Carvana vs. CarMax: Which Is the Best Option? (2024) (2024)

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Carvana vs. CarMax: Which Is the Best Option? (2024) (3)

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Carvana vs. CarMax: Overview

In comparing Carvana and CarMax, we considered our ratings in five key categories as well as customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot. We also looked at how customers rate the respective companies’ mobile apps.

Carvana vs. CarMax Ratings

CompanyOur Overall
Trustpilot Customer
Carvana8.9 for selling,
8.8 for buying
Not rated4.3App Store: 4.7
Google Play: 4.1
CarMax8.6 for selling,
8.9 for buying
A1.8App Store: 4.8
Google Play: 3.4

We reached out to CarMax for a comment on its low Trustpilot customer rating and received the following response:

“CarMax is committed to providing iconic customer experiences by driving integrity, honesty and transparency in every interaction. If a customer’s experience is anything less than exceptional, we encourage them to reach out to our Customer Relations team so we can determine how to best assist.”

What Is Carvana?

Carvana is a fully online used-car buying, selling and financing company that has been in business since 2012. It’s made a name for itself for its convenient process that can be done entirely from home, including vehicle pickup and delivery. It saw a significant uptick in popularity during the pandemic due to its completely online service platform.

Carvana Pros and Cons


Easy instant quote processLets you sell your car from homePays by either direct deposit or certified check


May not be the highest offer aroundDoesn’t provide a private sale optionIsn’t great for scrap or junk cars

What Is CarMax?

CarMax has been selling used cars since 1993. There are currently 248 CarMax stores in America. The company also buys and sells vehicles through its website and mobile app. CarMax is the leading online used-car retailer in the country, selling about 808,000 vehicles in 2022. That’s nearly double the amount of Carvana, which sold about 412,000.

CarMax Pros and Cons


Easy instant online cash offerPays by check on the day of the saleHigh offer values compared to other options


Requires visiting a CarMax locationNot the best option for junk cars

Carvana vs. CarMax: Selling a Car

The process of selling a car through Carvana or CarMax is pretty similar. Both websites make it easy to enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) and confirm basic details about your car. If Carvana or CarMax is interested in buying your car, you’ll get an instant offer that’s good for seven days. Keep in mind that neither company offers a private sale option.

The biggest difference between selling a car to Carvana or CarMax is in closing the deal. Inspecting your vehicle is one way the companies differ, as Carvana will have an inspector come to you while CarMax usually performs inspections (and quick test drives) at its physical locations.

Carvana offers free pickup when it purchases your vehicle. Unless you live close to a CarMax dealership, you’ll likely have to visit one to complete the sale. Both companies can pay you with a check on the spot, while Carvana gives you the additional option of a direct deposit payment that takes two to five business days.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Sale Values

Our team received instant offers from both Carvana and CarMax for a 2016 Chevrolet Equinox with 80,000 miles on the odometer. Here’s a look at the offers and how they compare to the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) trade-in value for the vehicle:

Carvana Price$9,911
CarMax Price$12,000
KBB Trade Value$11,119

Carvana vs. CarMax: Customer Seller Experience

Free pickups, at-home inspections and on-the-spot payments make Carvana a seller-friendly platform and earn it our Most Seamless Process award. The company’s strong Trustpilot rating and positive feedback for its apps also show how customers feel about dealing with Carvana.

CarMax can’t quite match Carvana when it comes to convenience. Although the company offers many of the same features and advantages to car sellers, many CarMax customers have to visit a physical location to complete a sale. Trustpilot ratings for CarMax also lag far behind Carvana’s.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Selling Tools and Support

The Carvana Value Tracker is an innovative tool that allows you to monitor the value of your vehicle in real time. With just your VIN or license plate, you can keep an eye on market trends and update vehicle information to know exactly how much you can get for your car.

CarMax eases your mind by answering an extensive set of questions frequently asked by car sellers. You can get answers about the CarMax appraisal process, how owing money on your vehicle affects the sale and how you can maximize your car’s value.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Buying a Car

Both Carvana and CarMax feature advanced search filters that allow you to narrow results by body type, model year, color, price and accessories. You can also search vehicles by drivetrain type, number of cylinders and miles per gallon.

When it’s time to buy, you’ll find that CarMax features a larger inventory than Carvana. CarMax hovers around 50,000 used vehicles for sale, while Carvana usually lists about half that amount.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Which Is the Best Option? (2024) (5)

Both Carvana and CarMax offer in-house financing. Carvana has no minimum credit score for a car loan, and you can get a prequalified online offer that’s good for 30 days. CarMax has an estimate tool you can use to get prequalified for an auto loan. From there, CarMax works with its network of lenders to help you find the best car loan rates.

