In the Market to Buy a New Car? Make Sure You’re Earning Rewards!

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family buying new car

When I was in the market to buy a new car last year, I wanted to make sure I got the best deal possible – and that included maximizing any opportunity I could to earn points or miles on my purchase. But I wasn’t sure whether my car dealer would allow me to buy a car with a credit card.

After weeks of searching, I finally found the exact car I wanted to buy. Next came negotiating what I felt to be a fair price. After we settled on the price, my next question for the car salesman was, “Can I use my credit card?”

Don’t accept NO for an answer!

His initial response was no, I couldn’t put the entire purchase price of the car on my credit card. When I asked why, he explained that the dealership has to pay a processing fee of 3% on all credit card purchases, so allowing me to do this would cost the dealer more than they were making on selling me the car.

While this made perfect sense business-wise, I knew the dealer couldn’t outright refuse to accept my card since their agreement with the credit card companies forbid it. So I asked to speak to the finance manager, and she and I came to an agreement to allow me to charge $5,000 of the purchase price to my Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® .

My new car earned me 10,000 miles on my credit card

This arrangement worked out great for me, since I had already planned to put down $5,000 cash and finance the rest. So now, instead of paying $5,000 and getting nothing in return for it, I ended up earning 10,000 points (2X miles per dollar spent) on that purchase. And when my credit card statement arrived the following month, I paid off that purchase with the $5,000 I’d already set aside for the down payment. Another bonus is that with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, I’ll also receive an additional 5% miles back whenever I choose to redeem these miles. So that’s an additional 500 miles I can use toward my next redemption.

handing keys to new car to owner

Paying it forward

I shared this information with a coworker, who just bought a new car yesterday. Before he left the office to head to the dealership, I reminded him to use his credit card to make his down payment and not take no for an answer. This morning he came to work the owner of a new Audi – and proudly stated that he’ll earn $100 cash back on his Citi® Double Cash Card for the $5,000 down payment he charged to his card (that’s 1% cash back when he made the purchase and 1% back once he pays on the purchase). He said the finance manager initially told him he could only charge $2,500 to his Citi® Double Cash Card, but a little persistence convinced the finance manager to agree to $5,000.

So the next time you’re in the market to buy a new car, make sure you’re earning points. It’s not often that we spend this amount of money on one purchase, so why not maximize this opportunity by earning as many points or miles as possible?

woman closing door of new car

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

barclay card arrival plus world elite

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  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days – that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don’t expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a fee for balance transfers.

40,000 miles

Balance Transfer
0% Intro APR for 12 months

Ongoing APR
16.99%, 20.99%, or 23.99% variable

Annual Fee
$0 first year; then $89

Citi® Double Cash Card

citi double cash back card front

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  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfer do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the APR will be a variable 13.24% – 23.24% based upon your creditworthiness.
  • Click “Apply” to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No Category to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee.

Balance Transfer Fee
3% (Min. $5)

Intro APR
0% on balance transfers for 18 months

Ongoing APR
13.24% – 23.24% variable

Annual Fee

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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.