How to Get a Car for Free: Charitable & Fundraising Options Explained

Close-up of hands on a steering wheel

Short Answer

You can get a new car for free by applying through a charity or setting up a personal fundraising site. Charities like Online Car Donation and Vehicles for Change award vehicles to individuals and families in need, while fundraising sites like Fundly and GoFundMe allow you to reach out to family, friends, and others to raise the funds you need.

How to Get a Car for Free

When it comes to getting a car for free (or mostly free), your two best options are to apply for a vehicle through a charitable organization or set up a personal fundraising site.

Most charities have particular qualifications that you’ll need to meet before applying for a car, but fundraising sites will let you set up a fund for virtually any purpose.

Although there are many federal programs to help people who are struggling financially, the government doesn’t currently offer grants or assistance for those in need of transportation.

Apply Through a Charity

The most common way to get access to a free car is to apply for a vehicle through a charitable organization.

Note that many charities offering free cars have strict eligibility requirements and typically only provide them to low-income families.

If you’d like to look into the reputation of the charitable organization you’re applying to, you can do so using sites like GuideStar, Charity Navigator, or CharityWatch.

Online Car Donation

  • Program: Provides cars to battered women, individuals with physical disabilities who can safely operate a vehicle, families living in homeless shelters, self-supporting families making the transition away from public assistance, nonprofit organizations, and military families; makes donation decisions on a case-by-case basis
  • Eligibility requirements:
    • Must be making positive steps toward improving your circumstances
    • Must not have contributed to the creation of those circumstances
  • How to apply: Fill out an online application. If you’re selected, you’ll receive notice within 30 days.
  • Apply

Vehicles for Change

  • Program: Takes car donations from the public, makes the cars “road ready,” and then offers them to families in need at affordable prices
  • Eligibility requirements:
    • Must live in Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, or Michigan
    • Valid driver’s license
    • No DWIs or DUIs on your driving record
    • No other vehicle in your household
    • Drug-free
    • Must have a job offer or be working at least 30 hours a week
    • Able to cover fees for taxes, tags, and title (approximately $500)
    • If under age 25, you must be able to afford the ongoing cost of car ownership (insurance, fuel, and repairs as needed)
  • How to apply: The application process for Vehicles for Change varies based on where you live. For details, visit the Request a Donated Car page.
  • Apply

With Causes

  • Program: Provides free cars to families in need, social service agencies, and charitable organizations
  • Eligibility requirements: With Causes reviews each vehicle request on a case-by-case basis.
  • How to apply: Fill out an online application. The application asks for your full name, email address, phone number, city, and state, as well as a paragraph or letter describing your need for a vehicle.
  • Apply

Free Charity Cars

  • Program: Provides cars to survivors of domestic violence, the medically needy, survivors of natural disasters, families transitioning from public assistance to work, families living in transitional living shelters, the working poor, nonprofit organizations, and military families
  • Eligibility requirements:
    • U.S. resident
    • 18 years or older
    • Valid driver’s license
    • At or below 200% of the federal poverty level
    • Stated need for a vehicle
    • Access to a computer and internet service
    • Able to pay for fees such as insurance, license plates, registration, emissions tests, etc.
  • How to apply: Sign up and fill out the vehicle request form on the Free Charity Cars website. Note that cars are given out as they’re donated, so sometimes, it can take a while to receive one after applying.
  • Apply

Fundraise Online

Using the sites below, you can create a personal page explaining your need for a car and asking others to donate.

If you choose to fundraise for a car using one of these sites, be sure to spend time setting up your page and sharing it with others. It’s important to tell your story in the most compelling way possible.

Uploading pictures and videos and posting frequent updates to your page will help, as crowdfunding works primarily through shares on social media.

We’ve ordered the list below starting with the best overall options (and those that charge the lowest fees).


  • How to apply: Select “Start a GoFundMe” at the top right of the homepage.
  • Fees: No platform fee; 2.9% processing fee plus $0.30 per transaction
  • How to cash-out: Check or bank transfer
  • Get started


  • How to apply: Select “Start a Free Fundraiser” on the YouCaring homepage.
  • Fees: No platform fee; 2.9% processing fee plus $0.30 per transaction
  • How to cash-out: WePay or PayPal
  • Get started


  • How to apply: Select “Start Fundraising” at the top right of the GoGetFunding homepage.
  • Fees: 4% platform fee; 2.9% processing fee plus $0.25 to $0.30 per transaction
  • How to cash-out: Bank transfer or PayPal
  • Get started


  • How to apply: Select “Start Your Campaign” at the top right of the Fundly homepage.
  • Fees: 4.9% platform fee; 2.9% processing fee plus $0.30 per transaction
  • How to cash-out: Bank transfer
  • Get started


2 comments - Comments are closed.

  • Aaron

    Once someone tried to convince me that the drivers seat that wouldn’t lean back in his ancient for sale volvo was a safety feature.

    Nice, well written, article.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | William Lipovsky

      Thanks for the compliment, Aaron!

      Ah, the no-lean seat feature must be why Volvo’s are so safe! Haha.

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