As with selling a car, the biggest difference between buying from Carvana and CarMax involves closing the deal. Carvana’s home delivery service offers a level of convenience that’s hard to beat. CarMax delivers purchased cars in some instances, but you’ll generally have to visit a CarMax location to finish your transaction. This traditional dealership experience could be a turn-off for some buyers.

When it comes to a return policy, CarMax offers a 30-day or 1,500-mile money-back guarantee. Carvana isn’t quite as generous here, offering a seven-day money-back guarantee. The day you accept delivery or pick up your vehicle is day one of this return window.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Purchase Values

We reached out to Carvana and CarMax for their prices on several popular models. Remember that no-haggle pricing is a major selling point for each of these companies, which means you won’t be able to negotiate.

Carvana Prices

Here are the quotes we received from Carvana:

Vehicle ModelMileageCarvana Price
2017 Ford F-150 XL64,460$29,590
2017 Toyota Camry SE64,902$19,590
2020 Honda CR-V EX23,892$27,990

CarMax Prices

Here’s how CarMax prices the same models with similar odometer readings:

Vehicle ModelMileageCarMax Price
2017 Ford F-150 XL60,000$27,998
2017 Toyota Camry SE61,000$20,998
2020 Honda CR-V EX25,000$29,998
Carvana vs. CarMax: Which Is the Best Option? (2024) (6)

Carvana vs. CarMax: Customer Buyer Experience

Carvana offers a convenient car buying experience with a twist. The company’s car vending machines represent a unique visual signature. We also recognize Carvana as Best for Transparent Pricing, which goes a long way toward building consumer trust. Carvana holds an excellent rating on Trustpilot based on more than 9,000 reviews as well.

CarMax takes our Most Reputable award among online used car sellers. Its long history and massive inventory mean you can likely shop with confidence. CarMax only has 1.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, but that’s based on just 356 reviews. For a company that sold over 800,000 vehicles in 2022 alone, that’s not much of a sample size.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Buying Tools and Support

CarMax offers a host of car research options, including rankings and reviews of all kinds of vehicle models. You can learn about hybrids and electric vehicles and even get advice on what you really need in a family car. There’s also a comparison tool that allows you to compare specs of up to six cars at a time.

Both Carvana and CarMax allow you to explore vehicles with 360-degree views of both the interior and exterior. Each site displays videos to explain specific vehicle functions.

Carvana vs. CarMax: Warranties and Insurance

Each used car sold by Carvana or CarMax comes with a limited warranty. This gives you many of the same protections you’d get when buying a new car. With Carvana, this protection lasts for 90 days or 4,189 miles. The CarMax limited warranty is good for 90 days or 4,000 miles.

Both companies allow you to purchase extended warranties for their used cars. The CarvanaCare® program features three plan options, one of which includes routine maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations. Carvana also offers guaranteed asset protection (GAP) coverage that pays the difference between what your car is worth and what you still owe in the event of a covered total loss.

CarMax offers MaxCare® plans that can be customized in a variety of ways. You can choose a deductible of $50, $100, $200 or $300, with a discounted deductible when you have repairs performed at a CarMax service center or RepairPal-certified shop.

Carvana partners with Root Insurance to provide auto insurance that can be purchased and managed entirely online.

Carvana vs. CarMax: The Bottom Line

There are more similarities than differences when it comes to buying and selling cars through Carvana or CarMax. In general, you’ll likely find a more convenient process when dealing with Carvana and the best price (whether buying or selling) with CarMax. As with all transactions in the car market, it’s best to do some research and compare offers to get the best deal.

Carvana vs. CarMax: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about Carvana vs. CarMax:

Our team gives Carvana the nod when it comes to selling a car. Free pickup services, at-home inspections and on-the-spot offers that are good for seven days make Carvana a more convenient selling option than CarMax.

When it comes to the car buying process, we give CarMax a slight edge over Carvana. CarMax offers a bit more in terms of car research tools and often has lower prices than many of its competitors.

No. CarMax is the largest used car retailer in the U.S. and sold nearly twice as many vehicles as Carvana in 2022. CarMax’s inventory is typically about twice as large as Carvana’s.

Our Methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best platforms to sell your car. We collected data on several providers to grade each company in five key areas. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the car selling platforms that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Industry Standing: Our research team considers ratings from industry experts and years in business when determining this score.
  • Platform: Platforms that offer a variety of features, including instant offers and multiple sales options, are more likely to meet consumers’ needs.
  • Cost: To compare providers’ average offer prices, our team conducted a secret shopper analysis for a variety of vehicle types. We also considered the fees companies charge to use their platforms.
  • Support: Car selling companies that offer strong transaction support received the highest scores in this category. This includes offerings like free pickup service as well as how quickly you receive your payment.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on customer satisfaction ratings on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot as well as our team’s experience reaching out to each platform.

*Data accurate at time of publication.

If you have feedback or questions about this article, please email the MarketWatch Guides team

Carvana vs. CarMax: Which Is the Best Option? (2024) (2024)
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