Payment when buying a car

this is important, because buying a car usually involves a lot of money. Here you can find out which payment options you have, which of them is the safest and what else you need to pay attention to if you want to pay for your car without the risk of fraud.

For most people, buying a car is a well-considered decision, because it usually involves paying a lot of money. Again and again there are therefore cases of fraud. Here we explain what you should pay attention to when paying for your car and how you can pay safely:

  • How does the payment work when buying a car?
  • When to pay?
  • Do i have to make a down payment?
  • How to pay when buying a car?
  • Cash payment
  • Bundesbank check
  • Bank transfer
  • Cash transfer
  • Paypal
  • Payment with cell phone app: secure payment
  • Escrow service, shipping company& shipping company
  • Suspicion of fraud: what to do?

How to pay for the purchase of a car?

Before paying for a new or used car, you should always inspect the car with your own eyes first. This is especially important with offers from the internet. Only by inspecting the car on site can you be sure that it really exists and that you are not falling for a scam.

In order to be able to examine the car really well, we also recommend that you take the car for a test drive. You can check the car for defects and test how the car drives.

Tip: it’s best to take someone with you who knows a lot about cars and buying a car. they can help you detect hidden defects in the car or detect forgeries on the papers if they are present.

Handing over the car keys during the payment process when buying a car

When buying a car, the key should only ever be handed over in return for payment. © gettyimages/jay_zynism

Only after the test drive you should decide if you really want to buy the car. Our checklist for the test drive will also help you to do this. If you are sure about buying a car, you should decide with the seller how you want to pay for the car.

Fraud can be common, especially in private car purchases. The safe car buying initiative (a joint initiative of ADAC, autoscout24.De, mobile.De and the crime prevention department of the police) recommends paying with cash as a matter of principle. The payment method is considered very safe.

The payment should ideally be part of the so-called train-around-move procedure. This means: in the first step both parties sign the purchase contract, only after that the buyer pays. The important documents, car and keys are then gradually handed over between the buyer and the seller.

You can find out which documents are important when buying a car in our guide below. The entire transfer usually does not take long. You should definitely take enough time to check all important documents and the car.

the initiative also advises: never pay in advance via cash transfer or an online money transfer service. This could be a case of fraud.

Man pays by credit card when buying a car

Always pay only train by train against the car, all important documents and the car keys. © gettyimages/georgerudy

When do I have to pay?

basically: you should always pay after both (buyer and seller) have signed the written purchase contract. Do not pay until you have seen and inspected the car.

  • Signed purchase contract with notification of sale for the registration office and insurance company
  • Registration certificate part I (vehicle registration document) and part II (vehicle title)
  • Certificate of the last main inspection (HU) and exhaust emission test (AU)
  • instruction manual (= service booklet), if available
  • Maintenance and repair invoices, if available
  • Pictures and expert opinions for accident damage, if available
  • General operating permit (ABE) for accessories and attachments, if available
  • Building permits and partial appraisals for accessories and attachments, if available
  • Copy of the seller’s identity card (only for security)
  • Power of attorney, if seller and owner are not identical.

Do i have to pay a deposit?

Down payments or other forms of prepayment (payment in advance, for example by bank transfer) are not customary when buying a car. This also applies to the car dealership through the internet. If you are asked to pay in advance for a private car purchase, it is better not to buy the car. You should be especially careful if you have not yet seen the car with your own eyes. Because the car may not even exist.

It applies: if the buyer asks for an advance payment, it could be a case of fraud. Here is advised to be careful.

Scared woman in the car as a symbolic image of fraud when buying a car

There are always cases of fraud when buying a car. © gettyimages/brauns

Example of a scam: if it is a scammer, the seller often demands a deposit first. He will come up with a pretext for this: for example, he will claim that he needs proof of your solvency (proof that you have enough money to pay for the car) . Or he claims that he has to finance the freight costs to germany (when buying from abroad) with your down payment. Often you should send the money to the seller via a cash transfer service like moneygram or western union.

Once the seller has received the money, he usually breaks contact immediately. then it looks bad for you: your money is gone, but you will most likely never see the car. If you use a cash transfer service like western union, you will not be able to get your money back once it has been withdrawn. The fraudster has then usually long since picked it up with a fake ID and has thus gone into hiding. Even the police can do nothing more in the case. The car in reality usually did not even exist.

