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Leasing a Car: Can You Get a High-Mileage Lease?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2015

There are many reasons why you might be interested in leasing a car, from the ability to get a new model every few years to the fact that leasing ensures you'll always have a reliable, recent vehicle to drive. But what if you drive too many miles to qualify for a typical lease? Can you get a high-mileage lease? And if so, what does it entail? We have some answers.

Leasing Mileage Caps

The vast majority of car leases have mileage caps. In many cases, these caps can be highly restrictive -- sometimes going as low as 10,000 annual miles, which isn't enough for a large portion of drivers on the road. If you go over the mileage cap, you'll often have to pay a fee per mile -- and sometimes the penalty is so harsh that it makes more sense to buy your leased car when your term is up than it does to pay the mileage fee.

Why do leases have such restrictive mileage caps? The main reason is that the automaker has to resell the car once you're done leasing it, so the automaker wants the mileage to be as low as possible in order to make the car as appealing (and valuable) as it can be. After all, a used car with 30,000 miles is going to be more valuable than one with 40,000 miles or more.

High-Mileage Leases

So what about high-mileage leases? Is it possible to find one, or are all leases capped at 10,000 miles or 12,000 miles per year?

Not only are high-mileage leases available, but you might be surprised to learn just how high they can go. For the right price, automakers will be willing to offer 15,000-mile leases -- or maybe even 18,000- or 25,000-mile leases. But the key terminology here is "for the right price," because these leases can be very costly.

The reason they're so expensive is obvious: When you return a car with higher miles, it'll be worth less money -- and that means the automaker won't make as much when it resells the car. Since you're the one who puts all the miles on, the automaker passes along that additional cost to you.

In other words: Yes, a high-mileage lease is possible -- but it's going to cost you. And depending on how many miles you plan to drive, it may cost you a lot.

Our Take

To us, the idea of leasing a car with a high-mileage limit is one option for drivers who plan to drive a lot -- but not necessarily the best option. In some cases, especially for luxury cars, monthly payments can go up so much that you'd be better off buying the car because your payment (and the car's depreciation) probably won't cost as much as the pricy lease.

Our view: Run the numbers before you sign the papers on any high-mileage lease. Some can be beneficial, but others are so expensive that you shouldn't bother. Depending on the cost, the vehicle and the exact mileage you want to drive, you'll have to determine if high-mileage leasing is right for you.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Leasing a Car: Can You Get a High-Mileage Lease? - Autotrader