Difference Between Lease and Finance | Which is Better?

Difference between lease and finance is an important consideration when weighing your purchasing decision for assets, vehicles, and more.

In this article, weโ€™ll discuss the difference between leasing and financing and answer several common questions on the topic.

This article is part of our free series on credit basics, ranging from how to get a credit card with an ITIN number to sharing information on topics like the difference between leasing and financing.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Difference Between Lease and Finance
  2. What Is an Operating Lease?
  3. What Is an Automotive Lease?
  4. Monthly Payments for Leasing vs Financingย 
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Ready to Explore Your Options?

Difference Between Lease and Finance

The main difference between a lease and a finance agreement is that a lease is an agreement to take control of an asset for a fixed period of time while a finance agreement is an agreement to buy an asset over a fixed period of time. In both cases, the asset is in control of the person paying for the lease or the financing.ย 

However, in the case of a lease, the asset must be returned to the owner of the asset at the end of the term. In comparison, at the end of a financing period, the asset is then owned by the individual that paid for the asset over the term of the agreement.

Not surprisingly, there are different applications of both a lease agreement and a finance agreement that can apply to individuals and businesses. In the following sections we will look at two common types of leasing and financing scenarios, including an operating lease and an automotive lease.

What Is an Operating Lease?

An operating lease refers to a financial agreement between the owner of an asset and an individual seeking control of the asset for a fixed period of time. Operating leases are commonly used by businesses to gain access to necessary industrial equipment that is costly to acquire directly.

What Is an Automotive Lease?

An automotive lease refers to a financial agreement between a car dealership and an individual that wants to use a vehicle for a fixed period of time. Automotive leasing is only available on new cars and typically comes with a number of usage restrictions. However, it can be a viable alternative to financing the car in certain circumstances.

Monthly Payments for Leasing vs Financing

The main difference between monthly payments for leasing and financing is that leasing tends to be more cost-effective in the short term. In most cases, financing is less expensive on a monthly basis.

However, financing payments pay off the value of the vehicle and the individual ends up owning the vehicle at the end of the financing period. Comparatively, lease payments are rental payments that provides access to the vehicle during the lease period.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are three of the most common questions that we receive from people looking into the difference between lease and finance. If you have further questions you would like answered, donโ€™t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

Is It Better to Finance or Lease?

Whether it is better to finance or lease depends on the individual, their personal situation, and the specific terms that they are trying to optimize for. For example, if you are trying to optimize for the lowest monthly payment, then it may be cheaper to lease a car than buy the same car. On the other hand, if you are trying to optimize for more flexibility and freedom in how the vehicle is used, then it may be better to finance a car.

Why Do People Lease Instead of Finance?

Why people lease instead of finance is ultimately a personal decision. However, many people reference the convenience of leasing, lower payments overall, easier maintenance, and fewer concerns with the long-term value of the vehicle. On the other hand, financing a car instead of leasing can provide more freedom and flexibility in how the vehicle is used, resale opportunities, and ultimately owning the vehicle and not needing to continue making payments.

Whatโ€™s the Difference Between Car Leasing vs Car Financing?

The main difference between car leasing and car financing is that leasing a car is the equivalent of renting a vehicle for a fixed period of time and then returning it to the dealership while financing a car is a contractual agreement to purchase a vehicle outright through monthly payments.

Additionally, the period to lease a car is typically shorter than the period to finance a car, which results in the amount paid overall being lower. However, if you continue to lease, you will always have monthly payments while financing results in the vehicle being paid off after a set period of time.

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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