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What Is a Lease Purchase Program?

If you’ve been dreaming of becoming an owner-operator, a lease purchase program can make the financials possible so that you can work while paying for your truck. Even heavily used trucks are extremely expensive to purchase outright, which is why many aspiring owner-operators look to a lease purchase program. 

You won’t have to worry about coming up with a large down payment for your equipment or stress over your credit. Learn all about how a lease with right to purchase program works, the advantages and disadvantages, and considerations for choosing the best lease purchase program.

How Does a Lease to Purchase Agreement Work?

Lease purchase programs enable truck drivers to buy trucks from carriers. To start, you’ll look for truck companies with a lease purchase program. While making lease payments on your tractor-trailer, you’ll work as a company driver for the entity from which you are purchasing the truck. 

You’ll deliver freight and take on routes for the company just like you would if you were a regular employee but with one big distinction. The trucking company will pay you the higher owner-operator rate during your employment while paying off your truck lease. 

The higher rate will help you cover the following expenses you incur as an owner-operator.

  • Lease payments
  • Fuel expenses
  • Insurance
  • Repairs and maintenance

And you’ll be running your own business, which means managing accounting, filing self-employment taxes and maintaining compliance paperwork. Before entering one of these agreements, you need to be ready to take on this added work.

Once you’ve completed your lease payments, you can drive for any company and be more selective about what work you take on and negotiate your rates. 

How Do You Structure a Lease-To-Own Contract?

Trucking lease-to-own contracts should clearly outline lease payments, insurance, termination procedures, what equipment is included, possession and control, compensation for owner-operators and the obligations that each party has. Some things you want to look out for in contracts are balloon payments (large sums due at the end of the agreement), restrictions in maintenance agreements, lack of an ability to pay the truck off early and really long lease contracts where you end up paying more than the truck is worth.

How Are Lease-To-Own Payments Calculated?

Lease-to-own payments take the total value of the truck and divide it by the number of months you’re agreeing to in the contract. There are often some additional fees that will be added to your payments to cover things like insurance and maintenance for the duration of the agreement.

Is Lease Purchase the Same as Being an Owner-Operator?

No, a lease purchase driver and owner-operator are two different scenarios. Owner-operators own their trucks outright while those under a lease purchase contract are making payments on their trucks. In both roles, you’ll be paying your fuel costs and operating as a contractor instead of an employee for the carrier, but they aren’t quite the same role.

Is a Lease Purchase a Good Idea?

If you’re prepared to go from being an employee to being an independent contractor and all that this process entails, a lease purchase can be a good idea when structured favorably for the purchaser. Individuals who fail to complete the lease purchase agreement are either not prepared to be owner-operators.

In other cases, they’ve entered into a contract that is challenging for them to accomplish or leads to them paying far more than the truck is worth. Early on in the process, you need to investigate who has the best lease purchase program in the trucking industry to ensure you get a good agreement.

Can You Get Out of a Lease Purchase Agreement?

It all depends on the language in your contract. Some lease purchase agreements have more favorable termination clauses than others. Before signing, you need to review these clauses carefully to see if they align with your ability to get out in case your financial situation or career aspirations change.

What You Should Consider Before Proceeding With a Lease Purchase Program

The idea of choosing what routes you work on and the work that you do is an attractive aspect of the owner-operator life. But you need to be ready for managing your own business and handling the back office side of things that your trucking employers have managed up to this point. Here are key considerations for entering a trucking lease purchase program. 

Embrace the Business Owner Mindset

While you’re making your lease payments, you’ll have steady work that you don’t have to chase down directly from the company you are purchasing your truck from. But once you have your truck paid off, you’ll be in charge of locating work, maintaining proper compliance documentation, filing paperwork with your local governing body and much more. You need to be ready to operate as a business owner or you’ll struggle to thrive as an owner-operator. 

Find a Carrier With Load Boards

Before selecting the carrier you’ll purchase your truck from, review their load boards. This will tell you whether they have plenty of freight for you to carry. And load boards make it simple to book work from anywhere, even while you’re on the road making a delivery so that you can line up your next work opportunity. You can also start learning about third-party load boards to find additional work. 

Accept Loads on Your Terms

During your lease agreement and thereafter, you can accept the loads that work for you and are acceptable for your needs. You don’t have to take every load that the company offers you. You’re on your way to being an owner-operator now and will get to start enjoying the benefits that come with this arrangement. 

Be Knowledgeable on ELDs

Compliance with trucking regulations is now your responsibility. You need to learn about the ELD mandate and select a device that will meet your needs and allow you to document the information you’re required to keep as a trucking company. 

Get Information From Other Truck Drivers

As you start your own business, having insights from other owner-operators will be beneficial. You should begin networking and discussing the benefits of working with various companies with other drivers who know what it’s like to work for the trucking company. Look into forums and groups online to meet other truck drivers if you don’t have a very large network yet.

Advantages of Lease Purchase Programs

Lease purchase programs have many benefits in allowing you to start working toward becoming an owner-operator quickly. Here’s a look at the top advantages.

  • Look for administrative assistance. While working for a carrier to pay off your lease, you’ll get help with some of the administrative tasks as you learn how to be an owner-operator.
  • Seek out better rates. Lease purchase programs tend to offer better rates for newer tractor-trailers than you would be able to get if you purchased the vehicles elsewhere.
  • Choose the type of truck that you want to drive. When purchasing a truck, you can decide where you want your career to go by choosing the type of truck you drive, which dictates the type of freight you’ll haul. 
  • Look into maintenance programs. Many carriers include maintenance programs as part of their lease purchase program. That way you don’t have to worry about preventative maintenance or finding a shop that works on trucks as you get started.

Disadvantages of Lease Purchase Programs

While lease purchase programs have many benefits, there are also some drawbacks you should be aware of before entering into an agreement. 

  • Some carriers design programs that only benefit them. You have to read lease purchase agreement language very carefully. Many carriers design these programs to primarily benefit themselves and you could be required to take on certain loads that are unattractive to you or you might pay rates that are higher than you’d like.
  • Balancing expenses and income can be confusing. The larger paycheck per load while purchasing your tractor-trailer might look attractive at first. But then you realize the new expenses you’re incurring and you wonder if it is really paying off for you.
  • There will be a learning curve. No matter how much time you’ve spent in the trucking industry, there’s a big learning curve to becoming an owner-operator. Even with the best company program to help you get started, you’ll have a large learning curve.
  • Every carrier’s lease purchase program is different. You need to be ready to devote some time to navigating the lease purchase program process. This means reading contracts carefully and evaluating what program will be best for you based on the requirements. 

Transitioning to Owner-Operator Using Lease Purchase Programs

As you look to grow your career in trucking, becoming an owner-operator might be the best next step. Lease purchase programs can aid in this process and make it possible to make this transition. 

After you have your truck, it’s time to start looking for jobs. At, truck drivers with a Class A CDL can search for the best trucking jobs nationwide. Easily browse companies and find the right job for you!

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Truck leases for as low as $625 a week with Roehl

Designed to give experienced drivers or previous lease purchase/owner operators with limited financial resources a pathway into truck ownership.