When Is it OK to Pay the Sticker Price (MSRP) for a New Car?

When shopping for a new car, it’s common knowledge to always to pay as little as possible for it or at least get some kind of discount. However, the market has fluctuated a lot this year, leaving some buyers no choice but to pay the full sticker price (MSRP) for a new car. Believe it or not, there are certain times when that’s OK to do.

Expect to pay full price on highly anticipated cars

2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring
2022 Honda Civic Sedan Touring | Honda

Some car shoppers live to negotiate prices on cars and subscribe to the “never pay retail” philosophy. That’s not a bad motto to live by considering those buyers have likely saved a lot of money when buying cars in the past. But that might not always be the case, reports Edmunds, especially if the car is all-new for that particular model year.

For example, the 2022 Honda Civic recently hit dealer showrooms, so you might think that it’s possible to get a discount right off the bat. Not so fast, says Edmunds, “some new cars are highly anticipated and even before the car reaches the dealership, there is a waiting list of eager buyers.” In those cases, most dealerships won’t budge on the car’s pricing and will sometimes even charge more for it based on demand. In that case, if you really need to have the car, then pay the MSRP for it, since that might be the best price you can get.

Rare color combinations and options can command a higher price

bmws parked outside dealership
BMWs Parked Outside Dealership | Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

If you’ve been on the hunt for a rare car like a 2021 Toyota Supra A91 Edition in blue, then you can expect to pay full price for it. Edmunds notes that the salesperson will likely know the rarity of the car that they’re selling, which will prevent them from offering any discounts on the car. Just like most other things in life, the rarer something is, the more it costs.

Your geographical location can affect a car’s price

Where you are shopping for the car can have an effect on the car’s price as well. For example, if you’re shopping for a new car in the LA, Calif., area, then you could have a better chance of getting a discount on it due to the saturation of dealers in the area. On the other hand, if you’re shopping in a small town in Nebraska, then your dealership options could be limited, which could lead you to pay the full sticker price for the car.

If you order a new car, then you may need to pay full MSRP for it

Ford bronco assembly
Ford Motor Company’s 2021 Ford Bronco is seen on the line at their Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan on June 14, 2021. – Four-door Bronco models are now shipping to the dealerships and then to the customers. Ford has invested $750 million USD and added approximately 2,700 direct jobs at the Michigan Assembly Plant to build the sixth-generation Bronco. This plant also assembles the Ford Ranger pickup truck. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

If you decide to order a new car because you just have to have a specific color, trim level, or configuration, then you could expect to pay the full MSRP for it. While some dealerships might offer you a discount, others see it as a “future sale” and will have little incentive to negotiate on the price.

If paying full MRSP is the company’s policy

A car parking lot with two rows of 6 cars of mixed colors with black, silver, and red cars.
Dealership car sales | Getty Images

There are some dealerships that have a strict policy on only selling cars at full price. And while this might not pertain to new cars, there are a few used car outfits like Carvana and Carmax that adhere to this rule. In that case, prepare to pay full retail price for a car.

There’s no shame in paying full MSRP for a car

While some buyers feel that you should always get a discount on a new car, that’s not always the case. Cars are subject to the basic laws of “supply and demand,” so if a car is in high demand or in limited supply, then you can expect to pay full price for it. Don’t worry, in those cases, there’s no shame in doing so.  

RELATED: How Much Can I Negotiate Off of a 2021 Model Car?