You’re shopping for a new car, congratulations! Buying a new vehicle can be exciting and even exhilarating. The open road is at your disposal. Who knows where your new wheels will take you?
But the car buying process can be quite intimidating. Salespeople with bad breath in oversized suits, endless car shopping, haggling over prices, credit score concerns, the test drive, and general indecision about which car you want can make the experience daunting. And that's before you think about car insurance and selling your existing car.
Thankfully, you have options, and today we'll look at Carmax, Carvana, and the benefits that these two provide when buying a car.
No Haggle Deals: Carvana vs Carmax
If you’ve ever shopped for a new car, you know that the sticker price is likely not the price you’ll pay. That is, until now. CarMax and Carvana are the two major US “dealerships” that offer you a no-haggle sticker price. In other words, when buying a car, you always pay the price you see, plus tags and title.
So what’s so great about these dealerships? Why are more and more people flocking to CarMax and Carvana for new and used car purchases? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each retailer so you can decide if these no-haggle dealerships are right for you.
Physical Car Dealerships
First things first: if you want to see your prospective new car in person before you buy, you’re going to have to go to CarMax. The dealership currently operates around 180 dealerships across 39 states in the United States.
CarMax operates as a traditional dealership does. Pull up into the lot, and you’re greeted by a sales team member. Make small talk about the weather or the local sports team. Then, get down to business.
Contrast this with online car buying service Carvana, where you’ll be welcomed to take a 360-degree virtual tour of your new vehicle, but you won’t be able to get a literal “feel” for the car until it’s delivered to your door.
Carvana is perfect for those who have already test-driven a car. But if you’re looking for a more hands-on experience, CarMax is probably a better bet for you.
Carvana’s claim to fame is that every aspect of your car purchase, from browsing to delivery, is done online. That includes your financing.
When you sign on to the Carvana website, you’ll be met with an option to “start shopping.” Choose this option, enter your zip code and enter your desired vehicle criteria. Find a car you like? Click the “Get Your ePrice” button and you’ll be directed to financing options. Enter your information and you’ll be given your required down payment as well as a monthly cost for your new vehicle.
Carvana works with a few creditors to ensure you get the best rate and monthly payment for your new-to-you car. Financing is acquired 100% online, and what you see is what you pay.
Compare this to CarMax. CarMax has only recently allowed buyers to apply for financing online. Historically, CarMax has worked with creditors that accept However, they’ve been doing the “no-haggle” car buying business for much longer than Carvana. Carmax was founded in 1993 while Carvana is relatively new – 2013 was the year their first vending machine was installed in the United States.
Selling Your Car
At both CarMax and Carvana, you can sell your old car to the car dealership. There are slight differences in the way this works, though.
If you’re shopping with Carvana, everything can be done online. The easiest way to sell your car is to just enter the VIN via the website. Enter a few details about the condition of the car, then you’ll be given a trade-in value. This is not negotiable; the price is deducted from the price of your new car.
At CarMax, you’ll likely be asked to bring your car in for an evaluation. Mechanics will inspect your car and give you a trade-in value. You can then apply this to the price of the car you buy, or accept a check from the dealership. In other words, you can sell to CarMax whether you buy from them or not.
CarMax vs Carvana: Which is Better?
Recently, more and more companies have pivoted their models to allow for online operation. Carvana, though, has been using this model all along. If you’re interested in a completely virtual experience, without pressure from salespeople, Carvana is a fantastic option. Customer reviews are decent and it's a solid car dealership all round, albeit one that operates on a model that won't appease everyone.
If you prefer a more hands-on experience, however, you may enjoy the no-haggle option CarMax provides. You’ll get to test drive as many cars as you like, but without the irritation of salespeople pressuring you.
Ultimately the choice is yours; both CarMax and Carvana are great options for anyone in the market for a new car.