11/27/2013 04:28 EST | Updated 01/26/2014 05:59 EST

Xbox One lease-to-own option multiplies cost of hot gift

A St. John's credit counselling service is advising shoppers to buy rather than lease the Xbox One, one of the hottest gifts this Christmas season. 

Microsoft's Xbox One gaming console retails for a cool $499, plus tax. The product sold more than than one million units on its opening day of sale earlier this week. 

​But that price a relative steal compared to what you'd pay if you chose the lease option from businesses such as Easyhome.

The company is offering the new video game system for $19 a week for two years, or $76 a month.

Big interest

But with an interest rate of 29.9 per cent, the consumer would end up paying close to $2,000 over that time, assuming it's not paid off earlier. 

No one from Easyhome returned CBC's calls for comment.

Most stores in the St. John's area sold out of the Xbox One within days of its release last week, leaving desperate parents and gaming gurus with nowhere else to turn.

Al Antle, executive director of Credit Counselling Services of Newfoundland and Labrador, worries some were lured by what appears to be the cheaper lease option.

"When it comes to our children, we are driven and obsessed and consumed to make sure that our kid has the best possible experience that we can bring about, irrespective of the cost," Antle said.

"If you have it for two years, you're probably going to spend upwards of $2,000 dollars in payments to get this thing — for want of a better word — at a hawk in a two-year period," he told CBC News. 

"This 29.9 per cent is signficant. It truly is. Particularly when the prime rate is 2.5."

Antle said it's the classic case of buyer-beware, since there's nothing illegal about the lease option or rate.