Buying a new car is one of the biggest purchases most of us will make. Most of the time, a lot of research is done before you even visit the dealership. You want to make sure the vehicle has the features you want and that it’s going to be safe for you and your family. But most of all, you want to make sure you’re getting the best price.
Some people won’t purchase a new car unless they’ve saved up enough to buy it with cash. But the majority of us do not have that ability and need to use either an auto loan or a personal loan to close the deal.
But what if there was another way to pay for that car you’ve been eyeing. What if you could use your credit card and earn valuable rewards at the same time?
RELATED: What is a ‘good’ credit card?
Can you use a credit card to purchase a new vehicle?
The answer to this question can go both ways. Some dealerships will allow you to make a payment with a credit card, however others will not. If this is something you’re interested in, then contact the dealership you’re going to buy from and see what their policy is.
Even if a dealership allows a credit card to be used, many won’t let you charge the entire purchase price. Instead, they limit it to a certain amount, usually $5,000. However, Richard Kerr, a contributor with The Points Guy, found a way to bypass this limit by making multiple $5,000 transactions.
The experience that Kerr had is probably more of an exception rather than the rule. If you choose to purchase from a dealership that allows credit card payments, the chances are they will limit the transaction amount.
But be careful and always read the fine print on the contract. Dealerships have been known to tack on an additional fees to cover the processing fees they incur with each credit card transaction.
Bonus tip: Negotiate the purchase price of a vehicle before letting the salesperson know how you are planning to pay. That way the price is set and can’t be adjusted to cover the dealer’s expense for using a credit card.
That being said, even though the opportunity is there to buy a car with a credit card, it doesn’t mean you should. Weigh all the different factors and decide if it’s the best move for you.
Do you have cash on hand and want the rewards?
Are you planning to buy a car and already have enough cash on hand to purchase it outright? This might be a great opportunity to accumulate a bunch of credit card rewards, as well. Purchase the car using your card and then pay off the purchase before the statement closes. That way you earn avoid paying any finance charges.
Do you have a card with a 0% APR?
There is a large selection of credit cards that include an introductory 0% APR on purchases. If you have one of these, you could potentially have nearly two years of no interest. Just be sure you pay off the entire balance before the end of the introductory period. If you don’t, a much higher interest rate will kick in and it will cost you more than an auto loan ever would.
Do you have excellent credit?
The best credit cards tend to be available exclusively to borrowers with excellent credit. If your FICO score is 720 or higher, this might be the perfect time to get a new travel credit card or cash back card. Not only will you pick up the purchase rewards from buying the car, you will also put a big dent or complete the minimum spend to get the card’s signup bonus.
Save money with the American Express Auto Purchasing program
If you have an American Express card, not only will you have the chance to use your card to purchase a car, but you can also save money in the process. Amex cardholders have the option to use the American Express Auto Purchasing program. This program will help connect buyers with more than 10,000 different dealers that accept American Express.
Once you’ve found a car through the program’s website, you’ll receive a guaranteed savings certificate that you can take into the dealership. This will give you a guaranteed savings off the MSRP. In recent years, the savings has been just over $3,200 on average.
Each of the participating dealers have their own rules on how much you can charge, but at a minimum you will be allowed $2,000. However, there is a pretty long list of dealers around the country that will allow the full amount to be charged.
Buying a car with credit is possible…just be careful
Yes, it’s possible to buy a car with a credit card, but most people should tread lightly. Unless you have the cash to pay off the purchase immediately or plan to utilize a 0% APR credit card, it’s usually a better idea to keep the credit card in the wallet and purchase you car a different way.