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5 top car buying apps

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The options to purchase a car have dramatically shifted over the past few years and now enable drivers to purchase and finance a vehicle all from the convenience and comfort of home. But with so many virtual car buying options it’s important to determine which application is best for you and what your research needs are.

Whether you’re on the lot comparing prices or at home researching vehicles in your area, there’s an app to best guide you through your car buying process. Consider these top five apps for your needs before hitting download.

1. Edmunds: Best car app for comparing vehicles

Edmunds has served as a pillar in the car-buying world for over 50 years. It covers everything from automotive reviews to vehicle pricing information — and the app is no different. The app enables drivers to see available vehicles in their area side by side, read reviews from industry experts and access a library of resources related to auto maintenance, safe, car buying and selling tips and more. You can also set specific parameters to focus your search on the exact vehicle you need.

Best for comparing vehicles

Download Edmunds to explore what is available in your area and find which vehicles are best for your budget and driving needs.

2. Kelley Blue Book: Best car app for real-time pricing information

Similar to Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) is a fantastic resource for reviews of vehicles. Its goal is to empower drivers via research so that they get the best price for their vehicle. KBB hosts both expert and consumer reviews. The app presents drivers their chosen vehicle’s “fair market price” based on the vehicle MSRP, current buyer transactions and data gathered from other sources, and you can track real-time pricing and performance data.

Best for real-time pricing information

If you are unsure if you are getting the best deal on your vehicle, KBB can help you check pricing. The app is a great starting point for vehicle negotiation and assurance you are walking away with the best deal.

3. Carvana: Best car app for a fully virtual experience

Known for its car vending machines, Carvana allows drivers to find, purchase and receive their new set of wheels without ever having to leave their homes. This approach embraces the ease of virtual shopping and is great if you’re buying used or trading in your current vehicle. A major perk that comes with buying from Carvana is the minimal fees. Due to the fully online process, you will save money on dealer commissions and hidden fees. It also has a seven-day test drive period.

Best for a fully virtual experience

If you have your sights set on a vehicle, Carvana is a great option for buying your next set of wheels completely online. Simply choose your car on the app and you can get it delivered right to you. Carvana also offers vehicle financing for drivers with varying credit backgrounds that can be set up directly from the mobile app.

4. CarMax: Best car app for the nervous negotiator

CarMax is made for stress-free car buying. Its model is built on two main arms of business: sales and finance. This makes its app a space to explore vehicles in your area based on aspects like price, mileage, make, model and fuel efficiency. The app also allows you to apply for vehicle financing or check out vehicle history reports.

Best for the nervous negotiator

The free app removes the headaches from one of the most stressful aspects of car buying — the negotiation. Vehicle prices shown on the app are only those directly from CarMax dealerships, so the price you see is what you pay.

5. iSeeCars: Best car app for buying used

The iSeeCars app and website allow users to search for used cars and find the best deals in your area. They have very specific filters — over 50 — available so that you can search for your next vehicle based on parameters as specific as tow rating or cargo capacity. Plus, listings are ranked by the quality of the proposed deal, and you can view the fair market value to determine if the seller’s asking price is fair. You can also set price alerts so the app will notify you when a vehicle you are interested in has a price drop.

Best for buying used

While most online apps allow you to explore used vehicles, the iSeeCars interface is built for deep research for used, certified pre-owned vehicles that fit your specific needs. The app also encourages drivers to take advantage of the free VIN (vehicle identification number) report to check out used vehicle history before purchasing.

Next steps

After choosing your next set of wheels, take advantage of online resources to lock in vehicle financing ahead of vehicle purchase to get the best deal. And to stay safe when shopping online check prices consistently and only buy from well-vetted sites.

Learn more

Written by
Allison Martin
Allison Martin's work began over 10 years ago as a digital content strategist, and she’s since been published in several leading financial outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money, MoneyTalksNews, Investopedia, Experian and Credit.com.
Edited by
Auto loans editor