Most of us could use a guide to Copier Lease vs Buy, a complex and important choice.


The Relationship With the Business

My grandmother used to say that people were “long absent, soon forgotten.”

The longer a person is not present, the easier they are to forget.

Nowhere is this sentiment truer that in the never-ending debate between copier lease vs buy or rent, and your dealings with your copier rental partner. Leasing vs Buying vs Renting a copier is a long-standing argument, with valid points to be made on all sides.

However, according to IBISWorld industry researchers, there are good reasons why the majority of American businesses lease their digital copiers and multifunction printers rather than buying them outright, or renting them in any long-term way.

Among the primary reasons for this is the relationship between your print partner and your business. Someone who grows along with you, takes care of all the hassles, logistics, and upkeep of the machines, communicates with you, someone like that is far more cost-effective in the overall success of your business. They are not just Leasing, Selling, or Renting you a copier, they are helping you obtain your printed documents with as little hassle as possible.

When you purchase your digital printer or MFP you get a receipt and one-way shipping.

All other costs are yours to bear; service, maintenance, consumables, and so on. Your dealer may make some recommendations, or contract those services separately, but the responsibility, that is on you, as the owner.

When you rent your copier, you have almost no concerns, the dealer’s agent is responsible for everything, which comes at a price.

Your print partner takes care of the print part, freeing you to take care of your business.

Lease: Partnership
Rental: While it Lasts
Purchase: On Your Own


Under the Hood of the Agreement – 7 Elements to Consider

Lease vs Buy a Copier: What Can I Except For Each?

The paperwork that defines and addresses the terms of the agreement varies for each of the options you are considering.

Let’s start with the simplest, the receipt. When you buy your MFP or digital copier, you make your payment, get a receipt, and away you go.

When renting, the agreement is most specific when it comes to the monthly payment arrangements and duration. The rest of the language covers indemnity, delivery / pickup info, how to contact the dealer for help.

A Lease, however, has a lot more specific language, some terms, and conditions that are unlike any other agreement, and carries responsibilities that the other two agreements do not.

Let’s look at some specific elements in a lease that are important to understand before you sign.


$1 Buyout vs FMV

It is very common to sign a lease that gives you the option to purchase the digital printer or MFP at the end of the lease term. Many companies choose to buy copiers after shorter-term leases, with the expectation that there is still value in the device. The ultimate purchase price is determined by the bank.

The $1 buyout assumes you are paying full value for the copier, and your monthly payments will reflect that.


It is important to note that if your business’ existing insurance does not cover copiers or MFPs, you will be required to carry separate insurance that does so. During the length of the agreement the device actually belongs to the print partner, and must be protected. Understand the costs involved.

TIP: With every lease contract, require a copy of a document titled the “Stipulated Loss Value Table.” You can negotiate the values in the table. It determines the amount to be paid to the lessor when equipment is lost, damaged or destroyed during the lease life cycle.

Payment Schedule

Your payments will be based on the value of the machine divided by the number of payments scheduled over the life of the lease, plus interest. It is crucial that you fully understand the due dates, billing cycles, interim payments, or expected value at the end of the terms, and rebates, if any.


These lease agreements are, by their very nature, not cancellable. Should you decide to terminate an agreement, you must buy out the value of the lease in full, likely with additional fees. Your print partner is far more interested in maintaining a sustained agreement.

It is the lessee’s responsibility to send a written letter during the brief window (described in the lease) before the end of the lease’s term, otherwise many leases will auto-renew.

TIP: Leases usually require the customer to provide a written end-of-lease notice 90 days before the last day of the lease. Lease language may require that the notice be no more than 120 days and no less than 90 days before the final day of the lease. Yikes! It’s easy to miss that narrow 30-day period.

Service & Maintenance

There are many moving parts in a long-term copier service agreement, and they are often written separately from the lease agreement itself. If not, ensure that response time, consumables, and any additional repair costs are covered.

Shipping terms

In just about every scenario – copier buy vs lease vs rent – getting the device delivered and installed is almost always part of the package price. But the disposition of the MFP or copier at the end of the agreement may well fall on the lessee, unless otherwise described.


Toner, staples, waste toner receptacles, the more you use your printer, the more you are going to need to replace these consumables. Before signing the lease, understand just how many, how often, and exactly how to obtain these items to meet print demand.

Lease: Complex & Flexible
Rental: Short-term, few responsibilities
Purchase: On Your Own


Negotiating Your Contract

Working with a print partner that understands your business needs means that you will have frank discussions over each of the points mentioned here. Should your proposed dealer not divulge or inform you of these caveats, or try to downplay their importance, you should consider that they might not have your interests in front.

A long-term copier lease is more economical over time, maintains a relationship with your vendor, adds a lot more flexibility, and can provide you with value even after the agreement terminates. 

5 Things to Negotiate in every Lease

  • Renewal Options and Requirements
  • Fair Market Value
  • End of Lease Options
  • Return Charges
  • Missing Equipment

Lease: Expectation of partnership
Rental: You pay for convenience
Purchase: On Your Own

There are compelling reasons to consider your options when deciding whether to Lease vs Rent vs Buy, and one of the most important is finding a vendor that works with you to find the best copier for your needs at the best terms for your business. Whether it is a multifunction printer lease for a couple of years, or a copier rental until election day or a purchase of the latest cool top-of-the-line model, your print partner can help you find the exact right printer, at the exact right price.

We are happy to share with you this guide to making this complex and important choice.

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