Attention: it is also better not to make any down payments to car dealers. There’s also the risk of losing the money in the end: for example, if the car dealer files for bankruptcy before the car has been delivered. You are then left with the damage. You can not ask for your money back then.

Woman signs purchase contract for new car

You should always pay for the car after both parties have signed the purchase contract. © gettyimages/seventyfour

How can I pay when buying a car?

The recommended and safest method of payment when buying a car is cash payment. However, there are other payment methods. Here we explain everything important about this and give you tips on what to look out for in each case.

Cash payment

A popular option for payment when buying a car is to pay in cash. This is basically also the safest payment option when buying a car. Most private car purchases therefore also take the form of a cash payment.

  • Both parties (buyer and seller) should first sign the written purchase agreement.
  • Then the money, the car, the car keys and the car documents should be handed over step by step between the seller and the buyer.
  • Usually when you buy a car you have a large sum of money with you. Therefore, make sure you meet in a busy place (for example, a public parking lot in front of the supermarket) and in daylight. It is best to bring a companion to the handover as well.

Tip: it is best to meet in the parking lot in front of a bank during daylight hours to hand over the car and the money. So you can go to the bank together to withdraw the money. The buyer takes no risk of being robbed this way. The seller can be sure that he will not receive counterfeit money.

Important: remember to pre-order higher sums of money at the bank or to have them released for the day. Because normally you can only withdraw a limited amount of money per day at any bank with a debit card. Today more than 10.In order to be able to withdraw 000 euros in cash, you must also, by law, show your identity card at the bank. Therefore, pay attention to the current opening hours of your bank.

By the way: in our guide to buying a car with checklist (including sample purchase contract), you will also find important information and tips on what to look out for when checking out the vehicle, negotiating the price and the purchase contract when buying a car.

Man withdrawing money to buy a car

The safest method of payment when buying a car is cash. © gettyimages/nastasic

federal bank check

As an alternative to cash, you can also use a bundesbank check to pay for the car. With a bundesbank check, the amount is debited directly from the buyer’s account and deposited in the meantime in a bundesbank account.

The seller has the certainty that the check can be cashed immediately and that the account is covered. The buyer does not have to carry the cash around with him or her. As with cash payments, the bundesbank check is handed over directly to the seller or dealer when the vehicle is handed over to them.

You can get bundesbank checks at the bundesbank, but also at some direct banks, for example at DKB. Important: a fee is charged for issuing the bundesbank check. At DKB, for example, it amounts to around 30 euros per bundesbank check.

Bank transfer

Because cash payment is not completely risk-free (for example, because of counterfeit money), some sellers offer payment by bank transfer.

The problem: you usually have to make a transfer in advance, before the seller hands over the car to you. This is why this method of payment is often used in cases of fraud: as a car buyer, you never know whether you will actually receive the car after the transfer and, if you do, what condition it will be in. Then it is difficult to get the transferred amount back. It is therefore better not to use a bank transfer as a method of payment when buying a car.

Cash transfer

Money transfers are also possible via so-called cash transfer services. you can get them for example at western union, moneygram or similar providers.

A cash transfer is normally intended for transfers abroad to known persons such as family members or friends. The cash transfer is therefore generally not suitable for the purchase of vehicles. This payment method is often used by fraudsters.

In such a case, they pretend to be the seller and often demand the money from the buyer as security, often in the form of a down payment. In addition, they send proofs like copies of ID cards to gain the buyer’s trust. Caution is advised here. Because even such documents can be easily forged today.

If a seller asks you to make a payment by cash transfer, it is better to refrain from buying.

Woman gets cash for car purchase from purse

If the seller requests the money via a cash transfer service, in many cases it is a scam. © gettyimages/dragana911


Paypal is now a popular payment method that usually works smoothly when buying and selling items. The payment service is not suitable for the purchase or sale of a car. When buying a car, it is therefore better to choose another form of payment.

because: paypal itself explicitly excludes payment for cars with engine. There is no protection for such payments, neither for the seller nor for the buyer.

Here, too, there are often fraud attempts on the part of the buyer, because payments via paypal can also be withdrawn.

This is how the scam works: the scammers claim to the seller in advance that they can only make the payment for the car purchase through paypal. after you receive the car, you claim to paypal that you didn’t get the car and withdraw the payment again. the seller has already sold the car, but can’t get his money anymore.

