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How is Donating A Car Different From Selling?

Donate or Sell a CarAnyone who owns a car has been on one side of the selling process – the buyer’s side. Even if you’ve never sold a car yourself, it’s easy to understand how the sales process works because it’s much like buying or selling anything else.

But donating a car for cash is a different story altogether. It’s something strange and new and has its place in our automotive environment. But how do you compare selling vs donating a car?

Selling a car that you own is pretty standard fare today. You place an ad in your local classifieds online, whether it’s Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or another local source.

People who are interested in your car call, text, or email you to meet up and haggle on the price. You show your vehicle to prospective buyers and they try to grind you down on the price you’re asking. Once you settle on a price, you walk away with money in hand and they drive away in their new whip.

Selling a Truck, Car, or Van Has Its Issues

Selling a car has its disadvantages though. It can take a bunch of time to get your car fixed, cleaned, and ready to sell. You’ll get many messages from people who want to know your lowest price, then never respond again.

It can be unsafe to meet up with people you don’t know – who knows if they’re going to steal your car, snatch your wallet, or hurt you.


Our expert evaluators can help you get an accurate estimate for your car's value, FAST!

Benefits of Donating a Car

For people who want to avoid many of the hassles that come with selling a car, giving a car as a donation is a great option. It’s a very simple procedure where you call up a local charity that accepts vehicle donations. Then, they pick it up and you get a donation receipt.

Come tax time, that donation receipt will make a difference when you file your income tax. How much exactly depends on your financial situation, but there’s no doubt it will boost your refund. At the very least, it will lower the amount you owe.

Besides the tax benefits, there’s comfort in knowing that donating a car to charity will make a difference. In addition, it’s going to save you a whole bunch of time that you otherwise would have wasted trying to sell it.

The downside of donating your car is simply this: you won’t receive any immediate financial benefit. In other words, there are no “cash for your car” donation services. There’s no money in your hand at first, but come income tax time, you’ll see the result of your generosity.

Should you Trade In or Donate A Car?

Both trading in and donating a car are the easy way to get out of your vehicle. When you’re in the market to replace your current vehicle, a trade-in could be the way to go.

However, if your car isn’t desirable, the dealer could lowball the value or say they don’t want it. Plus, a trade requires that you buy another vehicle.

On the other hand, if you just want to get rid of your car then donating it is better. There’s no need to purchase another vehicle and your car goes away just as quickly.

You might also consider junking or donating. Although you can sell your car to a junkyard, you won’t get the same satisfaction. Your car might sit there for years seeping chemicals into the environment instead of helping out another driver.


How Do I Donate My Car?

There’s always a tough decision to be made. Do you donate or sell a car? Which is best for you? Before you can figure out how to donate a car, you need to determine the best way to donate a car for your situation.

When you sell a car, you’ll get roughly what its resale value is. You can determine that when you check its fair market value on or a similar site.

When you donate a car, there’s no immediate cash donation. You’ll get a donation receipt for its fair market value.

But if you can wait until tax time, you’ll get up to 40 percent of its value back in tax credit. Not only that, but a donation lowers your annual income level as well, letting you double-dip into tax savings!

I Have an Old Car. Donate or Sell?

Are you asking yourself, “Should I donate my car?” If it’s an older car, worth $1,000 or less, it’s probably a great idea. Let’s face it – the time it takes to sell a car is invaluable.

If you can save yourself ten hours trying to sell a $500 car, doesn’t that seem worth it alone? Add to the time savings the tax savings at year-end, and it’s almost a no-brainer. Unless you desperately need a few bucks in your pocket right now, that is.

Sell Your Junk Car to

Selling vs Donating a CarYou’ve asked yourself, “Should I sell or donate my car?” But have you considered selling it to CarBrain instead? When the option is weighed – donate vs sell car to CarBrain – it comes out as a pretty clear winner.

With CarBrain, you get the best of both worlds. You get cash value in your hand right away WITHOUT the hassle and time commitment of selling a car.

You’ll get a fast, no-obligation offer for your car in as-is condition, no matter what it looks like or drives like. Once you accept the offer, you’ll receive payment in just a day or two. Your car is picked up free of charge.

It’s simple, and there are no fees to use CarBrain. We’ll even pay the title transfer fees for you. Check how much your car is worth by getting an offer now.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better To Donate A Car Or Junk It?

The answer depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to make a charitable donation, then obviously it makes more sense to donate. However, junking a car allows you to get paid for the vehicle. Junkyards are happy to make an offer for your car. In fact, you can even do both — junk your car, collect the proceeds and donate cash directly to the charity of your choice!

Should I Trade In Or Donate My Car?

It depends on what your goal is. If you donate a car, you have the benefit of being able to claim a tax deduction when you file for taxes, but you won't see the money for many months.

On the other hand, when you trade in your vehicle, you can get the benefits immediately. However, dealerships often lowball the value of your car, while a charity is incentivized to get more out of it.

Can I Donate A Car Without A Title?

It might be difficult to donate a vehicle without a title, because most non-profits cannot accept abandoned cars or those whose ownership cannot be proven. However, if you lost your title, you can always get a duplicate from your local DMV.

How Much Can I Get For Donating My Car?

Typically, the least you can get is $500, while the most you can get depends on your vehicle's actual cash value and how much the charity you donate it to sells it for.

What Paperwork Do I Need To Donate A Car?

Typically you'll need, at minimum, proof of ownership. This usually means the title. You can learn more here.

Is Donating A Car A Good Idea?

That depends on what your goal is. If your goal is simply to get rid of your vehicle, there are better options. For instance, a service like CarBrain can make an offer on your vehicle, pay you for it and then tow it away for free.

If you want to benefit a charity, it might make more sense to sell the vehicle directly and then donate the proceeds to the charity. This reduces overhead expense for the charity, and makes your tax deduction easier to claim as well!

Can You Donate A Car That Doesn’t Run?

Yes, you can donate a car that doesn't run. While some charities specify that donated vehicles must be in working condition because they intend to use the vehicles, others will accept donations of cars in any condition because they intend to sell the car at an auction.

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