Buying a car online should be easy, straightforward and convenient. Unfortunately, not everyone has that experience. Below, we compared three popular online car buying marketplaces on guarantees, warranties, fees and more.
Carvana vs. Vroom vs. CarMax comparison
Carvana, Vroom and CarMax offer similar inventory selections at comparable prices. We like that all three of their websites are relatively easy to navigate. There are some differences between the limited warranties, money-back guarantees and home delivery fees.
Keep reading to learn about how each company works, price ranges, financing programs and warranty options. We also analyzed thousands of verified reviews to understand the reasons behind average customer sentiments better.
|Limited warranty||100 days or 4,189 miles||90 days or 6,000 miles||90 days or 4,000 miles|
|Home delivery fee||$0 within local market||$599||$0|
|Money-back guarantee||7 days||7 days or 250 miles||7 days|
|Customer satisfaction||Read reviews||Read reviews||Read reviews|
|Limited warranty||Home delivery fee||Money-back guarantee||Customer satisfaction|
|100 days or 4,189 miles||$0 within local market||7 days||Read reviews|
|90 days or 6,000 miles||$599||7 days or 250 miles||Read reviews|
|90 days or 4,000 miles||$0||7 days||Read reviews|
Good for customer service
Carvana sources cars from auctions, trade-ins, partnered dealerships and customers who sell or trade in their vehicles. Through a partnership with CarFax, you can look at the history report for any automobile in Carvana’s inventory. Keep an eye out for cars marked with a “Keep Moving Price” — those are around $1,500 lower than their suggested Kelley Blue Book value.
Carvana buying process
Filter your search by price, model, body type and other features. Once you find the car you want, go to the vehicle details page to place an order. At this point, you can select additional coverage for your new car and choose whether you want home delivery or prefer to pick it up. Entering your information and completing each step extends the time the vehicle is reserved for you. Most pickup or delivery appointments take about an hour.
After you get the car, you have a week to decide if you want to keep it, exchange it or get a refund. You can receive up to three vehicles — the third won’t come with the same seven-day money-back guarantee.
Be aware that there is an additional fee if you return the car within seven days and put more than 400 miles on it. Carvana also won’t refund the delivery fee if you live outside one of its local markets.
Carvana does not negotiate on pricing. As of publishing, cars start at around $8,000 for 2010s models of Fords and Mitsubishis. The estimated monthly payments start at $151 (with a 69-month loan at 6.6% APR with $0 down).
On the high end, you can find Teslas and Land Rovers between $70,000 and $85,000 with monthly payments of around $1,000 (assuming a 72-month loan at 5.54% APR and a significant down payment). For a more accurate monthly payment estimate, use Carvana’s calculator tool to factor in your credit score, down payment, loan length and annual income.
Carvana’s terms are non-negotiable and based on the vehicle you want, your credit history and your income. There’s no minimum credit score required — as long as you are 18 or older, make at least $10,000 per year and don’t have any active bankruptcies. Financing terms are good for 45 days from the date you received them.
All cars are certified and come with a 100-day/4,189-mile guarantee and a seven-day money-back guarantee. If you’re financing, gap coverage is available in most states. The company also offers an optional extended CarvanaCare protection plan for most vehicles. This plan has a $50 deductible, covers basic and powertrain components and comes with roadside assistance. If added, CarvanaCare coverage begins the day you get your vehicle.
According to one reviewer, Carvana’s online financing process is “easy” and the customer support is “nice.” Another review stated that Carvana’s used cars are more expensive than some competitors’ sites but added that the inventory is decent in terms of quality and price.
However, about 68% of our Carvana reviews indicate some level of dissatisfaction in the last year. Sometimes Carvana complaints mention customer service and delivery issues. Interestingly, customers who were “happy,” “satisfied” or “would recommend to a friend” also frequently mention customer service, which makes it difficult to say if the company’s customer service representatives are consistent.
Good for easy process
Vroom is an online marketplace to buy, sell and trade in used vehicles. Listings don’t offer an estimated monthly payment like Carvana, but Vroom might offer more flexible payment options for some buyers.
Vroom buying process
To browse cars on Vroom, you can search by make, model or body type and filter by price and mileage.
Once you place an order and Vroom approves your contract, the company books your new car for transport through its network of carriers. You should get an email with an estimated delivery date within five days of when the funds are received and the contract is approved. Vroom delivers to all states except Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts.
