What Do You Need a Certain Credit Score to Lease a Car?

Updated on March 12, 2024

At a Glance

  • A score above 700 usually yields favorable lease offers, but factors like income and debt history also matter.
  • Good credit influences lease approval and interest rates.
  • Lease payments depend on car depreciation and credit-based interest. While bad credit makes leasing harder, capitalization reduction payments or lease transfers could help.

In car leasing, understanding the role of credit scores is essential. While no magic credit score guarantees approval, your credit score holds significant sway in the leasing process. It’s like the key to unlocking the driver’s seat of your dream car. In this article, we’ll explore the intersection of what you need a certain credit score to lease a car and how to help you confidently navigate this financial journey.

What is a Car Lease?

A car lease is a rental agreement where you pay a dealership to use a vehicle for a set period, usually making monthly payments and handling maintenance. It provides access to the latest car features without buying. At the lease’s end (typically 2-3 years), you can return the car—after an inspection for wear—or buy it using a loan. Leasing often has lower monthly payments since you’re covering the car’s depreciation, but be mindful of insurance and mileage limits and always review lease terms closely.

Do you Need a Certain Credit Score to Lease a Car?

In the third quarter of 2022, Experian reported the average credit score for new car leasers was 736. Typically, a credit score above 700 can secure a favorable car lease offer, though criteria differ among leasing companies. A score significantly over 700 can often result in better monthly payment terms.

While credit scores are pivotal, leasing companies also weigh income, current financial commitments, and debt history. Since the onset of COVID, supply chain disruptions have constrained car supply for leasing, making it more of a seller’s market, which might elevate credit score standards.

Why Good Credit Is Need to Lease a Car

Financing companies evaluate lease applications primarily based on creditworthiness. A high credit score suggests a trustworthy borrower, influencing both the likelihood of lease approval and the applicable interest rates. Conversely, lower scores can lead to higher interest rates, thereby affecting monthly lease payments.

Lease payments are determined by a car’s projected depreciation and the interest rate applied. Depreciation is determined by subtracting the vehicle’s anticipated end-of-lease value (residual value) from its initial purchase price. This difference, known as the lease principal, is divided over the lease term, with the interest based on the lessee’s credit score added.

While lease payments typically are lower than auto loan installments, the proportion of newly leased vehicles declined from 32% in Q2 2019 to 28% in Q2 2020. Moreover, there was an 8% decrease in leases among nonprime borrowers (credit scores 601-660) in 2020, whereas leases by prime borrowers increased by roughly 8%. Monthly payments for leases saw an uptick for most credit groups, excluding subprime borrowers (scores 501-600).

Is It Possible to Lease a Car With Bad Credit?

Yes, you can lease a car with a bad credit score, though it might be tougher. Your score can influence which cars a lender allows you to lease and might lead to higher interest rates, increasing your monthly payments. A poor score might also mean a higher security deposit.

To reduce monthly payments with less-than-ideal credit, consider making a “capitalization reduction” payment. It’s like a down payment and reduces the purchase price used to determine your lease principal. For instance, a $5,000 payment on a $25,000 car effectively makes the lease based on a $20,000 price.

If leasing proves difficult, consider a lease transfer. If someone wants out of their lease, they might let you take over the payments. Their lender will check your credit but could be more flexible than with a new lease application.

Should You Lease a Car at All?

Now that we’ve explored the role of credit scores in leasing, it’s time to consider whether leasing a car aligns with your needs and preferences. Leasing can be appealing if you enjoy driving the latest models every few years and value the potential for lower monthly payments. However, if your preference leans towards long-term car ownership or if you have a limited budget, buying a car might be the more practical option.

A balanced evaluation is essential, weighing the advantages and disadvantages while considering your specific circumstances. Ask yourself, “Am I someone who relishes the excitement of new vehicles, or do I find comfort and stability in long-term car ownership? This question can act as a compass to help you choose the best solution for your needs.

When Should You Lease a Car?

Leasing offers a temporary solution if you’re hesitant about a long-term car loan. You return the car once the lease concludes, whereas completing a loan grants you ownership.

