When selling a used car privately, receiving payment is often the most challenging part of the whole transaction. There are pros and cons to almost every form of payment available.

The challenge: most payment options entail one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. Risky
  2. Untenable for large transactions (volume limits on transfers)
  3. Slow

The right payment method should offer convenience, security, and financial protection between you and the buyer.

Let’s evaluate the top 4 payment options to see how secure, convenient, and safe they are.

1) Cash is King…or Is It?

Most people like to accept cash as a form of payment. The chances of it being counterfeit are low, thus many sellers feel safe accepting cash for vehicle transactions.

While getting cash in hand can feel like a sure thing, many sellers feel uncomfortable going to meet the buyer who has a large sum of cash on their person, especially where large sums are involved. After all, how do you know they won’t take back the cash after you hand over the paperwork?

From a buyer’s perspective also, it can be dangerous to walk around with a large amount of cash; for this reason, many buyers may feel uncomfortable using cash for larger transactions.

PrivateAuto offers the immediacy of a cash payment without the risk. Our PrivateAuto Pay feature is a full banking integration; when the buyer authorizes the funds transfer through our app, money instantly moves from their PrivateAuto account into yours—24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For large transactions, cash becomes particularly problematic. While a cash transaction of $4,000 is no big deal, there are few safe ways to accept $100,000 in bills from a stranger. With PrivateAuto Pay, however, there are no funding limits.

silver convertible - what is the best form of payment when selling a car

2) A Cashier's Check is No Guarantee

Many sellers prefer a cashier's check for payment when selling used cars. A cashier’s check is more certain than a personal check. However, unless you’re standing in the issuing bank during business hours and they verify the funds, this payment method is not free of risk. Criminals have forged counterfeit cashier's checks to con sellers in the past. So, while a cashier’s check is a fairly safe method of transferring funds, it’s not foolproof.

To be absolutely certain a cashier’s check is valid, some sellers wait for it to clear their bank before they release the title to the buyer. This creates a burden on the buyer, as they are paying a potentially large sum and trusting the seller to follow through with signing over the vehicle. It also means that the buyer and seller will need to meet a second time, which is not exactly convenient.

PrivateAuto offers a safe, instantaneous, guaranteed payment method. With PrivateAuto Pay, unlike a cashier’s check, funds instantaneously appear in the seller’s account and the entire transaction can be concluded when buyer and seller meet for a test drive.

3) Wire Transfers are Fairly Secure

Another common choice for reducing financial risk is the wire transfer or bank transfer. Bank transfers do not require buyers and sellers to meet in-person, as they are a transaction between two financial institutions.

The advantage of a bank transfer is that funds are guaranteed by the bank, making this a fairly safe payment option. The disadvantages are twofold.

Firstly, the seller needs to provide banking details to a purported buyer, opening themself up to potential risk of financial harm.

Secondly, a wire transfer is often not instantaneous and requires a coordinated effort between four parties: two financial institutions, the buyer, and the seller. If the transaction occurs after banking hours, on a holiday, or on a weekend, the seller may need to wait a considerable time before receiving the money.

PrivateAuto Pay, in contrast, transfers funds instantaneously from buyer to seller, any time of day, any day of the year. Buyer and seller do not need to exchange contact information or banking information. Additionally, sellers don’t need to wonder if a would-be buyer has sufficient funds, as they can opt to deal only with those who have their funding verified.

4) PrivateAuto Pay for Security and Convenience

With our integrated banking feature, PrivateAuto Pay, PrivateAuto offers the best of all worlds. We are the only safe, instantaneous, convenient, and contactless payment option for a used car transaction of any amount.

When it comes to selling and receiving payment for your car, the benefits of PrivateAuto Pay include:

  • Instantaneous payment from the buyer’s PrivateAuto Pay account to yours, 24/7/365
  • No funding limits: you can accept payments of any amount
  • No exchange of contact information or banking info
  • Contactless payment reduces the spread of infectious disease
  • Transferring funds from your PrivateAuto Pay account to your bank account is easy
  • Verified funds keeps you from dealing with buyers who can’t afford your car
  • Encrypted personal info protects you from hackers
  • Peace of mind knowing that you will get your money immediately and with no coordinating required
  • Conclude the entire transaction when you meet the buyer for the test drive

Private Auto allows you to sell your used car quickly and safely. Protect yourself by choosing a secure, instantaneous, and convenient online platform.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are private vehicle sales better?

