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5 min read

Used Semi Truck Leasing for Owner Operators: What are the Costs?


Getting a new truck?

(Well... new ... to you... right?)

Your big question:

How much does this cost?

The truth is... 

You need to know how much your truck payments will be. 

That way you can figure out if the truck is worth it. 

Bonus: If you hate reading, with a couple of quick questions we'll give you a pretty good idea of your payments. I call it the "easy button." Click here for easy. 

While we can't answer the second part, we can give you an idea of the amount you will have to part with monthly for semi truck leasing, as well as what it will take to be approved for your truck lease.

4 Big Factors Determine Monthly Payments to Lease a Semi:

  1. How much does the truck cost?
  2. Who are you leasing it from?
  3. How is your credit?
  4. How long are you financing the truck for?

Let's talk about each of these and give you a better idea of how to figure out the monthly payments for your truck.

How Much does a Used Semi Truck Cost?

The range on commercial trucks is pretty large, and depends on the age, condition, model, and miles on the truck.

"Almost new" models can run up to $100,000, while a 7-year old truck is often between $30,000 and $40,000. Trucks that are 10-15 years old can often be found cheap.

Finance rates on the trucks go down a little bit as the price rises.

It's not any more work to put together paperwork and do underwriting on a $75,000 truck than for a $15,000 truck, and there are fixed costs to doing the underwriting and paperwork.

On a dollar-for-dollar basis, expect payments to be about 5 percent less when financing a $75,000 truck than for a $15,000 truck.

Should You Use an Equipment Leasing Company for Semi Truck Financing?

It depends.

If you are buying an almost-new truck direct from a dealer, you can probably score a deal on financing, so if you qualify (you should have decent credit and some time in business to qualify) going with an equipment leasing company is not going to be your best bet.

For example, if you were buying a Peterbilt, on larger purchases for well qualified borrowers, financing rates are about 4.99% through Paccar Financial (Peterbilt is owned by Paccar) - much lower than we or any other equipment leasing company could ever offer you.

Get a Quote to Finance or Lease Your Truck

If you are buying from a private party, or the dealer you are buying from doesn't offer cheap financing to sweeten the deal, then it's a good idea to shop around.

Did you know...

...when a dealer hands you someone else's application, the leasing company who is in with them knows most people aren't going to shop, so they jack up the rates - especially if they have to juice the dealer.

So, how do you know whether to shop the rates or not when leasing a commercial truck?

As a general rule, if the dealer you are buying from is using their rates as a selling point, you should finance at the cheap rates through that dealer (assuming you are approved).

If they aren't pushing low, low rates in your face that's an indication you should call one or two equipment leasing companies to see if you can get a better deal.

Are Rates Higher to Lease a Semi Truck With Bad Credit?


Semi trucks, and, in general, anything with a license plate, are tougher to get financed than other forms of equipment.

Equipment finance and leasing contracts are backed by the purchase - the machinery you're buying represents collateral, but collateral is safer from lender standpoint if you can't drive it away.

While not many companies consider financing semis, we work with a  number of investor sources that run the gamut from the worst credit profiles all the way to the best

For example, we can often get truckers approved for the following:

1. Virtually any credit profile with 25% down (can include trade-in credit) with net financing amounts from $10,000 to $40,000.

2. With 15%-20% down, up to $75,000 is often available with credit scores all the way down to 400

3. With 50% down, very few situations will keep you out of a truck

4. With good credit, you usually have little to worry about, and down payments are often 10% or less. 

The more money that you put down, the cheaper the rates become, because it becomes less risky for the lender, but for trucks, there's pretty much a program for everybody. There's really only 3 things that will keep you from getting approved:

  • Nobody will lend to someone with child support problems. 
  • A recent bankruptcy is OK, as long as the BK has been discharged. 
  • If you've had a truck reposessed recently, it's pretty hard to get you approved without some real collateral. 

Other than that, usually there is a solution.

The payments on a semi will vary based on the program that you choose - there are all sorts of different ways to finance a semi truck. For example, let's say you want to finance a semi for $60,000 over 5 years, you've got good credit, and you're not a new driver. You can probably get into the truck for 10% or less down. 

  • If you wanted to own the truck at the end with no balloon payment, you'll probably see payments from $1,275 to $1,400 monthly
  • If you wanted a $6,000 balloon payment at the end, you're looking at around $1,140 to $1,240 a month
  • If you wanted a big ballon at the end, like $18,000, the payments might be closer to $900

If you're a new driver, or have bad credit, payments will be higher than that, although how much higher depends on your situation - both in terms of how good or bad your credit is and on the actual truck you're picking out. A general range for the truck where you chose the big balloon payment at the end is from that $1,150 for really good credit to maybe $1,850 with bad credit. Sometimes we talk to folks whose credit is crazy bad, and the truth is that with crazy bad credit you're not going to like the rates very much - so the important thing is to work out the numbers to see if they make sense for you and then go from there. 

How Many Years Should You Finance a Semi Lease For?

You may have noticed in the example above that payments for borrowers with great credit are about half what they are if you have poor credit. The bottom line is, if you have poor credit and want to lease a commercial truck, interest rates are going to be massive.

In general, on very high interest rate transactions, make the highest payment you could possibly swallow, and save huge amounts on the financing. If you have good credit, you may want to stretch the payment out longer, since you'll save a little bit with a short lease term, but not a huge amount.

Should You Pay High Interest Rates To Lease a Used Semi?

Hopefully the numbers we went over above didn't scare you too much. The truth is, if you have bad credit, payments can be high when you buy a used commercial truck, but most of our customers, when they do the numbers, see that it's still a better deal than driving a truck for somebody else.

Here's the skinny. Many owner-operators make $10,000 a month before truck payments. Paying huge interest rates on a truck could mean paying a $2,000 truck payment versus a $1,500 payment if you had better credit. That means taking home $8,000 instead of $8,500 a month driving your own rig, versus taking home $4,000 driving a truck that someone else owns.

To get information, real numbers, and straight talk about truck leasing (or anything else) for your business, just give us a call at (866) 631-9666.

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