Hemmings vs PrivateAuto for Car Auctions

Hemmings is a well-regarded car auction website. PrivateAuto is a new, technology-driven car auction platform. Let’s compare the two.
There are many websites to sell your car, but all of them—Hemmings included—offer no help for seeing the transaction through. They allow a buyer and seller to find one another, and that’s the extent of their value. PrivateAuto is the world’s first transactional marketplace for peer-to-peer car sales, and we make every part of the deal easy, safe, and intuitive.




$599.95–$10,099.95 (buyer and seller combined)

$325 (buyer and seller combined)

Transactional tech

No innovation. Connects buyer and seller and leaves them to navigate the transaction on their own.

A complete technology stack to facilitate every phase of the deal.


Difficult to navigate

Intuitive to navigate

Communication with buyers

Clunky, exposes contact info

Securely handled via the PrivateAuto app; keeps your personal info private.

Identity verification


Yes. You can choose to deal with verified sellers only.

Funds verification


Yes. Weed out tire-kickers by dealing with buyers whose funds are verified.

Is the auction binding?

The auction is non-binding. The winning bid has the right of first refusal. The seller has no way to enforce follow-through.

Enforce immediate follow-through or winning bid is negated.


No support. Buyer and seller handle payment off-platform; all options are inconvenient, risky, slow, or expensive.

PrivateAuto Pay allows you to receive any amount of money, instantly, with no transfer fees. Like Venmo—for high-dollar transactions.


Encourage you to use a third-party escrow service (inconvenient and expensive).

Self-administered escrow-like safeguards baked into the workflow.


No support

Electronically sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app.


No support

Book car shipping within the PrivateAuto app.


No support

Schedule an inspection from a qualified mechanic within the PrivateAuto app.

Integrated services

None: buyer must coordinate between multiple parties.

Get insurance, car shipping, a warranty, an inspection, or financing within the PrivateAuto app.

What is a Self-Serve Auction?

A self-serve auction allows you to take multiple bids for your vehicle, and sell it to the highest bidder. It enables you to conduct the entire process yourself, rather than using an auction house or third party to manage the auction.

PrivateAuto is a technology stack that empowers you to conduct your own auction. Our transactional tools take you from creating a listing all the way through getting paid for your car by the winning bidder.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Is Hemmings a Self-Serve Auction?

Hemmings is not a self-serve auction. They are a traditional auction service with a hands-on, analog approach.

When listing a vehicle on Hemmings, the seller must first have the car vetted and accepted by Hemmings' team of experts. Hemmings specialists then work with the seller to set an appropriate reserve price for the auction. During the auction itself, Hemmings consultants facilitate and monitor the bidding process.

This high-touch approach contrasts with PrivateAuto’s self-serve, technology-driven auction solution. It also comes at a much higher pricepoint, which is understandable, given that Hemmings needs to pay the staff salaries of all its employees who mediate the auction process.

Which Auction Site is Cheaper?

Looking at total fees across a sale, PrivateAuto is far cheaper than Hemmings.



Costs to seller

$99.95 listing fee (due whether the car sells or not)

$25 listing fee, $150 closing fee (due only when the car sells)

Costs to buyer

5% of winning bid amount ($500–$10,000)

$150 closing fee

Total costs



Let’s talk about seller costs. On the surface, Hemmings looks like it saves you $75. That’s if you don’t factor in buyer costs. Once you account for buyer costs, you’re losing money.

Why should a seller account for buyer costs when comparing prices for the two platforms? To answer that, let’s put ourselves in the winning bidder’s shoes.

Let’s look at a hypothetical.

As the buyer, you are willing to spend $80,000 total to buy that classic car, buyer’s fee included. On Hemmings, you know you’ll end up paying a 5% buyer’s fee, which means your highest bid is in the ballpark of $76K.

On PrivateAuto, you’ll only pay $150, so you can pretty much afford to bid up to your $80K budget.

In either case, the buyer is out of pocket $80K. On Hemmings, the seller takes home just over $76K. On PrivateAuto, the seller takes home just shy of $80K.

PrivateAuto is a way better deal for buyers and sellers alike.

Which Auction Site Is Easier?

PrivateAuto is far easier to navigate with its intuitive interface and powerful transactional technology.

Hemmings, like all our other competitors, runs on a combination of legacy technology and human intervention. This means that it has little in the way of transactionality. Listings are glorified blog posts—web pages with text and images—and don’t offer any functionality beyond allowing a buyer and a seller to find one another.

PrivateAuto, in contrast, enables every stage of the deal.

Buyers and sellers can communicate securely without ever exchanging contact information.
Buyers can schedule the test drive from the seller’s pre-selected availability in our in-app scheduling tool—no back-and-forth needed. The buyer shows up at the seller’s chosen location and they conclude the deal.
Buyers and sellers electronically sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app.
Buyers can access a suite of additional services within the PrivateAuto app, from car shipping to insurance to financing and more.
Payments are instant and secure, with no transaction fees or limits, thanks to PrivateAuto’s integrated banking partner.

