How to pay for a car

Suppose I want to buy a car. A new car is at least $10k, right?

Suppose I have the money in the bank. But how do I actually pay for the car? I don’t want to walk around with that much cash, and the limit on my cards doesn’t even come close to that.


The last times I’ve bought a car, the dealer actually took a personal check. If they won’t, they will probably take a cashier’s check which you can get from your bank.


Note that if you buy a new car, the dealer will probably hold it a day or too for prep before you take delivery. That gives time for your check to clear.

The one time I bought a car with “cash,” they let me drive off the lot and return the next day with a cashier’s check from the bank for the full amount. I think I gave them like a $500 deposit, but can’t remember for sure.

We paid “cash” for both of our cars and they took a personal check both times.

Yep, cashier’s check for sure, and most likely personal check (although this may vary by region.)

Ah, here in Europe checks are pretty much extinct. Good to know they’re still useful!

Also, I did ask about putting it partially on a credit card (for the points) but they wouldn’t do that. Makes sense, since 2% or so on a $20000 purchase is still a pretty hefty amount.

Then, I don’t know, bank transfer? I seem to remember bank transfers being a lot more common when I lived out there.

Yes, you can just write a personal check and the dealership will verify it with the bank. Or, as yabob suggests, you can tell the dealer you want to pay with a cashier’s check from the bank and you need the complete total.

You can also call your bank and let them know you’re going to be writing a check for a new car and ask them for a contact name to give to the dealer when they call to verify your funds. Banks don’t like surprises involving large amounts.

There’s a world of difference between a “check” and a “cashier’s check”. I would be very surprised if the latter were extinct in Europe.

I remember my mom paying cash for a $7,000 car in 1998. It was pretty hilarious seeing how many $20 bills that was. She just kind of jammed them in her purse at the bank, and then pulled out handfuls of them at the car dealer.

I think if we did it over again, I’d buy a money order from my bank.

The cheapest I can find is a new Nissan Versa, with an MSRP of $14,325 (in the U.S.).

And the last time I bought a new car with “cash,” I paid half with a check and half with a credit card. If my limit had been high enough I would have put the entire amount on my card (lots of miles!).

I did a quick search and it looks like here in Holland neither exist anymore.

However, depending on your bank electronic transfers can be immediate or you can increase the limit on your debit card temporarily, so that’s how most people seem to do it.

Still, there must be people who need to pay large sums and can’t make it happen.

Green Stamps.

One of the local dealers has a huge sign on the wall that says they cannot put a vehicle purchase on a credit card.

I did a quick search as well and the only Dutch hits you get for “cashier’s check” is sites about “how to pay/transfer money in the US”. It seems the common way to pay for a car here is to pay by debit card (if you don’t have a daily limit), in actual cash or by bank transfer.

Money orders generally don’t go that high (maybe $1000?) You need a cashier’s check. (I actually did pay for my first car with $10,000 worth of $100s, though. 100 $100 bills doesn’t look quite as impressive as I thought it would, and really makes you realize how much money you can jam into a briefcase.)

The best advice would be to go to your bank, tell them what transaction you need to make, and ask them how best to do it.

I bought a car a couple of months ago. I had the money, but I couldn’t make it liquid for about a week and I needed the car sooner than that. My credit union could give me a loan check in just two days, so I took out the loan, used their check to pay the dealership, and then paid off the loan in one payment once the cash came in. Cost me $12 in interest to do it that way, but that’s a whole lot cheaper than making payments for 60 months.

The dealership financing guy was throwing deals at me for more than a point lower than the 3.99% my credit union was giving me, and was baffled why I wasn’t interested until I explained it to him. That was entertaining.

Why can’t you just use a debit card?
They have card swipers in car dealerships because that’s how a lot of people pay their down-payment (when they are taking a loan).

I called the bank and they raised my limit for that one transaction after verifying who I was.