The Ultimate Question: Buy or Lease?

by Wade Barnes 25. February 2013

New Car

So you’ve decided on a new car! You’ve picked the make, model, color and options but the tough question is still looming. Should I buy or lease? Like many financial decisions, the answer is highly dependent on individual situations, but to help narrow the scope of your decision, it is best to consider the benefits of leasing to see if this option is best for your situation. 

Benefits of Leasing

Perhaps the greatest benefit of leasing is the fact that you can get into a new car with low money down and low monthly payments. This means that you can afford a more expensive car with more options at a lower acquisition and monthly cost than if you were to buy the car. On top of this, when you lease a car, you have pre-negotiated the value at the end of the term, which means you can walk away without having to negotiate the value and sell the car.

Most leases are for three years and most cars come with warranties that match this term. This means you’ll never be responsible for a major repair that should be covered under warranty. This is an important benefit of leasing a car because outside of the lease expense, general maintenance, and gas, you shouldn’t have any unforeseen expenses related to leasing a car.

For business owners, another benefit of leasing a car is the potential to benefit from greater tax deduction when leasing a car for business purposes. While you should consult your tax advisor on this issue, typically you can deduct a portion of depreciation on cars owned and used for business purposes whereas lease expenses in whole are typically tax deductible which tend to be greater on a month-to-month basis.

Downsides of Leasing

The biggest downside to leasing is that you’re never gaining equity on the car; you’re essentially renting the car under a long-term agreement. Under this proposition, as long as you have a car, you’ll have car payments, and if for some reason you need to get out of a lease, there are typically expensive penalties for breaking the lease.

Leases also have an annual mileage restriction as well. Typically leases offer either 12,000 or 15,000 miles per year and if you go over the allotted mileage, it can get expensive. Since you don’t actually own the car, you can’t make any modifications to the car, and at the term of the lease you’ll be charged for every nick and ding that happened under your watch. Insurance can also be more expensive as most lease companies require higher levels of coverage to protect their interest.

Conclusion

So now you must decide to lease or buy. If you like the idea of owning a car without a car payment one day, buying is the best option. If you like the idea of having a new car with fancy options every few years and you can live within the terms of the lease, then leasing may be the best option.

If the benefits of leasing a car have outweighed the decision making process, be sure to fully understand the terms of the lease to avoid expensive costs at the end of the term. If you’ve opted to buy versus lease, consider your financing options. If rates are similar, you may want to consider using a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit to finance the purchase to benefit from potential tax advantages (but be sure to consult your tax advisor first). Whichever way you go, be sure to enjoy your new car. If you’d like some ideas on how to save money at the pump with your new car, check out our blog: Ten Ways to Ease Your Pain at the Pump.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Debt to Income Ratio: What It Is and How It Helps (or Hurts) Your Chances of Getting Loan

How to Decide: Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit?

The Imaginary Mortgage: Fake It Til You Make It



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