Leasing computers currently makes sense only for a small but growing number of consumers who are heavy users of technology.
But many small businesses are already likely to benefit.
Even home-based businesses often need more expensive, cutting-edge equipment, which makes leasing more attractive, says Jeff Kurtz a small-business adviser with American Express financial advisers in Boston.
"It's a cash-flow issue," he says.
Another advantage that stands out for small businesses is the ability to update equipment on a regular basis.
When someone starts a small business, they may not need equipment as powerful as they do when the business
And they may not know what features will be most important two or three years down the road, he says.
So flexibility can be an asset.
Leasing has long been popular with business customers, who are used to financing things in ways consumers aren't, says Hudson LaForce, financing director at Dell Computer.
Once businesses get larger, leasing provides a ready answer for the difficult question: "How do you get rid of 100 used laptops?" says Mike Sargent, vice president of the information division of Mercer management Consulting in Lexington, Mass.
Another advantage: Interest charges, which are rolled into lease payments, are tax deductible. Interest on traditional financing isn't.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society