For many company drivers, the idea of owning their own truck, and having their own trucking business seems impossible as a brand-new semi-truck can cost you $100,000+ while a used semi-truck starts from $30,000. Whether you choose a brand-new or used truck, cash purchase certainly falls way beyond your financial capabilities. Don't forget, that there are other costs, like maintenance, repair, insurance, parts, and many more.
This is exactly why leasing programs exist. It's for you. It is what will make your dream a reality. Imagine, whatever it is you're making today will triple if not quadruple your earnings. Yes! This is possible! No, it is not a scam. The program is designed to make the transition from a company driver to an owner-operator.
Now, before you get all excited. Let's get some things straight on what you should know about all of this. No worries, it'll be easy to understand but filled with information. Oh, and if you get confused during your reading or you have questions, contact us. We're here. We will respond.
Leasing Companies 101
Semi-trucking lease companies offer lease purchase programs that make owning a truck easier.
A semi-truck lease is an arrangement between you and the leasing company.
A downpayment may be required.
You give monthly payments for a definite time period, lasting from 2 - 5 years.
The company gives you the vehicle, often with flexible conditions, and you act as an owner-operator.
Upon enrolling with the company, you are re-classified as an owner-operator, not as a company driver who is paid per mile. You now operate the truck as a business venture. You have more control over your work.
Now, you make more money!
You earn more money as an owner-operator. With a higher per mile rate or you receive a percentage of load rate.
When you become an owner-operator, experience a 60%-70% increase in annual income.
Because the lease doesn't require you to invest big capital, the truckers save a lot of capital at this first stage of the venture. Consider this as a safety net, for unanticipated risks.
Aside from reducing the upfront costs, the lease avoids:
Attached costs of paying taxes, and overhead that comes with the cash purchase of a truck.
Plus, an advantage is, as part of the contract, some semi-truck leasing companies cover the truck's maintenance and repair costs plus other offers.
When you complete the lease period, you now buy the semi-truck at a fixed price.
Key Differences between Company Drivers & Owner-Operators
The trucking company is their employer. The employer provides a company truck. It pays for repairs, maintenance, fuel, insurance, and other costs
The company takes charge of the scheduling and looking for the next load
Company drivers are generally paid by the hour if their route is local
If they drive "over the road", they are paid per mile: 40-60 cents per mile
Drivers generally complete 2,000 - 3,000 miles in a week
So average weekly pay is $800 - $1,800
Drivers who are paid by the mile earn money only when the truck moves forward
This excludes traffic jams, waiting at the border crossing, repairs on trucks, loading time, etc...
Limits to driving time are 11 hours in a day, by Federal safety regulations
Many company drivers get to drive late model trucks because these regularly replace the older models in the fleet
Some employers offer a per diem, an amount per day, for personal expenses such as meals, and showers
This per diem is added to the paycheck. The driver pays for it in advance and is reimbursed
If the driver doesn't spend this amount offered per diem, then they have additional income
You can operate the truck as your own business venture, instead of being paid per mile.
An owner operator makes more money than a company driver. Generally, they can gross $4,000 - $6,000 a week.
An owner operator truck driver usually gets a higher per mile rate than a company driver.
Owner-operators can earn a percent-of-load rate or percentage of the freight bill, for loads hauled
Owner-operators who drive a refrigerated truck get 72% of the freight bill
Owner-operators who drive a flatbed truck earn 72% of the freight bill
Owner-operators who drive a tanker truck earn 71%
Owner-operators have more control over their routes. They are not subject to forced dispatch. They can choose the routes when they run, and the load to haul. They operate as they choose to.
If these costs are not part of the lease contract, an owner-operator is responsible for maintenance costs, insurance, permits, more
What You Must Know about your next step
#1 - A credit check and typical requirements to lease
*Minimal Credit Checks
Some semi-truck leasing companies lease semi-truck vehicles and carry little or no credit checks.
When a company does a credit check, its purpose is to weigh the risk of investing in you. The results of the credit check often determine the amount of the monthly payments.
If your credit is good, you pay less compared to one with a bad credit rating. But If you can make the payments regardless of your credit rating, there's no need to worry, you should still have some leasing options for commercial vehicles.
Before signing a deal, it is best to clarify with the leasing company how much your monthly payments are. Clarify the obligations.
