If you currently have a car lease that you no longer want or need to pay for, a car lease trade could be the right move. Also called lease swapping or lease transferring, trading your car lease means that someone else assumes your lease and pays the monthly payment. They will get the car you are leasing, and you can lease a new car or take a break from driving, depending on your needs.  

How to get out of your car lease by trading 

Lease trades can happen directly between two parties, but it’s more common for a lease trade to go through a lease trade site. These third-party sites help facilitate safe trades and streamline the process.  

1. Review your lease contract 

The first thing you should do is look through your lease contract. Go over the terms laid out in your contract and determine if it will be worth it to do the trade. If you only have a few months left in your lease, it may be best to just finish it out.  

If you still want to do the lease swap, ensure your contract allows this. Some lease contracts won’t allow a transfer. Other contracts may only let you transfer under certain circumstances.

There may also be fees associated with a lease trade or swap, such as a one-time transfer fee. Contact the lessor directly to find out whether there are fees associated with a lease swap or transfer.

2. Sign up for a lease swap website 

The beauty of a lease swap website is that it manages the process for you. A few of the most popular car lease sites are LeaseTrader, Swapalease and QuitALease. You may want to look at a few sites and how they work before you decide where to sign up.

Most lease swap sites will have eligibility requirements. Review these before you sign up to make sure your lease is a good fit.

One basic requirement: Your lessor must allow you to transfer your lease. You’ll also be required to provide lease swap sites with information about the year, make and model of your vehicle, as well as the months remaining on your lease and the reason for swapping. The company will use that info to decide if you’re eligible for a swap.

Once you have found a site you like and qualify for, you can sign up.

3. Create a listing 

Signing up for the site gets you started, but to trade your lease, you will need to create a listing. Before you sit down to make your listing, make sure you know all of the details of your lease and vehicle. It might be a good idea to have your lease contract with you.

For a typical listing, you will need to fill in the following details:  

  • Car make, model and year. 
  • Specific vehicle features. 
  • Your monthly payment. 
  • How long is left in the lease. 
  • How many miles the vehicle can be driven. 
  • Photos of your vehicle. 

4. Find a buyer 

Once you create your listing, you can let the lease swap website do most of the remaining work. Interested buyers will be able to see your listing and decide if your leased vehicle is a good fit for them. A buyer can then go through the website’s credit approval process before they are approved to take on your lease.

If prospective buyers want to test drive the vehicle before taking over the lease, contact your insurance company first to ensure that you’re covered in case of an accident. It’s also a good idea to set a test driving route in advance.

5. Make the swap 

After the lease buyer is approved, your leasing company will create lease transfer documents. Both you and the lease buyer will review and sign these. Once these are completed, you can turn in your key to the leasing company, and they will set up the swap.  

What to do if you can’t swap your car lease 

Swapping car leases won’t work for everyone. Whether you are uncomfortable with swapping, or your lease agreement won’t allow it, know that you have other options.  

  • Trade in your car early. If you are close to the end of your lease agreement, you may be able to negotiate with the dealer. Talk to them to see if you can make a trade for another vehicle early.  
  • Refinance your lease. If your current lease agreement doesn’t allow lease swaps, you may be able to refinance your lease with a contract that will allow lease swaps. This works a little differently than refinancing a car loan — you will need to buy out your current lease before you can get a new one.  
  • Sell your vehicle. If you don’t need a car anymore, you could sell it. You will need to buy out the lease before you can sell the car. Then you can sell it and keep the cash.  

Next steps 

A car lease trade can be a helpful option if you need to get out of your car lease. If you are interested in trading leases, start by making sure it will work for your situation. Evaluate all of your options before you decide what to do.