An origami car composed of one-dollar bills against a white background.

Learn why credit isn’t king when you pay for car shipping.

Key Takeaways:

  • Car shipping has two distinct stages: the broker, and the carrier
  • Brokers usually accept credit cards, while auto carriers typically don’t
  • Carriers prefer cash on delivery or certified money.
  • Avoiding credit payments and cash-on-pickup works in both the carrier and the customer’s favor

A growing number of purchases are being made by credit card, debit card, or through an online proxy like PayPal. Cash or money order transactions are increasingly a thing of the past as 2021 saw $6.6 trillion changing hands in digital payments. Recent global events have also seen a sharp rise in the preference for contactless payment methods and in the online aspect of the auto buying process.

You might assume that digital payments also rule when you pay for shipping a car. However, this isn’t usually the case in the auto transport business. This guide will explain why the more tangible payment types might be the only option when it comes to paying your driver, at least until the industry falls more in line with current payment trends. We’ll also provide an overview of how auto shipping costs are determined.

The standard two-step process in car transport payment

It should be said that there are some car shippers willing to accept payment fully via credit; however, they’re not in the majority. A more common model is using a credit or debit card to first pay a deposit to an auto broker.

The deposit reserves your vehicle’s place on the transport truck. It’s then usually expected that the customer will pay the driver via cash or certified funds (non-refusable payment forms like a cashier’s check or money order) when the carrier drops the car off at its destination. Standard checks can bounce and leave a carrier high and dry. Meanwhile, credit card payments could end up in a chargeback.

Customers should understand that a car carrier prefers cash on delivery or approved money. As a carrier making a lengthy journey, you’ve incurred numerous expenses and used a lot of fuel.

You’re now at the destination and must recoup that financial outlay. A credit payment could take a day or two — perhaps longer — to clear. This leaves you in a tight spot because you can’t stock up on other supplies to see you safely home. Cash and certified funds remove those problems for carriers because they typically translate into immediate remuneration.

How cash or certified funds on delivery benefit the customer

If you use cash or certified funds to pay for shipping a car, it usually makes the process faster for the customer in a couple of ways. A driver who gets paid on pickup rather than drop off will then have to go and find somewhere to either deposit their cash or have certified funds turned into ready money. This can add time to the whole shipping process. Also, while it probably wouldn’t be much, every second can count depending on your shipping circumstances.

If a carrier receives cash or certified funds on delivery, it is an incentive to get the job done quickly. Paying them before the job begins could lead to slower delivery times.

Paying after your vehicle is safely delivered also completely removes several risks, not least of which is eliminating the chances of an unscrupulous operator taking your funds and simply driving away. Even the most respected carriers may have problems while traveling, necessitating the involvement of another carrier. Having paid the first carrier in full makes it more awkward to shift payment between providers.

The transport industry is making some progress in terms of moving with the Financial Times. The ubiquity of online payment platforms has a growing number of carrier companies more amenable to dealing digitally with customers. How open a carrier is to these, is something every customer has to be clear on before committing to work with them. Clarifying this and other critical contract issues is where the services of an experienced auto broker are invaluable.

How Mercury Auto Transport handles the payment process

Our company follows the most common payment model by taking a credit card deposit from the customer. The rest of the payment process is between the customer and their chosen carrier. However, we can help you strategize your shipping to negotiate the best possible rates without sacrificing carrier quality.

In terms of overall costs, there are a few factors we use to determine the final shipping figure. Firstly, there’s the universal force of what the market demands for car shipping when transporting your vehicle. We then review our quotes periodically by comparing them with the National Load Board’s current pricing structure.

There are other factors like the time of year, the type of vehicle being shipped, and the selected carrier type, which all play an organic part in creating a final billing figure. We help the customer finalize the carrier they want to work with and all other relevant aspects before a fixed price is provided. This is when we can provide a guaranteed shipping price that won’t change later and that won’t contain any hidden charges or fees.

Contact Mercury Auto Transport for shipping prices you can bank on

We provide our customers with a full-service auto shipping brokerage specializing in putting them in touch with carriers nationwide. We make the pricing process transparent from beginning to end. This is to help you know what you’ll pay and don’t get any nasty surprises.

Our knowledgeable team can be there to help ship your vehicle reliably with a minimum of fuss. Contact us today at or call 800-553-1828 to speak with the car shipping professionals.


One Comment

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