8 Top Car-Buying Apps

Buying a car can be complicated. These apps offer unique features and helpful tools that can simplify the process.

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Dozens of mobile apps and online marketplaces allow you to buy a car — or finalize most parts of the process — from the comfort of your couch.

Convenience aside, there are plenty of reasons to use car-buying apps in your car search, even if you ultimately wind up buying directly from a dealership. Most car-buying apps offer valuable insights that you won’t get from a dealership, like price comparisons and dealership reviews. Many of them also include handy tools like loan calculators and search filters that allow you to consider only cars that fit into your budget.

What types of car-buying apps are available?

Online marketplace apps. Many of the apps reviewed below aggregate new- and used-car listings — typically from online retailers and hundreds, even thousands, of dealerships. Only a few include listings from individuals. When you find a car you like, the app will provide the seller’s contact information for you to make your purchase.

Online auto retailers' apps. These companies let you complete the entire used car-buying process online within their ecosystem. On their apps, you can find used cars for sale, find financing, complete the purchase and arrange delivery. The inventory on these apps is owned by the retailers, and they usually offer a return policy if you’re not satisfied with your purchase. Read NerdWallet’s reviews of CarMax, Carvana and Vroom.

Carvana
Learn More

on Carvana's website

Traditional private-party sales platforms. These apps include Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and eBay Motors. Many private sellers will turn to these platforms when they’re trying to sell their vehicle locally and quickly, so it’s possible to find a great deal. However, be wary of scammers and make sure you ask all the questions you need to make a decision. Craigslist and Facebook offer little in the way of buyer protection; eBay Motors does, if you complete the transaction through the platform.

How we selected the best car-buying apps

NerdWallet selected the following marketplace car-buying apps based on download volume and user reviews. All of the apps included in this list have a rating of at least 4 stars, at least 20,000 user reviews or both. They’re available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store, and they're also free to use.

This list does not include online retailers' apps or those from traditional private-party sales platforms. The apps are described in more detail below the table, sorted alphabetically.

Where to find auto sales listings

Platform

Has new car listings

Has used car listings

Autolist

Yes.

Yes, from dealers.

Autotrader

Yes.

Yes, from dealers and private sellers.

CarFax

No.

Yes, from dealers.

CarGurus

Yes.

Yes, from dealers and private sellers.

Cars.com

Yes.

Yes, from dealers and private sellers.

Edmunds

Yes.

Yes, from dealers.

Used Car Search Pro by iSeeCars

Yes.

Yes, from dealers and private sellers.

TrueCar

Yes.

Yes, from dealers.

Get pre-approved financing for new or used cars

Consumers Credit Union
LightStream
MyAutoloan
Learn MoreLearn MoreLearn More
Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

660

Min. credit score

575

Est. APR

3.74-17.54%

Est. APR

4.49-9.99%

Est. APR

2.24-24.99%

Loan amount

$7,500-No max.

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Loan amount

$8,000-$100,000

Top car-buying apps

Autolist

In addition to new and used car listings from dealers, Autolist has a “My Garage” feature that allows you to track your vehicle’s market value and trade-in value — a useful tool to figure out how much car you can afford. You can also input your desired loan terms on the app, which will generate estimated monthly payments for each vehicle.

Not sure if you’re ready to make a purchase? Autolist will highlight listings that it expects to sell soon with a “hot car” label, giving you an idea of how quickly you need to act. Autolist will also tell you how long a car has been on the market and whether the price is higher or lower than that of similar listings.

Read the full Autolist review.

More about Autolist
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? No.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes, you can choose to hide “online only” listings.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? No.

  • Can I advertise my old car? No, you can’t list your car on this app.

Autotrader

If you’re hoping to avoid a dealership by buying a car from a private seller, the Autotrader app might be the best choice for you. It offers the largest selection of car listings from private sellers among the apps NerdWallet reviewed. Plus, the app includes market value comparisons based on Kelley Blue Book fair market value that tell you if you’re getting a good deal.

And while Autotrader’s mobile app does not include a loan calculator, its website includes one on each listing, allowing you to estimate an interest rate by credit score and the sales taxes that may apply in your area.

The search results also feature, where available, dealers’ rating from Kelley Blue Book, free vehicle history reports, video walkarounds, delivery options and the ability to start paperwork online.

Read the full Autotrader review.

More about Autotrader
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? Yes. There’s a search filter that lets you see only cars without any accidents reported.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? Yes, through Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offers, which generates cash offers from dealerships in your area.

  • Can I advertise my old car? Yes, for $49. This includes up to 30 photos, free renewals, an anonymized contact form and a vehicle history report.

CarFax

The CarFax app only includes listings for used cars from dealerships, and the vast majority of the cars listed on the app include a free CarFax report — the industry standard for vehicle history reports. Each listing includes a CarFax rating, telling users if they’re getting a “good value” or “great value” based on the car’s market value.

