“Can you give a car dealer cash?” Asked by an anonymous Google searcher, August 2012
Car dealers are almost always very reluctant to take more than about £500 in actual cash (the paper, folding kind), although the amount will vary from dealer to dealer.
Money laundering has ruined it for everyone
The motor industry has been targeted by money launderers in the last few years, and a few car dealers have been caught out badly when they found out that the thousand of pounds of cash they had been given was counterfeit. If a car dealer suspects a buyer of possible money laundering or fraud activity, they are required to report it to the police immediately.
The car industry presents a relatively easy target for money laundering and fraud, as a car can be removed from the UK within hours of taking delivery, usually well before the car dealer can get the cash to the bank or before any fraud can be discovered.
Most car dealers no longer accept personal cheques or bank drafts either, as they take several days to clear (up to 10 working days for a personal cheque) and can easily be forged.
How to pay a car dealer by cash for your car
Usually, a car dealer will want you to either pay by debit card on the day, or transfer the amount electronically into their account before you collect your car. If a car dealer allows you to use a credit card, they will usually require you to pay the credit card merchant fee as well (which can run to hundreds of pounds).
If you are reluctant to transfer your full payment via electronic transfer (BACS or CHAPS) in advance, the best bet is to pay by debit card when you pick up your car. This will usually involve calling your bank in advance to advise that you intend to make a large transaction very soon, and they may well require you to call and confirm when the transaction is being processed, but it is a safe and secure way of paying for your car from a car dealer.