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Should You Lease Or Buy A Car?
Which is best, to lease or buy a car?
The correct answer for your situation can't be generalized because it depends on your individual needs and circumstances.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to both leasing and buying. It is important that you carefully assess your needs and your financial situation before making a decision.
Related: 5 Financial Planning Mistakes That Cost You Big-Time (and what to do instead!) Explained in 5 Free Video Lessons
Compare the costs of leasing vs. buying using this Lease vs. Buy Car Calculator and see which strategy works best for your situation. The calculator will reveal all the expenses associated with each option, including your total costs and an average cost per year.
Assess Your Needs
When making a decision to buy or lease a car, start by evaluating your needs. Review your budget and calculate how much you can afford to pay every month (try out the Budget Calculator). The following questions will guide you in evaluating your situation:
- Do you have enough money to make the down payment?
- Is the car you want to drive too expensive for your budget?
- Are you looking for a car with a very low monthly payment?
- How often do you replace your car?
- What are your driving habits?
- Do you intend to use your car for long distance trips?
- Do you worry about the resale value of your car?
- Do you trust the company where you will be leasing the car?
Once you've answered these questions, take a look at the pros and cons of leasing and buying a car.
Pros Of Leasing
Leasing is simply a way to rent a car. The problem is many consumers lease vehicles they otherwise could not afford to buy. Let's take a look at some of the pros of leasing a car:
- Leasing a car gives you the luxury of driving a new and different car model every few years when your lease term ends.
- You don't need to worry about major car repairs since the leased vehicle will remain under warranty by the leasing company.
- In some instances, the monthly car leasing payment is cheaper than the monthly loan payments for buying a new car.
- The sales tax you pay for leasing will be low compared to buying a new car.
Cons Of Leasing
Leasing isn't all good news though. Here are some of the downsides:
- In some markets, leasing is more expensive and the initial payments are high. In this case, you need to shop around to get the best deal.
- The cost to pre-terminate the lease can be very expensive. Before you lease a car, make sure you can afford the payments over the term of the arrangement.
- There are mileage restrictions in car leasing. Therefore, if you regularly drive long distances that exceed the mileage limit then you will end up paying more for your lease.
- You cannot modify or change the car to suit your personal needs since you don't actually own it.
Pros And Cons Of Buying A Car
If you can afford to buy a car outright, it's usually a good idea. The Lease vs. Buy Car Calculator will help you make the best decision for your individual circumstances.
Financing a car may require a large down payment – including the debt to go along with it. Because many consumers use a 60-month loan term you have the advantage of owning your car without payments after 5 years.
Your driving habits are another factor – if you drive more than 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year it may be best to buy a car because the higher mileage will increase the cost of a lease.
One major disadvantage of buying a car is you'll have to shoulder the cost of major repairs when they are needed. Another disadvantage is depreciation – the decreasing value of your car over time.
If you don't mind owning a vehicle for a long period of time, buying is advantageous – much like owning a home. If you prefer driving new cars with low mileage every year then leasing can be advantageous.
The best decision for you will depend on your financial status, driving habits, and reasons for needing a vehicle.
The first step before making a decision to buy or lease a vehicle is to evaluate your needs and long-term plans. It really boils down to your personal preferences relative to what the lease vs. buy car calculator shows as the comparable costs. There is no single right answer that fits everyone's situation.
Remember that car dealerships like to lease cars for a reason: there are financial benefits and typically the customer-loyalty rate is higher. What is good for the dealership is probably not good for you since you are on the opposite side of the transaction.
Calculate which option is best for you using the Lease vs. Buy Car Calculator, and appropriately weigh the risks and rewards of each option.
Lease Vs. Buy Car Calculator Terms & Definitions
- Lease – An agreement whereby the party grants the use of property (in this case, a car) or services to another for a specific period time.
- Purchase Price – The total amount you pay for goods (in this case, a car) or services.
- Sales Tax Rate – A tax imposed by the government at the point of sale (in this case, of a vehicle).
- Cash Down Payment – A portion of the amount borrowed or an initial amount charged in a lease.
- Security Deposit – The amount held by the lessor to cover damages caused by the lessee for the rented property.
- Rebates – A portion of the money returned to the buyer due to promotions.
- Depreciation Expense – The reduced value of an asset over time due to aging.
- Resale Value – The market value of the property.
- Forgone Interest Earning – The interest lost if a certain amount of money is invested.
- Interest Expense – The total amount you paid for interest.
- Trade-in Allowance – The amount the dealer agrees to pay for a used, trade-in vehicle, which consumers often apply toward the purchase of a new vehicle.
- Fees – A payment made to a professional person or public body in exchange for advice or services (in this case, leasing or buying related fees).
- Interest Rate – The proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan.
Related Auto Loan Calculators:
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- Compare Auto Payment Terms: How much will my auto payments vary for different loan terms?
- Compare Car Financing Choices: Which car financing choice is the best deal?
- Car Lease Calculator: How much will a lease cost me?
- Car Cost Calculator: What is the true cost of ownership and driving for my car? How does the cost of one car compare to another?
- Car Rebate vs. Financing Calculator: Which dealer incentive is the best value – rebate or special financing?
- Auto Loan vs. Home Equity Calculator: Should I buy my next car using a conventional auto loan or home equity line of credit?
The One Decision That Can Make Or Break Your Financial Future
There are only four paths you can choose from.
Click below to find out which path is best for you, and why.