Life Moments

Buying a car

7 tips for buying a car

Buying a car is exciting and a big life moment. Whether you’re looking to buy outright, save up for it or use the bank of mum and dad, there are many things to consider. To help you make the right choice we’ve put together some key tips to follow when buying a car.

1. Set a (realistic) budget

The best way to work out your budget for your new car is to look at your outgoings vs your incoming payments. From there work out how much you could realistically save each month.

Once you know where your money goes, it will be a lot easier to take control of your finances and plan for your big purchase. It's important to factor in all the added costs along with buying your car. 

2. Do your research

Once you know what you're able to afford you can start looking for a cars within your ideal price range. 

Online car traders and websites help you browse different models. And you can set specific filters - like price - to help you find your dream car.

3. Don't get taken for a ride

It's important to be well informed and prepped when going to view a car. Here are some tips on what to ask or look out for: 

  • Check for any damage (internal and external)
  • Are all the documents in order? 
  • Test drive the car - does it drive OK? 

4. Finance and purchase options

Different types of finance can work in quite different ways, so it is important to understand exactly what you are committing to. Here's a run through of some of the car financing options available


5. Negotiating a better deal

According to the Money Advice Service research, 64% of those who tried to negotiate when buying a car were successful. So don't shy away from a little haggle when buying a car. 

Read some tips from the Money Advice Service on how to haggle the price of a car here

6. Making a purchase

Once you’ve found your dream car and agreed a good deal, the next step is paying for it. Use a traceable method when paying for your car and get a receipt then you’re ready to go.

7. Driving away in your car

In all the excitement, don't forgot to ensure that all requirements are in place, such as car insurance, MOT and road tax. It's against the law to drive without these.  

It can also be quite daunting driving a car you've just bought and if that's the case you could consider using  ‘P’ plates  on your car so you enjoy your drive with little fuss and worry. 

Make the move to electric

With the government bringing the ban on sales of petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030, it could be time to make the switch to an electric vehicle. We've teamed up with Octopus Energy to make the switch easier, and cheaper, for you.

Royal Bank of Scotland receives a fee from Octopus Energy for customers it introduces to them that subsequently purchase products or services from Octopus Energy, although this fee will be passed onto you as a discount.

Save on electric vehicle home charge points

From Octopus Energy

Get a discounted rate and further £50 off on us when you purchase an electric vehicle home charge point from Octopus Energy. 

To participate, you will need to sign up as a CoGo customer (including agreeing to CoGo’s Terms and Conditions) and connecting your NatWest bank accounts. You’ll need to be 18+, have a NatWest debit or credit card and use the NatWest Mobile App.

Saving for your car

Want to save for your new car? Our range of savings accounts and financial tools could help you on your way.

Keep track of your finances

If you find you've been spending way too much on certain things, you can set yourself budgets in different categories using 'Budgets' within Spending in the mobile app.

You must be aged 16+ to view Spending. Only available for Personal and Premier accounts.

Get started and start saving

From flexible instant access to longer term fixed rate savings, explore our savings page to help you find an account that suits your needs.

Individual account eligibility criteria and conditions may apply.

Reach your savings goal

People who actively use our savings goal tool, save twice as much as those who don't. Try our demo, then log into Digital Banking to add a new goal to your savings account. 

Available to existing customers with an eligible savings account.

Download the app

Downloading the Royal Bank of Scotland app couldn't be easier, follow these three simple steps below.

1.   On your mobile or tablet, go to the App Store if using Apple or Google Play if using Android

2.   Search for 'Royal Bank of Scotland'

3.   Tap to download the app 

Get the app

The Savings Goal Tool is a feature within our mobile app and Digital Banking that helps you understand how much you need to save to reach your savings goal.

Get the app

The Savings Goal Tool is a feature within our mobile app and Digital Banking that helps you understand how much you need to save to reach your savings goal.

Some running costs to be mindful of


Most cars usually run on either petrol, diesel or electric motor powered by a rechargeable plug-in battery.


An annual safety check to make sure your car meets all the legal requirements. If the car passes the test it is awarded a certificate valid for 12 months.


There are usually three levels of car insurance – third party, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive. It's illegal to drive without insurance.


The price of car tax will depend on a number of things, including your car’s engine and fuel type and the amount of CO2 it emits.

Frequently asked questions

Already a car owner?

If you already own a car or looking to buy another one, visit our 'Tips for car owners' page which will have you covered from MOT reminders to car financing options and more. 

Is there something else you're looking for?