Buy or Lease? Your Decision Is a Few Simple Questions Away

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — To lease or buy can be the biggest question facing someone looking for a new vehicle, especially these days, as lease rates keep creeping up to the highest rates in more than a decade.

There are excellent reasons for either. Those who lease always have a new car; those who buy can drive back and forth across the country with no worry their mileage allotment will be passed.

James Bell, head of consumer affairs at General Motors, says it boils down to what the prospective driver requires of a vehicle. 

"Leasing vs. buying ultimately comes down to to the expected usage by the driver as well as their personal tastes and habits. Love that new car smell? Lease. The kind of person that enjoys maintaining a car for many miles? Buy," Bell says.

Chris Naughton, regional manager for Honda Northeast, says finances can often be a deciding factor.

"If you don't have the money for a large down payment or you want to get more car for your money, then leasing is the best choice," he says, since a driver pays only for the portion of time a car is used.

"Lower monthly payments and less money down can make leasing seem like a great deal. The truth is that leasing offers a lot of convenience, but only if you are willing to put up with restrictions, which can include lower mileage limits — typically only 12,000 miles per year, sometimes 10,000 miles per year — diligent upkeep and care of the vehicle and, in some cases, penalties for early termination," says the folks at Kelly Blue Book.

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