How to buy a car without haggling
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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. A 2016 study showed that more than half of people feel uncomfortable when visiting a car dealership. Instead of confronting that anxiety and putting together a negotiating strategy, you can enjoy the ease of no-haggling car buying.
5 ways to buy a car without haggling
You have plenty of choices for buying a new car without haggling. Remember that if you have done your research and feel you are being offered a fair deal, you can simply skip haggling and accept the dealer’s offered price.
1. Buy it online
If you don’t want to talk to a person when you’re buying a new car, online sellers have you covered. Check out a no-haggle buying site, like Carvana or Vroom, or use a car-buying app. 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, study the deal’s terms. Since you aren’t taking a test drive, it’s important to understand your options for returning it if you have regrets.
Potential drawbacks: While there are many perks to purchasing your car online, keep in mind that this is a big purchase you’re making sight-unseen. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for additional fees charged for purchasing this way, including a delivery or destination fee for the car to get to you.
2. Go to a no-haggle lot
While you might associate all car lots with the typical back-and-forth bargaining, some dealers exclusively offer 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. Dealer options will still be on the table at these lots, so familiarize yourself with what you can and cannot do without.
Potential drawbacks: You may still expect to pay a higher-than-sticker price at one of these lots, especially once fees are factored in. Though some fees are negotiable, you’re stuck with them if you don’t negotiate.
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 occasional limited-time incentives 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.
Potential drawbacks: When you purchase through a club, you’ll need to trust the price you are being offered is competitive. “Exclusive” deals may or may not be worth your effort, so compare carefully before committing to one of these clubs just for one purchase.
4. Hire a car broker
There’s another option to avoid haggling when 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.
Potential drawbacks: Simply put, a car broker is not you — so you will need to communicate your expectations carefully. Once they finalize a deal on your behalf, you will most likely be committed to the terms and price they’ve agreed upon.
5. Use a car auction site
Auction sites like eBay Motors enable you to bid on a car and try to secure a low price without haggling with the seller. Listings include everything from classic vintage cars to brand-new models. While you may need to travel to pick up the car, this can be a great way to get a car without negotiating.
Cars on auction sites are frequently salvaged, rebuilt, or repossessed, and dealers may purchase them in lots rather than individually. Some auction sites may allow you to bypass bidding altogether if you agree on a “buy it now” price or similar listed price.
Potential drawbacks: It can be hard to secure financing for a car you’re purchasing at auction — you’ll likely need to fund your purchase upfront. Keep in mind you’ll probably need to pick up your auction winnings from the seller or negotiate for shipping/delivery.
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.
The used vehicle market continues to be competitive, with an ongoing computer chip shortage exacerbated by rising raw material costs and conditions in Ukraine.
“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 obstacles between your hands and 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.