The minimum age requirement is 21 yrs old
Depending on the finance company that will structure the lease, there may be credit requirements on the part of the owner-operator. If your credit rating is not impressive, but the leasing company is willing to assume the risk, you may pay more in monthly fees.
A larger down payment can expedite the approval of your lease and also lowers your monthly fees.
The lease may have mileage restrictions. This is to make sure the truck is in good condition upon its return. There may be restrictions as well, on carriers and other aspects that affect the profitability of your operations. So choose the leasing company well with regard to your business venture.
#2 - Typical required down payments
Whether you get a new or used semi-truck, the leasing company will require you to make a small down payment.
And succeeding monthly payments up to the end of the lease period.
Other leasing companies charge very little or no downpayment.
Some companies have an in-house finance company where you can more easily qualify for the lease.
#3 - Leasing agreements and terms
An owner-operator lease agreement is a contract between the trucking company and an owner-operator, who leases his hauling services to a company, for a particular job, and for an agreed-upon fee.
The owner-operator lets the trucking company use the truck to haul freight for the company.
In a lease-purchase agreement, the program lets an owner-operator pay a monthly fee to the carrier for using the semi-truck. At the end of your lease, when the payment period is completed, the driver has the option to buy the semi-truck.
The lease contract stipulates the terms and conditions.
All the details such as:
The price of the vehicle
The monthly or weekly truck payments
Who is responsible for maintenance
The damages to be paid when a contract is breached and so on...
If there are a lot of technical terms, it is best to have your lawyer review the contract details. You will then understand the conditions before signing. Keep in mind that even the top lease-purchase trucking companies may include terms you disagree with. Compare the companies you're interested in and their lease-purchase programs.
While payment options and terms and conditions differ across companies there are common factors to consider before leasing a semi-truck:
Contract terms: Make sure the company is not tying you to a rigid contract
Fleet choices: Go for modern trucks with the latest safety technology
The contract states who is responsible for scheduled services.
The contract states who is responsible for maintenance, and repairs. payment of fuel tax.
Additional discounts: Check if the company offers additional discounts on fuel charges or accessories.
Hidden fees such as insurance premium costs or accidental damages:
Check if there are any hidden fees. Verify any balloon payment or early pay-off penalty.
When your lease has a buyout option, you can buy the vehicle when the lease ends, for a reduced cost. This buyout clause is written as part of the contract, When you pay an agreed amount, you become the owner of the truck. It can be a small amount, determined by the length of the lease terms. If the cumulative amount paid is substantial, the buyout payment is minimal
Pay-outs upon Lease Completion
For those who complete the lease, some companies give payouts. That is, you can be exempted from paying or you are even given money. For instance, a semi-truck leasing company gives $18,000 to every client who completes a 3-year timetable. When you receive this bonus paycheck, you can invest this in a different lease or use it for any purpose you want. Lucky you!
Some disadvantages of semi truck leasing
some leasing companies require large down payments and repair costs
some have strict, confusing contracts
some companies require that drivers repair their trucks at company-owned facilities; this entails overcharging at times
some leasing companies overcharge on fuel taxes
sometimes insurance fees charged by leasing companies are unrelated to services provided
10 Companies That Offer Semi-Truck Leasing Programs
#1 - PGT Trucking
Base: Aliquippa, Pennsylvania United States
One of the top zero-down lease-purchase trucking companies.
PGT is a state-of-the-art flatbed trucking corporation. It serves building materials, oil and gas, raw materials, aluminum, machinery, steel, and automotive industries.
The lease-purchase program offers flexible financing options. Most options need no downpayment. When you join a program, a fleet manager is assigned to you who helps you at every phase, from "choosing your truck" to signing a suitable lease term
No downpayment, no balloon payment
Discounts on truck parts and tires
Great plans to own your truck in 3 years
Roadside safety incentives
Earnings up to 6 figures annually
Free trailer rental for the first 4 weeks
Flexible scheduling options
$5,000 driver-referral bonus
$1 down and flexible financing
Excellent percentage pay
Favorable payment system
For the pay rate, PGT uses the percentage-based model instead of the mileage-based model. Drivers normally make 25% of the line-haul revenue. This means you make more money when your carrier makes more money.
Transparency in their payment system: It tells you how much you will be paid for the assignment before you pick up the load.
#2 - Nova Lines
Base: Bridgeview, Illinois United States
Earnings: with 2,500 miles driven weekly, the haul earns $5,700
Has a wide range of top-of-the-line trucks and driver-friendly lease terms.
