Like many professionals, truck drivers often want to be their own bosses and become owner-operators. To do this, you have to own your own truck that you can then use to complete contracts with companies. This can be an expensive investment, though, so lease purchase trucking has become a popular way to make this more attainable.

How Lease Purchase Trucking Works

Lease purchase trucking works by allowing truck drivers to buy a truck by making payments on it while they drive for the company they’re buying the truck from. If a driver wants to become an owner-operator but can’t afford to buy a truck outright, they can find a company with a lease purchase trucking program. The driver will pay a deposit on the truck and then will continue to make monthly payments on it until the end of the contract when they’ll own the truck. During the contract, the driver will act as an independent contractor and drive for the company they’re leasing the truck from or for other companies, depending on how the contract is set up (sometimes they can do both as well). The company that owns the truck will also often service and repair the truck, as well as get any necessary permits or tags, which can take a significant burden off of the driver. After the contract is up and the truck is paid off, the driver is then an owner-operator and can work entirely independently.

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Benefits of Lease Purchase Trucking

There are several benefits for drivers who participate in lease purchase trucking.
  1. You end up owning a truck without having to pay for it all at once. This is one of the most obvious benefits of lease purchase trucking, but it isn’t to be overlooked. Trucks are expensive, and while you will still have to make a deposit and monthly payments, that’s usually much easier to swallow than shelling out the cash all at once.

  2. You get a brand-new truck. If you can’t afford to buy a brand-new truck outright, leasing will allow you to still afford brand-new equipment instead of having to buy a used truck. This will allow you to ensure that your truck is everything you want it to be and that you’ll be able to use it for as long as possible.

  3. Your leasing company may offer additional benefits. You may be able to get access to free or discounted maintenance, training, and even administrative services from your leasing carrier. Check for these perks in your potential contract because they can do a lot to reduce your costs and stress as an independent contractor.

  4. You don’t have to obtain your permits. This isn’t always true across the board, so look for it in your contract, but often carriers will handle getting the tags and permits for their leased trucks, so you don’t have to.

  5. You get time to build your business. Whether you’re driving for the leasing carrier or not, lease purchasing gives you the chance to start building a reputation and a client base for when you are fully out on your own – all without having to buy a truck first.

Top Lease Purchase Trucking Companies

While you should be sure to do thorough research on which lease purchase trucking programs are best for you, here are a few well-respected ones that you can start your search with.
  1. Swift Transportation

    One of the biggest trucking companies in the U.S., Swift has a large fleet of top-of-the-line trucks available and offers valuable benefits to its lease purchase drivers.
  2. CRST Expedited

    CRST doesn’t just have lease purchase opportunities; it actively recruits lease purchase drivers with a bevy of benefits such as fuel discounts, guaranteed home time, and no money down.
  3. J.B. Hunt

    One of the most-recognized trucking companies, J.B. Hunt’s employees regularly talk about the company’s emphasis on good work-life balance. In addition, the company has a variety of lease purchase programs, allowing drivers to choose the one that fits best with their goals.

Lease Purchase Trucking FAQ

  1. Is Lease Purchase a good idea for truck drivers?

    Yes, lease purchase is a good idea for truck drivers. These programs allow drivers to purchase their own trucks without having to shell out an exorbitant amount of cash upfront, all while reaping the benefits of working for an established carrier. If you’re a truck driver looking into these options, though, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into and that the program offers what you’re looking for. Look carefully at your contract (and maybe hire an attorney to look at it as well) to make sure that you know exactly how much you’re paying, how much you can expect to work, and what maintenance and other costs the carrier will cover. You should also check to see how long the lease program is to ensure that you’ll be able to afford your payments and still have a valuable truck at the end of it – usually, two years (four at the max) is a good length of time for a lease purchase contract. Before you jump into a lease purchase program, check with other truck drivers to make sure there isn’t anything you’re missing before you sign on the dotted line.
  2. Who has the best lease purchase program in the trucking industry?

    J.B. Hunt has one of the best lease purchase programs in the trucking industry. This company has multiple options for compensation plans and third-party lease purchase programs, giving you the ability to customize it all according to your needs. In addition to this, J.B. Hunt also offers its drivers a variety of perks, including the opportunity to join health programs and fuel, maintenance, and insurance discounts. The company also has a large and consistent freight base, which usually translates to a consistent workload and paycheck for contracted lease purchase drivers. In addition to J.B. Hunt, there are many other comparably excellent lease purchase programs, including:
    • Swift Transportation

    • Schneider

    • CRST Expedited

    • USA Truck

    • Covenant Transport

    • PGT Trucking, Inc.

  3. Is it better to lease or buy a freight truck?

    It’s better to buy a freight truck, whether by buying it outright or through a lease purchase program. Just like buying a house versus renting, it’s a better investment to fully own your own truck than to make continuous payments on it. Sometimes these payments are necessary and even good as they are through a lease purchase program, but not when you won’t ever end up with full possession of the truck. However, each person’s needs and goals are different, and there are some cases when leasing a truck makes more sense than buying one. If you mainly drive seasonally, for instance, it may be less expensive to lease a truck a few months out of the year than it would be to maintain one for the full year. Or, if you don’t intend to drive your truck for at least three years, leasing might make more financial sense than buying then as well.

By - Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job.

His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.