You can sell your used car to a private individual and make more money on the sale. Car dealers can offer you a trade-in value or instant cash offer, but these are almost never as much as you can make in a private sale. Whether you’re selling the latest luxury vehicle or an old car with maintenance issues, you’ll almost always earn more in private sales.

Buying a used vehicle from a private party also has some benefits. Dealers not only charge dealer fees but they can be pushy and difficult to negotiate with. Whereas, an individual may be more flexible on pricing or more friendly when discussing the details of the vehicle. Because a private seller is often the individual who drove the car frequently, this seller may know more about the vehicle than a dealer.

Does PrivateAuto offer payment plans?

PrivateAuto does offer in-app financing options via a third party lending partner. You can apply for financing within our app. If approved, the lender pays the seller in full while you make your monthly car payment to the third party lender according to the terms of the loan.

When do I sign over the car title?

When selling a car via PrivateAuto, you and the buyer will follow our prompted step-by-step process. With each of you using the PrivateAuto app, we guide you through signing the bill of sale, transferring funds, and signing over the car title. See our article on signing over a car title for more details on the process.

Is Venmo safe for selling a car?

For large transactions, Venmo is not the best way to accept payment when selling your car.

Venmo has a weekly person-to-person spending limit of $4,999. So, if you’re selling your used car for $5,000 or more, you’ll want to find a better route. PrivateAuto Pay offers an instantaneous, safe, and secure way to accept payments of any amount.

How do you avoid getting scammed when selling a car?

To avoid getting scammed when selling your used car, we recommend the following practices:

  1. Don’t give out your contact information
  2. Deal with verified buyers only
  3. Verify that the buyer has the funds to purchase your car
  4. Receive payment through PrivateAuto Pay

What is the safest way to receive money when selling a car?

PrivateAuto Pay is the safest and most convenient way to receive money when selling your used car. With no exchange of contact or banking info, an intuitive interface, and immediate contactless payment up to any amount, we are unlike anything else in the used vehicle marketplace.

How does PrivateAuto help me manage offers when I sell my car?

Online listing services can quickly drum up a lot of interest and have your inbox full of offers, information requests, and requests for test drives. Here are a few ways you can manage multiple offers on PrivateAuto:

  • Accept, reject, or counter individual offers.
  • Schedule meet-up times.
  • Recommend locations and times for test drives.
  • Link listings on multiple sites to the PrivateAuto platform.

All of this communication occurs through the PrivateAuto app, rather than your personal email or phone number. This feature of the app protects your personal information.

Linking listings from multiple sites allows you to communicate with every prospective buyer on the same convenient platform. This helps you manage offers and respond to them individually to avoid confusion. Receive the best price for your used vehicle by negotiating multiple offers at once.

How does PrivateAuto vet buyers and sellers?

Both buyers and sellers get verified using the latest facial recognition technology to create a safe experience. Buyers must provide drivers license information, an email address, and a phone number. This personal information is hidden from other buyers and sellers and is only used to verify the user's identity.

Sellers must enter the VIN for the vehicle and create a profile before listing. A VIN is critical to investigating the ownership of a vehicle and determining whether the title is clean. Buyers and sellers can enjoy peace of mind on PrivateAuto knowing that both parties have been thoroughly vetted.

Does PrivateAuto provide the necessary paperwork for a successful transfer of ownership?

Yes, PrivateAuto has all the paperwork you need to sell your car in every state. Each state requires different paperwork to legally transfer titles and sell vehicles to a private party. Many states require a bill of sale. Some states have their own specific forms that are required to buy or sell a vehicle in the state.

PrivateAuto manages all these forms and makes them available for both buyers and sellers to electronically sign. The entire process is only accessible by the buyer and seller, which prevents the risk of identity theft. It can be difficult to keep up with state-specific laws, particularly if you’ve moved states recently, so use PrivateAuto to ensure a smooth and legal transaction.

How secure is the PrivateAuto Pay feature?

Typical private-party used car sales require handling a large amount of cash or processing a cashier’s check.

Cash can be stolen, and cashier’s checks can be falsified. Cashier’s checks may appear legitimate, even after being deposited, only to be exposed weeks later after you’ve already signed over your vehicle.

Direct banking is a safer alternative to give both parties peace of mind.

PrivateAuto Pay is a direct banking integration that ensures payments are safely transferred without the risks associated with cash or cashier’s check sales. Payment information is also hidden from the seller, so a buyer doesn’t need to be concerned with bank information theft.