Drivers have more control over their program because they can choose the lease plan that suits their needs. For instance, the lease purchase plan is ideal for truckers ready to start.
Consistent Revenue Stream
Aside from providing a new vehicle on lease, a steady workflow is given.
This way, you receive weekly pay. You can choose your own routes and distances.
It can be a week's work and you return home or if you prefer to work on the road for up to 4 weeks then that's your schedule.
From 4 to 7 years. Depending on the life of the vehicle and your requirement.
Provides enough time to pay your lease, and at the same time, make a profit for you.
Flexible lease contracts
Extended warranty for all trucks
Weekly pay option
Well maintained trucks and trailers
No balloon payment
Buyout option: $1 for the truck, at the end of the lease
Can not lease without 2 years of OTR experience.
The Road Trucking experience requires that leasee has transported shipments across long distances throughout the country.
Balloon payment at the end of the lease
Most of the fleet contains Freightliner Cascadia vehicles, 2018 to present models. These vehicles have a ParkSmart HVAC system that takes care of the driver's comfort, even when the truck engine is off.
All trucks have an automatic transmission and 65 MPH cruise. A manual transmission can be provided to the truck if you want more control.
#3 – Dart
Base: Eagan, Minnesota United States
The pay package is one of the best in the industry: Leasees have a choice between Percentage pay or Mileage pay. Top earners can make more than $200,000 in annual earnings.
Offer leases with no downpayment.
Fuel discounts and fuel surcharges.
Minimum Truck payments are a low $437.
Lease drivers can choose between different models of trucks, ranging from 2017-2022.
99% no-touch freight
Up to $500 monthly in savings on lease payment
65% load revenue
#4 - O.T.R. Leasing
Specializes in big-name semi-truck companies such as Freightliner, Volvo, International, Peterbilt, and Kenworth. Provides financing to truckers looking for independence O.T,R. also provides educational and support programs. Their goal is for you to succeed as an independent trucker.
Short-term truck leasing offers, especially for those who want to begin as an independent trucker:
No credit rating checks
Fast approval process: straightforward procedures
Lease terms of 3-4 years
Average weekly payments of $400 - $550
No carrier restrictions: the driver manages his business
Has warranty coverage
24/7 roadside assistance service
#5 - Schneider
Base: Green Bay, Wisconsin United States
Founded in 1935
A premier provider of trucking and logistics services.
Schneider has more than 200 facilities in the US, Canada, Mexico, and China. It handles more than 20,000 loads per day, with more than 12,000 company drivers, more than 9,000 company trucks, and over 36,000 trailers. All on the road.
Rent: $1,500 to $2,500 monthly payment. Price is based on the vehicle
Because Swift works with thousands of drivers, they launch programs to give owner-operators more business opportunities, with more load options.
Three main Lease Programs:
All-in revenue: Everything is included, at "all-in rates". The owner-operator does not need to calculate fuel surcharge or accessorials.
Percent-revenue: 65% of line-haul revenue goes to the owner-operators. They get fuel 100% of the surcharge and accessorials for every load.
Revenue of Solo van truckload: The top 25% of solo van drivers earn a yearly average of $290,000. The yearly average of the owner-operator fleet is $210,000, depending on the type of lease.
Clients who opt for the all-in revenue lease program have exclusive access to a wide range of loads such as:
and dedicated loads
It totally depends on the load that customers choose.
You can choose specific routes or week-long shifts.
Wide selection of well-maintained, new, and used trucks. With above-industry-standard warranties
Flexible lease program offers low-to-no downpayment, flexible payment options
Flexible credit rating, deferred truck payment options
Financing options are available, through SFI Trucks, and Financing
Provides support and resources during the lease: maintenance accounts,
Business consulting services
#6 - US XPRESS
The company claims that an owner-operator can earn up to $175,000 per year or more if they're doing business with US Xpress..
The program has a 500,000-mile warranty
Minimal driving experience: a driver with 6 months of driving experience can join the lease program
No credit rate scoring
No balloon payment
After the first dispatch, a $500 maintenance deposit is provided.
A pet policy: Anyone can drive with their pet. Ensures dedicated weekly home time.
Discounts offered on all essentials:
Trucks offered include 2015 - 2018 models of Freightliner Cascadia and 2018 Volvos.
