Average Car Lease Prices: Reference Points for Judging Good Deals

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Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


, Contributing Writer - April 20, 2021

The actual cost of a car lease can vary depending on your credit score, budget, and what deals you qualify for. To give you an idea of how much it costs to lease a vehicle, we’ve done the research for you so you can spot what a good deal may look like.

Average Car Leasing Payments

Typically, leasing a brand new car is cheaper month to month than financing a brand new vehicle. When you lease a car, you’re not paying for the entire thing – just for the time you have the vehicle. This usually leads to a lower monthly payment, and it’s what makes leasing so attractive to many drivers.

Across the credit score spectrum, the average car lease payment is around $463 a month, according to Experian’s latest State of the Automotive Finance Market for Q4 of 2020.

The latest average lease payment by credit score tier as reported by Experian are:

  • Deep subprime – $460
  • Subprime – $473
  • Near prime – $474
  • Prime – $462
  • Super prime – $450

Of course, these are just averages during 2020, so if you apply for a car lease your payment could be much higher or lower than these figures. But if you do manage to get a car lease that’s less than the national average across all credit scores, you may have just gotten yourself a sweet deal.

Examples of Good Lease Deals

At CarsDirect, we’ve gathered some great lease deals for you. Here are some new lease deals that are much cheaper than the average reported $463 lease payment:

  • 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
    • $130 payment for 36 months
    • $130 due at signing
    • MSRP $38,245
    • 12,000 mileage allowance per year
    • Offered until April 30, 2021
  • 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Lease Deal
    • $199 payment for 36 months
    • $1,999 due at signing
    • MSRP $24,744
    • 12,000 per year mileage allowance
    • Offered until May 3, 2021
  • 2021 GMC Terrain Lease Deal
    • $199 payment for 24 months
    • $2,439 due at signing
    • MSRP $29.595
    • 10,000 per year mileage allowance
    • Offered until June 30, 2021

CarsDirect Tip: Keep in mind that advertised car lease payments don’t typically include taxes and additional fees, so your actual lease payment may differ from the advertised payment.

Calculating a Good Lease Deal

Even though we've done some of the work for you, there’s a way to calculate whether or not you're getting a good deal yourself. Ideally, a good lease deal costs you under $150 for every $10,000 of the vehicle, and an even greater lease deal costs you less than $125 per every $10,000 of the car’s worth.

Determining whether or not a deal is actually good comes down to looking at all the additional costs of leasing and factoring them into the advertised monthly payment.

This takes a little math, so bear with us:

Let’s say a leasing company advertises a car lease for $150 a month for 36 months, the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) vehicle’s MSRP is $20,000. To get the lease deal, you're required to make a $2,500 down payment and a $500 acquisition fee.

This means that the actual cost to start the car lease is $3,000. Divide that amount by the lease term, and that’s $83.33 – or an extra $83.33 a month (also called the hidden cost of a lease).

So effectively, the “actual” monthly payment of the lease is around $233.33 per month because now we’re considering the down payment. You then take the “actual” monthly payment and divide that by the MSRP (which comes to 0.011458) and multiply it by 10,000 to figure out the cost of leasing that vehicle for $10,000 of its value.

In this example, it costs you $114.58 a month per $10,000 worth of that vehicle – which is a pretty good deal.

The Cost of a Car Lease

The cost of a lease is determined by:

  • The vehicle's MSRP
  • Money factor fees (leasing interest charges)
  • The car’s expected value at the end of the lease (residual value)
  • The length of your lease term, usually expressed in months

The majority of a lease cost is determined by the residual value of the vehicle. The lessor, the leasing company, precalculates this by estimating the car’s value at the end of the lease – you pay the difference between the selling price and the residual value.

However, determining whether or not a deal is actually good comes down to actually looking at all these additional costs of leasing and factoring them into the advertised monthly payment. Additional costs of a lease include taxes, registration fees, dealer fees, acquisition fees, and a security deposit. If you don’t pay those fees upfront, they’re usually rolled into your monthly payment, making it higher. Keep in mind that other things like your mileage restrictions can influence lease cost, as well, because if you want a higher mileage limit you have to buy it.

Some leasing companies require a down payment as well – called a cap cost reduction. A cap cost reduction is a prepayment that lowers your monthly payment. Borrowers with poor credit may be more likely to have a cap cost reduction requirement.

You don’t have to be good at math to determine if a lease deal is right for you or good for your wallet, though.

Finding a Good Lease Deal at a Glance

A good way to judge a lease deal is by looking at what the car is likely to be worth at the end of a lease. Remember: when you lease a car, most of your cost is the vehicle’s depreciation (loss of value) while you have it.

If you choose a vehicle that’s expected to lose a lot of value by the time you return it, it means paying more for it. If you find a car or brand that typically holds its value well, you may be able to land a low monthly payment and save money. This means that finding a good lease deal can start with choosing a brand or make/model that’s known to hold its value.

Another way to get a good deal on a lease is by negotiating the selling price of the vehicle. Almost everything in a lease is negotiable, besides things like taxes and registration fees. If you can manage to knock down the selling price of the vehicle, it means it’s closer to the expected residual value – which means paying less for the car!

Auto Leasing Requirements

Leasing a vehicle typically requires a good credit score – above 660. People with credit scores below that benchmark are generally considered bad credit borrowers, and may struggle to qualify for a lease.

Aside from a good credit score, you must have provable income that’s enough to repay the lease. Income requirements can vary by leasing company and how much you need can also depend on the vehicle you want.

If your credit score is worse for wear, you may have a better shot at getting approved for an auto loan over a lease. And special lease deals can be hard to qualify for, since leasing companies tend to favor good credit borrowers.

CarsDirect Has Got Connections!

If you come across a lease deal with a monthly payment for less than $400 a month, with a decent mileage allowance, and little due at signing, it’s probably a good deal!

Whether you’re in need of the latest car deals, or you need bad credit lending resources, CarsDirect has got you covered.

We’ve cultivated a nationwide network of dealerships that are signed up with subprime lenders. These lenders specialize in assisting borrowers with credit challenges, and we want to look for a dealer in your local area. Simply complete our free and quick auto loan request form and we’ll get right to work looking for a special finance dealership near you.

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, Contributing Writer

Bethany Hickey is a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. She is a content writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs, as well as the Poetry Editor for UM-Flint’s writing magazine.


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