Getting Paid: How to Handle Payment as a Private Seller

By: Staff Writer July 28, 2012
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After days of working on selling your car, you finally find a buyer, shifting attention to getting paid.

Depending on the price of your used car, you may not feel comfortable holding such a large amount of cash, but if you accept check – personal or cashier – there's always the remote chance it could be forged or counterfeit.

So what do you do?

Auto Sales Payment Options

To help with the sometimes tricky situation of payment when selling a car, consider all of the following possible payment scenarios.

Cash From Auto Sales

Cash is the safest form of payment. Or, as they say in the business, cash is king.

However, there is some risk involved. If say you sold your used car for $11,500 you may not feel comfortable holding such a large amount. To mitigate the risk, have the buyer to meet at your bank. This way you can immediately deposit the cash upon receiving it.

Personal Check After Selling a Car

Accepting a personal check is not advised. If the buyer insists, stipulate you will not hand over the title until the check clears. Or, better yet, agree to meet the buyer at his or her bank with the personal check and have the buyer cash it. You can then accept the cash or have a cashiers check made out to you.

If the potential buyer balks at this, void the agreement and begin looking for a new buyer.

Cashiers Check for Car for Sale

A certified cashiers check is the next best thing to cash, but the risk of fraud still exists. Should you be handed a fake cashiers check, there's a good chance the bank may not detect it until days or weeks after depositing it, but by then the buyer is long gone, leaving you neck deep in a financial hole.

Protect yourself by insisting on meeting at the buyers issuing bank with the cashiers check. This way you can verify if funds exist. If the buyer finds this unacceptable, walk away from the sale.

Payment Plans for Used Cars

Do not agree to a payment plan. This is an automatic red flag.

Escrow Account for Car Sale

This is a safe way of accepting payment, provided you select the service from a legitimate bank or attorney. Do not, however, agree to an escrow service suggested by the buyer.

Have you ever sold a car? What payment option did you accept?

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