Buying vs. Leasing Printers and Copiers in the Office

Ready to upgrade your office equipment? Deciding whether to buy or lease a printer or photocopier can be daunting if you aren’t aware of the pros and cons of each option. Knowing which questions to ask can help you make the best decision for your organization. This guide will help you understand the advantages and drawbacks of leasing vs. buying so you can make a confident decision.

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Buying vs. Leasing Printers in the Office

If you plan to add one or more new devices to your fleet, you’ll have to decide whether to lease the device or purchase it outright. Because both options have benefits and drawbacks, it’s important to ask the right questions so that you can make the most sensible decision to meet your needs and goals.

Below, we’ll examine why a company might lease a photocopy machine or printer rather than buy it or vice versa. We’ll also walk you through some fundamental questions to ask in the event that you decide to go with a lease so that you can end up with a favorable agreement and the best choice for expanding your fleet.

Buying a Printer or Copier

When you purchase a printer or copier for business use, you’re making an upfront investment to own the device outright, and you’ll also be responsible for any ongoing maintenance costs.

There are hundreds of options for printers, so you’ll need to research and select a device based on your office’s printing needs including, among other factors, , whether you want an inkjet or laser printer, your print volume, and how much physical space it will take up in your office.

  • The typical price of a commercial printer: $400–$70,000+
  • The typical price of a commercial photocopier: $800–$16,000+

Additional costs may include:

Leasing a Printer or Copier

Alternative to purchasing a machine, your other option is to lease or “rent” a printer or copier for your office. Rather than fronting the purchase cost outright, you can pay a monthly fee to use the device for a particular term. Then, once the lease expires, you may have the option to renew or upgrade to a newer model.

Take a look at these printer and photocopier lease costs to help inform your decision:

  • The typical cost to lease a commercial printer: $140-$180/month per device (Source: Kompareit)
  • The typical cost to lease a commercial photocopier: $150–$1,000/month per device (Source: Costowl)

Additional costs (vary widely by leasing company):

  • Overage charges for exceeding monthly page limits
  • Insurance costs, where applicable
  • Buyout fees to purchase the device at the end of the lease

Should You Buy or Lease Office Printers and Copiers?

Understanding the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying copiers and printers can help you make the right decision for your business. For example, if you’re most concerned about cost, leasing a printer for business use can require less upfront investment. You may, however, incur financing charges, resulting in higher total ownership costs over the long run.

In this next section, we’ll explain why you may want to purchase copiers and printers and when you should lease them so you can confidently decide which path is better for your organization.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Printer or Copier

Let’s first examine the pros and cons of buying a new device for your fleet. Though it may seem like buying a new device is the most flexible and controllable option, it’s also important to consider its potential drawbacks.

an infographic with a short list of pros and cons for buying a printer

Advantages of Buying a Copier or Printer

If you can afford the device without financial strain, why not save money and the hassles of service contracts? Negotiating office printer lease contracts with favorable terms can be complicated. Purchasing a printer or copier is often simpler and gives companies more flexibility and control over how they use their devices.

Simple Process

Buying equipment is simple. You decide what you need, and then you buy it. Leasing printing equipment can get more complicated. You often must complete paperwork and provide the leasing company with detailed, up-to-date financial information. You may also have to share how and where you plan to use the leased equipment.

More Control Over Maintenance

Business printer leases often require you to maintain equipment according to the leasing company’s specifications, which can get expensive. When you buy the equipment outright, you determine the maintenance schedule yourself.

Fewer Surprise Costs

Purchasing a device allows companies to avoid additional costs tied to refreshing a printer or office copier lease agreement. Even if the monthly cost of the new machine doesn’t change, there typically are fees related to installation, software upgrades, and other set-up and maintenance needs.

Is printing eating up your IT budget? Here are six easy ways to reduce your printing costs.

Challenges of Buying a Copier or Printer

Purchasing a printer or copier may give businesses more control, but consider a few drawbacks: This option often requires a more significant financial commitment upfront, making it more difficult to upgrade or refresh your devices in the near term.

Sizable Downpayment

Many small businesses struggle with cash flow and must preserve cash to maintain growth. For certain companies, spending thousands of dollars at once to purchase a printer or copier might be out of the question.


When you purchase a device, the high upfront costs make you more inclined to keep it long-term to recoup your investment. However, copy machines and print technology constantly evolve, with new devices emerging each year. These new devices are often more capable, secure, and cost-effective. Depending on how long your printer or copier lasts, you could end up with an obsolete device after just a few years.