Payment by cell phone app: secure payment

With the app "sicherbezahlen" (formerly "easy car pay"), you can also transfer the money for your new used car to the seller via your smartphone. The app is specially designed to allow buyers to make easy, cashless payments when buying a car. Since the beginning of 2018, you can also use the service to buy boats, jewelry, horses or machines, for example, starting at a price of 100 euros.

This is how paying with the app works:

  1. the buyer or the seller will then make an individual payment offer for the used car. The other person automatically receives it by e-mail.
  2. If both parties agree, the buyer transfers the agreed amount to a reference account of the partner bank of sicherbezahlen. This can be done by online bank transfer, giropay or SEPA instant bank transfer. Once the money is received, the seller will receive a notification by SMS and e-mail. Both can then meet to inspect or hand over the car. The price can still be adjusted until the purchase price is released.
  3. The buyer can then check the car on the spot and take a test drive. If he finally decides to buy, he requests a mobile TAN number (mtan) from the app via smartphone or PC to pay for the used car.
  4. As long as the buyer has not entered the mtan the seller can still lower the price. This is possible for example in case of a price negotiation before handover.
  5. Entering the mtan triggers the payment of the specified amount to the seller. Both parties receive an SMS and an e-mail with the confirmation of the payment. Now the vehicle and papers are handed over. With the confirmation of payment there is also a service charge. The fee usually depends on the amount of the selling price. Does the car cost less than 1.000 euro, there is a 10 euro fee. For cars up to 10.000 euro you have to pay 30 euro for the service. Up to 40.000 euro sale price is 50 euro and for more expensive cars you pay 100 euro. You can decide who pays the costs (buyer or seller) or you can share the costs (as of 18.01.2019).

Paying with your cell phone when buying a car

With the app sicherbezahlen you can also transfer the money with your cell phone. © gettyimages/virojt

escrow service, shipping company& shipping company

For some car purchases, payment through a shipping company, a freight forwarder or an escrow service is possible. Escrow service is the legal term for an independent third party company that takes payment on behalf of both parties. The company should keep the money safe until the buyer receives the car. Only with the handover you should then forward the money to the seller.

Here, too, there are often attempts at fraud: because in many cases, the companies (for example, the escrow service) to which the buyer is supposed to send the money do not even exist. This can happen even if the website and the e-mail communication with the company seem very serious. Once the company has received the money, they break contact and the money is gone.

Serious car portals and sellers do not usually offer such a service. According to the "safe car buying" initiative, the escrow service of ebay motors is an exception.

Suspicion of fraud: what to do?

  • Suspicious advertisement: an indication of a suspicious advertisement is a very low purchase price. Also, if a person other than the one indicated calls you on the phone number, you should be suspicious. In this case, it is best to go directly to the online car exchange or contact your car club, which can verify the offer.
  • Reference to escrow service, shipping company or freight forwarder: reputable online exchanges do not offer such services. An exception is the escrow service of ebay motors.
  • Confirmation of the vehicle market: if you receive an e-mail from the car market confirming the legitimacy of the car and the seriousness of the seller, you should be suspicious. because no internet car market offers the confirmation of the data of its users. Break off contact with the seller and do not engage in a purchase with him.
  • Suspect seller: If the salesman only wants to communicate with you by e-mail, or if he cannot be reached at the telephone number provided, this is suspicious. Even if he refuses you a test drive or demands a deposit from you, you should refrain from making the offer. Better not take any risks.
  • Suspicious buyer: if a company offers to refer you to a prospective buyer or asks you to provide your information, you should stop contacting them immediately. Even if a buyer wants to pay you money only via paypal, you should rather reject the offer.
  • money already transferred: if your money has already been debited from your account by bank transfer or by using a cash transfer, proceed as follows: contact the online car exchange immediately so that they can remove the advertisement from the site. Then you should immediately file a complaint with the police. keep e-mails and other contact histories with the seller and transmit them to the police. Members of car clubs can usually get legal advice on how to proceed.

Protect yourself from scammers!

Now you know how to pay safely when buying a car. the best way to buy or sell a car is to pay with cash. Make sure that the delivery takes place in daylight and in a busy place. It is best if the seller and buyer go together to a bank to withdraw the money there. This way you are both on the safe side.

If you suspect that the seller or buyer is a fraudster, it is better not to take any risks. Contact the car exchange or your automobile club and, if necessary, also involve the police.

We wish you good luck with the purchase or sale of your car and a safe journey! Your allianz direct

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