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If you are not a resident of the United States, and are visiting as a tourist, a student or on business, it makes no sense to purchase a car. However, you may need one at your disposal for easy transit. In such a situation, the best thing for you to do is to rent or lease a vehicle. Also, if you are a student or a visiting professor at a university, you may be able to access a number of carpooling programs which would not need you to lease a car.

What You Need to Secure a Lease

If you are in the country for a few months to a year, it makes more sense to lease a car from a dealership which sells new cars.

For you to be eligible for the lease, you will have to produce copies of the following.

A confirmation letter from the college or university saying that you are indeed a member of the university.

Your visa of type DS-2019 or I-20, which would indicate the anticipated time which you expect to spend in the States.

Either a valid US-issued driver’s license or the driver’s license from your country with picture ID, alongside an IDP (International Driver’s Permit).

If you are leasing a car, you will need to purchase full-fledged full-coverage insurance for the car.

Any dealership will have its own terms and conditions, which you will have to discuss with the owner.

Things to Keep in Mind

A lease basically implies that you will be paying to drive another person’s vehicle. You have no ownership rights, and it is still very much the owner’s car. Here are a few things for you to remember while leasing out a car.

Ask around. Visit several dealers to get an idea of where you can land the best deal.

Compare several schemes over the entire life of the lease. You may find that a high down payment and relatively lower installments is better for you.

Do some research about the necessary down payment for the lease, and also find out about capitalized cost reduction; people with good credit scores are often eligible for better rates and lower down payments.

Find out terms of early termination of lease and understand if there are extra fees applicable.

Find out whether the manufacturer warranty covers your entire lease and the distance you will drive.

If you wish to understand whether you should take a lease, the Federal Reserve Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be glad to help.

Instead of consulting with dealers for the lease, you could consider hiring independent agents. Several institutions which offer leases also offer auto financing.

Understand the clauses and necessary action in case of an accident.

Understand the penalties for damage and wear and tear. Things you may think are usual wear and tear could well be billed by the provider after the lease period has expired.

Understand the tariffs imposed. Normally you are allowed to drive around 15000 miles per year, and charge 10-25 cents per extra mile.

Ensure you have a written contract stating all the terms. Ensure that all the accessories in the car are inventoried and recorded in the contract so that you cannot be fined for missing equipment in the future.

Sometimes, buying a car on loan makes more sense than leasing if the dealer is offering you a rough deal. Thanks to the Consumer Leasing Act, all consumers now have access to any information regarding charges and monthly payment. All you have to do is ask the dealer. Now you can effectively compare the data and figure out whether it is a better idea to get a loan and buy your own car or continue with the lease.

Financing the Lease

It is perfectly alright for you to seek financing to pay the down payment or the lease installments. You could resort to direct loans from banks, unions or companies, or go for dealership financing, where you may get to avail more benefits through sponsored, lower-rate deals from the manufacturer. Your credit report’s condition also goes a long way in determining what sort of financing you can avail.

Ensure that you are consorting with the right people. Several con artists pose as credit brokers who charge hefty fees in return for guaranteed loans from an agency or bank. Others call themselves sublease brokers claiming that they will arrange a takeover or a shift of the owner’s lease to you, for a fee of course. These are big schemes, and people who fall prey to them have often paid huge amounts and still end up losing the car due to illegal possession. Sometimes, the broker disappears after collecting the fee. Steer clear of this kind.

Good research and smart decisions will go a long way to secure an easy lease for you. Read more about this at

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