Where to start?
Renting a car is a viable and attractive option for traveling. For instance, when you want to take a long drive in the country side, you may want to rent a tough, rugged RV rather than use the old family car. Or when you want to make a flashy impression with VIPs in connection with a very important business deal, you may want to rent a top-of-the line late model premium SUV at Hertz’s for that expensive dinner date with the clients. Or it may be that you’re moving to a new apartment and there’s no way you can fit everything you have inside your compact sedan so you may really have to rent a moving truck from Enterprise or Budget instead.
However, for going to work or to school and for other regular day-to-day travel, renting a car may not be that viable. For any recurring travel, especially if over long periods of time, commuting may be the more realistic alternative. Unless you have very deep pockets, you may be better off just walking, biking, taking the public transportation system or using your own car for your regular trips. When renting a vehicle, keep in mind that the operative terms are “occasional” and “special.” Even if budget will not be an issue, car rental companies rarely agree to rental contracts that extend beyond a few weeks.
If drive you must but you don’t own a car or you don’t want to use your own car for your regular day-to-day trips, you can consider leasing a vehicle instead. Car leasing companies operate differently from car rental companies. Leasing operators typically have a longer term contractual relationship with their customers for the duration of the lease period, possibly even beyond that period if someone wants to keep and buy a vehicle. Leasing a car is similar to loan-financing the purchase of a brand new car, but cheaper. It’s cheaper because the lease price will be determined based on a percentage of the car’s price only instead of the full price of the vehicle as when you contract for a traditional car loan.
Entering into a lease contract is like buying a car and getting a loan to finance the purchase. Only instead of the amortization, you pay the lease to the leasing company until you want to buy the vehicle or you want to lease an altogether different car. In contrast, renting a vehicle will not entail that same level of commitment. You can rent a car for just a day to a few weeks but generally not extending beyond a month.
Vehicle leasing facilities are usually also provided by most car dealerships. These dealers are in the business of selling and leasing out cars. A lease arrangement is offered to customers who are looking for an alternative to the traditional loan financing plans. With a lease-to-own deal, you have the option to stop paying the lease and end your use the car or you can opt to pay enough to own the car over time. In the case of a vehicle rental agreement, there’s no way you can own the rented car. All you are expected to do is pay the fee to use the car for the specific period of time set in the contract. Car rental companies are not in the business of selling cars. They earn their operating income solely from renting out their vehicles.
If you need a car for an extended period of time or you plan on buying it eventually, you may be better off leasing than renting a vehicle. On the other hand, if you need a car only for an evening or a week, there’s no pointing applying for a lease when you can just rent. A lease contract typically takes weeks to process and it usually provides for a minimum term of three years. If you decide to terminate a lease ahead of the minimum term, you’re liable to pay the early-termination fee. In contrast, assuming you have with you all the requirements, you can usually sign out a rental vehicle just hours after you’ve phoned in your reservation. While you may also be charged with an early-termination fee in case you decide to return the vehicle ahead of the agreed time, it certainly will be a lot smaller.