Consider the following Scenario:

  • you are buying a used car in the United States
  • you get an auto-loan through a used car-dealer.

Do large national car dealerships in the United States require the down payment to be in paper bills, or is a credit, or debit card, acceptable for the down-payment?

I am wondering whether to go to the bank and withdraw paper cash before going to the dealership or not.

  • I'd guess at least one exists but I've never encountered a car dealer happy to pay a card transaction fee. You didn't think of a cashiers check or money order?
    – user662852
    Oct 15, 2020 at 2:33
  • @user662852: Perhaps the dealers weren't exactly happy, but I've bought a couple of used cars with a credit card. No loans involved, though, which probably didn't make them all that happy, either. Still, they moved a car.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 15, 2020 at 17:39

2 Answers 2


The dealership will have their own policies for payments that are to be made by you.

Some will require cash or to hold the check until it clears. Others will not. For the latter, a personal check is good enough to drive off the lot.

Almost all will limit the amount that can be paid via credit card. Some will not accept credit cards. One dealership I bought from had a 5k limit, another did not accept credit cards.

Many people find a much better deal to arrange financing on their own, outside of the dealership. They will be used to dealing with this kind of situation and you can find this out by asking your specific dealership.


Do large national car dealerships in the United States require the down payment to be in paper bills, or is a credit, or debit card, acceptable for the down-payment?

Over the last 20 years when myself or a member of my family have purchased a car it has been a used car from a dealership.

when we were ultimately getting a loan from our credit union, the down-payment has been paid using:

  • Personal check (up to several thousand $'s)
  • Credit card ($1,000)

The final check from the credit union was a cashiers check which was a mix of personal funds and the loan amount. The check was due in 3 business days.

In the cases where there was no loan involved they either accepted personal check for the down-payment, and then required a cashiers check for the balance; or they accepted a personal check for the entire amount.

I have never run into a national car dealership that required or even wanted a large amount of cash. This is especially true if the down-payment would approach $10,000 which would require them to submit additional paperwork.

I think that they might accept a debit card because they are equipped to accept the debit card when people have to pay for car repairs. They should also accept a credit card for the down-payment. You will have to ask if they have a limit when accepting debit/credit. Ask before going to the dealership.

  • One of my personal credit cards offers a car-shopping service, and promises to connect you with dealers who have agreed to accept their credit card for a minimum amount toward the down-payment. This was for new cars. I expect other cards will have similar Membership Privileges. But of course, especially when car-shoping... Your Mileage May Vary.
    – Istanari
    Oct 15, 2020 at 14:34

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