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What is the best payment to receive when selling a car?

mkarias72mkarias72 Member Posts: 29
edited May 2015 in General
I know cash is the best but its not too safe if you are selling your car for several thousands of dollars. Plus there is always the counterfeit factor. So my question is what other forms of payments are safer? I assume none really.

If taking a cashier or bank check, how would one know if its fake or real? Its tough to transact a large dollar car sale.

What about PayPal? That maybe safe?


  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    Cashiers check. Meet the buyer at your bank.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2015
    Cashier's checks can be fraudulent too, and if so, the bank can seek repayment from the recipient of the funds. (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency)

    I recently purchased a truck for a friend. He wired me the funds (I mostly trust him lol). I used a check at my bank to withdraw the funds in cash, and exchanged the cash for the title. If I'm a seller, I want cash in hand. Sale's price was $4,500 - not large dollars in some circles.

    Wire transfer is all over the map - lots of sites say a wire transfer can't be reversed without cooperation by the recipient. Others claim that wire transfers are reversed for fraud all the time. Dunno what the real story is there.

    You also have to watch out for Cash Escrow Scams.
  • suydamsuydam Member Posts: 4,677
    Cashiers checks are more secure because the bank takes the money out of the buyer's account immediately. There can't be insufficient funds. They are only suspicious when someone sends you one by mail and asks you to do something with it. But if the person comes to the bank with you, cashier's check in hand, they are pretty safe. Of course nothing is 100% safe but this is about the best method, especially if you are selling something that's worth $10k or so.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    edited May 2015
    If we're at a bank, I want to be at the buyer's bank and get cash from the buyer, not any form of check.

    The problem there is that not all buyers are "local". Walking across town to your bank branch with a wad of cash isn't all that great either, but I suppose a wire may be suitable in that circumstance.

    btw @mkarias72, I had a PayPal issue a decade ago over a small purchase and haven't trusted them since. Plenty of horror stories about PayPal on the net too.
  • breldbreld Member Posts: 5,752
    I just purchased a car this past weekend and the seller preferred cash, so I accommodated that, but at $15k, I would have preferred a cashier's check. My suggestion was to have him meet me at my bank so he could witness the actual withdrawal for the official check. He still preferred cash.

    On the seller side of it, I have certainly taken the cash when offered, but have also accepted cashier's checks, along with a withdrawal slip evidencing the cash coming out.

    On a long distance sale once, we had it so I did not send the title until the check cleared.

    2021 Polestar 2 - 2020 MINI JCW Hardtop - 2020 Leaf

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It's pretty difficult to reverse a wire transfer ONCE the recipient bank as accepted it. If it's in process, it can possibly be reversed but if it shows up in your bank account, then done deal. The only way to reverse an accepted wire transfer is when the bank makes a mistake or you can show that you overpaid and need a refund on the partial overpay. But that of course, will be verified beforehand.

    I'd say wire transfer is very safe as long as you verify that it's been accepted by your bank.

    If it's an out of town buyer, you can bring the title to your bank and give it to a bank officer. Once the wire transfer is verified by him, he can Fedex the title to the owner. Then of course, it is the buyer's responsibility to have the car picked up.

    Some people have suggested that the trucking company hired by the buyer can carry a cashier's check, which the driver gives to you, and once you deposit that you can hand over car and title to the trucker---but here again, cashier checks can be forged. Seems unlikely that someone would be scamming you after hiring a truck to come halfway across the country.
  • henrynhenryn Houston, TXMember Posts: 2,669
    If you're the buyer, and the seller wants cash, ask them to meet you at your bank. Withdraw the money with them watching and hand it over.

    If you're the seller, and the buyer wants to pay in cash, same story. Meet them at your bank, ask the teller to check the bills and deposit them.

    For most transactions that go into 6 digits (over $9,999), there is usually a loan / lien involved, which must be paid off in order to get a clear title. This means that you have to involve the lien holder (bank / credit union / whatever) anyway.

    I had an interesting experience last year. I sold my '08 Passat for $8k, asked the buyer to bring a cashier's check. He showed up instead with 80 $100 bills, which I of course accepted. The interesting part was when I went to deposit the money in my credit union. I had to fill out and sign a form, and they took my picture to go along with the form.

    I've been doing business with that credit union since 1985, and they know me quite well. This apparently had something to do with either anti-terrorism or anti-drug_trafficing, or both.
    2019 Chrysler Pacifica
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 14,780
    The only other thing that I'll add is that you, as the seller, can call the financial institution underwriting the buyer's check to verify the availability of funds in the referenced account.

    I would also write up a bill of sale on non-financed transactions that includes name, contact information, sale amount, property description (including VIN), signatures, and date of both buyer and seller, with each party receiving a copy.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457

    Seems unlikely that someone would be scamming you after hiring a truck to come halfway across the country.

    In those cases, the credit card or check paid to the trucking company bounces after delivery. :D

  • steine13steine13 Member Posts: 2,824
    Cold hard cash.
    Go somewhere well lit and check out all the bills.
    Go to the treasury site first and learn about all the anti-counterfeit features.
    I once sat on my back stoop for 15 minutes going through $12,500 worth of lettuce in twenties.

    Failing that, meet at the buyer's bank and get cash or a cashier's check from that bank.
    They know whether they have the funds; your own bank won't for days.

    cheers -m
  • mkarias72mkarias72 Member Posts: 29
    Thank you all. The suggestions about going to the buyer's bank is a good idea. If we both happen to bank at the same bank, it can be a seamless transaction.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,086
    paypal worked for me when an overseas buyer nabbed my father-in-law's old Caddy on Ebay. I was very wary the entire transaction, but it worked out fine. I did call Paypal to verify the funds and make sure they were free and clear for me to withdraw.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    When did you send the title and/or ship the car?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,086
    This was quite a while ago, but as I recall, they needed all that to get it through customs, so it all had to accompany the car. Funds were all cleared and in my hand before the flatbed showed up to take it to the boat.

    ‘21 Camaro LT1, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 54-car history and counting!

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    A reporter is looking to talk with a family in either the San Francisco or Los Angeles areas that is currently looking to sell one or more of their cars for maximum value. If you fit the description, please send a message to [email protected] by no later than Friday, September 18, 2015.
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