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VehiCal iPhone application

Buy a car or lease it? It can be a vexing question for those unsure about whether it's worth spending less to drive less (leasing) or spending more to drive unfettered (buy or finance). Here are three iPhone applications that can help you measure the costs associated with leasing and avoid any excess charges.

Lease Meter

$1.99

Available at: Apple App Store/iTunes Store

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You can get a taste of what Lease Meter is like by trying out the free Lite version, but it limits settings to 10,000 annual miles and 20 cents per overcharge mile. Since most leases go beyond that, it might be worth spending the $1.99 to use the full version. It's an app that works well in its simplicity - you only need to input information, which includes lease start date and duration, odometer, annual mileage and excess charges fee.

One serious knock against the app is that it doesn't offer the option to calculate mileage by kilometres, using only miles by default. If you can manage despite that, Lease Meter will manage adjustments properly on how much you've travelled through the daily and monthly mileage limits it calculates for you. It's a simple way of knowing just how much you can drive without incurring inflated fees at the end of the lease.

VehiCal

Free

Available at: Apple App Store/iTunes Store

This Canadian-made free application serves two purposes: it can help you stay within the parameters of your lease, as well as help you keep tabs on the expenses you incur when using a vehicle for work purposes.

You can add multiple cars (there's even an option to snap a photo of it with your iPhone on setup), and it can calculate fuel economy (by litres/100 km or kilometres/litre) based on the average gas price and the mileage of your trip.

But in order to make all this work, VehiCal requires some maintenance on your part. You need to input your gas costs, plus expenses (parking, tolls, repairs, etc.) for the app to handle all the calculations for you.

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This works literally and hypothetically as a pure leasing app, except that you don't have an option to input details of your lease like you could with Lease Meter.

Auto Lease Calculator

Cost: Free

Available at: Apple App Store/iTunes Store

As a more barebones application, Auto Lease Calculator works much like its namesake. Its primary function is "to provide a monthly estimate to help you avoid calculation mistakes," as it disclaims. In the same vein, it makes clear that it's not always going to be perfect, either.

But for the most part, it's pretty good at taking the basics of a lease offer and breaking it down for you enough to know how much you're expected to pay per month. This includes taking into account somewhat confusing elements like the residual value and money factor of a leased car, plus the trade-in value.

It makes the calculations quickly, which is great, though it's always best to make sure they match up with the real numbers on paper.

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