Second to home purchase, cars are the most significant purchases made by most people. Over the last few years, car ownership options have expanded and it is now possible to lease cars rather than purchase outright. Whether buying or leasing a car is the best option for an individual will depend on a number of factors. Careful consideration of these factors will lead you to make the right choice for you.
You should consider the pattern of ownership of cars that you have exhibited in the past and whether or not you believe that will change in the future. Some people buy a car and keep that same car for many years, only changing it when absolutely necessary. Others like to change their car every two or three years, buying the latest models. Your pattern of ownership will help determine whether leasing is the right option for you or not. If you do change cars frequently, then leasing is an appealing option. It saves you the hassle of buying and selling and will be cheaper in the long term. For those that keep their car for many years, leasing will be a less attractive option.
Most leasing agreements will place a cap on the number of miles the car can be driven in a year before additional charges are levied. The cap is sufficiently generous for most people not to exceed it, but if you are a high mileage driver, the leasing arrangement may quickly become more expensive than buying a car outright. When considering leasing a car, check the upper limit for mileage and evaluate whether or not you are likely to exceed it. Also check the cost of additional miles. You can then make a judgement about whether leasing a car is less expensive than purchasing.
There are a number of conditions in a lease that if breached will result in additional charges. These conditions include level of wear and tear and early termination charges which will also be levied in the event of the car being stolen or written off after an accident. If you are not good at maintaining a car and keeping it in good condition and/or you will worry about early termination charges, then leasing may not be a good option for you.
Lease deals can be quite complex and vary between providers. It is important you understand the conditions and charges fully before making a decision. It is useful to consult an independent broker to ensure you get the best deal.
Leasing generally is cheaper than buying a new car. It will allow you to use new cars and possibly higher specification cars than you might be able to afford to buy outright. Your lease charge will be lower than for purchasing and will also include maintenance and servicing. All things considered, leasing is likely to be the cheaper option with the caveats outlined above and below.
If you are someone who is attached to owning their car and/or you like to make modifications and personalise your car, then leasing is not likely to be a good option for you. You will be expected to return a lease car in a similar state to that which you received it. Of course some leasing arrangements will allow you to purchase the car at the end of the lease period, but that may not be what you want to do.
Once you have considered the factors above, you should be able to easily identify which is the best option for you. For most people contemplating a brand new car, leasing is likely to be the most cost efficient option, but only if you can keep to the terms and conditions of the deal. It can become significantly more expensive to lease if you breach these conditions.