Leasing a new car was once the preserve of business motorists and large fleets, but for consumers it has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional car finance in recent years.
Walk into a new car showroom and you’ll find them offering PCH (personal contract hire) deals alongside the longer-established PCP (personal contract purchase) schemes. Additionally, there are also a host of independents, including the major business-lease players, all offering tempting deals.
Leasing can offer several advantages, particularly in terms of cashflow. Depending on the sort of car you’re loooking at, you will often pay less to lease a new car rather than buying it using a finance product like a PCP or hire purchase.
Most leasing products these days also include the option to include servicing and maintenance in the monthly payments, which removes the risk of big bills when you take the car for its annual service.
We won’t go into detail about the pros and cons of car leasing here, but if you’re keen to know more then check out our guide to personal contract hire.
So if you’ve added up the sums and decided leasing is for you, you’ll naturally turn to the internet for some answers. But you then face a new question – which car leasing operator should you go for?
The most important thing to remember is to ensure you are looking at PCH offers, and not BCH (business contract hire), available only to business customers. It’s also vital to be careful entering your details, particularly the annual mileage as it can make a big difference to your potential costs.
Different types of leasing sites
Leasing customers face a wide choice of providers to find the best deals:
- Manufacturer leasing offers
- Independent brokers and leasing companies
- Comparison sites tracking all of them
Different leasing sites will offer deals on a range of models from different manufacturers, which means there can be considerable fluctuations in pricing on the same car. So, as always, it pays to shop around.
Overall, independents offer a great deal more choice than manufacturer sites, but prices are not necessarily cheaper and what might seem a choice of fewer offers on some sites can produce better deals.
There’s no substitute for deciding exactly what you want and then spending an evening online, carefully trawling all the sites below and checking all the results carefully to ensure you get the best deal.
Car manufacturer websites
We like: All the backup and quality that comes with dealing direct with the manufacturer
We don’t like: Obviously you can’t compare deals on different brands
In recent years, several car manufacturers have added personal leasing offers to their long-established business leasing services. Often it serves as a way of shifting large numbers of specific models, and to feed their used car forecourts with end-of-lease cars.
Leasing from a manufacturer comes with obvious advantages – you are effectively ‘cutting out the middle man’ by dealing direct, with all the front-line servicing and maintenance back-up. And surprisingly, comparing certain models across the market, the manufacturer deals were necessarily not the most expensive.
The biggest downside is a lack of choice. Manufacturer sites tend to offer just a few grades available, sometimes on cars that are less easy to shift off forecourts, and on by no means their entire model line-up. There’s also the other obvious drawback that you can’t directly compare cars from different brands side-by-side.
If you go to a showroom, they’ll happily provide you a PCH quote on any car in the range, in any specification, but it will often cost you just as much as a PCP on the same vehicle.
Independent leasing companies
The vast majority of new car leasing is arranged through specialist leasing companies, and we’ve listed more than a dozen of them below.
The biggest leasing operators have very good relationships with the major car manufacturers (which is not surprising, since they may be buying thousands of new cars every year), so the deals are likely to be just as good as you’d get buying directly though the manufacturer’s own leasing operation. Plus you have the option of comparing cars from different brands in one place to work out what’s best for you.
Most of the companies listed below are brokers, rather than actually providing the lease – a bit like franchise car dealers who sell vehicles on behalf of a manufacturer, rather than the manufacturer selling you a car directly.
Please note that several of the companies listed below have an asterisk next to their name – they are commercial partners of The Car Expert, which means that we may get a small commission if you click through to their website. This doesn’t affect the deals you are offered or the price you pay; it just helps us to keep running our site.
They say: “Moneyshake brings the market to you”
Moneyshake claims to simplify the search for your next lease car by bringing all the brands, models and best offers all together in one place for you to compare easily.
The web site certainly starts simply enough – especially if you have a car in mind. Click on the ‘Yes’ button for this and you’re taken straight to a simple search section to take you to the model of your choice and the options available.
If you don’t know what you want yet, click on ‘No’ and there’s a helpful section to assist you in narrowing down your needs, with various time scale options ranging from “ASAP” to “I’m browsing, show me everything”.
There’s a useful guides section explaining most of the current hot leasing topics such as “How does it work?”, “When is the best time?” and “Business leasing explained”, while all the time, a series of hot offers are highlighted.
Moneyshake will even offer personalised deals straight to your inbox if you sign up with them.
They say: “We do the leg work, you enjoy the ride”
Carparison presents a friendly and personal image to help you to sort out a lease car. For a fast, simple start you can enter your wish list details (starting with your monthly budget) and then follow up with all their latest top deals, which show initial rental outlay and the monthly payments.