Listings include a loan payment calculator that generates an estimated monthly payment based on your down payment, interest rate and loan term. The app also provides each listing’s price history since it was first listed on the app — a potentially useful tool when it’s time to negotiate.

Read the full CarFax review.

More about CarFax
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? Yes, you can filter for cars without any accidents or damage reported. You can also filter to only show listings that include the vehicle’s service history.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes, you can filter your search to only display listings within a certain distance of your ZIP code.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? No.

  • Can I advertise my old car? No, you can’t list your car on this app.

CarGurus

CarGurus’ app includes a useful research hub, where you can access a CarGurus forum and read expert reviews on dozens of makes and models. Each vehicle listing also includes a pricing history, reviews of the dealership and a widget that generates financing options that won’t impact your credit score.

Users can also filter listings based on CarGurus’ price analysis, which rates deals on a spectrum from “great” to “overpriced.” Plus, if you have a trade-in, CarGurus can find you a trade-in offer from a dealer in its network.

More about CarGurus
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? Yes.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? Yes.

  • Can I advertise my old car? Yes; it costs $4.95 to list your car.

Cars.com

Cars.com boasts an impressive volume of search filters, allowing users to filter for everything from cars that include tow hooks and cars with a backseat entertainment system, to cars that remember your preferred seating position. Other filters include power liftgate capabilities, engine cylinders, cab type and safety features like automatic braking and lane departure warnings.

While Cars.com allows you to tailor your search to a higher degree of specificity than other apps, Cars.com lacks some fairly basic filters; users can’t filter for cars without accidents or damage, or for cars with only one owner, which is a common feature on most online car-buying marketplaces.

Read the full Cars.com review.

More about Cars.com
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? No.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? No.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? No.

  • Can I advertise my old car? Yes.

Edmunds

Edmunds stands out for its research insights, offering a comparison tool and in-house vehicle reviews for a wide variety of cars. For each make and model, the app shows consumers incentives and rebates, as well as what a car would cost with different customizations.

You can also use built-in buying and leasing calculators to figure out how much your estimated monthly payment would be. On each listing, you’ll find sections for price analysis and negotiation insights, which tell you a suggested price and how long a car has been on the lot.

Among other features, the app includes a “Can It Fit?” tool that uses virtual reality to determine if a vehicle can fit into your garage. You can also appraise a vehicle to find estimated trade-in values, as well as private-party and dealer retail prices.

Read the full Edmunds review.

More about Edmunds
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? Yes.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? No, although you can adjust your search radius.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? Yes, Edmunds will give you an offer that is valid for seven days.

  • Can I advertise my old car? No, you can’t list your car on this app.

Used Car Search Pro by iSeeCars

Though it's closely rivaled by the Cars.com app, the Used Car Search Pro app offers some of the most useful and detailed filters of the apps reviewed by NerdWallet. Each vehicle listing compares the car’s mileage with the average mileage of similar vehicles nationwide. Listings also include a price analysis scatterplot of similar cars’ listing prices both locally and nationwide.

Users can see how long a car has been listed and compare that to how long similar cars typically take to sell. And price analyses on each listing compare the vehicle’s list price with its market value. Conveniently, the app includes a one-touch button that instantly asks dealers for a vehicle history report when it’s not provided in the listing.

The app also offers one of the most unique filters available on any car-buying app: a legroom/headroom search filter that allows users to enter their desired legroom and headroom, their height, and whether they have particularly long or short torsos or legs.

More about Used Car Search Pro
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? No.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? No.

  • Can I advertise my old car? No, you can’t list your car on this app.

TrueCar

TrueCar offers a dedicated research section with reviews of various makes and models of cars. The app also includes “best of” lists that rank vehicles based on a variety of factors, such as the best cars that have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and the roomiest cars for tall people. You can also use in-app loan and lease calculators to give you a better sense of what to expect financially.

The app includes detailed pricing information, including whether the price is “excellent,” “great,” “fair” or “high.” Each listing tells you where the price stands in comparison with the average list price, as well as what your estimated monthly payment will be. You can also get a free insurance quote and prequalify for financing on the app.

Additionally, TrueCar is rolling out its own online car-buying process, TrueCar+; however, it’s currently focused on the Tampa, Florida, market.

Read the full TrueCar review.

More about TrueCar
  • Can I filter out cars with accidents or other damage? Yes.

  • Can I filter for cars with only one owner? Yes.

  • Can I filter out online retailers’ non-local listings? Yes, you can also filter to show only online dealers.

  • Can I get an instant offer for my old car? Yes, you can get a same-day offer from a local dealer, valid for three days.

  • Can I advertise my old car? No, you can’t list your car on this app.

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