Leasing vs buying outright: Should I lease or buy a car?

How to decide whether to buy or lease a car.

If you can't decide whether to buy or lease a car, you're not alone. Deciding on the best financing option for you is tricky, as both a lease and a car loan can be with you for a number of years. Cars are a significant expense whether you decide to lease or buy and the decision should be influenced by not only financial factors but also your individual needs. Read our guide below on what's involved with both leasing and buying and find out the best option for you.

Leasing and buying

Leasing a car involves you borrowing a vehicle under a contract that allows you to use it to drive an average number of kilometres annually. Leased cars are covered by warranty and the latest models are usually available. Leases also allow you to upgrade your car every two or three years.

Buying a car involves you purchasing a vehicle so that you own the vehicle outright. You can either make your purchase using a car loan, which can be paid off in a period of up to seven years, or by buying the vehicle outright.

leasing vs buying a car

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IMB New Car Loan

IMB New Car Loan


5.99 % p.a.

fixed rate


6.34 % p.a.

comparison rate

  • No monthly fees
  • No early repayment fees
  • Borrow up to $75,000
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IMB New Car Loan

Apply for IMB New Car Loan and enjoy a great low fixed interest rate with no ongoing fees.

  • Interest rate from: 5.99% p.a.
  • Comparison rate: 6.34% p.a.
  • Interest rate type: Fixed
  • Application fee: $250
  • Minimum loan amount: $2,000
  • Maximum loan amount: $75,000
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Rates last updated August 22nd, 2017
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Repayment Product Description
IMB New Car Loan
From 5.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
This fixed rate new car loans up to 2 years old features no early repayment penalties
RACV New Car Loans
From 6.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
Enjoy this fixed rate new car loan offer from RACV. No ongoing fees.
bcu New Car Loan
From 5.9% (variable)
1 to 5 years
Borrow up to $60,000 for a car up to 7 years old. The Freedom Car Loan from bcu allows you to make extra repayments and access a redraw feature
IMB Secured Personal Loan
From 7.39% (fixed)
1 to 5 years
A secured loan from IMB with flexible repayment features
From 5.16% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
AutoCarLoans can match you with a lender on their panel with rates starting from 5.16% p.a.
Westpac Car Loan
From 8.49% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
Apply for a Westpac car loan and enjoy a great interest rate when you purchase a new or used vehicle.
St.George Secured Personal Loan - Fixed Rate
From 8.49% (fixed)
1 to 5 years
Get behind the wheel of your perfect car with a competitive interest rate from St.George. Get an application response within 60 seconds.

Compare up to 4 providers

Have you considered renting?

If you don't want to lease, or buy a car - renting a car is also an option. Did you know Splend allow you to rent a car to become an Uber Partner. Find out how you can sign up.

What financing options are available for cars?

  • Secured personal loan. A personal loan that is secured works by you using the car as a guarantee in order to finance it. This is less of a risk for the lender as they can sell the car should you default on the loan. These loans generally have lower rates and fees and are offered as a fixed or variable rate option.
  • Unsecured personal loan. An unsecured personal loan can not only be used to finance a vehicle, but can also be used for any other purchase you wish to make. These loans are flexible but they usually come with higher fees and rates because it is a risk to the lender.
  • Dealer finance. If you purchase a car from a dealership then they will most likely have a financing option they are able to offer you. It's best to do your research before you sign up as dealer financing usually comes with inflated rates and high fees. Dealer finance usually comes with a balloon payment at the end that is designed to lower your ongoing repayments.
  • Novated lease. A novated lease is basically a lease agreement between you, your employer and the lease provider. Some of your lease obligations are transferred to your employer and as such your car is treated like a company car for tax purposes. This type of lease can save you money by allowing you to access benefits such as GST discounts, income tax savings and savings on the cost of running the car.

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IMB New Car Loan

This fixed rate new car loans up to 2 years old features no early repayment penalties

Latitude Personal Loan (Secured)

Can be used for whatever purpose: renovating, buying a car, booking a holiday. Funds can be in your account in as little as 24 hours.


