charge

(MSRP + Residual value) X Money factor = money factor payment

3- Sample Monthly Payment:

depreciation charge + money factor payment = monthly payment

Keep in mind that this is a simplified calculation that does not take into
account taxes, fees, rebates or any other incentives. The calculation gives
you a ballpark figure or a rough idea of what your lease payments for the
vehicle in question should be.

Leasing and your credit score.

Your credit score is part of the leasing decision. When you apply for a
lease, your lease company will typically look at your credit score to
decide whether you to approve the application.

The leasing contract stipulates that you make regular, monthly payments
over your lease term. The credit score you lease company requests
identifies how likely you are to make such payments. It is simply a number
calculated according to a model that takes into account your payment
history, any amounts you owe and credit currently in use.

It is very important to keep a good credit-score, usually above 700, to
qualify for a lease or any other lending decision. Start by ordering your
credit report from Fair Isaac Corp, the company that creates your credit
score. If erroneous data is held about you, then contact the creditor
responsible and get such information corrected.
Your payment history is the single most important factor in determining
your credit score, so get in the habit of paying everything you owe on time
and keep the balances low in your credit cards.

Dealer Leasing Tricks

Too often when it comes to auto-leasing, people get so dazzled by the
myriad terms and the jargon thrown their way that they end-up paying
through the nose, relying on a dealer's "help" than their own informed
decision.

Here is a look at some of the tricks dealers use to pad their profits and
leave the customers shelling hundreds of dollars more than the deal should
be worth.

Trick 1: Leasing always a better deal than buying

Dealers use the lure of lower-monthly payments to entice customers to sign
for long-term loans, with terms stretching for five years or more, making
the payments even lower. There are two catches with such lengthy contracts:
higher mileage, exceeding the prescribed limit, and hefty repair costs.

With leases charging on average 10 to 20 cents a mile for any extra mile over
the agreed amount in the contract, and warranties only covering three
years, you leave yourself wide open for hefty charges for excessive
mileage and wear and tear.

Trick 2: Cheap 2-3% APR rate on your lease

The dealer is not quoting the interest rate you would be paying on your
lease; he's rather giving you the lease money factor. Whilst similar to an
interest rate and important in determining your monthly payment, a more
accurate rate is calculated by multiplying the money factor by 24. For
example a "cheap" 3% money factor is 24 X 0.003 = 7.2%. This gives you a
better sense of what your annual interest rate on your lease contract is.

Trick 3: Stress-free early lease termination

Dealers know consumer driving needs change and they would like to have the
option of getting out of a lease commitment sometime down the road, before
their lease ends. Truth of the matter is, when you sign for a lease, you
are effectively saddled with monthly payments for the remainder of the
lease term and there is little-choice of getting out early. Lease contracts
carry hefty financial penalties for either defaulting on monthly payments
or terminating the lease earlier than the scheduled term.

To avoid being on the receiving end of such tried-and-true tricks, educate
yourself about leasing. Get down to the nitty-gritty and understand what
the leasing terms used by dealers mean. Crunch the numbers along with him
and understand how they arrived at the monthly payment figure. Don't sign
anything until you've understood all the terms and your numbers much those
of the dealer. Do not let the dealer pressure you into signing; you are the
one to determine whether the agreement is right for you.





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