How to Get the Car You Need Through a Lease-to-Own Program

How to Get the Car You Need Through a Lease-to-Own Program

Written by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 8, 2021

Chances are, if you live in Canada, have a job or go to school, and are old enough to have a driver’s license, you need a car. Driving is a significant part of the majority of adult Canadian’s lives. Need to buy groceries for yourself or your family? You probably need a car to get there or at least to make it easier to get there. Work at a job that’s inconvenient to get to by public transportation or too far away to walk? A car would definitely solve that problem. In a relationship with someone who lives in a different city than you, are a parent, or simply just enjoy being able to do whatever and go wherever you want? The answer to all these is, owning a car.

So, what do you do when owning a car is not only something that you want but would also greatly improve your way of life? Consider a lease-to-own program. Whether your credit is holding you back or you’re simply not interested in owning a new vehicle, lease-to-own is a great way to gain access to the car you want.

Choosing Lease-to-Own Over a Standard Lease Agreement

The end goal of a lease-to-own program is for you to own the car that you’ve been leasing for the last two years. When you come to the end of your lease-to-own term and you’ve made all your payments on time, you will own the car. This where people often get confused as a lease-to-own option is not the same as a typical lease. With a typical lease, you make payments for an agreed upon term and at the end of that term, you return your car to the dealership or leasing company. There is usually an option to purchase the car at the end of a lease, but you don’t automatically own it. With a lease-to-own program, at the end, you own the car. Unless you’re not interested in being the owner of a vehicle, this is without a double the number one reason why leasing-to-own a car is a significantly better choice.

Learn more about the differences between leasing and leasing to own

Being the owner of your car after you’ve years paying for it is a great feeling and not only that, now you own an asset. Something that can be used as collateral to further your financial growth and success.

Auto Financing 101Interested in what your other vehicle financing options are? Click here.

Who can Benefit from a Lease-to-Own Program

A lease-to-own program is a great option for anyone who needs a vehicle but is having trouble getting approved for more traditional forms of financing from banks and or dealerships. The requirements of a lease to own program are typically less strict in general and is, therefore, easier for those with low credit or unstable financial pasts to qualify.

Check out what credit score you need to get a car loan

If you’re simply looking to lease a brand-new car every couple of years because you like driving new vehicles or just have no want to be the owner of a car, we would not recommend a lease-to-own program for you.

However, if any of the following scenarios represent your needs, we would definitely recommend a lease-to-own program to you.

  • Someone with bad credit or who doesn’t want their credit checked
  • Someone who has filed for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal
  • Someone who has been turned down by other lenders or dealerships
  • Someone who needs reliable car to get to work
  • Someone who needs a vehicle right away
  • Someone who wants to own a car but doesn’t qualify for a car loan
  • Someone who doesn’t have the credit history necessary for a car loan
  • Someone who is self-employed
  • A family who needs a “new to them” vehicle for school and grocery runs
  • A business owner looking for commercial leasing options
  • Anyone who is currently considering leasing but also wants to own a car

At the end of the day, a lease-to-own program can be a good option for anyone regardless of your financial situation, income, or credit history. It truly is up to you and what you need from your vehicle and the financing option that best suits that.

Click here to find out how much you can afford to spend on a car.

What Type of Cars are Available with a Lease-to-Own Program?

Most vehicles available through lease-to-own programs will be second hand, so if you’re looking for a brand-new car, lease-to-own is probably not what you want. But, keep in mind that a used vehicle will be significantly more affordable than a new one and therefore allow you to spend your money on more than just a fancy car.

Try buying a car with a high-trade in value

You probably won’t find a luxury SUV or a cool sports car, but if you keep your expectations in check and remember that you need a car for practical reasons what will make your life a lot more convenient, you shouldn’t be disappointed. You can expect to have any of the following types of vehicles to choose from when working with a lease-to-own dealership:

  • Compact sedans
  • Four-door cars
  • Minivans
  • Hatchbacks
  • SUVs
  • Station wagons

Check out this infographic for a comparison between new and used cars.

The Problem with Leasing a Car

The problem with a typical lease is that they often make consumers take on car payments they can’t afford, either because they’re offered a car they never thought they would be able to drive or because the payments seem more manageable than they are. Furthermore, at the end of the lease, the car won’t belong to them unless they choose to purchase it which can often cost a lot of money. Therefore, leasing a car means you’ll be paying hundreds of dollars month (not to mention the cost of insurance and gas) just to drive a car when you could have chosen a more affordable option and done something more productive with your money.

What is a certified pre-owned vehicle? Read this to find out.

Pros and Cons of Leasing to Own a Car 


  • Low Requirements – Qualifying for a lease to own program is easy and has very few requirements. As such, leasing to own a car is a good program for those with bad credit. 
  • Shorter Terms – Lease to own programs are typically 1-2 years long, which is significantly short than most leasing programs which are usually 3 -5 years. 
  • Credit score – Unlike regular car loans and leases, late payments aren’t reported to the credit bureaus.


  • Vehicle Condition – Generally, cars offered under this program are more heavily used. As such, they have higher mileage and more wear and tear than regular leased cars. 
  • Limited selection – The cars available under the lease to own program are often limited which can make choosing a car difficult. However, if you are flexible and just want a car to call your own, then you won’t have a problem.
  • Credit Score – While late payments don’t affect your credit, on-time payments also don’t affect your credit. As such, you won’t be able to build your credit with this program. 
  • Payments – Lease to own programs usually have a higher payment frequency. You’ll be making weekly to bi-weekly payments instead of monthly payments. 
  • Repair and Maintenance –  Unlike traditional leasing programs, the lease to own program does not cover any repairs or maintenance. You’ll be solely responsible for any costs related to the car.  

What Happens if you Miss a Payment?

The exact details of what will happen if you miss a payment should be detailed in the terms and conditions of your leasing to own agreement. However, in general, one of two things will occur when you miss a payment; One, your car will be repossessed or you’ll have to pay off the car in order to keep it. You may also be charged a fee for breaking the contract.

Get The Car You Need With The Plan You Want

While we understand that lease-to-own programs aren’t for all consumers, there are some that can greatly benefit from this type of financing by gaining the car they need to help them conquer daily tasks and make their lives a bit easier. If you’re interested in more information about lease-to-own programs or want to lease-to-own a car.

Rating of 5/5 based on 1 vote.

Caitlin is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University and has been working in the personal finance industry for over eight years. She believes that education and knowledge are the two most important factors in the creation of healthy financial habits. She also believes that openly discussing money and credit, and the responsibilities that come with them can lead to better decisions and a greater sense of financial security. One of the main ways she’s built good financial habits is by budgeting and tracking her spending through the YNAB budgeting app. She also automates her savings so she never forgets to put aside a portion of her income into her TFSA. She believes investing and passive income is key to earning financial freedom. She also uses her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect Aeroplan points so that she can save money when she travels.

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