Leasing vs. buying a car: How to decide

To lease or not to lease ... That is the question

One of the biggest questions auto buyers consider is, should I lease or buy? Here are some tips to figure out which is right for you.


Leasing a car is much like leasing an apartment. You sign a contract, to pay a fixed price, to cover a fixed mileage, over a fixed period of time. Your monthly lease payment depends on several factors, including the vehicle's price and your down payment amount. As a general rule leasing is cheaper per month than buying, all other things being equal. You could also consider a one-pay lease. Paying for the whole lease in one lump sum can save you significant money in fees, but you need to have the cash on hand. It's not for everyone. Leases are cheaper because you won't retain any equity. For better or worse, once the lease is up, you'll simply pay for any damage or mileage overages, then return the vehicle, unless you buyout.


In contrast, financing to buy a car results in a higher monthly loan payment then leasing, but you'll eventually own the car outright. You can only lease at the dealer, but you can get auto loans at your local bank or credit union, and you can usually get a better deal. Know your credit score, shop loan rates, and get pre-approved before heading to the dealer. Check out the Autoblog loan calculator to explore your options for loan payments.

So what do I do?

There are pros and cons to both options, so here are a few tips to help make your decision.

Leasing Pros
Leasing may be a good choice if...

  • You don't want to put down a large chunk of money
  • You want a new car frequently
  • You're okay with having a car payment
  • You drive fewer than 15,000 miles per year
  • You generally keep your cars in good, undamaged condition
  • You qualified to write off the lease

Buying Pros
Financing to buy a car may be a good choice if...

  • You can afford a higher monthly payment
  • You drive a lot
  • You don't need a new car very frequently
  • Your cars tend to acquire a few dings and scratches
  • You want to stop making payments at some point

With these tips, you should have a much better sense of whether or leasing or buying is the right move for you. Visit to learn more.

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