Here’s a breakdown:


  1. Access to newer vehicles.
  2. Typically requires a smaller initial payment than buying.
  3. Offers lower monthly expenses.
  4. Cars under lease are often under warranty, reducing repair costs.
  5. Allows flexibility—usually after 2-3 years, you can change vehicles.


  1. You won’t own the car.
  2. Annual mileage is capped.
  3. Additional fees associated with leasing.
  4. Potential requirement for gap insurance.

Deciding between leasing and buying depends on individual priorities. If enjoying the latest models without long-term commitment appeals to you, leasing may be ideal. Its lower monthly costs can also be budget-friendly, but do factor in potential maintenance.

On the other hand, purchasing through an auto loan leads to ownership. Once paid off, you’re free to utilize or sell the vehicle without constraints. Additionally, there’s no mileage limit, beneficial for those who travel extensively.

What Research Do You Need Before You Lease?

Just like with any other major purchase, you should do some research before jumping into a lease. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Don’t Dive Blind: Just as you wouldn’t dive into a pool without checking its depth, don’t rush into a car lease without proper research.
  • Compare Lease Offers: Begin by comparing lease offers from various dealerships. The lease duration, mileage limits, and monthly payments are key factors. This comparison can help you find the lease that aligns best with your needs and budget.
  • Know Your Vehicle: Research the specific make and model you’re interested in leasing. Find out if there are any common issues or reliability concerns associated with that vehicle. Are there reported unexpected expenses that previous owners have faced?
  • Knowledge Is Power: Gaining insights and knowledge about your potential lease is essential. Being well-informed empowers you to make better decisions and ensures you’re not caught off guard after signing the lease agreement.

Tips for Leasing a Car

When leasing a car, negotiating can lead to better deals. While some aspects like residual value and acquisition fee are fixed, others are negotiable. To maximize savings, consider the following:

  1. Know Your Car’s Value: Research the car’s market value to determine if the offer is competitive.
  2. Shop Around: Check multiple dealerships for promotions, rebates, or special deals. It might be worth exploring dealerships even slightly farther away for potential savings.
  3. Be Open to Options: Different vehicles have varying leasing costs. For instance, a Honda Civic might lease for an average of $291 monthly, while a Ford Explorer could be $491. Exploring a variety of models can lead to more favorable deals.
  4. Haggle on Fees: With knowledge of rates from other dealerships, negotiate for a better deal. This can include seeking a higher mileage cap or a lowered buyout rate if you intend to buy post-lease.
  5. Discuss Post-Lease Costs: If you’re considering buying the car post-lease or continuing business with the same dealer, ask them to waive the disposition fee, which covers post-lease vehicle preparations.

Approaching the leasing process informed and ready to negotiate can lead to considerable savings.

Alternatives to Car Leasing

The allure of car leasing lies in its ability to offer the latest models without long-term commitments. However, it might not suit everyone. The automotive landscape presents numerous alternatives, each tailored to diverse needs and preferences.

Purchasing a New Car

Opting for a brand new car means it’s entirely yours after the final payment. The benefits here include no mileage caps and no concerns about the usual wear and tear that leasing companies often charge for. However, new cars come with higher monthly payments than leases and face rapid depreciation.

Buying a Used Car

For the budget-conscious, purchasing a pre-owned vehicle can be a more viable route. It allows for car ownership without the premium price tags attached to the latest models. Although this option might mean missing out on the newest tech features, it’s a trade-off for slower depreciation and often lower insurance costs. But, buyers should be prepared for potential maintenance issues inherent to older models.

Car Subscription Services

Think of this as the Netflix of cars. These services offer a month-to-month flexibility similar to leasing. They frequently include costs like insurance and maintenance in the monthly fee, providing a hassle-free experience. However, they might be pricier than traditional leasing.

Car Sharing

Ideal for city dwellers or those who infrequently need a vehicle, car-sharing platforms charge only for the actual time the car is used. It’s a way to access a car without ongoing costs. However, frequent users might find that the costs quickly add up, potentially rivaling traditional ownership or leasing.

