When youâre looking for a new car, it can be difficult to decide whether buying one outright or leasing one for a period of time makes more sense. Itâs true that cars only go down in value the longer you own them, but there are still some solid arguments for owning one outright rather than essentially renting one.
Car-related decisions can be stressful, and thereâs a lot you need to know before buying or renting, but donât worry. If youâre in the market for a new car and arenât sure which way to go, you can use the following questions to help you make the best decision for your situation.
Question 1: How Much Will I Be Driving This Car?
If you only need a car for weekend adventures and plan to use public transportation or to carpool during the week, then leasing might be the better option for you, if you can get a good deal. Most lease contracts come with stipulations on how many miles you can put on the car while youâre using it, but if youâre only using it for a few quick trips each week, you likely wonât come close to hitting that mileage mark. Still, youâll want to pay close attention to that number if you do end up going for a lease. Always ask what happens if you go over the mileage count, since the penalties can be steep. On the other hand, if you have a lengthy commute to get to work and you need a reliable car to get you thereâor you just arenât interested in tracking milesâbuying might be better for you.
Question 2: What Do I Plan to Use It For?Â
You probably wouldnât go into a car purchase intending to rough up the car, but stuff happens, so youâll need to decide what you plan to use your car for to know if leasing is right for you. If you lease a car, the dealer generally allows normal wear and tear upon return at the end of your lease, but youâll be charged extra if they think the car has been more weathered. Be sure to get the specifics from the dealership on what exactly they consider ânormalâ wear and tear, and if that doesnât match your plans for the carâif you plan to off-road in the Colorado Rockies on most weekends, for exampleâit might be better to buy.
Question 3: How Long Do I Plan to Keep It?
One appealing thing about leasing a car is that most car leases end after three yearsâso you have the opportunity to upgrade to a new model every three years if youâd like. Of course you could buy a car and upgrade that way, but it can be harder to deal with the sale of a car than it is to just turn your lease back over to the dealer.
Question 4: How Much Can I Afford to Put Down?
Most lease agreements will come with lower down payments than buyer agreements have. In some cases, if you lease a car, you may even be able to negotiate with the dealer to skip a down payment altogether. (Keep in mind, though, that this will likely result in higher monthly payments.) Either way, if you really need a car now, and you donât have the cash for a decent down payment, then going with a lease may put you in the driverâs seat faster than if you waited to buy a car.
Buying a car is a very personal decision, and whether you lease or buy will be determined by a number of factors. At the end of the day, buying a car is almost always the cheaper option if you need a car for the long term, but signing up for a short-term lease can be a solid option depending on your needs. Putting in a little bit of extra thought before searching for your next ride can ensure you make the right decision.
Whatever move you decide to make, be smart in how you approach car buying or leasing. Donât forget that having good credit will improve your car-buying experience, so before you make car-related decisions, check your credit and see where youâre at. You can always check your credit for free at Credit.com.
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