Having so much cash laying around to pay for a car could raise red flags to some car salesman. But sometimes it’s harmless. People share times when the salesman had interesting reactions to them paying for their car in cash or cash equivalent. Content has been edited for clarity.
Time For A Porche
“Yeah, I did this a few years ago. It wasn’t a new car, but it was a Porsche, from a Porsche dealer. The car was 1,300 miles away so all of the negotiations were done on the phone ahead of time, and we agreed on a price. After that, I confirmed that cash would be an acceptable form of payment. Then, I booked a flight for five in the morning the following morning and headed to the local bank to make my withdrawal.
Surprise. The bank didn’t have enough cash. Literally. I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t have nearly enough, and they called another local branch only to find out that combined they didn’t have enough. This was quite a surprise to me and confirmed my suspicion that robbing banks is a terrible idea.
I couldn’t get in touch with the salesman at the dealership that minute and the bank was about to close so I took all the cash they would give me (about 5,000 bucks) and had a cashier’s check made out for the difference. Later I spoke with the dealership and they said a cashier’s check was fine – but also were specific to confirm it wasn’t one of those scammy get cash quick loan checks that comes in the mail made out to me for 30k or something.
Fast forward to the purchase. The dealership was about 40 minutes away from the airport so the sales guy I dealt with was going to pick me up (in his mid-80s Porsche), but I missed my flight and he had a family vacation to leave for. So, I arrived a few hours late and had to take a bus to the nearest bus station. At this point, I was picked up by a backup sales guy in a brand new Porsche that had cold bottled water in the cup holders for me. I thought that was a nice touch.
We got to the dealership and my car was sitting out front, washed and ready to go. I was given an overview of the car and the guy pointed out some interesting things like the center caps pointing towards the valve stems, sticker on the underside of the hood, inside of the wheels, and the holes the lugs went through cleaned properly. He described these details as being ‘Porsche correct’. We went for a test drive, he answered some questions, and we got back to the dealership and went inside to pay and finalize the paperwork.
Two women were working the cashier stand area in the dealership. One was young and the other a bit older. I gave them my 5,000 dollars and the cashier’s check for the balance. They were friendly and I did pick up that they were slightly impressed, but they didn’t act out of the ordinary. The finance guy that I dealt with for the paperwork was just business as usual and if I’m honest, a bit rude.
Afterward, my backup sales guy got me the manual, spare key, etc, etc. and helped me get everything in the car. Then, offered to take my picture.
I’d say the reaction was not extraordinary in any way, nobody called the police, and I had no problems at all. The weirdest thing that happened was at the bank when they told me they didn’t have enough cash. To be fair, I had discussed it ahead of time with the dealership, and a big chunk of the ‘cash’ was in the form of a cashier’s check. In retrospect, a cashier’s check for the entire balance would be the best approach. But that also leaves you in a bit of a bind if you decide not to buy the car for some reason.
Bonus story: several years before this I bought a car (BMW Z4) from a private seller with cash (all cash this time). At the time, I assumed that the banks just had mountains of cash, so I picked a bank close to his house (in another state) and stopped on my way there right when they opened. They did have enough cash, but they might need to open the vault to get it, which is time-locked. Luckily, if I remember correctly, they were able to scrape together enough cash without going into the vault. I also had to fill out some patriot act forms if I remember correctly.”
Been All Over
“Three times I have done this in my life, First time I lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I walked into the dealership, with long hair, and jeans, and asked to test drive the silver Z3 in the showroom. Without hesitation, they brought the car out and handed me the keys. No driver’s license copy stuff, or anything. I drove it for a while, loved it, walked in and asked what it cost, walked to my custom Z28, walked back and handed them the cash. I said I would be back that weekend to pick up my Z28. (did not ask, just stated the fact and left). From then on, any time a new color, or feature came in, I was called and invited to test drive it. He always chuckled after that statement.
The second time, I lived in Reading, Pennsylvania where I drove to a Corvette dealership that had an original G2 in brown. I test-drove it, and it fell short of what a ’Vette should feel like to me.
The dealer smirked and said, ‘If you are looking for raw power, pick one from this row.’