On Hemmings, the buyer and seller are left to their own devices to communicate, meet up, handle paperwork, and figure out how to transfer funds (spoiler alert: outside of PrivateAuto Pay, there are no good options).

Which Site is More Secure?

PrivateAuto offers greater security and safety than Hemmings.

Buyers and sellers have their identity verified, weeding out fraudsters who prefer to operate anonymously.
Buyers have funds verified, weeding out tire-kickers who can’t afford the seller’s car.
Secure encryption keeps everyone protected.
Unlike Hemmings—which forces buyer and seller to exchange contact info in order to conclude the transaction—PrivateAuto allows you to easily do the deal without ever giving out personal information.
Electronic docu-signing binds both parties to a legally-enforcable contract, so the buyer can safely transfer funds to the seller without the concern of the seller reneging.
PrivateAuto Pay gives you escrow-like safeguards—without the expense and inconvenience of a third-party escrow service (and without the risk of falling prey to an escrow scam).

Which Site Is Better For Payments?

PrivateAuto has a built-in payment service called PrivateAuto Pay. It transfers any amount of money instantly and with no transfer fees. Sort of like Venmo—for high-dollar transactions.

Hemmings does not support payments. The buyer and seller need to navigate the transfer of funds on their own. Here are their options:

Cash: inconvenient (have you ever tried to withdraw $80K from your bank?). Also, it’s risky to carry large sums of cash with you.
PayPal, Venmo, or other payment services: low payment limits, sometimes transaction fees. Inadequate for a large purchase.
Check: almost nobody will take a personal check. Cashier’s checks are inconvenient and not foolproof.
Bank transfer: slow, inconvenient, with associated fees. Dependent on banker’s hours.
Zelle: limits on transfer amounts, inadequate for most vehicle purchases.

Outside of PrivateAuto Pay, payment options are risky, slow, inconvenient, expensive—or all of the above.

Which Site Has Integrated Services?

Hemmings is a bare-bones auction website. PrivateAuto is an integrated ecosystem. We’ve partnered with reputable providers for the following services, all of which can be accessed through your PrivateAuto dashboard:

Do I Need an Escrow Service to Auction My Car?

When you use a legacy service like Hemmings, it’s smart to use an escrow company because the Hemmings platform has no safeguards.

When you use PrivateAuto, we give you escrow-like control and protection. Unlike an escrow service, PrivateAuto Pay is free and instantaneous.

No more forking over hundreds or thousands in escrow fees.
No more coordinating between buyer, seller, and escrow agent.
No more waiting for “regular business hours.”

With PrivateAuto Pay, you act as your own escrow agent. Here’s how PrivateAuto Pay protects you in a PrivateAuto auction:

1. Buyer and seller each link their banking institution to their PrivateAuto Pay account. The buyer funds their PrivateAuto Pay account and the funds are verified to the seller.
2. The buyer wins the auction and the PrivateAuto mobile app takes the buyer and seller through a series of confirmations and asks each to electronically sign the official bill of sale.
3. The PrivateAuto app confirms to each party that the other party has signed the bill of sale. At this point, the buyer is safe to transfer the money since the seller is bound by a legal agreement to deliver the vehicle.
4. The app prompts the buyer to release funds and the buyer initiates payment.
5. The seller instantly gets confirmation that funds have appeared in their PrivateAuto Pay account. This works on nights, weekends, holidays, or anytime.
6. The seller signs over the title and delivers the keys to the buyer.

No cost, no hassle, no wasted time. It’s the ultimate way to handle escrow in a car sale. Using PrivateAuto Pay, a buyer can even buy a car long-distance and have it shipped!
Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Which Cars Are Better For An Auction?

The auction format is perfect for unusual or enthusiast cars. These cars can’t be easily valued with a car value calculator or a Kelley Blue Book search. The auction format allows you to see what the market is willing to pay.

Here are some car categories that may do better via an auction than a standard listing:

Celebrity vehicles
Influencer cars
Custom-built vehicles
One-off vehicles
Limited edition vehicles
Estate sale cars (often required by law to have multiple offers)

If your car is unusual in any way, consider auctioning it on PrivateAuto. If your vehicle is a mass-produced car, you might be better off listing it in a standard sale.

Auction FAQ

Should I auction my car on Hemmings?

If you want the support of a seasoned team of automotive professionals, you might consider auctioning your car on Hemmings. If you prefer to auction your car yourself on an intuitive, secure platform that allows you to get the deal done and get paid with minimum hassle, you’re going to love PrivateAuto.

Is PrivateAuto safe?

Is it better to sell or auction a car?

Can I get more for my unique car if I auction it?

What are the best car auction sites?

How much do cars sell for at auction?

Are online car auctions safe?