Buying with cash

I’ve decided to buy a used car from a dealer with cash. I’m wondering how much I can expect to save on the purchase price. Will the dealer be more willing to negotiate given that I’m paying upfront?

Cash or check, to be clear to everybody. Let’s face it; if they know you can pay for it now, they don’t want you going elsewhere to buy the car. They know a lost sale when they see one. You leaving the property counts as a lost sale.

If life were simple, sales people would get down to business. At a place where there aren’t any “closers” you may have a chance to get an honest deal.

The other way is if you want to stay until your deal is finally done. You have to refuse all the bad offers.

No, dealers make money financing cars, lots of it from the uninformed buyers.

As Andrew_J noted, financing is one of the “profit centers” for dealers. On a new car sale, they can either make money on the sales profit from the car, or from financing it, or a combination of both.

If you tell them up front that you’ll be paying cash, then they know they won’t be making anything from their financing profit center. That means they’ll be looking harder to make it from you on the sale price.

Honestly, you will be better off planning out your strategy very carefully.

Do you have good credit? If you do, use it to your advantage.

Lets say you have enough to buy a Brand New $20k car.
And you know that you want to buy a new Nissan Altima 2.5 S, which is right around $20k.

The first thing you need to do is pull your credit report from all 3 companies, and print out a copy of the credit score from each one, and keep those pages with you.

Then you go to a site like, and print out their True Market Value report on the Altima for your area, so that you know what your car is actually selling for in that area.

Then go to Nissan’s website, and look up their inventory to see if they have the car you want, with the options you want, in their current inventory. When you find the cars you’re looking for at a couple different dealers, write down the info of the dealer, check out their websites to see if they have any specials going on, and write down the name of 2 sales people listed on their site.

When you get to the dealer, when someone approaches you, tell them that you are looking for a car, you have fantastic credit, and you are buying it today, but only from the dealer that gives you the best price.

Tell them to give you the best price on the car you picked out, and give it to you in writing, as quickly as possible. Let them know that they have 15 minutes to give you the best possible price, or else you are on your way over to XXXX dealer to talk to YYYY, who said that he also has the same car in stock, and se if he would sell it to you for less than the price that you pulled off of

If they stall, once the 15 minutes time is up, leave.
Go to the next dealer on your list, and repeat the process.

A lot can be done at a dealer in 15 minutes.


A lot of the “Finance Here!” used car lots won’t at all because almost all of their profit comes from financing. You might be able to get them to come down at a dealership that sells used cars because these places are pretty strapped for cash at the moment.

In my mind, though, I’d say if you’ve got cash you’ll get the best value buying from a private party.

Shop for your car on craigslist. THAT’s where CASH TALKS!

As others have said, credit is a profit center so you will be in a poorer bargaining position if you let them know you will pay cash. You may even be better off by financing it at the start and then paying it off in a month. A guy at work did just that and came out ahead rather than cash on the day of sale.

Agreed! If you have cash, shop the want ads. You can cut the dealer out of the loop completely.

A lot depends on what kind of car, the desireability of the car you’re considering buying, how long a car has been on the lot, how much hardball you want to play, and just how desperate at that particular moment the dealer is to increase cash flow.

Generally speaking (and most of the car I’ve owned were bought straight up) is around 10-15% off the asking price. The only car I’ve ever purchased without getting that much knocked off is the one I bought a few months ago at about 4% off after some real head butting on the price. Considering the car, the condition, and price I had no complaints at all about the 4% and actually, no complaints about the original asking price.

I also agree that a private seller may be more inclined to take a bigger discount than a dealer would. No matter if it’s a private seller or dealer, the car should be given a careful lookover and thorough (not 2 miles) test drive.