Of course, there was a ridiculously bright yellow one, so I picked it. We took it out of the dealership onto the Interstate. He said to keep it in second and when you think you should shift just nail it. I was like a little kid; that was the most power I had ever experienced and I have always had at least one hot rod since I was 16. We came back, I asked how much, drove to the bank, and got a personal loan. I literally told them how much, what for, signed, waited for a second, they gave me the money (wanted to give me a bank check), and drove back. Then I learned when I picked it up, that I just bought the 50th Anniversary ‘Millennium Yellow’ Z06, with liquid cooling air intake and Borla Exhaust. I still have it.
Six years ago, I ordered over the Internet a Fiat 500C like Jennifer Lopez promoted when it first came to the US. I needed an economical car now that I was moving to Richmond, Virginia, but still working in Pennsylvania. So I picked all features, asked how much, and said I will pickup Tuesday.
I drove down Monday in a U-Haul, unloaded my computers at my new office, searched where I was, there was a U-Haul near the dealership, to find out I was on the opposite side of town… drove down, returned the U-Haul, hitched a ride to the other end of the Midlothian Turnpike where the dealership was. They had my car in the showroom, pulled it out, and the salesperson and I drove around the block so I could walk into Wells Fargo and pull out the cash. Paid for it, and left. This was the first dealership that tried to up-sell me after I paid.”
“I belong to a tier two city in South India.
Here in India, getting a car these days is so easy but it wasn’t so the case a few years ago.
One fine day, a friend of mine called me and said we gotta go somewhere and I was like okay. I was in my casual attire in outdoor shorts and cool polo. He was wearing a flowered pattern t-shirt and shorts with a backpack just like me. He took me straight to a car showroom and said that he’s gonna buy a car. And I was like don’t kid me and he was so adamant he pulled me literally into the showroom. The salesmen were watching us and no one bothered to come and ask us what we were up to.
After some five minutes or so, a kind lady came to me and started asking me what I wanted. I was just clueless. My great friend was taking a stroll in the showroom scanning all the display models present there.
She went to him and asked what he wanted and he said, ‘I want this car’ by tomorrow and he requested it is ready ASAP.
She replied that would be Rs 700,000 and that he should be submitting the needed documents.
He said that he would pay all the amount in cash and that was a complete shocker to me. I never expected this to happen even in my wildest of dreams. He opened the backpack he was wearing and gave her the exact one she asked for and gave an extra 3000 RS to the salesmen quoting it to be a tip. I was shell-shocked by the behavior of my friend.
All the people there were equally shocked as me and from then we were offered special treatment.
Meanwhile, my friend was so chill as if it was not a big deal at all to buy a car just like that.
Thankfully, the lady was so kind that she got all the formalities done ASAP and the car was delivered to us in about two hours. She was so happy about the tip.
He tossed me the keys and asked me to drive the car to the temple cause he’s not supposed to drive until the Pooja is performed.
I was so happy he offered me the car and I drove it with joy.”
“I bought my last car with 15k in cash. I’d told the dealership that I was making a cash offer. But I think they took it to mean I had my own financing.
Since I flew down to the dealership that morning, the biggest question was ‘Did you have problems with the TSA?’
Honestly, I was expecting to have one which is why I brought with me lots of documentation about the car, price, insurance, etcetera.
Other than that, I think it was a slight pain to count out all that money and verify the amount for them. But it helped me because it gives a significant amount of leverage on price.
After my inspection and test drive, the manager started with ‘Well, we thought a sales price of 15k plus taxes, fees.’
I quickly shut that down with, ‘This is the cash so it’s either 15k out the door or me and the cash are going out the door.’
I think beyond a certain amount, it’s just too unwieldy to manage and very risky. But cash on hand is one of the strongest negotiating weapons you can carry when buying a car, dealership, or private party.
The month before, I bought another car with 1600 cash from a private seller. He’d offered it on CL for around 2500 bucks. I showed up and told him I had cash. He had some other guy who’d offered 1800 bucks but didn’t have it ready and was making calls to put it together. I reminded him that I have the cash right in front of him. After 20 minutes, during which he tried calling the other guy, he agreed. Cash in hand was better than the uncertain promise of cash in the future.
