What Are the Requirements To Lease a Semi Truck?

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Many people dream of being their own boss. For truck drivers, this level of freedom is easier to reach than in many other professions. That’s because the trucking industry is structured in a way that leaves room for independent truck drivers to thrive. 

Beginning a career as an independent truck driver requires the necessary licensure, permits, insurance, and a few other preliminary items. Once those are all in order, the next thing an independent truck driver needs is a truck. But semi trucks are expensive and, more often than not, newly independent truck drivers are short on operating capital, especially after paying for permits and insurance. 

Due to the need for down payments, credit checks, and interest fees, purchasing a truck with a loan is often difficult for someone starting out. That’s why the road to career freedom for independent truck drivers often starts with leasing a semi truck. 

What Does It Mean To Lease a Semi Truck?

For most newly independent truck drivers, starting capital is limited and presents a barrier to purchasing a truck.  Consequently, many owner-operators begin their independent journey by leasing a semi truck instead. Rather than owning the truck outright, they borrow a truck from a leasing corporation by paying a set amount per month, usually without a down payment. Typically, the leased vehicle does not belong to the truck driver when their  lease is up. However, many leasing companies offer some form of lease-purchase option at the end of the lease period. 

Is It Better To Lease or Buy a Semi Truck?

Leasing and financing (purchasing a truck by obtaining a loan) have several pros and cons that you’ll want to evaluate before deciding which approach is best for you. The primary factor that will determine which path you select is the amount of starting capital you have at your disposal. 

To aid you in your decision, we’ve created this table to highlight the key differences between leasing and financing.  

Leasing Financing
Most leases are for a period of three to four years. You’ll typically operate newer equipment most of the time. However, it’s common for leasing companies to limit how many annual miles you can put on the vehicle. The truck is yours for as long as you want or need it to be. You can drive for an unlimited number of miles. However, the value of the vehicle will depreciate over time and maintenance issues increase after 500,000 miles.
You won’t have to pay interest, so your monthly lease payments will likely be lower than monthly finance installments. You’ll typically pay interest on your loan, so you’ll ultimately pay more than the list price for the truck by the end of your finance term.
When the lease period ends, you may have the option to purchase the vehicle at a greatly reduced price. You may also have the option to lease a newer truck. At the end of the financing period, you own the vehicle. You are free to trade, modify, or sell the truck according to your own business needs and preferences.
Your credit history will not affect your ability to lease a truck. Typically beneficial for individuals with bad credit. However, if you have bad credit, your credit rating may be used in calculating the payment amount, and result in higher monthly lease payments. If you have bad credit, you may have to pay higher interest rates on your financing, resulting in higher monthly installments. In the worst case, it may be impossible to finance a truck purchase.
Because you haven’t taken out a loan for your truck, your debt level is lower. Less debt opens up more breathing room for you to use business credit lines and obtain additional working capital. You’ll see a greater long-term profit margin with a finance loan for a truck. You can pay off the loan over a longer period (8–10 years) while still driving your truck.

How Much Does It Cost to Lease a Semi Truck?

Typically, the average cost to lease a semi truck ranges between $800–2500 per month and there are a few factors that affect the cost of a lease, including your credit score, experience, and whether the truck you lease is used or new. 

To get the best price for your budget:

  • Make sure the month-to-month cost of the lease doesn’t exceed what you would pay per month if you financed a purchase. 
  • Determine if the leasing company’s mileage cap is viable for your business model. At most leasing companies, going over the mileage cap will incur additional charges.
  • Shop around and compare prices, terms and conditions to make sure you get the best possible deal.

Leasing a semi truck is a viable alternative to financing if you are working with a limited budget or have problems with a bad credit history. It’s also a great way to get up and running with your new business while minimizing risks. Keep in mind that leasing companies come in a variety of business models, so do your homework and follow some of the guidelines below to find the best lease for your situation.

What Are the Requirements To Lease a Semi Truck?

The exact requirements to lease a semi truck may vary from company to company. However, there are a few universal guidelines to follow when starting to obtain a lease.

Gain Sufficient Experience

It’s usually recommended that new drivers spend at least a year working as a company driver before striking out on their own. Additionally, it’s not unusual for certain leasing company business models to require a minimum level of experience - usually one to two years. 

Know of the Differences Between Leasing and Financing

Research the differences between leasing and financing, and make sure you thoroughly understand the leasing process. This way, you won’t be caught off guard when setting up your lease or renewing it after the lease term.

Get Your Paperwork In Order 

This includes insurance, USDOT number, access to or the possession of an MC number, IFTA, and the other permits and registrations needed to start operations make use of your leased truck. 

Create a Thorough Business Plan

Your business plan should include the type of freight you intend to haul, whether you want to lease from/to a specific company and work within their ecosystem, or why and how you want to be an independent driver and business. It’ll help you make more informed decisions about your lease as well.

Make a Clear Budget

Know your budget inside and out so that you don’t overextend yourself with high payments for your lease.

Talk with Several Leasing Companies 

Pay careful attention to each company’s terms and conditions. Look for a lease that will give you the most flexibility. Look out for mileage caps, the type of equipment they lease, and their cost range. 

Fill Out an Application

Once you’re ready to go and you’ve found a company that meets your needs, they will have application paperwork you will need to fill out and submit to be considered for the lease.

Read the Paperwork Carefully Before Signing and Submitting 

Make sure you understand the company’s policies on mileage caps, additional miscellaneous charges, maintenance policies, etc. If there is anything in the lease contract that makes you feel uneasy, or is not going to work with your business model, exercise caution and reevaluate your options. 

Becoming an independent truck driver can be a life-changing decision, but it’s not a path you have to travel on your own. CloudTrucks is here to help you make the most of your truck driving career. We provide a full suite of business tools to get your company going, and we’ll stick with you for as long as you want. Whether you need help with leasing, obtaining an MC number, or finding loads, CloudTrucks is here for you and your business. If you're ready to put your career in the fast lane and maximize your freedom as an independent driver, sign up for CloudTrucks today.

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