car leasing switzerland tips
Loans & Mortgages

Car Leasing in Switzerland: 10 Key Tips

October 23, 2023 - Benjamin Manz

For many people, buying a new car is an emotional decision. So it isn’t surprising that common sense tends to get lost in the process. We at have brought together the most important tips and information related to leasing a car in Switzerland in this practical guide.

When you lease a motor car, you are essentially "renting" the vehicle for an agreed-upon term. You pay a monthly lease payment in exchange for the use of the automobile. At the end of the lease term, you return the car to the lease provider or, in some cases, buy it at a price equal to its residual value.

Leasing as a means of financing vehicles is very popular among Swiss drivers. But opting for a lease is only recommended after you have thoroughly researched any other financing options available to you.

Here’s a list of 10 key tips for car leasing in Switzerland by the team:

1. Cash is king

You can save money right from the start just by choosing your payment method smartly. When buying a car, as with many other purchases, cash is definitely king. The cheapest way to get behind the wheel of your dream car is to pay for it upfront in cash. Besides skipping out on financing fees and interest charges, you will find that many car dealers offer sizeable discounts to cash buyers. If you can’t afford to pay cash, you’ll have three more expensive options to choose from: lease a car, get a loan or work out a dealer financing plan.

Tip: Pay for your car in full and in cash if possible.

2. The car doesn’t belong to you

Make sure you understand that when you lease a car, you do not become the car’s owner. Unless a special post-lease buyout option is included in your contract, you will not have the right to purchase the vehicle for its contractually stipulated residual value at the end of the lease term. So leasing is really long-term renting.

Tip: If you want to buy the car at the end of the leasing period, make sure a buyout option is included in the contract.

3. Early termination

One major negative of car leasing is the heavy penalties which accompany early termination. If for any reason you terminate the lease ahead of schedule, you will have to pay sizeable charges.

Tip: Go over the contract’s terms and conditions relating to lease termination to get a clear idea of what you will pay if you opt out early.

4. Lease term

Most lease contracts come with minimum lease periods of 12 months. Understanding that you will be bound to a lease for the duration of the term is especially important if you are considering getting a lease with a long term.

Tip: Think twice about whether or not you should consider a lease when looking for ways to finance a car. A lease is a long-term, binding commitment.

5. Car insurance

A notable disadvantage of car leasing is that you are generally required to get collision car insurance in addition to insurance against accidental damage (comprehensive car insurance) and mandatory third-party liability insurance. Collision car insurance is expensive, and depending on the car in question does not always make financial sense.

Even if you would get collision car insurance anyway, your insurance costs may still be higher. The reason for this is that some insurers charge higher insurance premiums for the same insurance when the car is leased.

Tip: Getting collision car insurance can hit your wallet hard. Take time to consider which insurances you really need, and to compare all offers to find the best deal.

6. Lease contract obligations

A lease comes with a host of contractual obligations that keep you on your toes. These include rules regulating what types of servicing must be carried out and how often, and which garages can service the car. But obligations can reach much further than that. For example, you may not be allowed to take the vehicle outside of Switzerland.

Tip: Make sure to read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line.

7. No tax deductions

The cost of leasing a car does not qualify as deductible on a Swiss tax declaration. Costs associated with a loan, on the other hand, can be deducted.

Tip: The interest you pay for a personal loan can be included in your tax declaration, while leasing charges cannot.

8. Leasing a car is expensive

Many auto lease holders underestimate the costs of their leases. The leasing calculator gives you a clear idea of just how expensive leasing a car in Switzerland can be.

Example: Let’s say you took on a lease with a 5% effective interest rate. If the purchase price of your vehicle were 40,000 francs, you made a 3000 franc upfront payment and the residual value of the car at the end of the 3-year term was listed as 16,000 francs, your lease payments would come to 690.70 francs per month. Over the 3-year term, you would make 27,865 francs worth of lease payments, and the car wouldn’t even belong to you.

If you were to buy the car at the end of the lease period, you would pay a total of 43,865 francs for it. So the actual cost of leasing the car would total 3865 francs.

Add to that other direct or indirect costs associated with the lease, such as insurance premiums, and you’re paying a lot of extra money for the privilege of driving that car.

Although leasing interest rates as low as 2% are sometimes advertised, leasing can still be expensive. The reason for this is that leasing comes with many other costs in addition to lease rates. These include higher insurance premiums for leased cars, higher service costs because you are required to use (expensive) partner garages, lower discounts than those offered for cash purchases, and incidental fees like mileage charges if you exceed your included allowance.

Tip: Before you lease a car, make sure you know exactly what you will be paying for the lease.

9. Financing your car with a cash loan is often better than leasing

If your creditworthiness is solid, the cost of getting a private loan can easily work out cheaper than the total cost of leasing a car. Using the example of car leasing costs given above, a personal loan with an effective interest rate of 5.9% would actually be a cheaper option.

Although the interest rate might be higher, the 37,000 franc personal loan (40,000 car purchasing price minus your 3000 franc upfront payment) would still cost you a lower 3368 francs. That’s 500 francs less than you would pay for the auto lease (assuming the lease provider agrees to sell you the car for its predetermined residual value at the end of the lease term). You can check this yourself using the lease or loan calculator.

Even with much lower leasing rates of, for example, 2%, cash purchase with a personal loan is often still cheaper. With cash purchase you can choose the insurance yourself and save up to more than 1000 francs every year. In addition, you can negotiate higher discounts. Further advantages of cash purchase via credit: You are not dependent on an expensive partner garage. In addition, the interest on the loan can be deducted from your taxes.

But there are other good arguments in favor of getting a personal loan instead of leasing a car. The most important difference is that when you buy a car using a personal loan, you become its owner, which is not the case when you lease a car.

If you buy your car using a loan, you can sell it anytime you choose for as much as high a price as you can get for it. Then there’s the issue of all those annoying obligations that come with leasing a car, which you don’t have when you finance your car with a personal loan. 

Tip: Interest rates vary in a big way between lenders. Comparing the costs of personal loans is worth the time.

10. When in doubt, ask

A lot of your money is at stake.

Tip: If you aren’t sure about what a car lease will really cost you, ask independent experts.

More information:
Lease vs. loan calculator
Car leasing calculator
Swiss loan comparison tool
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Swiss personal loan comparison

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.
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