Unveiling CarMax: Exploring Hidden Fees, Dealer Rates, and the Best Way to Buy a Car


does carmax transfer fee apply to purchase

When buying a used car from CarMax, one of the fees you may encounter is the transfer fee. This fee covers the cost of transferring ownership of the vehicle from CarMax to the new owner. But does this transfer fee apply if you purchase the vehicle outright or only if you are financing the car through CarMax? This is a common question for CarMax shoppers since the transfer fee can add a few hundred dollars to the overall cost of the car. In this article, we’ll look in-depth at CarMax’s transfer fee, when it applies, how much it costs, and whether there are any ways to avoid paying it.

What is the CarMax Transfer Fee?

The CarMax transfer fee, or a title and registration fee or documentation fee, covers the administrative costs involved in transferring ownership of the vehicle and registering it in the buyer’s name. This includes fees charged by the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for new title and registration documents.

CarMax charges this fee on all used car purchases, whether financed through CarMax or paid for outright. The amount of the transfer fee varies by state, typically ranging from $75 to $200. Some key points about CarMax’s transfer fee:

  • It applies to all vehicle purchases, including cash purchases
  • The fee amount depends on the state where you register the vehicle
  • It covers DMV fees and CarMax’s administrative costs
  • The fee is not negotiable or waivable

So in short, expect to pay a transfer fee when buying from CarMax, regardless of your payment method.

Why Does CarMax Charge a Transfer Fee?

Car dealerships like CarMax charge transfer fees to cover their costs of facilitating the ownership transfer and vehicle registration process. When someone trades in or sells their car to CarMax, the dealership becomes the legal owner and holds the title.

When CarMax sells that vehicle, they have to transfer the title from their name to the buyer’s. The transfer fee covers the staff time and paperwork involved in that title transfer process.

Additional costs covered by the transfer fee may include:

  • Fees for new car title, registration, and plates charged by the DMV
  • Staff time for DMV paperwork and application processing
  • Online DMV system access and transaction fees
  • Document storage and shredding fees
  • Mailing costs for new title and registration documents

The transfer fee ensures that CarMax recoups these costs so the DMV fees and ownership transfer process don’t eat into their vehicle profit margins.

Does the Transfer Fee Apply to Cash Purchases?

Yes, CarMax’s transfer fee applies even if you pay cash for your vehicle and do not finance through them. Some buyers mistakenly believe the transfer fee only applies when financing the car purchase.

However, this is not the case – CarMax charges the transfer fee on all used car purchases, whether you pay cash or finance. The administrative work of transferring ownership and registering the new title is the same for CarMax, regardless of how the buyer pays.

So if you pay the full purchase price in cash, you will still need to pay the applicable transfer fee in that state. If you plan to pay cash for a CarMax used car, consider this fee in your budget. There is no way around the transfer fee unless you purchase from a private party.

How Much is the CarMax Transfer Fee?

As mentioned earlier, the CarMax transfer fee amount varies by state, typically from $75 to $200. Here are some example transfer fee amounts:

  • California – $185
  • Texas – $125
  • Florida – $99
  • Illinois – $175
  • New York – $125

These fees represent the current 2023 rates but are subject to change year-to-year. When researching vehicles on CarMax’s website, the transfer fee amount for that state will be listed on each vehicle page.

You can expect to pay at the higher end of the range in states with higher vehicle registration costs and more time-consuming DMV procedures. States with quick online registration tend to be at the lower end.

Are There Any Ways to Avoid the Transfer Fee?

Unfortunately, there is no way around paying the CarMax transfer fee if you purchase a vehicle from one of their dealerships. The fee is mandatory and non-negotiable. Even if you already have your own financing lined up, you cannot opt out of the transfer fee.

Here are a few things buyers try in hopes of avoiding the transfer fee but will not work with CarMax:

  • Paying cash – Cash purchases still incur the fee
  • Using outside financing – CarMax still handles the transfer process
  • Handling registration yourself – CarMax completes the whole process
  • Having a trade-in – The fee applies before the trade-in value

The only way to avoid CarMax’s transfer fee completely is to purchase a used vehicle from a private party or another dealership. However, private party purchases come with their risks and you may lose out on perks like the 5-day money-back guarantee that CarMax offers.

Is the Transfer Fee Negotiable at CarMax?