Public Transportation, Biking, or Walking

For the eco-conscious and those in urban areas, public transport, biking, or even walking might be the most efficient choice. It’s cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and offers a break from the usual traffic hassles.

Long-term Rentals

These are perfect for individuals who need a vehicle for extended periods but shy away from permanent commitments. While they provide the advantage of changing cars as per needs, they can be costlier in the long run.

Using a Personal Loan

If you’re averse to auto loans or leases, consider a personal loan to finance a car purchase. These loans offer flexibility in terms of how you use the funds and might come with competitive interest rates. However, interest rates can be higher for those with less-than-stellar credit.

Best Personal Loans for a Car Lease

Navigating the world of car leases can be smoother with the right financial backing. Whether you have stellar credit or face some challenges, there’s a lender out there that can help bridge the gap between you and your ideal vehicle lease. Dive in to explore which one might be your perfect fit:

AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)

For those with okay to good credit scores looking to finance a car lease, AmOne stands as a reliable option. They act as intermediaries, connecting borrowers with a range of lenders to find an ideal financial solution. Their expansive network means that even those with moderate credit scores have a good shot at securing favorable rates. If you’re eyeing that dream car lease, AmOne can be a helpful starting point to explore available loan options.

AmOne Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.


  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.


  • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
  • No cost for the matching service.
  • Attractive loan rates.


  • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
  • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
  • Lack of clarity on lender details.

Spring Loans (Best for Bad Credit and No Credit)

If your credit history has blemishes or is non-existent, but you’re eager to drive away with a leased car, Spring Loans has got your back. Understanding that a credit score isn’t the sole indicator of one’s ability to repay, Spring Loans extends its offerings to those with bad or no credit. Their adaptable lending solutions ensure that driving aspirations aren’t halted due to past financial missteps or lack of credit history.

Spring Loans Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.


  • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
  • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
  • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
  • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
  • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
  • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.


  • Open to applicants with any credit background.
  • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
  • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
  • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
  • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.


  • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
  • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
  • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
  • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

Driving a leased car should be a privilege for all, and First Premier Lending resonates with that ethos, especially for those with a tarnished credit history. They offer personalized loan solutions, diving deeper into a borrower’s financial profile beyond just the credit score. Their comprehensive evaluation means those with bad credit can find tailored solutions to fund their car lease aspirations.

First Premier Lending Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.


  • Maintain a consistent source of income.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
  • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
  • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.


  • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
  • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
  • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
  • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.


  • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
  • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
  • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
  • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

Upgrade (Best for Good to Great Credit)

For individuals boasting good to great credit scores, Upgrade offers a seamless avenue to finance car leases. Recognized for their transparent lending terms and competitive interest rates, Upgrade caters to those looking to commit to a car lease without financial hiccups. Their efficient application and approval processes ensure that well-qualified borrowers are behind the wheel in no time.

Upgrade Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)


  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.


  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.


  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

BestEgg (Best for Good Credit)

BestEgg, catering to those with good credit, ensures that driving dreams aren’t put on hold. Known for swift approvals and straightforward loan terms, BestEgg facilitates smooth transactions for those seeking to lease a car. Their competitive interest rates combined with a hassle-free application process make them a preferred choice for individuals with commendable credit histories.

BestEgg Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 8.99-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $2,000-$50,000.
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years.


  • Targets borrowers with good to excellent credit; fair credit may qualify.
  • Minimum credit score of 600.
  • At least two years of credit history.
  • Minimum annual income: $3,500 from various sources like employment, alimony, and more.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: 40%, or 65% when including a mortgage.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.


  • Soft credit check available for pre-qualification.
  • Offers a diverse spectrum of loan amounts.
  • Provides options for secured loans.
  • Direct payments can be made to creditors for debt consolidation.
  • Late fees are not charged.


  • Charges an origination fee.
  • Doesn’t offer rate discounts.
  • Initial payment date isn’t customizable.
  • Lacks a dedicated mobile app for loan management.