AutoCarLoans can match you with a lender on their panel with rates starting from 5.16% p.a.

RACV New Car Loans

Enjoy this fixed rate new car loan offer from RACV. No ongoing fees.

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27 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JacquelineApril 1, 2017

    I have salary packaged the full amount possible. Am I still able to get tax benefits if I choose to lease a vehicle.

    • Staff
      ArnoldApril 16, 2017Staff


      Thanks for your inquiry.

      Yes, you are still able to get tax benefits when opting for Novated Lease. This type of lease can save you money by allowing you to access benefits such as GST discounts, income tax savings, and savings on the cost of running the car.

      Hope this information helped.


  2. Default Gravatar
    SteveAugust 22, 2016

    I work for a mining company who offer novated leases (employee contribution method) to employees.

    There are two companies nominated to manage the lease arrangements.

    I have found a suitable vehicle and have had quotes for lease finance from financiers not connected with then novation management companies for this vehicle.

    According to the information that is available from the novation management companies on their website, there appears to be no restriction on where the vehicle is financed. In other words, it appears that I can source cheaper finance from a finance company and have the vehicle lease novated through a management company.

    According to the Novation management company representative, finance can only be arranged through them and not from an outside source.

    Is this correct? Are novation management companies finance companies also or do they pressure consumers into taking their finance option?

    • Staff
      ElizabethAugust 23, 2016Staff

      Hi Steve,

      As you enter into the novated lease agreement in your own name you should be able to choose the financier. The lease is a financial responsibility and if you change employers you’ll become responsible for the repayments, so it’s important to select a financier you’re happy with. However, your employer may only offer novated leases through these specific providers. It would be best to talk directly with your employer and explain that you’ve selected a different leasing company.

      I hope this helps,


  3. Default Gravatar
    DarrenAugust 6, 2016

    The company I work for as a sales representative offers novated leases. With a novated lease, you don’t pay the GST with the purchase of the car, so there is a saving there. I get a reasonably good car allowance as part of my salary, and currently have a loan, and pay all the other running costs out of my own salary. I do a PAYG tax variation so that I get the tax benefit upfront each week. With this way, you can only claim the interest part of the loan, and then claim depreciation and other running costs, which varies year by year.
    Which works out better between a Novated lease, and the above method of loan for someone who uses the car for 95% business use?

    Many thanks

    • Staff
      ElizabethAugust 8, 2016Staff

      Hi Darren,

      Unfortunately I’m unable to offer you personal advice so can’t advise you either way, but it really would depend on a number of factors in which would work out better for you cost-wise. This includes running costs, your car allowance, etc. We have a few tools on finder that can help, including a novated lease calculator, but you may want to get some tax advice in this matter.



  4. Default Gravatar
    DavidJuly 4, 2016

    I’m about to start a 7-month stay in Australia as a visiting academic, with my family of 4.
    Is it a good idea (and will I get approval) to lease a car for that period or should I directly look into buying 2nd hand?
    Thanks in advance

    • Staff
      ElizabethJuly 5, 2016Staff

      Hi David,

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you personal advice because it really depends on your personal financial situation, but it may help to break down the costs of each option to work out what may work best for you. In terms of buying a car there are several costs involved and you will also need to factor in insurance (learn more about the costs here). With car rental, these costs will be factored into the rental cost. You may also be able to save with a coupon code, which you can find on this page along with a guide on car rentals. Car-sharing services such as GoGet are another option to consider.

      I hope this information helps,


  5. Default Gravatar
    RoosterJune 1, 2016

    If I have salary sacrificed too much for my car, do I get the money paid back to, ie is it pit back into my salary and taxed accordingly?


    • Staff
      ElizabethJune 3, 2016Staff

      Hi Rooster,

      You’ll need to look at the terms of the agreement, but generally, if you do fewer miles than is budgeted or you have salary sacrificed too much, the money should be paid back to you. You’ll need to contact the company administering the lease.

