A Leasing Nightmare
Leasing can be a very frustrating experience. I once called on a merchant who had 3 different leases and he wasn’t even sure what they were for. Upon examining his business checking account statement I was able to help him identify who the leases were to and what they were attached to.
It turns out he had a lease for his terminal, another separate lease for a pin pad, and a third lease of $89 a month which he’d been paying for 6 years and wasn’t even sure what it was for. This particular lease had expired after 5 years, but he was still unsuccessful getting the leasing company to stop taking money out of his checking account.
How can this be, you ask?
That’s a good question, one you’ll be able to answer by the time you’ve read all of this post.
Your Processor Is Not Your Leasing Company
Many merchants are surprised to learn that the credit card processor and the leasing company which owns the leasing contract a merchant signs are two entirely different business entities.
This means you are free to switch processors at any time (unless your card processor has you locked into one of those manipulative „Early Termination Fee“ contracts I often rail against), and it will have no bearing whatsoever on your credit card terminal. Your new processor will simply download new software into your existing terminal.
Why Leases Are So Hard To Get Out Of
Something merchants don’t stop to consider when signing a merchant agreement (especially for the first time), is the lease they are signing is non-cancellable, with very few exceptions. What this means is you WILL make the payments for the full amount of the term, unless you violate the contract or negotiate your way out of it.
One reason is because the leasing company has already paid an upfront commission, which can be as high as $1,000+, to the salesperson who got you to sign a lease. So they’re definitely going to recoup what they’ve paid. But it goes beyond that.
Another reason it’s so hard is because they have a recording of your voice over the phone agreeing to the contract terms, before you can get the equipment.
I hate leases. Yes, I’d make a great upfront commission. But if I did that I’d also be forcing my merchant to pay as much as 10 x’s the value of the equipment by the time the lease expires. Forget that. I still want to be my clients friend 5 years down the road.
The Eternal Lease
Not only will you pay for the full term you agreed on for your lease, but the majority of leases will never end unless YOU STOP THEM. This is true even after the initial term of the lease has expired.
How can this be?
The contract usually states it will remain if effect for ____ number of years, and continue beyond that until either party stops it. Often, they’ll insert a clause stating it will automatically renew itself in 1 year increments, unless the merchant stops it, in writing, at least 30 days prior to the expiration date. Meaning the contract will perpetually renew itself, until the merchant ends it..
This means that unless you have read your contract and written down when it ends you can end up being „eternally bound“ to it. (What an ugly way to do business).
How To Legally Get Out Of The Lease
To end the lease you will need to know the terms and exactly what’s written in the contract. Here are 4 ways most of the leases I’ve encountered are structured to release you from further obligation – from „good“ to worst.
- A $1.00 buyout. This means when the lease expires you can get out of it by paying $1.00 and you now own the equipment. As far as leases go this is the one that’s the most fair (other than outright owning it, which a few rare contracts allow)
- Fair market value This is saying that at the end of the lease term the leasing company will determine the current market value and require you to pay it to keep the equipment and end the lease.
- Send it back. I find this one particularly disgusting. After paying possibly 10 x’s the value of the machine over a 4 or 5 year period the leasing company demands you return the equipment to them or they’ll continue to debit your checking account – „eternally“.
- Lease buyout This is where they want you to pay for the remaining months of the contract and then the lease is over. I’ve listed this as the worst, but it’s only the worst if you’ve just started the lease, meaning it can potentially cost thousands of dollars, and again – at up to 10 x’s (or more) of the value of the terminal.
With options like those listed above it’s no wonder they make sure to get your voice on record over the phone agreeing to the terms they state before you get the equipment. Unfortunately, they don’t disclose all the facts. If they did you probably wouldn’t go through with it.
Basically, they only get you to verbally commit to a „non-cancellable“ lease, at „x“ amount of dollars, for „x“ number of months.
My suggestion? If I was obligated to an equipment lease I would immediately get out my contract and do the following:
- Understand the terms of ending it… i.e., $1 buyout?, fair market value?, return equipment? etc.