The company says it was launched in 2018 to fill a demand not met by existing leasing sites for sourcing quick and easy deals. The site majors on personal service with lots of smiling faces all over the site.
Personal and Business options are sensibly kept very separate – in fact one is in a black box and the other in white. Click on the button and you’re taken to a more detailed page in which to enter more details and requirements.
You can do a simple search for make and model and then narrow it down, or an advanced search with far more details, including whether the offer that tempts you is actually in stock (which is helpful, as not all deals offered in the leasing market are available immediately at the moment).
There are several interesting features and advice pieces such as ‘Leasing fees explained’, ‘How to order a lease car’ and even ‘Is leasing right for me?’.
They say: “The easy way to lease your dream car!”
Hippo Leasing’s parent company certainly knows a thing or two about cars and the automotive business – the family-owned Hippo Motor Group has been trading for more than a century.
They use that experience and know-how to make car leasing simple for customers, using their access to a wide range of vehicle manufacturers to bring a vast choice of vehices, from Ford to Ferrari.
The site is well laid out and begins with four easy steps to lease a car, from finding one to driving one. If you don’t know what you want, there’s a browse section broken down into sections such as price, make, body type, and new or used, and if you need a nudge in the right direction there’s a good section of hottest special offers.
The way in which Hippo does its business is explained clearly and without jargon and you can get most of your queries addressed with a ‘Frequently asked questions’ section.
They say: “The leading car leasing comparison website”
Leasing.com describes itself as the car leasing expert and is one of several comparison sites on the internet. The company doesn’t lease cars itself but acts as a comparison site for lease companies, enabling customers to compare deals and select the one that best suits them.
Having been trading since 2000, Leasing.com claims to have helped more than a million people find a deal, and it certainly offers plenty of choice. The rates we looked at were also cheaper than leasing the same cars directly from the manufacturers.
As with most comparison sites, there’s a huge choice of potential cars – from MG to Maserati and Renault to Rolls-Royce. And the site also includes a number of tutorials, including a video explaining how ‘you’re in the driving seat’.
Since July 2021, Leasing.com’s vehicle ratings have been powered by The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating Index, so you can be sure that the vehicles have been reviewed and rated by professional journalists from 30 of the UK’s top automotive websites.
They say: “Do it the right way. Do it the Rivervale way.”
Established in 2001, Rivervale Leasing has grown to become one of the UK’s leading car leasing companies for both business and personal users.
As it’s not tied to any car maker, Rivervale Leasing promises to find you any make and any model of car and its website features 35 manufacturers to choose from. There’s a simple slider to switch between Personal and Business quotes, and a section high up showing the latest ‘Hot Deals’ currently available.
To find the car you’re looking for (your ‘Perfect Car’) you can choose to go one of four ways: manufacturer, preference (luxury, economical etc), car type or size, or budget (under £150 to over £500). From these, it’s easy to follow the next drop down boxes until you find yourself with a pared-down list, whichever way you’ve arrived there.
The site also has a growing library of car leasing advice plus some general features, tips advice and surveys.
They say: “The UK’s biggest car lease comparison site”
LeaseLoco is another car lease comparison site, and once you get beyond the home-page graphics recalling Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, the site has much to recommend it.
Chief among these is the score system. It uses a comparison algorithm to analyse the value of each lease deal and whether customers can do better – for example, leasing an Audi A6 for the price of an A4.
The site majors on affordability – there is no make and model menu on the homepage, but a simpler one asking how much you want to spend each month. The site then seeks out the deals available, which you can narrow down by make, model, mileage and such like. One advantage of this is that, although you may have been tempted by one particular vehicle, the site shows alternatives you might not have considered.
It helpfully keeps Business and Personal schemes quite separate and the choice is wide. Another neat feature is a ‘dream garage’, enabling you to save certain cars and track their price movements, with notifications when the price drops.
They say: “We collate the best deals available”
Ready2Lease has a clear and business-like homepage that lets you easily search for a specific make and model, or a particular type of car (saloon, SUV, etc.), price point or fuel type.
There’s also a carousel of the latest hot deals available, with a range of offers at different price points. This can be very helpful if you’re not set on one specific model, as you could find a similar car for a lot less money.
As with other sites, there’s a specific section for electric and hybrid cars, as well as a handy section for cars that are currently in stock if you don’t want to wait months for delivery – athough that’s obviously somewhat limited at the moment thanks to supply shortages across the car industry.
They say: “One of the world’s leading leasing companies”
Long-established as one of the biggest names in business leasing for fleets, it’s probably not as well known that LeasePlan also offers personal car leasing for consumers. The site includes a host of ‘hot offers’ as well as allowing you to seek out a specific car or price.