Building Credit Through a Car Lease

Leasing a car can help build credit, as lenders usually report lease payments to major credit bureaus like Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Timely lease payments positively influence your credit report. Since payment history is crucial for credit score calculations, consistent on-time payments can boost your score.

Conversely, payments that are over 30 days late will be noted on your credit report and can decrease your score. As with any financial commitment, it’s essential to ensure the lease payments fit within your budget before finalizing the agreement.

Why People Choose Car Leasing

At its core, car leasing is a form of long-term vehicle rental. Rather than committing to a full purchase, you’re borrowing a car from a dealership for a specified period. You’ll make regular monthly payments and be responsible for the car’s maintenance during this time.

Access to the New

The Thrill of Freshness: Car leasing offers access to brand-new vehicles with cutting-edge features and technology. This means you enjoy the latest automotive innovations without the hefty upfront cost of buying a new car. From advanced safety systems to state-of-the-art infotainment, leasing keeps you at the forefront of automotive excellence.

Freedom of Choice

Decisions at Lease-End: One of the primary attractions of car leasing is the freedom it provides at the end of your lease term. You have options: you can return the vehicle to the dealership or purchase it at a predetermined price. This flexibility tailors your automotive experience to your preferences and circumstances.

Lease Return and Beyond

Understanding Your Options: When the lease term ends, returning a leased car involves an inspection process to assess wear and tear. While some wear is expected, excessive damage may incur additional fees. On the other hand, if you decide to purchase the car, you’ll typically have financing options available to make it your own. This empowers you to choose the path that suits your needs, whether a new lease, a different vehicle, or owning the one you love.

The Financial Angle

Counting the Costs: From a financial perspective, car leasing often translates to lower monthly payments than financing or outright purchase. Instead of covering the full purchase price of the vehicle, you’re paying for its depreciation during the lease term. This can free up your budget for other financial priorities. However, it’s crucial to factor in additional costs, such as insurance and mileage restrictions, which can vary based on your lease agreement.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Before Applying?

  • Timely Bill Payments: Consistently paying your bills on time is crucial for building a positive credit history. Set up reminders or automated payments to ensure you never miss a payment deadline..
  • Debt Reduction: Lowering your credit utilization by paying off existing debt can significantly impact your credit score. Aim to reduce outstanding balances on credit cards and loans.
  • Credit Report Review: Regularly check your credit report for errors or inaccuracies that could negatively affect your score. Dispute any discrepancies you find to ensure a fair evaluation of your creditworthiness.
  • Co-Signer Consideration: If your credit score concerns you can explore having a co-signer with a stronger credit profile. This can boost your chances of lease approval, but discussing responsibilities and risks with your co-signer beforehand is essential.
  • Long-Term Credit Improvement: Improving your credit score takes time and effort. Start working on it well before you lease a car, as it takes time to see substantial improvements. Building a strong credit history is an investment in your financial future that will benefit you beyond just securing a car lease.

What’s your Best Financial Decision When Leasing a Car?

There are certain important financial decisions you must make while leasing a vehicle. Prioritize your finances by determining how much you can pay each month. Recall that auto expenses encompass more than just the monthly lease payment. It is also necessary to account for insurance, upkeep expenses, and other possible charges.

Another crucial choice is determining how long you lease the vehicle. The typical lease has a period of two to four years. To select the ideal lease term, consider your driving style, lifestyle, and future goals.

Finally, remember to bargain! Like bargaining for the greatest deal at a flea market, you can frequently haggle over specifics like the mileage allotment or the purchase price after the lease while leasing an automobile. Get a better deal by using your negotiating talents!

Final Thoughts

In the complex landscape of car leasing, your credit score acts as a compass, guiding you toward a smoother journey. While no rigid credit score requirement is etched in stone, it’s crucial to recognize its importance. Whether you’re on the path to improving your credit or evaluating the merits of leasing versus buying, informed decisions are your greatest asset. So, as you steer toward your automotive aspirations, remember that knowledge empowers you to navigate the twists and turns of the road ahead.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

Get the Checklist