What is the Best Car Buying App?

Searching for used cars for sale online? There are a lot of car listing sites and car buying apps available. Let’s compare them to find the best.

While platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist show you a lot of cars for sale, they leave you in the lurch when it comes to getting the deal done and sending payment.

There’s a better way.

PrivateAuto gives you end-to-end transactionality. From built-in messaging to instant digital payments, we do more than connect you to a car for sale—we help you get the deal done.

Is It Better to Buy from a Private Seller or a Dealer?

Buying from an individual can be a smart way to get more bang for your buck. Here are the advantages of skipping the dealership and buying from a private party:

Local dealers charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other taxes and fees you have to pay (the other taxes and fees are exactly the same whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, by the way). Documentation fees can be as high as $995.
Dealerships usually have higher car prices on comparable vehicles. Their business model is built around buying low and selling high to generate the spread that allows them to stay in business. To get the best deals, avoid the middleman and deal directly with private sellers.
There are a lot more private-party cars for sale than there are dealership cars, so you have access to a much wider selection.
Many private-party vehicles have been owned and maintained by the same person since they were new. A private seller may have a lot more insight into the vehicle’s condition and maintenance history than a dealer does.

We admit that buying from a dealer provides a level of convenience that is not typically available when buying from a private seller. That is, after all, why we exist. We give you dealer-like convenience while also allowing you to transact with regular people like yourself.

Cutting out the middleman unlocks major savings. Our self-serve technology solution gives you verified sellers, vehicle history reports, instant payments, and secure messaging. Buy directly from motivated sellers on your terms, and enjoy peace of mind.

Shop used cars for sale today to find your dream ride.

Let’s Compare Car Buying Apps

The following car listing sites have mobile apps that you can use to browse vehicles for sale:

Facebook Marketplace

While these connect you with vehicles, they each fall short in one or both of the following ways:

1. They are online dealers (Carvana, Vroom). If you’re looking to buy from a private seller and avoid middleman fees and markups, skip these.
2. They lack transactional infrastructure (Facebook Marketplace, eBay Motors, Autotrader, CarGurus, Craigslist, Cars.com, Edmunds, Truecar). You’re left unprotected and trying to figure out how to handle payment and other details.

Let’s get into more detail on point #2 to understand why a lack of transactional infrastructure is such a big deal and how PrivateAuto fixes the used car buying experience.

What is a Transactional Marketplace?

There are many places you can buy a vehicle, but they don't give you the transactional features to get the deal done safely, securely, and inexpensively like PrivateAuto does.

Other car listing sites are “meetingplaces” rather than true marketplaces; they connect you to the vehicle owner but leave the two of you to sort out how you’re going to meet up, send payment, and handle the other aspects of the transaction.

We are the only transactional marketplace that offers a full suite of tools that let you get the deal done quickly, securely, and easily

We don’t hate these “meetingplaces” at all. In fact, if you find a car on one of them and want to buy it, you can still use our transactional infrastructure to get the deal done. Simply invite the seller to our DealNow fast-track feature to enjoy the security, privacy, and immediacy of PrivateAuto Pay and our other features.

Learn how we are doing something very different from other car buying apps and sites.

Why PrivateAuto is the Best Used Car Buying App

PrivateAuto gives you end-to-end functionality to buy a car from a private seller conveniently and securely.

Here are some of the ways we are reinventing private-party used car transactions in ways that none of the “meetingplaces” could even dream of:

Verified users for trusted transactions—discourages scammers.
Private in-app messaging with sellers—keeps your contact info private.
Apply for competitive car loans right within our app. Once approved, our lending partner funds your PrivateAuto Pay account.
Eliminate the need for an escrow service by using PrivateAuto Pay’s escrow-like safeguards and instant payment transfers.
Send instant offers on any vehicle—you offer what you’re willing to pay.
Secure payments of up to $1 million that are instantaneous and fee-free. Like Venmo, but without the $5K limit.
Instantaneous transfers enable real-time deals—no waiting or coordination. Close the deal when you meet for the test drive.
Instant payments work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No coordinating around banker’s hours.
Our DealNow feature lets you fast-track a deal using PrivateAuto infrastructure—even if you connect with a seller on another platform or in real life. Just invite the other party to DealNow and get the transaction done.
Complete purchases remotely without meeting in person (perfect for out-of-state transactions). Then, schedule vehicle transport within the PrivateAuto app.
Encrypted info protects your data from hackers
Shop insurance quotes and get coverage right within the PrivateAuto app.
Easily move money from your bank account to your PrivateAuto Pay account and vice versa via a balance transfer.
Encrypted data protects you from hackers.
Shop for used car warranties and get warranty coverage

Private Auto allows you to purchase a vehicle quickly, safely, and easily from a private seller. Protect yourself by choosing a secure, instantaneous, and convenient online platform. You have a full suite of self-serve technological solutions that make car buying a breeze.

What is PrivateAuto Pay?

PrivateAuto Pay is our integrated banking gateway. It’s the only safe, instantaneous, convenient, and contactless payment option for a used car transaction over $5,000.