If you finance with Vroom, the company registers the vehicle for you and mails your registration and plates to you after your local DMV has prepared them.
Like Carvana, Vroom gives you a week to decide if you made the right choice. If you return the vehicle within the 7-day/250-mile window, Vroom does not charge a fee to pick it up. However, the initial $599 delivery fee is nonrefundable.
As of publishing, Vroom car prices start at around $7,500 for Toyotas and Chevrolets. On the higher end, you can find Teslas, Porsches and Audis priced between $70,000 and $80,000. Vroom charges a nonrefundable $599 fee to deliver a vehicle. If requested, some cars can be enclosed in a trailer during transit for a total cost of $999. There’s a $500 refundable deposit to complete your purchase.
Vroom makes it easy to apply for financing online and compare rates. The company partners with more than a dozen banks and lending partners. If you choose to finance elsewhere, you will likely need additional paperwork, such as a preapproval letter. Alternatively, you could avoid financing altogether by paying in full, in which case funds must be transferred directly from your bank account.
There’s no minimum credit score requirement, but you must make $21,600 per year to qualify for financing. Vroom also accepts up to $500 total in total credit card payments for deposits. Personal, third-party and business checks are not accepted, but you can make a payment with cash, cashier's checks, certified checks, money orders and bank wires.
In addition to complimentary coverage, Vroom’s warranty options include gap policies, tire and wheel coverage and vehicle service protection (VSP) plans. If you’re financing, the gap policy can waive covered losses up to $50,000. Tire and wheel protection is available with no deductible and no limits on the number of claims.
Vroom Protect plans provide mechanical coverage with options up to 10 years or 100,000 miles. VSP plans can include coverage for the engine, transmission and drive axle as well as 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and lockout assistance.
Positive Vroom reviews describe a smooth car buying experience. People seem to like that the site is easy to navigate. Customers’ complaints about Vroom are sometimes related to the company’s return policy or problems with customer service. One customer described the sale itself going well, but they were still dissatisfied because of issues relating to a voided warranty. Overall, more than half of Vroom reviews from the last year indicate some level of dissatisfaction.
Good for deals
Like Carvana and Vroom, CarMax lets you browse a wide selection of new and used cars at fixed prices. CarMax also buys cars that aren’t trade-ins. In many locations, both curbside pickup and home delivery options are available.
CarMax buying process
You can search for vehicles by make, model or keyword and filter the results by type, brand, price or year. CarMax makes it easy to compare different autos by providing details about features, mileage and number of previous owners. Car history reports are available through AutoCheck.
If you plan to finance, getting preapproved gives you an idea of how much you will spend financing a used car from CarMax. CarMax doesn’t accept credit cards for down payments. You must make payments with a debit card or personal check with your correct name and address or cash.
Delivery is only available within 60 miles of select markets. You should note that if the car requires shipping, those costs must be paid separately from the vehicle purchase.
As of publishing, CarMax prices start around $6,599 (the estimated monthly cost is $90 with financing, assuming a 72-month loan term at 7% APR and $2,000 down). On the high end, you can find BMWs, Mercedes and Porsches priced between $90,000 and $95,000. If you live near a local store, CarMax doesn’t charge an extra fee for home delivery. Shipping fees vary by location but are clearly displayed on each car’s detail page.
According to CarMax, loan rates range from 3.5% to 20% APR and term lengths range from 36 to 72 months. Financing is available for people with most credit profiles. If needed, you can have a co-borrower on the preapproval and finance applications. Most financing decisions are available in about 20 minutes or less. If you find a better loan later, you can take advantage of CarMax's three-day payoff program.
Every car automatically comes with a limited warranty, even if it's still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, to protect the vehicle’s major systems, parts and labors. MaxCare, an optional extended service plan, is also available — you can purchase it upfront or include the cost in your regular car payments. Optional plans can be customized based on your budget, vehicle and the coverage that you want. The deductible is per visit, not per repair.
Positive CarMax reviews frequently mention good deals, an easy-to-navigate site and helpful customer service. As of publishing, CarMax is our top-rated online car buying site. More than half of CarMax reviews in the last year indicated the customer was “happy,” “satisfied” or “would recommend a friend.” CarMax complaints occasionally mention long wait times for vehicles to arrive.
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