Car Lease Tips _ Tricks in Miami, FL

Like renting an apartment or house, leasing a vehicle isn’t for those who are squeamish about paying for something temporary. Because in the end, whether you’re renting a home or leasing a car, you’re not taking steps toward ownership. And isn’t that what the American dream is?

Still, a car lease is incredibly affordable on a month-to-month basis, and what you’re giving up in future ownership you’re making up in the convenience factor. (You rarely have to do anything aside from routine maintenance when leasing, for instance.)

Of course, even though you are paying to rent a car for 24 or 36 months, that doesn’t mean you should be overpaying. Here are 5 car leasing tips and tricks to help you get the best deal possible.

1. Know Your Terms & Formulas

You can’t be smart about leasing a vehicle without first understanding the basics about car leases. Catch up on your “Car Lease 101.”

Residual Value

What the manufacturer or bank believes the vehicle will be worth after X years or months. This number can be calculated as a percentage (say, 50% or 0.50) and depends on your mileage. The higher the residual value, the better.

Capitalized Cost

The amount “financed” on a leased vehicle, calculated by depreciation. The lower your capitalized cost, the better.


The vehicle’s estimated loss of value over X years or months. To find your vehicle’s depreciation, and therefore your capitalized cost, you can insert the numbers into this equation:
  • Depreciation = (Capitalized Cost – Residual Value)/Months

Money Factor

Essentially the “interest rate” as expressed in your monthly payment. The lower the money factor number, the better.

Calculating Lease Payments

The formula to calculate your monthly car lease payment is as follows:

  • Payment = Depreciation + ((Capitalized Cost + Residual Value) * Money Factor)

2. Avoid “Curveballs” & Focus on Sale Price

Car dealers try to simplify the leasing process for customers, which is why salespeople might ask you questions like:

  • What’s your maximum monthly payment?
  • Do you have a trade-in?
  • What do you want to put in as a down payment?

These types of questions provide them with all the info needed to get you a deal without digging into the nitty-gritty. But they’re also not providing you with the whole picture.

Instead, you should always stick to one factor when leasing a car: The vehicle sale price.

Your residual value will be calculated based off the MSRP, not the price you pay for the vehicle. Why is this important? Because the closer your residual value is to the starting price, the less depreciation you’re paying for, and the better car lease deal you’re getting. All that boils down to a lower monthly payment and potentially having positive equity if the market goes bonkers (e.g., the computer chip shortage) at the end of your lease.

3. Always Do & Show Your Work

MINI Lease in Miami, FL

Think of buying a car like doing your algebra homework. You can’t simply come to an answer and expect the teacher to give you an A+. You have to show how you got to a given solution.

  • Always research MSRP. Know the starting price of each model on your “should I lease this car?” list, including prices by trim and included features.
  • Research what that model is actually selling for at dealerships near you to get an idea of your capitalized cost. You can check dealer inventory online and other third-party sites, like Edmunds and CarGurus. (Don’t buy a car online, though! That’s a big no-no.)
  • Calculate or identify estimates for:
    • Residual Value
    • Residual Value
    • Money Factor 
    • Capitalized Cost
    • Taxes
  • Build your own spreadsheet with all this information. It’s very, very helpful to see the numbers side by side.
Once you know how much a vehicle lease should cost, email car dealers near you. Don’t be shy about what you know and what you’re expecting. Be assertive. Showing that you’ve done your research will tell dealers that you’re serious about buying on the spot, not four weekends from now.

Here’s an example email that our Miami car dealership received recently – and which resulted in a sale that afternoon:

“I see that you have a 2020 black MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 for lease right now with touchscreen navigation. From my research, I see that the residual value for that model is 75% and its money factor is around 0.00136. If you lease off the capitalized cost of $37,000 with 0 down, I'll sign the paperwork before the day ends.”

Send a similar email to multiple auto dealers near you to see if any of ‘em bite. Then you can negotiate a lease price like a pro.?

4. Never Put Money Down on a Car Lease

While a down payment is usually required when buying a car, new or used, you always have the option to negotiate a no-down-payment lease, even if you’re not taking advantage of the best vehicle lease deal. The down payment only serves two purposes:

  1. Lower your monthly payment
  2. Reduce your capitalized cost (capitalized cost reduction)

Aside from that, your down payment on a car lease will go down the drain if the vehicle ever gets totaled. Take it from someone who has experience with this: Me. The first time I leased a car, I put in a down payment of over $3,000. About 9 months later, my car was destroyed by a fallen tree limb. I never saw that $3k again, and there was no one to blame but myself.

5. Try to Reduce Your Money Factor

Getting your money factor (MF) down is a big leasing secret! There are several methods that can affect MF, some positively and some negatively. Here are a few that may help you lower your monthly car lease payments:

  • Pay multiple security deposits (MSD) - In some instances, paying multiple security deposits upfront can lower your money factor by anywhere from .00004 to .00028. These security deposits are normally refunded back to you at lease-end, too!
  • Make a one-way lease payment – If you pre-pay 100% of the lease payment, your money factor can be decreased by up to .0003.
  • Waive acquisition fees – Doing this will increase your money factor by about .0005, so it’s not recommended unless you have a short-term, 24-month lease.

Ready to Lease a MINI in Miami?

New MINI Lineup in Miami, FL

If you’re interested in leasing a MINI Cooper, we’ll make things simple for you. Just fill out a MINI finance application online, figure out which MINI Cooper model you’d like to drive, and contact our luxury car dealership in Miami at (786) 374-2201 to talk shop. We’d be happy to walk you through the entire auto lease process, from the initial test drive to the lease-end return procedure.

Categories: Finance, New Inventory