      Hope this helps,


  6. Default Gravatar
    MiniMeMay 6, 2016

    I recently started a sales job (commission only, no salary). My 11 year old car died just a few days ago (had only done 77,000km in 11 years). So, I am in the market for a new one (I’m borrowing a car meanwhile). I have a few options:
    1. buy a new car outright (huge cash outlay from my savings. I want to get my lifelong dream car… a mini convertible)
    2. Wait and buy a demo mini
    3. Buy a used mini but risk costly repairs
    4. lease the mini
    5. approach my employer to contribute to a lease but considering I’m not paid a salary I don’t know that this is possible?

    Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    • Staff
      ElizabethMay 6, 2016Staff

      Hi MiniMe,

      I can’t advise you which will be the best option for you as it will really depend on your own individual needs and financial situation. However, I can provide you with some general information and guides that will help.

      Using your savings is a great way to purchase a car and won’t leave you in debt except you won’t have a buffer to use for anything else, and you should also consider if you’ll need that money for anything else. In terms of demonstrator vehicles, this is also a great way to save – you can find out just how much in this guide here.

      A used car can also be a good chance to grab a bargain as long as you inspect the vehicle thoroughly before, we’ve written a used car checking guide that you can take a look at to familiarise yourself.

      Leasing the mini may also be an option if that works for your needs and lifestyle, but just keep in mind you won’t be owning an asset. In terms of a novated lease it will be up to you employee whether they offer this option to you, if they do this is an easy method for you to pay for a vehicle. You can find out more about this option here.

      I hope all of this information will be of use.



    • Default Gravatar
      MiniMeMay 6, 2016

      Thanks so much Elizabeth. Much appreciated!

  7. Default Gravatar
    DoraFebruary 17, 2016

    If I get a novated lease on my car will I need to pay FBT?

    • Staff
      ElizabethFebruary 17, 2016Staff

      Hi Dora,

      It depends which method you choose when taking out a novated lease; the Fringe Benefits Tax method or the Employee Contribution Method. This page outlines those two options so you can choose the best one for your situation. You can also click on the ‘speak to a broker’ tab at the top of the table to see if you qualify to speak to one of our advisors.

      Hope this helps,


  8. Default Gravatar
    TarunDecember 31, 2015

    My current car is under novated lease, the lease expires in Feb 2015. There is a balloon amount which I need to pay to acquire the car.

    I want to keep the car for another 2 years, can you help me with a tool or calculator to decide if i should refinance or go in for another lease term?

  9. Default Gravatar
    NatDecember 27, 2015

    This information has been really useful, including the section on car loan rates through RACQ and the banks. Thank you !!!

    • Staff
      JodieDecember 30, 2015Staff

      Hi Nat,

      Thanks for the feedback we are glad that you found the content so useful.


  10. Default Gravatar
    AriNovember 4, 2015

    I am contemplating of purchasing a medium size car (i.e. mazda 3 or toyota camry) outright / no loans versus leasing.
    The car will mainly be used to travel to work, and occasional work purposes, site visits / meetings, etc.
    So, overall annually the car will probably travel around 12,000 km.
    Considering the cap servicing, petrol cost, insurance and rego; greatly appreciated if you would advise the better option between outright purchase and leasing.
    Many thanks.

    • Staff
      ElizabethNovember 4, 2015Staff

      Hi Ari,

      Thanks for your question.

      Unfortunately it’s hard to advise on your best option as it’s really up to you. I’m also unable to provide you with personal advice. In generic sort of terms, buying a car outright will mean that you hold an asset, although that asset will be depreciating and will put a dent in the savings that you have. Taking out a lease means you wouldn’t hold an asset but you would still have use of the vehicle.

      It also depends what kind of leasing you are talking about – if you’re buying the car for work you could consider a novated lease, where you would pay for your car out of your pre-tax income. Depending on the type of work you do a chattel mortgage could also be an option for you.

      There are other factors that come into play here – the kind of car insurance you get will affect how much you spend, etc.

      It may help to actually put down the numbers to find out the most cost-effective method of obtaining and maintaining your vehicle, and then decide whether owning an asset matters to you.

      I hope the information on these pages will be of some use.



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