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How to buy a car with an American Express card

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A common question that comes up in our comments section is whether you can buy a new or used car with a credit card, primarily American Express.

After all, it would be wrong to turn down a large chunk of miles and points as part of the biggest single purchase you are ever likely to make.

In reality, it is very tricky. This is partly due to the card fees that garages must pay, partly because of the large profits to be made if you take their own financing packages, and partly because many garages are wary of you making a Section 75 chargeback if there is a problem with the car.

It’s not impossible, however, especially with the larger quoted dealerships. The best advice to give is to only ask the question after you have negotiated a price, so the card fee isn’t secretly added to their ‘best price’.

Even if you cannot pay the whole sum on a credit card, see if you can pay the deposit. As well as earning a few miles, it gives you Section 75 protection in case of a problem with the car. Section 75 kicks in even if only part of your payment is by credit card.

Curve Card can help if debit cards are accepted

If your dealer will accept debit cards but not credit cards, take a look at Curve Card.

Our core article on Curve Card is here. In simple terms, you receive a debit card which recharges your purchases to another Visa or Mastercard credit card. This allows you to earn points on the underlying card.

If you take dealer financing, can you settle by credit card?

You may find that you can get a better price from a dealer by agreeing to their financing package.

If you can immediately pay off the financing package with cash or a personal loan, it may be worth doing for the discount.

If you intend to keep the financing deal, some packages allow you to make your monthly repayment by credit card.

Things are changing with Amex …..

Cazoo and Cinch are currently making big strides in the ‘online only’ used car market. You can’t fail to have seen their advertising. Cazoo is about to float in the US with a proposed valuation of $7 billion – not bad going for a business that is only two years old and has sold very few cars so far.

Both Cazoo and Cinch accept American Express. They don’t keep this a secret – it is in their terms and conditions. Cazoo’s payment rules are here. Visa and Mastercard are obviously accepted too.

The only restriction is that Cazoo does not accept ‘business’ credit cards, presumably because the fees on these are far higher. It also insists that the card is in the name on the person who will be registered as the owner.

Cazoo has an Amex cashback deal too

Whilst it is a bit late in the day to mentiont this, Cazoo currently has an American Express cashback offer running.

Until 2nd May (ie tomorrow!), you can get £250 cashback on a transaction of £1,000+.

If you are targetted, you will see the deal on the ‘Offers’ section of your online American Express statement or app.

Conclusion

For clarity, I know very little about buying cars and I know even less about Cazoo and Cinch. I’m certainly not recommending them based on any personal experience.

However, if you are in the market for a car and are thinking about trying one of these two new online-only players, being able to use your American Express card is an added bonus.


best travel rewards credit cards

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – July 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

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Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points for signing up and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback Business Credit Card

1% cashback uncapped* on all your business spending (T&C apply) Read our full review

Comments (114)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • DAJ says:

    I vaguely recall mention that BMW finance accept monthly payments via Amex rather than direct debit – is this correct?

    • Justin says:

      If that’s true, I wonder if you’d actually get the points or if it’d flag up as a balance transfer type transaction?

    • Allan says:

      They still are not taking any card payments due to working at home

      • Anna says:

        Showrooms are open now – I was told this week though that initial & first payment have to be direct debit from bank but subsequent payments can be by Amex. Hopefully that will be possible again in a few weeks!

      • MinR says:

        I’ve been paying with Curve via the automated payment system as Amex doesn’t work.

        However, I spoke to an advisor this month and they scheduled a callback from ‘another’ team who were able to successfully process payment via Amex.

        I was told I need to do this every month.

    • Joe says:

      In Germany there is a BMW Amex so I think there is a link between the companies.

  • Alex says:

    When I got my Audi I could only pay up to £1000 on AMEX and £4K total on credit card, the rest had to be debit or bank transfer. The monthly finance however I can call and pay off with Amex which is a nice earner

  • Mayfair Mike says:

    Most main dealers will give you a lot better price if you take out financing, given the commission they earn from that.
    This saving far outweighs any initial cc points.
    In our case we got several hundred pounds off, plus 2 years free servicing, just for agreeing to pay via finance.
    The financing we could pay off virtually immediately, with no charge or accrued interest, using a cc too (tho not amex) over the phone.
    Needed to do it over several days given the size. This was a VW main dealer but I understand most operate like this.

    • Peter K says:

      Obviously you’d need to check for early repayment fees, but interesting.

    • Memesweeper says:

      … and this, not transaction fees, is why many dealers hate credit cards. They want you to take the finance.

    • Heathrow Flyer says:

      Doesn’t the finance (on a lot of the products offered) provide some security via the minimum guaranteed value of the car at the end of the term though? i.e if the car’s value has tanked you can just throw the keys back (essentially sell it back) and walk away.

      • Tariq says:

        I agree which is why I only ever lease cars now, the upfront certainty of cost. Many think differently though and ascribe a kind of security to ownership even though it likely works out more expensive in the long run.

  • Phil says:

    Mercedes online showroom take credit cards and PayPal for the reservation fee. Not sure about the rest of the car though! Not got that far yet. https://shop.mercedes-benz.co.uk/new

  • Tariq says:

    Most car dealerships operate as franchises with a few exceptions, either locally owned or regional/national groups. So card types and policies on amount accepted will vary.

    When trying to track down a returned lease car recently, Cinch appears to be the online retail arm of British Car Auctions. BCA do remarketing and defleet for huge numbers of lease companies.

    I suspect typical Cinch cars are ones which aren’t good enough for the relevant manufacturer’s approved used scheme, but too good for auction.

    • Rob says:

      Cazoo buy all their cars at auction!

      • Tariq says:

        Many used dealers do. I tracked the car down on Autotrader at a used dealers – advertised for more than I’d pay for it! 🙂

    • RussellH says:

      Cinch are owned by BCA.

  • Michael says:

    We tried using Amex last week in Arnold Clark .. said No … took the New Virgin card no probs … 9.9k … racking up 29,850 points including sign up bonus .. spend £100 when we are ready to trigger Voucher… thanks Rob … again !

  • mutley says:

    Unfortunately my mother passed away last year, her red and white 1988 Citroen 2CV6 that has been in her garage for the last 5 years is for sale, I will take any reasonable offer, I don’t take Amex though!

  • Dougie Forde says:

    I managed to pay a £1k deposit in my son’s car using my Curve card. They’d never seen a MasterCard ‘Debit Card’ before.

    • Lumma says:

      Really? Starling/Revolut/Metro Bank off the top of my head are debit Mastercards

      • James says:

        Yorkshire/Clydesdale Bank always have been, now Virgin Money. Santander now gone Mastercard debit, and think HSBC is due to change over too.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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