Two years before, my partner witnessed me buy a car offered at 3k for 2k. I was there (well, we were there), with the cash. Regardless of promises and talk from other potential buyers, I was the one who showed up with an immediate payout, and the seller needed to sell. Was I willing to pay more? Yes. I gave my partner 500 bucks to hold back. But in person, I quickly analyzed the situation and decided an envelope bulging with 2k was adequate for the task. I resisted the initial push for more and the seller caved.”
Great Christmas Gift
“In 1985, I bought my girlfriend a new car (Pontiac Fiero GT) for Christmas and paid cash for it. I chose that car specifically because it had plastic panels and she worked in a mall and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life fixing door dings. They counted the money several times, no big deal. But it was a huge mistake on my part.
The car had mechanical issues from the start but worse, the people who owned and worked there were rude. They first required a check-up, the tech drove the car under a workbench and put a cut in the front bumper cover. They said they’d fix it, I wanted it replaced, 5,000 mi. New car, right? They tried fixing it twice, didn’t come out right so they gave me a new one which I sold and I fixed the damaged one. Did I mention I worked as a body man in a custom shop?
Next, they put the car on a lift for a scheduled oil change and crushed the rocker panels, on both sides. got new ones from them sold them, and fixed the damaged ones. Next, the transmitter started slipping. They fixed it or so I thought. Not a mile from the dealership I’m coming down the highway and the light turns amber, and I hit the gas cause I was almost through. But it slipped and the car slowed down. A cop stopped me and I showed him the receipt and explained what happened and doughnut writes me anyway.
The moral of the story is because I paid cash, the dealership couldn’t care less about me. They didn’t make any money through the financing and I had no recourse to call the company that held the note and tell them that I wouldn’t be making any more payments until they solved the problem once and for all.”
“No briefcases and actual cash but last four out of the five cars I owned, I paid cash, or rather cash I have in the bank so a personal check instead of actual cash.
If they wanted actual cash, I could have given it but it was unnecessary, and post 9/11, car dealers look at cash payments with extra scrutiny and want to ask you all sorts of questions, or so I was told since I have not taken the cash.
I like new cars and the typical time I drive one is four-five years before I trade it off for a newer car with better technology and also not having to deal with mechanics. I’ve never taken any of my cars in the last 25 years to a mechanic other than scheduled maintenance and there is not a single day I’ve had car problems like it won’t start or whatever else.
Only the first car I bought right out of Grad School was the one I bought with payments (I was flat broke coming out of Grad school so no other choice). Ever since that one which I traded in after five years once it was paid off, all my others have been full cash payments with a check.
The dealers try to sell you financing because they make money there but I usually turn down and cut to the chase.
Then you hear the usual, ‘Oh you could invest this…blah blah blah’ speech.
To me, not having to pay for car payments every month is worth more than anything. And I can be sure no one will tow away my car for nonpayment.
All my cars were Japanese so you get a pretty good residual value after four-five years and even in a private sale, they get snagged fast. I might be getting a Model S soon but probably will hang on to my gasoline engine car as a backup second car.
Well. This is something I wished to write for quite some days.”
Bank Check Jeep
“In June of this year, my brother bought a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee, not with cash, but with a bank check, basically a cash equivalent.
We both walked into the dealership, talked with a sales representative, negotiated a price (this is where they always get you to ‘fill out a credit app’)… and then offered 32,500 cash on a 40,000 buck car.
At first, they were taken aback and said, ‘Oh no, it doesn’t work like that.’
They didn’t believe what was happening and didn’t take it seriously but once I called the bank and had the bank manager confirm that we had the means to do this transaction, they were quite serious and respectful after that. People’s whole demeanor and respect for you change when it comes to money (it’s not you. they respect and revere, it’s the money). As you can see, my brother isn’t into fancy clothes and thus doesn’t exactly exude wealth, but how someone looks doesn’t mean much.
The salesman and his finance guy who joined in at that point out of curiosity needed to get approval from their manager, and they did ask where the money came from, but no real probing.
Nothing like ‘We’re going to have to see where this money came from and make sure you’re innocent.’
No IRS form was filled out, and no deep prying into our finances whatsoever. It was straightforward.
After he signed the bill of sale and a few other forms, the dealership took the Jeep off the lot to detail it and slap an inspection sticker on the window, and the both of us went off to lunch and then hit the bank to grab the check.
