Leasing a car is a controversial topic in personal finance. Some say leasing is a financial dead end — you make years of payments on an asset you’ll never own. Others feel it’s foolish to buy something that rapidly depreciates in value.
But major financial decisions should be based on numbers, not assumptions. Our lease vs. buy calculator will give you a real side-by-side comparison of how much you’ll ultimately end up paying to lease a car or finance it.
How to use the Lease vs. Buy Calculator
First, fill out basic information about the car you’re buying. Enter its purchase price, the amount of cash you can put together for a down payment, and the sales tax rate in your state.
Under Buy Option, select your loan term, the interest rate you’ll be paying, and any additional fees you might pay.
Under Lease Option, fill out the same fields, plus the security deposit.
The results in the Summary section will show you both the total cost to buy and lease over the next ten years. The buy option assumes you keep the same car for ten years; the lease option assumes that you lease a new car at the end of each leasing period.
The calculator assumes equal wear and tear, registration fees, and fuel costs for both buying and leasing. High mileage on a leased car will lead to overage fees, but high mileage on an owned car will accelerate depreciation. Therefore, high mileage will affect both cars equally and for this reason is not considered in our calculations.
We assumed that by leasing you could earn 3% ROI (a conservative estimate) with the extra money you would have spent on buying the car. We also assumed a 15% depreciation of your car per year, and a 60% residual percentage (the value of your vehicle after your lease ends).
Personal finance is personal, as we like to say around here. We can’t tell you whether you should buy or lease a car, but this calculator can give you an accurate understanding of the costs associated with each.