The most important first click is on the slider to ‘Personal’ rather than ‘Business’ – both sides of the site look very similar, with the same images, and it’s easy to go the wrong way.
LeasePlan is good at explaining how car leasing works: the site includes extensive information for first-time customers, including video tutorials.
Lots of extras are available as part of your deal, such as breakdown cover, insurance and maintenance, which can include tyre replacement. The site also includes more unusual offers, such as specific deals on Tesla electric cars.
Select Car Leasing
They say: “Drive a new car for less than you think”
Select claims to be one of the biggest providers of lease cars, boasting 50,000-plus cars delivered in around 16 years of trading, and 21,000 five-star Trustpilot reviews as a result.
Each car includes all the usual information plus a useful review of the car, both in ten-second short form and a much more detailed version. Our sample search brought up only a few choices but they were at very competitive prices. As well as the usual EV section, there’s also plenty of general information about car leasing and whether it is right for you.
Select also currently promotes a price-match service, paying out £50 in Amazon vouchers if customers find a comparable deal at a better price elsewhere.
They say: “The UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace”
Auto Trader makes the most of its years of experience in selling cars to offer an extensive leasing comparison section on its site. The home page boasts the usual menu finder but majors on offering information on how leasing works. This is extensive, including video advice from former BBC Top Gear presenter Rory Reid.
The site will likely answer most questions a first-time leasing customer might have. There’s a good section showing reviews of some of the site’s latest cars too.
Once you feel you understand what you are after, the site offers a similar search engine to other comparison sites, narrowing down the deals based on the usual entries of model, mileage, monthly cost and such.
The deals on the site are good quality, Auto Trader claiming to source the best deals from the UK’s leading leasing providers, but there is not as wide a selection as on other comparison sites.
Auto Lease Compare*
They say: “Compare cheap lease deals from trusted UK providers”
Auto Lease Compare is another leasing comparison site, pulling together offers from many leasing companies to ensure you get the best deal. It doesn’t have the most elaborate website, but it gets the job done without a lot of other fluff which is refreshing. There’s a collection of the top deals available or you can browse by car manufacturer – there are 41 to choose from, so it covers most of the UK new car market.
Click on a maker and you’re taken to a dedicated page, with all of the models clearly displayed and leading prices for both personal and business leases displayed. There are literally thousands of deals available for some cars, so you’ll need to use the filter controls to narrow down the specific details you’re looking for.
They say: “Car people, not sales people”
Leeds-based Zen Auto is one of the newest of the direct-leasing firms, but is a subsidiary of the very long-established Zenith leasing provider, aiming to extend Zenith’s business-leasing clout into the consumer market.
A nice touch on the home page is an initial choice of three menus, based on whether you are not sure what you want, know exactly what car you want or exactly what you aim to spend. The search engine then seeks out deals based on these choices, which you can then further refine.
Entering our sample cars brought up a similar number of deals to other direct leasing sites and at similar prices. However when we searched the site was missing too much information. It places great stead by its model ratings from car review site Parkers, but could not offer a rating for either of our chosen cars despite most of them having been on sale for more than a year.
They say: “I am Ling. You can trust me.”
Last but certainly not least, there simply isn’t another car leasing website like Lings Cars. It’s brash, bold and colourful, and it simply has to be seen to be believed. Don’t believe us? Click on the link above and check for yourself. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Recently retired owner Ling Valentine clearly likes publicity and her picture appears all over the site. Describing herself as a “scruffy Chinese girl”, there is certainly nothing shabby about her business – she has leased tens of thousands of cars and the company has plans to expand further.
It’s not as easy to follow as the more disciplined sites and some of the script is small, but the information is there when you follow the usual drop down menus to find the car you’re looking for. Sort by model, price or deposit options, and there’s also a section for cheapest current deals.
Some of the car descriptions are fabulous: VW Golf Estate “Ein big Golf!”, Nissan Juke “Fast Jukie!”; DS 7 “Savoir Faire!”.
There’s not much in the way of car leasing explanation but there is a section on how the Ling system works plus some tips, and you do get a page of car quizzes and games. It’s a fun and slightly strange way to find a lease car online, but a highly successful one nonetheless.
More car leasing information
Additional reporting by Tom Johnston and Stuart Masson. Originally published in April 2021, most recently updated October 2022.
*The Car Expert has commercial partnerships with Auto Lease Compare, Carparison, Hippo Leasing, LeaseLoco, Leasing.com, Moneyshake, Ready2Lease and Rivervale Leasing. If you click through to their websites, we may receive a small commission.