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How to Sell?

CarGurus vs CarMax Comparison: Which Is Better For You to Sell Car?

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Written by: Michael Becker
Last Updated:

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Which is Better for Selling the Car?

cargurus vs carmax which is better for selling the car

Overall, CarMax is better to sell your car to compared to CarGurus. First, it’s completely free to sell your car while it may cost you $4.95 to list your car on the CarGurus platform. What’s more, CarMax offers cash or trade-in value for your next car while CarGurus only offers cash. CarGurus offer is valid for 7 days or an additional 250 miles while CarMax offer is only valid for 7 days. Finally, it takes up to 48 hours to sell your car to CarGurus.

Best for Older & Damaged Cars

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Buys used, damaged or junk cars

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Top Pick for Junk Cars

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Free, no-obligation cash offers

Offers free paperwork service

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Highly Rated by Customers

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Excellent customer service ratings

Honors guaranteed offer for 7 days

Can pick up a car within 48 hours

Great for Low-Mileage Cars

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Gives a real offer in 2 minutes

100% hassle-free online process

Free car’s Value Tracker available

CarGurus vs. CarMax Comparison

Cars acceptedAny cars, subject to restrictionCars in most conditions, with exceptions
Fees$0 for instant offers, $4.95 for listing fees$0
Requesting quotesOnline applicationOnline application
Offer validity7 days or an additional 250 miles7 days
Payments offeredCashCash, trade-in value
PayoutBank transfer, checkBank draft
Car pick-upFree pickupDrop off
Physical locationsNone235 CarMax stores nationwide
Turnaround timeUp to three business daysUp to 48 hours
Customer serviceChat, phone, emailChat, phone, email

Cars Accepted

cargurus vs carmax cars accepted

You can sell any car at CarGurus if you’re listing it on their website. But if you prefer to request an instant offer for your car, CarGurus has several factors to consider before they deem your car eligible. 

These include the vehicle’s age, aftermarket customizations, and other related factors. 

When it comes to selling cars to CarMax, you can sell any car in most types of conditions. The cars that they normally don’t accept are that have:

  • Frame damage
  • Flood damage
  • Salvage history


Selling to CarGurus and CarMax doesn’t cost anything. You can request quotes online for free when you visit their websites. Similarly, you don’t have to pay for anything if you get an in-store appraisal at CarMax. 

However, listing your car at CarGurus to look for private buyers charges a listing fee of $4.95 per vehicle. 

Requesting Quotes

cargurus vs carmax requesting quotes

You can request a quote at CarGurus through an online form on their website. It will ask you to enter your vehicle’s license plate number or VIN. After that, you’ll need to provide additional details to describe your car’s condition and history. 

Before submitting the online form, you’ll need to provide an active email address. CarGurus will send you the instant offer through email, along with other instructions on how to claim it. 

Quote: Similarly, you can use an online form through their website to get an instant cash offer from CarMax. The difference is that as soon as you finish entering your car’s details, condition, and history, the CarMax website will generate an instant offer.

You can accept the offer right away and choose the nearby CarMax store to claim the offer. In some cases, however, the website might not generate an offer right away. In that case, you’ll need to bring your car to a CarMax Store for appraisal. 

Offer Validity

Both CarGurus and CarMax offers are valid for 7 days. However, CarGurus also considers an additional 250 miles reading on the odometer. Beyond that, you’ll need to request a quote again even if you’re claiming the offer within 7 days. 

Payments Offered

CarGurus pays cash through checks or bank transfers. CarMax, meanwhile, hands payments through a bank draft, which you’ll need to deposit to your bank account. Also, you can claim your payment and use it to purchase your next car at the CarMax store.    


Getting payment through bank transfers is the fastest option when you sell your car to CarGurus. This typically takes up to 1 to 3 business days from the day they pick up your car. Plus, you’ll get the money straight to your bank account.

Some banks might not be eligible for this option. In that case, you can still opt to receive check payments. CarGurus normally sends out checks within the same day they pick up the vehicle. From there, how soon you’ll receive the check depends on the postal service. 

CarMax hands out the bank draft as payment within the same day you bring your vehicle to their store. Just note that some banks might have a holding policy for bank drafts, so it’s best to check it first to manage your expectations. 

Car Pick-up

CarGurus offers free pickup when you sell your vehicle to them. You can schedule a pick-up after accepting their offer. 

CarMax, on the other hand, requires you to bring your car to one of their stores to finalize the sale. 

Physical Locations

Since CarGurus offers free pick-up, you need not worry about finding physical locations to drop off your car. CarMax, on the other hand, has 235 stores nationwide where you bring your vehicle and claim your offer.

Turnaround Time

The online application to get an instant offer from CarGurus usually takes less than 15 minutes. You’ll receive the offer within 24 hours of initiating this request so make sure to check your email inbox and spam folders. 

Once you have the instant offer, you can schedule the pickup, within 24 hours, depending on the availability of CarGurus’ team. 

Quote: What you can expect during the pick-up schedule is that their representative will confirm the conditions of the car based on information provided in the online application. After that, you might need to provide some documentation as proof of identity and ownership. 

Finally, CarGurus will tow away your car. The pick-up process takes 30 minutes at most. 

Requesting a quote at CarMax also takes several minutes. But since you’ll get the instant offers as soon as you complete the online process, you can quickly schedule your in-store visit. 

You can even drive to a CarMax store within the same day as long as you have all the necessary documentation to sell your car. In-store appointments typically take up to 90 minutes. After which, you can leave the store with a bank draft as payment. 

Customer Service

CarGurus’ support team is accessible through a chat icon at the bottom right of the screen when you start an instant offer request. You can also send them an email at 

If you prefer to talk to them by phone, you can contact the support team at 877-492-4737. Their phone support team is available only every Monday to Saturday, between 9 AM and 9 PM ET. 

Meanwhile, CarMax has an online form you can use to reach their customer service. You can also call them at (913) 384-6697 or chat through the message icon at the bottom right of their website. 


CarGurus and CarMax received a 2.4 and a 1.7 rating at Trustpilot, respectively. At the Better Business Bureau, CarGurus has an A+ accreditation and an average customer rating of 1.54. 

Similarly, CarMax received an A+ accreditation, although its customer rating is at 1.14. Positive reviews for CarGurus mentioned that the company matches instant offers and that there are no hidden charges when you sell your car to them.

Consumer Affairs3.73.6

Additionally, customers liked that there are several ways to contact support, making it easy to talk to someone about their concerns. But, some sellers at CarGurus had complaints about the listing fees charged to them. 

At CarMax, customers liked that they were able to sell their cars fast, with one user claiming to have completed the sale in 24 hours. Others also liked that they received reasonable offers for their cars. 

In contrast, some sellers at CarMax felt that they could have gotten higher offers for their vehicles. Few also complained about a CarMax store not honoring changing the offer after their vehicles were inspected.

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Michael Becker


About the author:

Michael Becker is a car enthusiast and expert who has been working in the automotive industry for over 15 years. He started his career as a salesperson at a local dealership, where he learned the ins and outs of the car market. Then he moved on to flipping cars for a profit.

Michael has also helped many of his relatives and friends to sell their cars, using his knowledge and skills to get them the best deals. He will guide you through the process and help you avoid the common pitfalls.

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