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Women Less Likely to Lease Their Next Car

Gerri Detweiler

When it comes to getting — and having — a car, men and women may approach the process differently. Men prefer longer leases and tend to make larger down payments than women, according to a survey conducted by Swapalease. Although about half of women surveyed thought they “definitely” or “probably” would lease their next car, 64% of men felt that way. Women were twice as likely as men to wish they could get out of their leases early, survey results showed. Not only that, they were more likely to say the reason they wanted out was that they were tired of the vehicles they were driving.

Scot Hall, executive vice president of operations for Swapalease said women’s preference for shorter leases was a bit of a surprise, but it could reflect a general lack of understanding of how leases work — and if you’re not sure how something will work for you, you may be less likely to commit to it. “To many — both men and women — leasing is still a bit of a mystery,” Hall said. “And the industry needs to do a better job of education about how things work.” The frustration of not knowing where the price comes from or fear of over- or underestimating mileage can make ownership seem like a better, or at least simpler, deal. And in some situations, buying is the better move.

Still, about two-thirds of both men and women said they considered three years about the ideal length of a car lease — though many did not know leases could be transferred. (That could allow you to get out of a lease early, or to lease for as little as six months.)

As far as the lease negotiation was concerned, credit approval was low on the list of perceived hurdles, cited by just 6.1% of the women and 2.9% of the men. That might mean people simply aren’t worried about it, but knowing your credit score is critical before you walk into a dealership because it can affect your monthly payment — or whether you get approved at all. (You can check your credit scores for free using  the Credit Report Card, a tool that updates two of your scores monthly.)

Dealing with a salesperson and negotiating payments seemed to be the biggest complaint for both men and women. Men (22.6%) were nearly twice as likely as women (11.4%) to find the lease language problematic, and just about one in five people found the mileage limits frustrating.

Hall said it’s hard to know whether women are less likely to be driving leased cars because the lease isn’t always taken out by the primary driver. It can also be difficult for those in the market for a new car to figure out whether a lease or purchase suits them best. But it’s important to know that in both transactions, things are negotiable. Taking mileage as an example, it’s far less expensive in the long term to be realistic about how many miles you drive and pay for higher limits from the start. A lower monthly payment would likely be more than offset by the charges for extra miles at the end of a lease.

Swapalease’s survey was of 1,000 people, about two-thirds of them men, taken by website visitors and newsletter recipients in November.

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