What is the safest way to pay for a car?

Paying via bank transfer or debit card directly to the sellers bank account at the time of the handover is the safest way to make payment for a car.

Can I pay for a car using cash?

In some cases you can but its less common theses days. Most private sellers, dealers and franchised garages will still except cash. But it is always best to check in advance as where a private seller maybe happy or even please that you are paying in actual cash, a garage may be less so.

Some businesses will have a limit of how much cash they can except and in some cases they may not be able to take cash as payment at all. This is often due to not being able to pay large amounts of cash into a bank account easily as a business. Banks also normally charge businesses to deposit cash byway of an additional administration charge which a business may look to you to cover.

Can I pay for a new car using a debit card?

Yes you can. Most dealers will take debit card payment on the day you collect your car, but some will ask for payment in advance. This is the most common way to pay for a car when buying a car from a used or franchised car dealer. Some dealers will still prefer or require payment via bank transfer. But in most cases a debit card payments will be fine.

Can I pay for a car with a cheque?

Yes, in most cases you can still pay via a check. But again this is less common than it once was and some sellers will refuse to take payment via a cheque. If they do except cheque payments you will also almost always have to wait for the funds to clear in the sellers bank account before they will release the car. This may not be a problem at all if you are buying a car from a used or new car dealership, but you may feel less comfortable writing a personal cheque to a private individual, especially if you then have to wait for days for the funds to clear before collecting you new car.

Can I pay for a car using a bankers draft?

Yes you can still pay for a car using a bankers draft. But in a similar way to paying using cash or a cheque a bankers draft is not commonly used there days. You pay in the same way as you would using a cheque the only differences being that the payment is guaranteed by your financial institution.

To obtain a bank draft you will need to visit you bank. They will then deduct the required amount from your bank account and place it to a holding account in the banks name, you will then be issued with a bank draft made out to the seller of the vehicle who will receive the money for that amount. Your name and the amount the will also appear on the document.

Normally, a bank draft has two parts. One part is retained by you that contains various information relating to the transaction. The other is given as payment to the seller. The seller who’s being paid by the bank draft can deposit it at any financial institution, exactly as if it were cash. The theory being that the funds have been guaranteed by the issuing bank, so he or she is guaranteed to receive the sum of money indicated on the draft.

Some garages may still refuse to take payment in this way however. Believing cleared funds received digitally are an easier, more convenient and secure from of payment.

You may also find a private seller is uneasy or unwilling to except a bankers draft. Most will be unfamiliar with what a draft is. They maybe familiar with the term but in most cases they will never have been payed this way or even seen a bankers draft in person.

A bankers draft can however be extremely useful if you are traveling to another country to buy a car. It is a safe way to carry a large sum of money on your person and can also be made out in a foreign currency in most cases. The seller can then deposit the funds in their bank in their countries currency as if it were cash. Making a transaction easier and more secure for both for you and the person who’s receiving the money.

The only real downside of a bankers draft for the purchases is that a bank draft is irrevocable once it is delivered to the recipient and cannot be cancelled. So if you had an issue with the car or transaction you have no way of stalling or stopping a payment.

Can I pay for a car using a credit card?

Yes you can, but once again some garages will refuse to take payment via credit cards. Often this is because they are charged for doing so and in some counties are prohibited from adding a surcharge to the transaction to cover their costs.

Another common reason for a garage or used dealers may not take credit card payments is because it often gives you the legal protection that comes with credit card purchases, and that means that your credit card company might be able to help you out if there’s a dispute with the dealership further down the line.

This generally is because a garage has had problems with customers in the past, rather than them selling dodgy cars. The odds are normally heavily stacked in the customers favour during disputes and garages are understandably cautious once they have been bitten once.

Obvious being able to settle your credit card bill or afford the payment will also have an effect on whether you should pay using a credit cars. Plus you will also require a high enough credit limit to cover the purchase in the first place.

Conclusion

In 2021 the most common way to pay for a car is via a car finance agreement. With recent surveys finding that 85.5 percent of new vehicles purchased in the United States were financed, 90% in Australia and that figure rose to 91 percent for new private cars bought in the UK. So if you are planning on paying for 100 percent of a cars value you are in the minority by quite some margin.

But in most cases paying a deposit on a car can be done safely either via bank transfer, debit cars or a credit card payment. Garages and especially franchised dealers will often insist on taking payment this way and in most cases will ask for a deposit to secure or reserve a car prior to finance approval. Leaving you to just pay an additional balance of the deposit when collecting the car, with the finance company paying the rest directly to the garage or dealer.

If you are buying a car privately, you should always pay via bank transfer at the time of collection. In most cases you can do this via internet banking or your banks mobile app. Alternatively you may need to visit your bank with the seller to complete the transaction. If you have any concerns regarding the payment it is best to ask your bank for advice. They are normally very keen to help and can offer reassurance and advice on best practices if you are unsure of anything.

Ultimately the seller will often dictate the payment method and you will have to decide if you are happy to proceed with the purchase. If you aren’t 100% happy walk away.

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