We went back to the dealership, signed another form to complete everything, then went on our merry way.”
That’s A Lot Of Cash
“I once paid 79,000 in cash for two cars at a dealer because we had moved countries with work and needed to set up a new home. We were cashed up from selling a house in one country and needed to get settled quickly.
We wanted the cars immediately, even choosing yard stock over a new car delivered from the factory, but the dealer wouldn’t release them until funds had cleared to their accounts which would take four days. During that time we’d be using rental cars which would have cost us more money.
We offered credit cards, but they insisted on clearing funds. We suggested bank cheques but apparently, there had been some forged bank cheques passed off so again, they would only hand over the cars when the funds had appeared in their account.
So we went to the bank and wrote a withdrawal slip. That caused a fuss because they weren’t prepared for a payroll size withdrawal, but after speaking to the manager, they counted out the cash.
We had a very nervous walk back to the dealer, where they counted it three times with two people. Funnily they broke the 1000 packs up into 500 packs rather than counting out the groupings that were there. Then they received it and handed us the keys.
They were then very flustered because they had 79,000 in cash on their premises and I saw the manager scurry off to the bank with the cash, just before we left.
It wasn’t hard, it caused a bit of a fuss. We had to sign some forms because of the large amount of cash.
The bank manager still remembers my name 12 years later.”
Two Forms Of Identity
“The car that I currently own now was paid for in cash, outright.
I had done my research beforehand and wanted a car that I would love for years to come. Since I enjoy driving, it had to be a driver’s car. It also had to be able to perform the duties of bringing me to school and work regularly.
Which brought me to the BMW dealership. I was shown a 328i- which after test driving left me standing unimpressed. The five series was a bit too large for my liking and you can certainly tell when making sharp quick turns. I test-drove a series of other models and ended up becoming enamored with a fully loaded 335i; The sound of the engine, the brakes, and the responsiveness of the wheel. I was truly in love.
After meticulously applying negotiation tactics that I read online to bring the price down a bit, we settled on a fair price. I told the salesman that I would bring the money in two days later.
Two days later, I went to my bank and withdrew 6k cash. I had to provide two forms of identification as well as a signature. My parents handed me the other half of the money at home. I called the dealership and told them I would be coming and I brought the dealership 15k in cash. It wasn’t in a briefcase or anything of that sort, just envelopes.”
Ring The Bell
“I pay for all of my cars in cash and so should you (if you can). The problem with paying cash is that car dealerships make no money on cash purchases unless you have poor negotiation skills. I recommend that you never divulge that you are paying cash until the very end of the negotiation after you are satisfied with your sales price.
The only thing funny that happened to me was I bought a fully loaded SUV at a dealership that would ring a bell every time a car was sold. My first rule of doing business with that dealership was that if they rang the bell after I handed them my check that I would stop payment on the check.
The negotiation for this vehicle was rather lengthy and required weeks of back and forth on the purchase price but at the end of the month, they ended up caving in and meeting my demands of a fair price. The dealership was so pleased to see me on my way that I forgot to hand them the check. I was three miles away from the dealership when my mobile phone rang and it was the dealership calling to ask me to return to write them the check.
I responded to the salesperson saying, ‘What? you lost the check already?’
But then they turned around and handed them the signed check. So I guess you could say that was kind of funny.”
Don’t Let Them Know
“I have purchased several vehicles outright with ‘cash.’ A few when I was younger were with actual cash, though this was in sums of about 7K maximum. Nobody batted an eye after they checked the money was legit.
The rest with Cash were purchased by writing a check. The last was nearly 50K and carrying that sort of cash into the car dealer seemed foolish on many levels.
The key to these types of purchases is don’t let them know you are outright paying for it until after the deal is struck and you are working with the finance guy in the back. Make them think you are planning to put around 50 percent down and finance the rest. They will think you are ready to buy and can afford it but are going to finance it. Normally they will cut you a better deal on the car if you are financing.
Be careful to watch all the incentives they provide. Sometimes you get discounts simply because you are financing and those will go away if you pay cash. Once you work out a deal goes back to the fiance guy and start working through things, then change your mind and cut them a check for the total cost of everything.”