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What Is a Car Lease Acquisition Fee? Is It Negotiable?

What Is a Car Lease Acquisition Fee? Defined & Explained
Kelly Boyer Sagert
Kelly Boyer SagertUpdated August 19, 2022
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
When people are looking for a new vehicle, they often weigh the pros and cons of an auto loan vs a leaseHere’s one key benefit of a leased car: You’ll usually have a lower monthly payment because you aren’t paying for the full value of the vehicle. In a sense, leasing a vehicle is like renting it, usually for a period of two to four years.If you’re looking at leasing for the first time, you’ll quickly see how this process comes with its own procedures and lingo. And one of its unique terms is a “car lease acquisition fee.” This is also known as a car acquisition fee or an assignment, administrative, or origination fee. This article will provide you with helpful information about leasing a vehicle, including how you may be able to negotiate the amount of the car lease acquisition fee. Recommended: Car Loan Terms Explained

Car Acquisition Fee: Definition

A car acquisition fee is a fee that’s charged by the organization leasing the vehicle to cover the administrative costs of setting up the lease. These costs can include, for example, the pulling and reviewing of credit reports, the verification of car insurance, the creation and signing of paperwork, and so forth. It's important to remember that, whatever you call it, this fee covers only the administrative/document costs associated with setting up the lease, not all costs. There may also be a disposition fee that covers the dealer’s costs at the end of the lease period, for example. You may be wondering whether all leasing companies charge this fee. Car dealerships do have a significant amount of leeway when crafting their leases, so it’s possible that you could find one without this charge. That said, car lease acquisition fees are widely used in the industry, so it may be challenging to get a dealer to eliminate it unless you’re willing to give up something else in return. 

How Much Are Car Acquisition Fees?

Car acquisition fees are typically a few hundred dollars but can range as high as $1,000 or so. Automotive resource, for example, shares that the fee typically ranges between $395 and $895, depending upon the leasing company and the vehicle chosen. Overall, a more expensive vehicle tends to come with a higher fee. A luxury vehicle typically has a bigger one than a more utilitarian vehicle, for instance. These fees can be paid upfront or a portion of the overall fee can be added to each monthly lease payment (more about that choice later).

Finding Your Lease’s Acquisition Fee

As you read through your lease paperwork, keep an eye out for mentions of this fee and its amount, including in any fine print. If you don’t see anything or you want clarification, simply ask the dealer or lender you’re working with about the presence and specifics of this fee. Lenders are legally required to disclose fees. 

Can I Negotiate an Acquisition Fee?

As a lessee (a person leasing a vehicle), you can ask to negotiate just about any part of the process, including the car lease acquisition fee. The lessor (leasing company) may be willing to negotiate—or it may not. If it does agree to lower this particular fee, it may boost your interest rate (also called the money factor, lease rate, or lease factor). That means that lowering the acquisition charge may or may not end up resulting in a better deal for you overall. It can make sense to check with multiple leasing companies to see which one will negotiate the car lease acquisition fee in the most favorable way for you.If you aren’t able to negotiate this specific fee, there are other methods of negotiating a car lease, from tweaking the vehicle’s valuation to reducing or eliminating other charges and fees. So, don’t get too hung up on this specific negotiation. Instead, work to get the most favorable agreement overall. Once you sign a lease contract, of course, negotiations are over. Be sure to determine that you’ve gotten the best lease that you can before you close on the deal.

Paying Acquisition Fees

There are two main ways lessees can pay this fee: upfront in a lump sum or as part of their monthly car loan payments. If you decide to make it part of your payment, the fee will be added to the principal amount of the lease with payments calculated on that larger principal amount. So, for example, if you have a $30,000 lease and a $700 acquisition fee, you can pay the $700 when signing the lease documents and have your payments figured on $30,000. Or you can have a lease amount of $30,700 with monthly payments calculated on that figure. Which is better?By adding the fee to the principal amount, you’d pay more overall because of compound interest. Having said that, if the vehicle is involved in a significant accident (to the point that it's totaled), you wouldn’t be refunded any of the car acquisition fee if you’d paid it upfront. If your acquisition charge is included in the monthly payment, though, and the payments stop because a vehicle was totaled, you wouldn’t end up paying the full fee.No matter how you end up paying this charge, if all goes well with the vehicle, you may decide to purchase it through what’s called a lease buyout. That means that when the lease period has ended, you buy it at the predetermined price listed in your leasing agreement. Note that, in some cases, a lease agreement may prohibit this option. So, if you may want to buy the vehicle at the lease’s end, make sure the language in your agreement reflects that option. 

Auto Loan Refinancing

Remember how we mentioned that people often compare buying and leasing a vehicle before deciding how to move forward—and that those who choose leasing frequently appreciate the lower monthly payment.Auto loan refinancing to a lower interest rate is another way to reduce your monthly car payments. It’s just important to understand when to refinance a car loan. Scenarios where this can make sense include when:
  • You can get a lower interest rate.
  • Your credit has improved.
  • Your car is worth more than you owe.
  • You can pay your car off faster with the refinance terms.
  • You’re struggling with high payments.
  • You’re unhappy with your lender.
Be clear about the reasons why you’re considering a refinance and then compare interest rates, fees, and terms from potential lenders.

The Takeaway

Benefits of leasing a car can potentially include getting a lower monthly payment. Then, if you can successfully negotiate aspects of the lease, such as the car lease negotiation fee, you can improve upon the dealer’s initial offer to get an even better deal with your lease.  If you opted to buy a car, you may still be able to get a lower monthly payment by refinancing. You can fill out one simple form at Lantern by SoFi to receive competitive refinance rates from multiple partners within our network.
Photo credit: iStock/shapecharge

About the Author

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Kelly Boyer Sagert is an Emmy Award-nominated writer with decades of professional writing experience. As she was getting her writing career off the ground, she spent several years working at a savings and loan institution, working in the following departments: savings, loans, IRAs, and auditing. She has published thousands of pieces online and in print.
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