Leasing vs. Buying a Commercial Truck

blue and white semi-truck driving down a highway

Last Updated May 30, 2024

There are numerous important financial decisions to make when starting a trucking business. From making sure you meet trucking insurance requirements to understanding fuel surcharges, there are several factors that play a role in helping you start a profitable business.

Early on, one of your biggest decisions will be deciding between leasing a commercial truck vs. buying. So, is leasing a truck a good idea, or is it better to buy instead? As it turns out, the right answer often comes down to your individual situation. With that said, let’s look into the pros and cons of both options.

Pros and Cons of Leasing a Commercial Truck

What are the pros and cons of leasing a truck? Here are some things to keep in mind before you sign a leasing agreement.

Pros of Leasing a Semi-Truck Cons of Leasing a Semi-Truck
Spend less money upfront Can be more expensive in the long run
Fixed, predictable expenses Restricted by the leasing company’s policies
Lower-risk commitment than buying Must check the fine print
Can operate a brand-new truck


1.) Spend Less Money Upfront

If you’re low on cash or worried about your credit score when starting your trucking business, leasing is a great option to help you get a truck. Leasing companies require much less money upfront than if you were to finance a semi-truck, and they often have more flexible credit score options.

1.) Fixed, Predictable Expenses

When leasing, you can expect to pay the same price each month during the lease. However, most leasing agreements include perks like warranty and maintenance plans. This makes it easier to manage your trucking company’s cash flow since your expenses will be more consistent each month. Some leasing companies also help manage permitting, licensing, and other compliance costs.

3.) Less Commitment

If you’re uncertain about whether working as a truck driver is what you want in the future, leasing is a lower-risk option. Leasing terms are relatively short, requiring much less of a commitment than buying a truck.

4.) You Can Get a Brand-New Truck

Leasing companies often provide brand-new vehicles, meaning you’re more likely to get a semi-truck with minimal mileage and the latest technology. This can lead to even more savings thanks to improved fuel efficiency, reduced repair and maintenance needs, and better safety and comfort features.


1.) Potentially More Expensive in the Long Run

Since leasing doesn’t require a large upfront payment, this usually means you have higher monthly expenses than if you were financing a purchase. You may have the option to purchase your truck at the end of the leasing period at a reduced price, but your total expenses will generally be higher than if you just bought it upfront.

2.) Restricted By Leasing Company’s Policies

When you lease, the semi-truck is owned by the leasing company. Their policies and practices will limit what you can do with your truck. This usually means you can’t modify it or upgrade it to your liking. Most companies also have policies regarding smoking, pets, and other activities that you wouldn’t have to worry about if you owned your truck.

3.) You Must Check the Fine Print

You should always carefully read through your lease agreement before signing anything. Requirements to lease a semi-truck can vary between companies. Some companies might not offer health benefits. Others might require you to cover some expenses yourself before the carrier begins to cover them. Make sure you fully understand what you’re agreeing to so you don’t get stuck in an agreement that isn’t good for the long term.

Related: What Is Freight Factoring?

Pros and Cons of Buying a Commercial Truck

So, how does buying a commercial truck stack up against leasing a truck? Here are some factors to consider.

Pros of Buying a Semi-Truck Cons of Buying a Semi-Truck
Build equity over time High upfront costs
Can customize your truck Tougher credit requirements
Save money in the long run Greater financial responsibilities
More freedom


1.) Build Equity Over Time

When you finance a semi-truck, you can build equity over time as you make your payments. Eventually, you will own your truck in full. Once you own it in full, you won’t have to make ongoing monthly payments. You can also use the equity you have in your truck to obtain a newer vehicle at a better price.

2.) You Can Customize Your Truck

As the owner of your truck, you are free to customize it how you wish. You can add whatever modifications you want, making the improvements that best suit your needs and interests.

3.) Save Money in the Long Run

Financing a semi-truck is usually less expensive in the long run due to lower monthly payments compared to leasing, as well as the opportunity to eventually own it outright. This will help increase your profit margins while you are still paying off your truck.

4.) More Freedom

Leasing agreements may limit your mileage, routes, clients, and other business decisions. When you own your truck, you have total control over these and other decisions. You can run your business how you see fit.


1.) High Upfront Costs

The high upfront costs of buying a commercial truck can be a barrier for many. With some lenders requiring down payments of up to 40% of the truck’s value, you may not have enough money to purchase a quality truck.

2.) Tougher Credit Requirements

Credit requirements for financing are usually stricter than for leasing. Depending on your credit history, you might have very high interest rates. In some cases, you might not even qualify for a loan.

3.) Greater Financial Responsibilities

Owner-operators who own their semi-trucks have more financial and business responsibilities, such as managing all maintenance and repair needs, insurance, remaining compliant with government regulations, and more. This requires a lot of work and careful financial management to keep the business running.

Leasing vs. Buying a Commercial Truck: Which Is Better?

So, is it better to lease or buy a semi-truck? Deciding between a semi-truck lease vs. purchase ultimately comes down to your current financial situation and your long-term goals as a truck driver. Buying and leasing are both worthwhile options, as long as you fully understand what each option means for your business.

Review your finances and do your research so you can make an informed decision with confidence.

Leasing vs. Buying a Semi-Truck FAQs

How much does it cost to lease a commercial truck?

Leasing a commercial truck typically costs between $800 and $2,500 per month, depending on factors like your credit score, the truck you lease, and your CDL experience.

How much does it cost to buy a commercial truck?

A commercial truck can cost between $70,000 and $200,000 depending on its make and model, mileage, upgrades, and whether it is used or new. Lenders typically require a down payment worth 1%-40% of the truck’s value, based on your credit score and CDL history.

Is leasing a truck for business a good idea?

Is leasing a truck worth it? For owner-operators with little cash who are unsure about their credit history, leasing can allow you to get a truck without a big upfront payment. With predictable expenses and reduced maintenance needs, this can be a good option for many drivers.

How do you get out of a semi-truck lease?

Depending on your lease terms, you might be able to get out of your truck lease early, but you’ll have to pay fines or penalties. You could also buy out your lease to purchase the truck. What is and isn’t allowed varies between companies.