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How to buy a car without haggling

Woman standing in car showroom with two cars on either side of her
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Buying a car can be a daunting process — particularly if you don’t want to try to bargain for a better price or extra amenities. Past studies have shown that more than half of people feel uncomfortable when visiting a car dealership. Instead of confronting that anxiety and putting together a strategy to get someone to cave to your demands, you can skip it altogether and enjoy the ease of no-haggling car buying. 

5 ways to buy a car without haggling 

You have plenty of choices when it comes to looking for a new car, and you also have quite a few options for buying that car without any haggling.  

1. Buy it online

If you don’t want to deal with talking to a person when you’re buying a new car, you can do it right now. Open another tab on your device and go to a no-haggle buying site, like Carvana or Vroom. These sites operate on a what-you-see-is-what-you’ll-pay model. You can also get a trade-in estimate without talking to anyone. Plus, if you find a car you love, someone will likely deliver it to your house.  

When buying a car online, make sure you understand the terms of the deal. Since you aren’t taking a test drive, it’s important to understand your options for returning it if you wind up having regrets. 

2. Go to a no-haggle lot

While you might associate all car lots with the typical back-and-forth bargaining, some places are specifically set up with no-haggle pricing. Enterprise, for example, sells used cars that others have rented and uses a no-haggle pricing structure. AutoNation — which has more than 300 locations in 18 states — is also an option if you’re buying a used car. It has a fixed, no-haggle pricing model. 

3. Join a club

There are programs where you’ll enjoy a discount without having to ask for it. If you’re a member of AAA, the club’s Auto Buying service offers member-only pricing. Costco also has prearranged pricing for members. The discount is visible online and there are occasional limited-time incentives that can help you save more without having to haggle with anyone.  

There are other membership options that can help with buying a car and taking care of other financial needs. Credit unions like Navy Federal Credit Union and PenFed offer car buying services with bonus cash offers for members and upfront, no-haggle pricing. 

4. Hire a car broker

There’s another option to avoid any haggling when you’re buying a car: Let someone else do that work for you. Car brokers, also known as car concierges, are services that do the searching and negotiating on your behalf. You give them a budget and tell them what you’re looking for and they come back to you with options.  

They may also help negotiate a trade-in value for your existing car. You’ll have to pay the broker a fee for their services, but that expense — likely a few hundred bucks — can pay off by saving you time and money. 

5. Use eBay

The online auction at eBay also includes cars. You can bid on a car and hope you secure a low price without haggling with the seller. If you know the car is exactly what you want, you may be able to skip the wait in the auction process and simply use the “Buy It Now” feature.  

Listings include everything from classic vintage cars to brand new models. While you could wind up having to go pick up the car a few states away, this can be a great way to get a car without ever exchanging notes about lowering the price. 

Reasons to skip negotiations

Why would you pass on the chance to try to save some cash? Well, the adage “time is money” is true. You might spend hours and hours haggling for a better deal, but only manage to get a discount of a few hundred bucks.  

In the current market, even a few hundred bucks of savings seems somewhat impossible due to the supply chain issues lingering from the pandemic. There simply aren’t many cars available right now, which means that dealers can’t afford to offer much in the way of incentives.  

“It’s still a challenging time,” says Matt Degen, editor at Kelley Blue Book. “Don’t expect to have a lot of room for negotiation right now. More than ever, people are paying sticker price. Don’t expect screaming deals anytime soon.” 

The bottom line

The traditional route to buying a car can come with the anxiety and pressure of dealing with a pushy sales representative, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of ways to cut out all that haggling and eliminate the potholes standing in the way of getting your hands on the steering wheel. 

While you might not want to shop around and haggle for the best sticker price on a car, there is one area where you should compare multiple offers: the loan to help you get the keys. Browse auto loan rates from banks and credit unions to secure a competitive financing offer. 

 

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Auto loans editor