Small Business Equipment Loans vs. Leasing: What’s the Best Option?

Small Business Equipment

Small businesses across the globe are a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit, creating job opportunities and enhancing economies. Essential to their operations is the procurement of equipment, whether it’s the advanced machinery used in manufacturing or the sophisticated software driving a digital marketing firm. Understanding the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying equipment can help business owners choose the best option.

Equipment Loans

Equipment loans help businesses buy new gear. The equipment itself typically serves as collateral for the loan, which helps to mitigate the lender’s risk. 

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Advantages of Equipment Loans

  • Ownership: When you take out an equipment loan, you own the equipment outright once the loan is paid off. It can be used indefinitely after depreciation.
  • Tax Benefits: Purchasing equipment may also provide tax benefits. Under Section 179 of the IRS Code, businesses can deduct the full cost of qualifying equipment purchased or financed during the tax year.
  • Interest Rates: Equipment loan interest rates are usually lower than leasing options, as the equipment itself serves as collateral.
  • Loan Amount: Equipment loans can typically finance up to 100% of the equipment cost, making it possible for businesses to acquire needed machinery without significant upfront payment.

Disadvantages of Equipment Loans

  • Upfront Costs: Down payments for equipment loans can be substantial, putting a strain on the business’s cash flow.
  • Obsolescence Risk: With the rapid pace of technological advancements, owned equipment can quickly become outdated.
  • Maintenance and Upkeep: Once you own the equipment, all maintenance, repairs, and updates are your responsibility.

Equipment Leasing

On the other hand, equipment leasing is a rental agreement. Businesses pay monthly to use the equipment.

Advantages of Equipment Leasing

  • Reduced Upfront Costs: Leasing usually requires a smaller initial payment compared to buying.
  • Up-to-date Equipment: Leasing makes it easier to update equipment, helping businesses keep up with the latest technology.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Lease contracts often include maintenance and repair services, reducing the business’s responsibility and associated costs.
  • Flexibility: Leasing can provide more flexibility, as it allows businesses to adapt to their changing needs.

Disadvantages of Equipment Leasing

  • Higher Long-Term Costs: Leasing equipment for a long time can be more expensive.
  • Lack of Ownership: Unlike loans, leasing does not offer any equity. Renew the lease or return the equipment.
  • Contractual Obligations: Lease contracts can be stringent, with fees for early termination or overuse.

Making the Choice: Loan or Lease?

Consider this checklist:

  1. Assess finances: Check your cash flow and budget to decide if upfront costs or monthly payments are better.
  2. Consider the nature of the equipment: Leasing may be best if the equipment is easily outdated. If it has a long lifespan, an equipment loan could be beneficial.
  3. Think about your long-term business plan: If you foresee your equipment needs changing rapidly, leasing offers more flexibility. If you plan to use the equipment for years, a loan may be better.
  4. Consult a tax professional: Both leasing and buying provide tax benefits, but they are realized differently. A tax advisor can help you understand which option would be more advantageous for your specific situation.

In conclusion, the best option between small business equipment loans and leasing depends on various factors, including your financial position, equipment nature, and business goals. Analyzing these elements can guide you in making a choice that’s beneficial for your business’s growth and sustainability.

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About the author



Tom is a gizmo-savvy guy, who has a tendency to get pulled into the nitty gritty details of technology. He attended UT Austin, where he studied Information Science. He’s married and has three kids, one dog and 2 cats. With a large family, he still finds time to share tips and tricks on phones, tablets, wearables and more. You won’t see Tom anywhere without his ANC headphones and the latest smartphone. Oh, and he happens to be an Android guy, who also has a deep appreciation for iOS.