Purchase benefits of Term Lease include:
Low weekly payments
A sign-on bonus of $3,500
Three-week deferred payments
#7 - PAM Transport
Base: Tontitown, Arkansas United States
Founded in 1980
PAM provides CDL training for entry-level drivers. It sponsors the training costs and provides entry-level jobs to drivers after the training.
The company is known to have introduced more than 15,000 new drivers to the trucking industry
One of the top lease-purchase programs in 2020. With many truck options and lease-to-own opportunities. PAM has more than 2,000 trucks, 6,000 plus trailers, and more than 2,500 drivers. Its trucks are mainly Freightliner, Peterbilt, International tractors, 1.5 years average age.
There are various lease-to-own opportunities. When drivers enter into their program, the drivers are automatically re-classified as owner-operators.
Offer lower monthly payments than competitors. As low as $599 per week, compared to competitor rates of $750 - $1,200 a week for lease
No trailer rental fees
PAM perks, like shop and fuel rates
Provides steady work through the duration of the lease
New truck models available for lease
Can buy in 2 years
Drivers with experience can earn more, $.10 per CPM by mentoring new drivers
Maintenance and repairs are provided at the company's shop rate so you pay less, overall
#8 - J.B. Hunt Transport Services
Base: Loewell, Arkansas United States
A popular lease-purchase trucking company. 80th largest trucking firm in the US. One of the largest freight bases in the US. It operates more than 13,000 trucks, with annual revenue of $10 billion. Its fleet has more than 100,000 trailers and containers.
Flexible terms are offered to help you get started in the lease-purchase program with no upfront costs
Lease terms: 12 - 36 months
Multiple lease-purchase programs are offered. Each with its own credit scoring and downpayment requirements
Lease purchase price: begins at $400 a week, for 3 years. No balloon payment at the completed period
Flexible weekly repayments
Two compensation plans
As an owner-operator, you can choose from two compensation plans:
percentage-based: you are paid a percentage of the revenue for each load hauled + 100% fuel surcharges
mileage-based plans: you are paid a specific amount of cents for every mile for each load hauled.
No forced dispatch
Upon signing the contract with JB Hunt, you can avail of discounts on fuel, and maintenance services that vary on location
As much as 35% discount on Goodyear tires, $0.50 discount per gallon off diesel pump price
Discounts on service work done at preferred service centers
Easy plan for you to own your semi-truck in 2 years or less
Offer mileage-based and percentage-based plans
Incentive payments for referring owner-operators or company drivers
Eligibility for health programs
Truckload contractors can use the official app for booking their own freight
#9 - ATS, Anderson Trucking Service
The only company in the industry that offers a 1-year lease program. Its goal is to have a company driver be an independent contractor.
No credit rate check
$3,500 sign-on bonus
if you stay for a year with ATS
Multiple Lease Options that offer higher bonuses:
Flatbed. specialized with a sign-on bonus of $3,500, a completion bonus of $4,000, and a 30-day "bumper-to-bumper warranty
Van OTR/ padwrap: with a sign-on bonus of $1,500, a completion bonus of $2,ooo on 2-year leases and a 30-day "bumper-to-bumper warranty
Heavy haul with a low down payment, a sign-on bonus of $10,000, a 30 day "bumper-to-bumper warranty, and purchase options at the end of the loan
Your bonus can be directly applied as a downpayment for the vehicle.
#10 - Swift Transportation
Base: Phoenix, Arizona United States
Swift has more than 23,5000 trucks and 48,000 trailers. It is the largest common carrier in the US.
You can set your own schedule; run solo or in a team. You can choose the type of load you want
Many freight options, from refrigerated and dry vans. To flatbed and intermodal trucks.
Productivity bonuses; referral programs
Cheaper insurance premiums
Pays licensing and permits
Reimbursement and detention pay
Full-service terminals across the nation. Parking available in all terminals
You can use online business management tools, medical and legal protection plans (optional), Zonar in-cab technology, and more
You get competitive rates per mile
Updating Swift's truck technology and its in-cab equipment
The Zoner Tablet, introduced in 2021: helps drivers perform daily tasks with ease. Tablet makes it easier to document pre-trip and post-trip inspections; submit documentation with no setbacks; view assigned loads on-demand
Upon signing a lease agreement with Swift, you receive support from all their shop locations and terminals. Swift has an extensive trailer network. You can use their online business management tools, and leverage medical and legal protection plans.
Please note: conditions offered by trucking companies are changing on a regular basis and you should request the latest terms and conditions from a respective company.