- I would find the exact month the lease was scheduled to expire – and
- I’d get out my calendar and mark it for 60 days before the expiration date, upon which time I’d –
- Send a certified letter stating that I want out of the lease on the expiration date
NOTE: Something most merchants don’t understand is that in the majority of cases the lease WILL NOT END UNLESS YOU TAKE ACTION. That means even if it’s called a „36 month“ or „5 year“ lease the timeline is only to state when you are eligible to end it – not when it will end.
Just writing about how these companies do business is almost enough to make my blood boil. And it should be enough for you to proceed with caution when leasing credit card equipment!
Much like other financial investment vehicles, credit cards have a bunch of "secrets" that the average consumer never learns to take advantage of - and the companies like it that way. Indeed; if more people knew about and used these; lending via credit as an institution would eventually cease to exist as the margins shrunk.
In the following, we'll uncover a handful of credit card secrets, so as to better position you to be able to take advantage of the many ins-and-outs of these ultra-competitive lenders. In just three tips, you'll learn how to utilize credit cards in ways you might have never thought of.
Tip 1: Get Cards with a Beneficial Rewards Option
This may seem obvious. But the truth is, far too many people obtain credit cards that have rewards which don't really apply to their lifestyle. After all, if you hate the cold, then what good is it to get a trip to Moscow as an end-of-the-year reward?
With this in mind, when you get a card that provides you with frequent flyer miles; make sure you don't pay cash for things such as groceries, department store purchases or even gas - put it on your card!
Of course, in order to truly take advantage of this offer, you must avoid carrying a balance - head to your house and pay off the purchase right away. Then, the credit card companies don't get to take advantage of the interest, but still, of course, have to pay out the promised rewards and points.
Fact is; this only works out so well for them because the majority of people carry their credit balances from one month to the next. Many people every year take advantage of this and get free trips to Europe or Canada, etc, at the end of the season, for their entire family. You can truly rack up the frequent flyer miles with this disciplined approach.
All card companies love it when you carry a balance - this is, after all, how they make money. If everyone followed this tip, then the companies would have to close down because they'd go bankrupt and couldn't fund their operations.
Tip 2: Put All Business-Related Purchases on Credit
This next credit card secret involves some really high-level, bankers-type knowledge; as such, we'll use an example of how to take advantage of it. Let's say you want to purchase repairs on a home; it will be difficult to get a loan in the post-2008 housing collapse market.
There's no way that lenders want to risk shelling out money after the subprime mortgage collapse, which happened, after all, because they sold loans to people that couldn't pay them back.
So what do you do? Put the repairs on a credit card. Even if this card has a 12% APR, if you borrow $50,000 or so, and hold it for just a couple of months, then you actually only owe 2% on the total amount if you pay it back.
Of course, in order for this to truly work, you need to be in the business of flipping homes. In short, you'll be paying a tiny fraction of the usual amount needed to fund business projects with the necessary capital.
Tip 3: Use Multiple Lines of Credit Wisely
If you're like most people, then you've probably got several credit cards, right? If so, then you can use the competition that exists between bankers to your advantage with this next credit card secret.
First off; ask your bank if they've got a balance transfer option available. If so, make sure it's a zero-percent balance transfer. For example, if you have a balance on a Capital One card, and then you sign up for a Bank of America card, then either email or call them regarding the terms of their balance transfer offer.
If it makes sense, then pull the trigger and move your debt. Plan to pay it off fully within the next 6-9 months (usually) to come out ahead.
Obviously, if a bank can get you to transfer your debt from the competition to their own coffers, then they get you to pay the interest on that debt for a long time. This means, in order to sweeten the deal, they often give you several months free of interest on that debt. It's literally like giving away money!
So if you move your debt from one lender to another, receive a 9-month reprieve on interest payments, and manage to pay off your debt in those nine months, then you've effectively received a free loan from your new lender.
Using Credit Cards Wisely
In conclusion, especially with the last "secret", you can move your debt from one bank to another for a period of several years! You'll save the equivalent of several years' worth of taxes on a sum that's large enough if you manage to finally pay off the loan within the reprieve period.
Keep in mind that all credit card companies are in competition with each other; in the free market, this means they make the most money by providing the consumer with the better deal. Take advantage of it!