Frequently investing in the latest equipment can send a business owner into the poorhouse. Luckily, equipment can be leased, which is often a great alternative. This article will explore the pros and cons of leasing or buying business equipment. We’ll also discuss four considerations, so you can determine which option is right for your business.
Buy vs. Lease Equipment: How to DecideBusiness owners face many decisions, including how to obtain equipment for their businesses. Companies often don’t have enough capital to purchase equipment outright, and even if they do, it doesn’t always make sense to do so. While some companies choose to pay cash for their equipment, this option ties up capital and can lead to cash flow issues in the long term. Many companies choose to either use a loan to purchase equipment or lease it. Ownership of the equipment is the main difference between these two options. With the financing option, the business owner becomes the rightful owner. With leasing, they may be given a choice to purchase the equipment at the end of the lease term. There are pros and cons to both options, which we’ll describe in the following sections.
The Pros of Leasing Equipment
- Down payments are usually smaller for leasing than for financing. In fact, sometimes, no down payment is required at all.
- At the end of the lease agreement, the business owner can extend the lease, buy it, or return it.
- Operating leases are usually straightforward.
- In many equipment lease agreements, the leasing company is responsible for repairs.
- It may be easier for business owners with bad credit to obtain the equipment they need.
The Cons of Leasing Equipment
- Leasing is often more expensive than purchasing equipment with cash. The business owner should compare the lease interest rates and financing interest rates prior to making a decision.
- Depending on how the lease is structured, business owners may not realize any depreciation for the equipment.
- It’s possible for the lease payments to outlive the usefulness of the equipment. The business owner must continue to pay or to break the lease, which is costly.
- Under new rules of accounting, operating leases may appear on the balance sheet as a liability. This could alter the business's credit profile.
The Pros of Buying Equipment
- Equipment depreciates, which could lower tax liabilities.
- Business owners are free to use the equipment however they choose.
- Equipment that remains useful after its funding period gives the business owners an advantage. Not all equipment needs to be brand new to be useful.
- For business owners with great credit, the equipment funded with the loan serves as the only collateral. This may not be the case for businesses with poor credit, however.
The Cons of Buying Equipment
- For loans used to purchase equipment, lenders may require down payments.
- Loans increase the liabilities on the balance sheet, which could prevent these businesses from borrowing more money.
- Lenders may require collateral beyond the equipment being purchased via the loan.
- For outright purchases, a large sum of cash is needed to purchase equipment, which depletes capital reserves.
- Equipment often becomes obsolete, causing the equipment's resale value to plummet.
- Businesses are responsible for the overall costs and repairs.