When you buy a piece of equipment or vehicle, you usually have to pay for it in full either by using cash or by financing the balance. After you finish paying for it, you own it.
Equipment leasing, on the other hand, is essentially a loan. The lender buys and owns the equipment and then “rents” it to a business at a flat monthly rate for a set number of months. At the end of the lease, the business has several options. It can purchase the equipment for its fair market value (or a fixed or predetermined amount), continue leasing, return it or lease new equipment.
With a lease, you actually only pay for using the equipment. But at the end of the lease period, you could end up owning nothing. So why lease? The answer is simple: By leasing equipment, you leave money in the bank that can be used for other purchases. Since lease payments are usually smaller than regular loan payments, you don’t have to pay out as much each month.
However, keep in mind that a lease is not cancelable like a bank loan or other debt. If you need to get out a standard loan you can sell the equipment and pay off the loan, or even refinance it. With a lease, you generally have to pay off the lease in full. So you have to be sure you make the payments when you enter into a lease.