If you're unsure how to safely pay for a motorcycle online, you're not alone. The good news is that you have several good payment options available to you.
Best Payment Options
This is the safest option for buying high-ticket items online. Using an escrow service protects both you and the seller. You send the money to the escrow service provider. They confirm it and notify the seller to ship the motorcycle to you. When you receive the motorcycle, the escrow service provider verifies your receipt and sends your money to the seller.
Arrange to meet the seller at a bank (preferably the one you have a relationship with), DMV or insurance agent's office. Pay for the motorcycle in cash, after you've determined that it matches what was advertised. Do not go to the seller's home or another secluded location with a lot of cash. It is not safe, even if you think that the seller is a nice person. It may also feel dangerous for the seller. They may not want you to know where they live, especially after you gave them a bag of cash.
Request a wire transfer from your bank account to the seller's bank account at the time you're taking possession of the motorcycle. Do not pay in advance. Keep in mind that a wire transfer is not reversible by your bank, if you change your mind after the payment is sent. A wire transfer is a good option only if you are certain that the seller is legitimate.
The best way to handle a wire transfer payment is to meet the seller at your bank, inspect the motorcycle, take the title and then ask your bank to transfer the money to the seller.
Payment Options to Avoid
Most sellers are wary of cashier's checks because they are often forged. If you offer to pay with a cashier's check, the seller may get suspicious and decline to sell the motorcycle to you.
Western Union or MoneyGram
If the seller only accepts Western Union or MoneyGram payments, it's a big red flag. Chances are that the seller is located outside of the country and the motorcycle they are selling is fake.
Using PayPal to pay for high-value items is sometimes risky because you can't reverse the payment if you realize that the seller is a scammer. There's also no way to verify the authenticity of the seller before you send the payment.
Various Payment Apps
While payment apps, such as Cash App, Venmo and Zelle, are fast and convenient, they can also be risky. Just like with PayPal, you can't reverse your payment and you have no way to verify the authenticity of the seller.
Learn about online safety for buyers.