Unfortunately, no – CarMax’s transfer fee is not open to negotiation or waiver. As a company policy, they charge this fee on every used car purchase in all states to recoup DMV fees and administrative costs. Buyers cannot negotiate a discount or completely avoid the transfer fee.

The sales associates and finance managers at CarMax do not have discretion to remove the transfer fee, even if you ask nicely or threaten to walk out. They cannot deduct the fee from the vehicle price or offer any workaround.

Some buyers think the transfer fee may be waived if they pay cash or bring their own financing. But again, this fee applies universally to all buyers in all situations. Be prepared to pay the posted transfer fee amount in your state.

Are CarMax Transfer Fees Higher Than Other Dealers?

For the most part, CarMax’s transfer fee amounts are in line with documentation fees charged by other major dealership chains. According to Edmunds, franchise new car dealers tend to have higher documentation fees, averaging $400-$600 in most states.

In most states, Independent used car lots may have lower transfer fees than CarMax, ranging from $50-$150. But their vehicle inventory, pricing, and sales process may not offer the same one-stop-shop benefits as CarMax.

When comparing CarMax to other dealers, their no-haggle pricing and streamlined experience often offset the cost of a slightly higher transfer fee at time of purchase. But it depends on the state – always compare total out-the-door pricing between dealers.

The Bottom Line

The CarMax transfer fee, while bothersome, is a standard cost that applies to buyers in all situations. Whether you pay cash or finance, you must pay the applicable transfer fee in your state to complete the sale. While not negotiable, the fee is generally competitive for the used car dealership industry.

Knowing the transfer fee amount beforehand allows you to budget accordingly and understand the total purchase cost. Be sure to factor in the transfer fee as you shop for vehicles so there are no surprises at signing. And with CarMax’s no-haggle pricing, you can still get a great used car deal.


[1] https://www.carmax.com/articles/carmax-transfer-fee

[2] https://jalopnik.com/heres-the-deal-with-that-carmax-documentation-fee-1823477393

[3] https://www.motorbiscuit.com/is-the-carmax-transfer-fee-negotiable/

[4] https://www.autotrader.com/car-shopping/buying-car-expect-pay-doc-fee-240725

[5] https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/what-fees-should-you-expect-to-pay-at-a-car-dealership.html


Q: What are hidden fees when buying a car?

A: Hidden fees are additional charges that are not prominently displayed during the car buying process. They can include dealer fees, processing fees, delivery fees, and other charges that are added to the car’s final price.

Q: What are dealer fees?

A: Dealer fees are charges car dealerships impose for various services such as preparing vehicle documents, processing paperwork, and administrative tasks. These fees can vary from dealership to dealership.

Q: Does CarMax have dealer fees?

A: Yes, CarMax has dealer fees. However, the amount of the dealer fee may vary depending on the location.

Q: What is the best way to buy a car?

A: The best way to buy a car is to thoroughly research, compare prices, and negotiate the best deal possible. It is also recommended to get a pre-approved loan, test drive the car, and have a trusted mechanic inspect it before making a purchase.

Q: Can I sell my car at CarMax?

A: Yes, CarMax offers a service to buy cars from individuals. You can sell your car to CarMax and receive an offer based on their evaluation of its condition and market value.

Q: What is CarMax’s policy on hidden fees?

A: CarMax aims to be transparent with its pricing and discloses all applicable fees before the final purchase. However, it is always recommended to carefully review the purchase agreement and ask questions about any fees that are not clear.

Q: Does CarMax charge a delivery fee?

A: Yes, CarMax may charge a delivery fee if you choose to have the car delivered to your location. The delivery fee can vary depending on the distance and other factors.

Q: How does CarMax handle safety recalls?

A: CarMax takes safety recalls seriously. If a car you purchased from CarMax is subject to a safety recall, they will take the necessary steps to address and resolve the issue at no cost.

Q: Are all CarMax locations authorized to sell cars?

A: Yes, all CarMax locations are authorized to sell cars. They have a wide selection of used cars that go through a thorough 125+ point inspection process to ensure quality.

Q: Can I return a car purchased from CarMax?

A: CarMax offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to return the car for any reason within the first 7 days of purchase. However, certain exclusions and restrictions may apply, so it’s best to review the specific terms and conditions.