When it comes to buying and paying for your car, the benefits of PrivateAuto Pay include.

Your PrivateAuto Pay account is actually a bank account that you own, on the PrivateAuto app.
Easily move money between your PrivateAuto Pay and your external bank account via a balance transfer.
Send up to $1 million instantly from your PrivateAuto Pay account to the seller’s.
No exchange of contact information or banking info.
Contactless payment reduces disease risk.
Encrypted info protects your data from hackers.
Peace of mind knowing you can pay immediately with no coordination needed.
Conclude the entire transaction when you meet the seller for a test drive.
Buy a car remotely and forgo costly and inconvenient escrow services.

Protect yourself by choosing PrivateAuto Pay. Avoid fees and transfer limits that come with paying for a car via PayPal or Venmo.

What is DealNow?

If you’ve already found a car that you want to buy—even if it’s not listed for sale on PrivateAuto—you can enjoy the power and convenience of our transactional infrastructure to get the deal done. Our DealNow feature allows you to skip the initial shopping and negotiation process, and go straight to the transaction.

Whether your dream car is listed on Facebook Marketplace, is being sold by a friend of a friend, or is being auctioned on a site such as Bring a Trailer, you can invite the seller to DealNow and enjoy unparalleled security and convenience.

DealNow uses PrivateAuto Pay for payments and offers all the same conveniences, along with a fast-tracked dealflow.

Here are some of the advantages of using DealNow:

Streamlines the transaction process when you already have a car in mind
Bypasses the shopping and negotiation steps
Provides end-to-end transaction support, including electronic signing of the bill of sale and instant payments
Enables you to close a deal after meeting a seller on another platform—or in real life
Gives you escrow-like safeguards in the palm of your hand, for free
Allows long distance transactions with instant payment capabilities
Saves money by eliminating the need for an escrow service
Reduces risk through identity verification safeguards
Saves time by concluding deals faster
Enables fee-free payments up to $1 million that transfer instantly

Does PrivateAuto Offer Financing?

PrivateAuto connects you with a third-party FDIC lender that is integrated into our technology infrastructure. This integration makes the financing process a seamless part of your PrivateAuto deal flow. Here’s how it works:

1. Apply for financing through the PrivateAuto app and get approved after a credit check.
2. Our lending partner funds your PrivateAuto Pay account.
3. You buy the car and pay the seller instantly via PrivateAuto Pay.
4. You make car payments to the lender.

It’s so smooth, you’ll wonder why this wasn’t available all along. Gone are the days of coordinating between seller and lender and trying to get everything lined up.

Here are some other key advantages:

Everything happens in the PrivateAuto app, from car searches all the way through securing your auto loan and sending payment to the seller.
Fast approvals. Get approved in minutes without having to fill out extensive paperwork.
Funds deposit quickly. Once approved, you'll have funding deposited into your PrivateAuto account within days.
Instant transfers. Send money instantly to the seller right from your PrivateAuto Pay account.
Competitive rates. PrivateAuto offers financing from an FDIC partner that offers competitive loan rates.

If you’re in the market, feel free to get started with car financing here!

How to Avoid Fraud When Buying a Car

Unfortunately, when purchasing a car privately, fraud is a major problem. Scammers use a variety of methods, such as faked vehicle histories, odometer tampering, or salvage title scams.

We offer vehicle history reports with all premium listings and also have identity verification. These measures cut down significantly on fraudsters, but it always pays to be vigilant.

Don't let a seller rush you into accepting a high price or paying without verifying the details and test driving. If a seller gives you a high-pressure "act now or lose out" ultimatum, it's best to walk away. If the car is priced fairly, there will be other listings available without undue seller pressure.

The key is taking your time—carefully inspecting the car, verifying the VIN, test driving carefully, and not paying until you're confident about going through with the transaction.

PrivateAuto gives you safeguards such as seller identity verification, keeping your sensitive info secret, test drive scheduling, and instant payments via PrivateAuto Pay.

How to Buy a Car Through PrivateAuto

You’ll love how smooth and secure the car buying process is when you use the PrivateAuto mobile app.

1. Browse used cars for sale by owner. Filter by location, vehicle type, or other criteria
2. Make offers on vehicles you like (PrivateAuto lets you offer less than the asking price)
3. Message the seller with any questions without giving your contact info
4. Schedule the test drive while keeping your personal details private
5. Electronically sign the bill of sale along with the seller
6. Instantly send payment and take ownership of the car when the seller signs the title and gives you the keys
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Looking to sell your car? Create a listing on PrivateAuto and connect with interested buyers today!

FAQ on Buying a Car

Does PrivateAuto offer loan payment plans?

PrivateAuto connects you directly with private sellers. You do not pay us for your car; you pay the seller.

We do 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 payments to the lender according to the terms of the loan.

How does PrivateAuto vet buyers and sellers?

Is paying with a check better than paying in cash?

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

Do I need an escrow service when buying a car privately?

When I buy a car from a private seller, can I drive it home?

Can I pay by bank transfer for a used car?

What’s the cheapest way to buy a car?