Which is right for you -- buying or leasing a vehicle?

If you plan to keep your car for a long time, buying is often the best choice. But if you're short on cash or don't plan to own a car for many years, sometimes leasing is smarter. (Monthly lease payments tend to be smaller than if you buy a car.) If there's much chance that you'll damage the vehicle (not so unlikely, with a truck), you might get socked with extra charges when you lease -- after all, vehicles coming off leases are later sold. If your credit rating isn't too hot, buying might be best, since good credit is often required for leases. With buying, it's often not as big of a deal.

Here are a few more things to keep in mind as you deliberate:

  • Is the leasing deal you're being offered a good one? They're not all the same. Shop around and compare.
  • What will you be using the car for? (If it's being used for business, you may have some tax deductions coming.)
  • How many miles will you be driving the car? (Excessive mileage or wear and tear can end up costing you more.)

As you compare leasing vs. buying, consider these costs and factors as they relate to each option:

  • What's your initial outlay?
  • How much will you be paying while you possess the vehicle?
  • What final costs are there, at the end of your possession period?
  • What options rights do you have, if you're leasing, and what will they cost you?
  • Will you be able to deduct any of these expenses?

The ins and outs of leasing can get fairly complicated. Take some time to do some research before opting to lease. You can learn a lot more about leasing at these sites:

For much more scoop on the ins and outs of the car-buying process, check out the Fool's area on buying a car and ask any questions on our Buying and Maintaining a Car discussion board.

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