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A buyer’s guide to Carvana used car marketplace

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Editor's choice: Carvana

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  • Most credit types welcome
  • 45-day preapproval
  • Seven-day guarantee
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If you’re tired of relying on limited dealership inventory and spending hours haggling, Carvana has created a convenient way to shop for used cars. But the price you see is the price you pay, and not every customer is happy with their experience.

How does Carvana work?

Carvana is a used car dealership that operates entirely online. It offers hundreds of options, and its search function allows you to browse its inventory and find exactly what you want — from make to model to the number of miles racked up. When you’re ready to make a purchase, your car will be delivered to your door or available for you to pick up at one of Carvana’s unique vending machines.

What kind of cars does Carvana carry?

Carvana offers a wide selection of cars that are five years old or newer. Its inventory has models from a variety of manufacturers, including luxury brands. And there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: You’ll be able to find cars of all shapes and trim levels when you shop.

How does Carvana get its vehicles?

Carvana buys its cars from auctions, dealerships and customers. Each vehicle undergoes a 150-point inspection to confirm they haven’t been in any accidents, don’t have any current manufacturer recalls listed and are in solid driving condition.

How do I buy from Carvana?

Carvana’s streamlined process is faster than most dealerships.

1. Browse Carvana’s inventory

Carvana has a large inventory of vehicles that it updates frequently. If you have a particular make or model in mind — or have a price point you won’t go over — you can easily narrow your search. But be sure to have a source like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds open while you compare models. Carvana typically has higher prices than traditional used car dealerships, but you should still try to pay as little as possible.

2. Start the purchasing process

Once you’ve settled on a car, you can add it to your cart. Carvana will ask you to upload some documents, namely a copy of your driver’s license, and you’ll have the chance to apply for financing through Carvana. If the rate you’re quoted doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t worry: Carvana allows you to pay with outside financing as well.

You may have to call or email Carvana to submit additional information or proof of income. After everything is finalized, Carvana will allow you to select a delivery date.

3. Receive your car

The delivery process depends on your location. If you live within Carvana’s delivery zones, there is no cost to have your car dropped off at your door. If you live outside its delivery zones, Carvana hires a third party — and costs range from $199 to $1,000. Your location heavily determines shipping costs.

Carvana also offers a Fly and Drive program: It will reimburse you $200 toward a flight to one of its vending machine locations to pick up your vehicle. Carvana picks you up from the airport, and you can drive your car home.

However you choose to get your vehicle, Carvana will give you a chance to test drive your vehicle before taking possession of it.

4. Set up a third-party inspection

During the seven-day return period, make an appointment with a trusted mechanic to have your car inspected. This is a necessary part of buying any used car, and it can help find flaws that may not have been initially obvious. And be sure to double-check the Car Fax report as well — it doesn’t hurt to know your car’s reported history.

How to pick up your car from a Carvana vending machine

After you purchase your vehicle, you can schedule a pickup time and location that’s convenient for you. Once you arrive, you’ll receive an oversized coin for the vending machine, which will then bring your vehicle down to the delivery bay where you can finalize the process.

Carvana has vending machines in 24 cities:

  • Tempe, AZ
  • Ontario, CA
  • Westminster, CA
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Orlando, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Indianopolis, IN
  • Gaithersburg, MD
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Memphis, TN
  • Nashville, TN
  • Austin, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • San Antonio, TX

5. Return if necessary

Carvana offers a seven-day return period. Within seven days of your car’s delivery or pickup, you can drive it around and return it at any time for any reason for a full refund. If you had to pay for delivery initially, you won’t have to pay to send it back. And if you borrowed a loan through Carvana, you can cancel your financing without having to jump through additional hoops.

How trade-ins work

To trade in your current car, you’ll just need to visit Carvana’s page and enter your car’s license plate number or VIN. Carvana will give you an estimate within two minutes. And if you agree, Carvana will pick up your vehicle free of charge and inspect it. Your appraisal is good for seven days, which gives you plenty of time to shop around for quotes from local dealerships.

If you’re using your old car as a trade-in, the value will be deducted from the amount you owe Carvana for your new used car. If you’re just selling your car, Carvana will give you a check when it picks it up.

Pros

  • 100-day, 4,189-mile guarantee against defects
  • Seven-day return policy
  • Wide delivery radius

Cons

  • No ability to negotiate price
  • Some customers cite quality concerns
  • Pricier financing

Compare car loans

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
Carvana
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
1 to 6 years
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
car.Loan.com Car Loans
300
Varies by network lender
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
CarsDirect auto loans
Varies by network lender
Varies by network lender
Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.
Save time and effort with this lending service specializing in beginner-friendly or subprime car loan.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
300
Varies
Varies
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
Monevo Auto Loans
500
3.99% to 35.99%
3 months to 12 years
Credit score of 500+, legal US resident and ages 18+.
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
LightStream Auto Loans
Good to excellent credit
Competitive
2 to 7 years
Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
LendingTree
Good to excellent credit
Starting at 3.09%
Varies by lender
18+ years old, good to excellent credit, US citizen
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What do customers say about Carvana?

Carvana receives mixed reviews from its customers. Some say that they had no problems — they were able to have their car delivered or pick it up, and have yet to have any issues. Others have dealt with major issues or have struggled to get the car they chose.

Because of the variety of experiences, we recommend having a trusted mechanic inspect your car for mechanical issues during the seven-day return period and researching your car’s vehicle history report to ensure you know the full picture on what you’re buying.

What sets Carvana apart?

Carvana is one of the only services out there that allows you to buy a car online, apply for financing and get direct delivery to your home. It offers guaranteed cars with a generous test drive and return policy if you aren’t satisified with the car you picked out.

Bottom line

While you won’t get the personalized service of your local dealership from Carvana, you will get a few layers of protection and a convenient process. It may not be for everyone — especially if you want the lowest price — but Carvana is an easy way to buy a car without having to visit multiple dealerships to test drive used cars.

Frequently asked questions

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AnnaMarch 30, 2019

    Can I test drive a car?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseApril 1, 2019Staff

      Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      Yes, Caravana offers a generous seven-day test-own period which allows you to to drive the car around and return for a full refund if it doesn’t meet your expectations or for any reason you may have. You won’t have to pay to send it back if you have initially paid for delivery.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

  2. Default Gravatar
    KathyFebruary 11, 2019

    I want to view some Toyota or Honda SUV’s

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      johnbasanesFebruary 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Cathy,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      If you wish to check on these models of SUV’s, you may open the website for Carvana so you could filter the search down to Toyota or Honda SUV’s. You may also try other online selling platforms like eBay or Amazon and search for the car model you wish to check. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

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