Leasing a Car vs. Buying a Car

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By Sarah Young  |   Last updated on October 25th, 2022 at 12:43 pm

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There are so many decisions to make when it comes to vehicle ownership. What dealership should I go to? Should I go with a new or pre-owned vehicle? What make and model are the safest? When it comes to to decide about your next car, one question you might not be considering is leasing vs buying a car.

It might be difficult to decide between purchasing and leasing an automobile. On the one hand, purchasing implies larger monthly expenditures, but in the end, you become the owner of an asset—your automobile.

In contrast, a lease provides lower monthly payments and enables you to drive a car that may cost more than you can comfortably afford, but you enter a cycle in which you continue to pay for the car. The rise in leasing won’t be slowing down anytime soon since more consumers now choose a lease over a loan than they did a few years ago. This article will walk you through the pros and cons of each option, so you can decide what’s right for you.

What does it mean to lease a car?

Simply put, a car lease is a financing agreement where a customers pay to drive a car, but they are not taking a loan to eventually own it. At the end of the term of the lease agreements, customers then return the vehicle to the dealership.

What does it mean to finance a car?

Financing a car means a customer takes out a loan from a financial institution with an agreement to repay the loan. Once the load has been repaid, the customer then owns the vehicle.

Is it better to lease or finance a car?

The answer depends on many factors, including your budget and your needs. Leasing often results in lower monthly payments and the dealership may cover all of the maintenance. Buying a car often includes a bigger down payment; however, buying a car makes it your own, and your monthly payments will eventually end once you’ve paid off your vehicle. Let’s look at the pros and cons of leasing a vehicle first.

Why should I lease a car?

The monthly cost of leasing a car is less than buying it outright because it is effectively renting it for a set amount of time, usually 36 months, though there are options for different loan lengths.

When compared to financing the whole price of the car, this usually results in a motorist getting a higher-end vehicle for the same money. The car will either be sold to repay the remaining cost for the lessor or offered to the lessees for purchase at the end of the lease not at the original purchase price, but at the agreed-upon residual market value.

Many people choose to lease a vehicle because lease payments are typically lower than car payments. You pay only the vehicle’s depreciation during the lease term, plus interest charges, taxes, and fees. However, When leasing a vehicle, you do not own the car; you pay to use the vehicle for a fixed period of time and mileage. Let’s walk through what it’s like to drive a leased vehicle:

Advantages of car leasing

  • Affordability
  • Often covered under warranty for length of term, meaning no extra maintenance costs.
  • Most often you’re driving a vehicle when it’s newest, meaning fewer maintenance issues
  • Newest vehicles
  • No worry about depreciation

 Disadvantages of leasing a car

  • Mileage restrictions – it’s important to consider how many miles you drive per month, and review that number with possible lease contract restrictions
  • Wear and tear charges if the vehicle is not maintained in good condition.
  • You don’t own the car
  • Very expensive and difficult to end the lease early

In summary, leased vehicles are typically the newest models and have lower payments. However, most lease agreements contain mileage restrictions, and at the end of the lease term, you have to don’t own the vehicle.

Is financing a car worth it?

When a buyer gets an automobile through financing, they do so by obtaining a loan from a bank or another creditor that will last for a specific amount of time and demand regular payments that cover both the principal (the amount they owe on the car) and interest. The creditworthiness of the buyer often determines the interest rate, meaning those with low credit scores can have higher interest rates.

Occasionally, vehicle manufacturers will provide unique financing arrangements, but obtaining such benefits often necessitates a very good credit score. The amount of the loan, and therefore the interest and monthly payment, are reduced when buyers choose to make a sizable down payment on the vehicle at the time of purchase. Many automobile purchasers put down payment on their new car using the money they get for their trade-in.

When financing a car, you agree to pay, over a period of time, the amount financed, often plus a finance charge. Once the amount borrowed has been repaid, your monthly payments end and you wholly own the vehicle. However, financing a car is more expensive than leasing a car. So what are the pros and cons of car ownership?

Advantages of Financing a Car

  • Once the loan is paid off, you’ll be done with payments and have an asset
  • No mileage restrictions or wear and tear charges
  • Since you own the vehicle, you can make any customizations you like.

Disadvantages of Financing a Car

  • Higher monthly payments
  • The buyer is responsible for all maintenance costs
  • Vehicle costs are on the rise which is resulting in longer term leases. These longer loans mean you pay significantly more interest over time.
  • Depreciation impacts trade-in or resale value.

When financing a car, there are no mileage restrictions, and at the end of the loan term, you will own the vehicle. However, car loans come with higher monthly payments than leases, and you are responsible for all of the costs of maintenance.

How should I decide between leasing or financing a car?

One of the biggest financial decisions a customer will make is whether to buy a new car, so figuring out payments, upkeep, and resale value before visiting a dealership can help them avoid making an impulsive or emotional decision.

Are there any tools available that can help?

Calculators for lease payments and loans are available on automotive and financial websites, including our sister site Forbes Advisor, to help you plan as precisely as possible. It never hurts to discuss your alternatives with a financial counselor at your bank or credit union before entering the dealership, which might be a high-pressure situation.

Things to consider when making your decision

Look at your budget

How much can you afford to spend each month? Include cost of maintenance.

How far do you drive?

If you plan on driving more than 250 miles per week, you might exceed mileage restrictions.

How important is the age of your vehicle?

If you prefer a brand new vehicle every couple of years, leasing may be for you. However, if age isn’t the main factor, and you want your trusty steed by your side year after year, financing may be your best bet.

Car buying or leasing can be overwhelming, but with a little research, you can find the option that works best for you and your family.

Ok, I’ve made my decision – now what?

Woohoo! You’ve weighed the options between leasing vs buying a car. You’re familiar with monthly lease payments and finance payments, and you know the difference between lease terms and a loan term. You’ve even visited the car dealership. You’re ready for the next step, car insurance. Luckily at Elephant insurance, we make it easy. Contact us for a quote today! Whether you’re leasing, financing, or buying your car outright, Elephant has the coverage you need, on your terms.

 



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