Advanced Technology is Less Accessible

Advanced printing technology can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which can be out of reach for businesses that plan on buying, especially if they need multiple devices. Instead, leasing can enable you to acquire sophisticated technology that might be otherwise unaffordable.

The Pros and Cons of Leasing a Printer or Copier

You might lean more toward leasing when considering acquiring a new printer and copier. It’s often better to lease printers or copiers for business use when you need a substantial amount of equipment. After all, why tie up a large amount of cash when you could use that money to establish or grow your business? However, if your equipment requirements are relatively small and you have the cash, purchasing printers or copiers may save you money in the long run.

an infographic with a short list of pros and cons for leasing a printer

Advantages of Leasing a Copier or Printer

In our experience, many businesses are drawn to the leasing option. Leasing devices involves less commitment, and upgrading technology every year or so is more convenient and affordable.

Smaller Upfront Investment

Leasing your office’s devices requires a smaller investment on the front end. Enterprise-level print devices are expensive—they can quickly run into the thousands, or even tens of thousands—of dollars! Rather than paying for the machines all at once, a business can lease the devices in increments.

Easier to Refresh Your Fleet

Another benefit of a lease is the ease of refreshing your printer fleet. With most contracts running between 36 and 60 months, you can refresh or upgrade the hardware at the end of a lease. That means you can easily replace an older machine with a new device every three to four years.

Option to Buy

Often, there’s an option to buy out the printer or copier at the end of the lease for a determined fair market value. A buyout can even save you money if the printer’s manufacturer, like HP or Xerox, has a promotion or rebate that could help pay off the last few months of a lease.

Challenges of Leasing a Copier or Printer

At first, printer or photocopier lease prices usually appear cheaper than purchasing the devices outright. However, additional costs and stricter lease terms can increase the total cost of leasing. When leasing, you should be aware of these challenges and ask the right questions.

Financing Charges

The most significant downside of copier and printer leasing is the higher total cost due to additional financing charges. Most managed print leasing contracts have a financing agreement attached, which adds a small fee to the monthly bill.

Less Practical for Lower-Priced Devices

If a device is within a lower price range—which usually implies under about $2,000—we often suggest that companies purchase the equipment upfront. Typically, desktop printers fit this price range, while copiers and multifunction printers exceed it.

Little Flexibility with Contracts

Depending on the lease terms, you may have to make payments for the entire lease period, even if you no longer need the equipment, which can happen if your business needs change.

5 Questions to Ask When Leasing a Copier or Printer

Just as there are helpful questions to ask when buying a new office printer, you should also ask plenty of questions when deciding to lease a device. Here are some of the questions you should ask your vendor or managed printer service provider before signing an agreement:

Is there a buyout option in the lease?

Leasing companies may offer you a choice between a fair market value (FMV) option and a $1 buyout option. FMV means you can buy the equipment at the lease’s end for its fair market value, which could be hundreds of dollars.

In contrast, a $1 buyout option means the equipment is yours for $1 when the lease expires. While that might sound like the best option, note that monthly payments on FMV leases are usually lower than $1 buyout leases. If you know you’ll want to upgrade to new technology when your lease expires, it’s generally wiser to choose the FMV option.

How long is the lease term?

Usually, leases for computer equipment run 36, 48, or 60 months. The longer your lease, the lower your monthly payments; but you’ll also likely pay more over time with a longer lease.

Does the equipment need to be insured?

Some leasing companies require you to insure the leased equipment. If you don’t carry the insurance, the leasing company may add fees to your monthly payment to cover the insurance cost.

Can I add to the lease?

Most leasing companies are okay with adding equipment to an existing lease. They will recalculate your lease payment accordingly; lease terms usually stay the same.

Can I terminate the lease early?

What if you no longer need the equipment you’re leasing or want to upgrade to newer technology sooner than expected? Find out in advance if you can pay off your lease early and if there’s a prepayment penalty (and if so, how much).

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How Managed Print Services Can Help You Decide

Contemplating the decision to lease or buy your printer or copier can be confusing. However, working with a managed print service (MPS) provider, like imageOne, can help you decide which option is best for you.

Our customers often save thousands by upgrading equipment, leasing rather than buying (or vice versa), reducing the number of devices, or paying off a rarely used machine. Our services go beyond offering this initial guidance.

When you partner with imageOne for print management, we will work together to make your entire printer fleet and overall processes more efficient and help your company avoid the common mistakes businesses make with their printers.

If you’re unsure whether leasing, purchasing, or buying out your devices is the right move for your company—or you have any other questions about creating a smarter print environment—trust the team at imageOne. Explore our managed print services and talk to an MPS expert about your print management goals.