New to the US: Leasing a car without credit history or better buy a used one?

Hey folks,

I just came in from Germany to work in the US for 2 years. Since I am located in Rochester, MN I realized quickly that I will need a car fast. To save me the trouble of selling a car in 2 years I would like to lease a new car and just give it back after 24 months. I have been searching the web for quite some time now and ended up at a point where I need your help. I never leased a car yet. Back in Germany I always bought cars, used them for a couple of years and traded them in.
Is ist recommendable to lease a car without an American credit history or would you much rather recommend to buy a used car?
Is there a possibility to put down a “security deposit” as a replacement of the credit history?
I was looking at a VW Atlas or an Atlas Cross Sport. They seem reasonable priced to me but I am open for suggestions in any direction.

24 months lease will be more expensive than 36 in most scenarios. You should look at BMW, I guess. Maybe you should just buy something that holds value well (Subaru, etc) and sell it to carvana or vroom in 2 years.

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without a US credit history, you’re likely going to run into roadblocks whichever route you decide. You should probably sit down with a finance manager and discuss your situation, and see if he feels you can get approved. You will likely need some sort of down payment/security deposit up front.

If that finance manager doesn’t feel you can get approved, try a different brand.

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Thanks for the input so far. I would not finance the car but pay in cash for it so the missing credit history would not be a factor in the buying scenario.
I would just generally prefer to lease the car for 24 months since I know that I will have to get rid of it then.

A lease will likely be harder to get in your situation. I’m not going to say impossible, but you likely have a battle on your hands.


The European makes may have “foreign executive” programs you can take a look at. BMW and Mercedes Benz are ones that come to mind - not sure about others. Also, dealers may or may not have experience with them

Interesting idea. I will have a look at the that. I contacted a few dealers but the resonance is not great yet.

The chances a dealer would know of these obscure programs are pretty small.

You’ll have to do some googling and find the programs yourself, such as

Variations of

Leasing BMW/Mercedes/Audi

Followed by

[your diplomatic/visa/expat status]

You should still be able to get a lease. Just be prepared the MF may be marked up by the dealership. Reach out to the dealerships in Rochester as they might have done similar leases in the past. They might ask you for paystubs and copy of visa for approval.

Welcome to LH and the US. This has been covered many times, so feel free to use the search function, and if you have a more specific question ask that here.

Some highlights:

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Thank you for the links and the input. I appreciate your effort very much. I read those threads before I posted. My question is not if I am able to lease a car with an H1B visa. I know that I can do that. My question is much more if it is a good idea to lease a car for 24 months with no credit history or if I would be better off buying one (used one from 2019 or new one) in the current situation.

I contacted a VW dealership today and they were familiar with the “foreigner process”. But haven’t seen any numbers yet.

VW lease numbers will not be good. Used cars prices are high now, so it is catch-22

That is what I am expecting. Any suggestions? I just need an affordable, reliable car with AWD to get through the winter.

I said before - buy a Subaru

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Can you say that for certain across the brand? I’ve seen MFs on some Jettas (admittedly not AWD) at .0001

I’d be skimming Edmunds forums all night with a short list to see what’s leasing well at 24 months, and I’d start with AWD sedans. Or look at lease transfers from non-bank captives (nothing US Bank, BofA, or Chase).

Definitely don’t try to lease one

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I can say for certain that all VW models RVs suck :slightly_smiling_face:

If you are open to it, a 1 pay lease could be a good idea. You’ll be paying upfront so it may make some finance companies more comfortable with the idea and may even get you to base Money Factor. Just check what their terms are in the event of an accident/ write off ie will they refund you the balance of lease payments or not. Pretty sure MB does one pays so could we worth exploring

Haven’t seen any good 24m leases recently except the Audi Etron but good deals on those require effort + Audi loyalty (owner of a 2009+ Audi, IIRC) plus Costco membership prior to XYZ date.

If looking at 2019s, look at new ones on dealer lots (“leftovers” as they are sometimes called).

Normally 24m depreciation on a brand new car is pretty steep, but this year is the other way around, with used values being high. If the last big drop in new car sales (2008 recession onwards) is any indication, those strong used values may persist for a while.

Also: look at leftovers that are cars with cult followings that are being discontinued, such as Golf wagen and Alltrack.

Nobody has even asked about one since July

Likewise the Sportwagen had one post this month. And no idea if they have a 24m program this month.

Ford Fusion AWD might be worth a look: