Can You Use a Credit Card for a Tesla Down Payment?

Tesla only accepts credit cards for the initial order fee. But Tesla also accepts credit and debit cards for almost everything except the full balance of a car.

Using a Credit Card for a Tesla Down Payment

You can use your credit card to make a down payment on a brand new Tesla. States in the US that don’t have an actual Tesla dealership can even facilitate these transactions. 

Tesla has total control over all their showrooms and delivery lineups, so you would want to contact them for down payment inquiries and transactions directly. They don’t do business with any third-party car dealerships nor allow other dealerships to act on their behalf.

Using a Credit Card To Drive Away in Your Brand New Tesla

Credit card perks end at the down payment stage when you’re looking to buy a Tesla. You can’t use your card to fully pay for your vehicle even if you assure them (Scout’s honor, Tesla?) that you’ll pay for the amount in full before its due date.

If you’re buying a regular car from a traditional car dealership, you can drive away on that same day with your brand-new vehicle. Regular car dealerships have their in-house finance departments, and most also transact with local banks concerning car loans and payments. 

So whether or not the car is fully paid for, you can drive away with it if you’re purchasing from a regular car dealership. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work with Tesla.

I wrote a related article about Tesla Affordability. I discuss everything you need to know. Check it out!

Essentially, when purchasing a Tesla, someone – yourself, your bank, a local credit union, or a third-party lender – has to fork out the total price or the balance for the car before you can drive it away. If you’re on pins and needles and can’t wait for that first spin in your brand new Tesla, you might have to nag people to ensure that Tesla receives the agreed-upon amount on a particular day, or you can wire the money yourself over to Tesla.

To ensure the complete process goes smoothly from payment to delivery, download and use the Tesla app. Check out this video for steps on how to do so:

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty of Using a Credit Card

A credit card can be useful in certain situations, especially in today’s rapidly growing digital age. However, they can also prove to be your downfall when used improperly and irrationally. This table offers some points to consider when using a credit card:

Safer than carrying cash Make pickpockets go out of business by carrying your credit card instead of cash, especially when traveling.OverspendingEncourages impulsive buying.
Accumulate points and rewardsRedeem your points and rewards for flights, travel accommodations, and cash-backs.Interest rates and late payment feesNot paying your bills on time results in accrued charges. You may even end up paying more than the original charge.
Build a good credit historyKeeping your credit card payment history updated and in good standing helps earn you a good credit rating.Annual feesFrom as little as $25 per year or as much as $1,200 annually. Generally, credit cards offering more perks have higher annual fees.
Convenient when travelingCredit cards can generally be used in whatever country you’re in or in whatever currency you need to transact with.Credit score damageIf misused, your credit card may hurt your credit rating.
Online shoppingGone are the days when you have to step out of the house to buy something. Now, everything is just a click away!
Overseas shoppingPurchase products from anywhere overseas from the comfort of your own home.
FreebiesWho doesn’t want freebies? Freebies include free travel insurance, lost luggage coverage, and hotel reservation perks.
This table shows the advantages and disadvantages of using credit cards.

Credit Card Limitations When Making a Payment

Using your credit card to make a down payment is convenient, but it has its limitations. At the top of the list is your card’s credit limit. 

Accumulated purchases should fall within your set limit at any given time; otherwise, your card will be declined. There are also shops, restaurants, and establishments that prefer certain cards, whether Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.

Workaround For Using a Credit Card To Buy a Tesla

If you’re absolutely inclined toward using your credit card to buy a Tesla, there’s a way to do so. Be reminded that Tesla turns up its nose at customers paying off the whole balance for their brand new cars via credit card. This is where third-party lenders step into the picture. 

This is how it works. When you and Tesla enter into a business transaction to purchase a new vehicle, the third-party lender will step in as a middleman who manages transactions between both parties. In this scenario, a third-party lender will take charge of receiving payment from you, the buyer, and forwarding the payment to Tesla, the seller. 

Third-party services can transfer the amount to your credit card plus a fee of about 3%. This additional cost might initially put you off, but think about reaping possible rewards later on. Rewards in the form of credit card points can be redeemed and converted into a family getaway, new gym equipment, or maybe a staycation at that posh new hotel you’ve always wanted to try.

Frequently Asked Questions

I Just Made a Down Payment on a Tesla: What Should I Do Next?

After you’ve made a down payment on a Tesla, you should next create a Tesla account and provide delivery details to get an estimated delivery time. Then, ensure full payment is made before this date.

What Are Tesla’s Accepted Modes of Payment?

Tesla accepted modes of payment are wire transfer, electronic check/debit, and certified check, where your reference number and full name are references. Down payments can be made via credit card. 

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Erwin Meyer
Erwin Meyer

Thanks for visiting The goal of this site is to be a helpful resource for Tesla and EV owners as this is where my passion lies. I was a TSLA shareholder before the hype and still am. I also believe in Tesla’s speedy mission to accelerate the world to a sustainable future.