Are Car Auctions Cash Only?

Car auctions are not the same as they used to be, where you would walk into the auction with a wad of cash and buy cars for personal or business use. With the innovation of technology, auctions have the ability to verify funds and allow for lots of different payment options. Some auctions require a dealers license to enter, but there are public auctions where anyone off the street can buy a car. Here’s how to navigate the car auction process.


Buying cars with cash is the most traditional way of paying at auctions. Having a certain amount of cash in hand allows you to stay within a set budget and drive away with your car as soon as the auction is over. This payment method is accepted everywhere at in-person auctions, but if you’re looking to shop at online car auctions, paying cash may not be so easy. Online auctions often take visa debit cards through a third party application. Attending sneak peaks or checking online before you go to the auction will give you a better idea of how much cash to bring.

Cashier’s checks

Car auctions usually give the buyers a few days to pay for the car. This allows you time to go to the bank and get a cashier’s check to buy your vehicle. Cashier’s checks typically cost around $10 from your bank and will save you from having to carry around cash in a live auction. Depending on the online car auction, you can remit payment to them through a third party application or by sending a check.

If you’re sending a check, ensure that the check gets to the destination in a reasonable amount of time. Checks that aren’t certified are allowable at in-person car dealerships if you have a certain amount of money already in the bank. The auction will draft some money which ensures that your bank account has enough money to pay for a car at auction. You can then bid and pay by check. Some auctions limit the amount you can bid on when you’re paying by check, or they hold your car until the check clears.

Credit cards

Credit card payments are always a valid option. Credit card payments are one of the most widely accepted forms of payment available. Businesses often have a credit card with the intentions of using it at auctions. These cards often have incentives and bonuses that encourage the user to buy high-priced items. This is a great option if you have the cash on hand at the end of the month to pay the monthly credit card bill. Otherwise your purchase will accrue interest and might end up not being the best investment.


Financing is always an option, and this is true at most in-person and online car auctions. To finance your purchase, there is often a credit check required. Typically, the amount financed and the possible interest is dependent on this credit check. But this is a convenient way to pay for a car, leaving you the freedom to bid on an array of cars, knowing your limitations. If you’re a car dealer, buying with the finance option may give you the no-money-down option needed to boost your business.

Car auctions can run for a long time and it isn’t always safe to carry cash. Choosing a safer payment option can save you from having to worry about losing your money. Credit cards are insured and checks can only be cashed by the business or person the check is made out to. Choose the best payment option for you and your business/personal needs.

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.