I was buying a car, and the salesman started to talk about credit terms. I responded with "I'm paying cash", meaning that I didn't need any credit. However, the salesman was worried that I was about to produce a briefcase full of banknotes.

Is there a word other than "cash" to mean "immediate payment in full, without any credit being extended"?

  • 6
    "I won't be needing financing" is something that worked for me recently.
    – ceejayoz
    Aug 28, 2016 at 19:07
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    I agree. I would use some form of saying that the purchase will not be financed. Something like "I"m not financing it" or "I don't need financing". Aug 28, 2016 at 20:21
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    Of course the salesman was worried. You just took away the nice big bonus he would have got from the loan company if you had taken out the "special offer finance package" (special for him, not you!) that he was going to sell you.
    – alephzero
    Aug 29, 2016 at 1:22
  • 1
    @alephzero No, he was worried about all the paperwork required to prove that the money wasn't the fruits of some criminal enterprise. Aug 29, 2016 at 8:50
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    @PaulJohnson The word is "cash." The salesman was probably being disingenuous. It's true that this is one of the many ambiguities of the English language. Should your listener be confused, you can then clarify with your actual payment method (check, cashiers check, etc.)
    – stannius
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:47

3 Answers 3


The word cash itself suffices; however, this may cause ambiguity (as in your example) due to the widely accepted meaning of cash to mean hard cash.

From ODO:

cash NOUN

[MASS NOUN] 1 Money in coins or notes, as distinct from cheques, money orders, or credit: the staff were paid in cash a discount for cash

1.1 Money in any form: she was always short of cash

hard cash NOUN

[MASS NOUN] Negotiable coins and banknotes as opposed to other forms of payment: hard cash may soon be back in fashion

More example sentences

In an uncertain world, many investors look to dividends - payouts in hard cash - to justify their decision to hold shares.

I guess I never treated the credit card as hard cash and therefore I found it easier to justify and carry on spending.

This will be credited as my investment in the company as opposed to putting in hard cash into Bordier [Bank].

If a phrase is acceptable, you may say (if at all required) that it's cash but not hard cash.

Also, cash down may fit the bill.

From ODO:

cash down

British With immediate and full payment at the time of purchase: the price was £900 cash down

More example sentences

But City said it would have to be cash down or nothing.

‘No one is walking in and putting cash down on new cars,’ said Pat Shanahan, owner of Isuzu dealership Airport Auto.

  • 6
    If I heard the term "cash down" I would assume that it meant paying the down-payment of a car with a (much more reasonably sized) stack of paper money.
    – Random832
    Aug 28, 2016 at 18:15
  • @Random832 yes, cash down is full down-payment, not necessarily using hard cash.. Aug 28, 2016 at 18:32
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    @alwayslearning In the US, "cash down" would be understood to refer to the portion of the cost of the car not being financed. An American would not use the term "cash down" except in relation to something being financed. For example "zero cash down" means that there is no initial payment and the entire cost is financed. Aug 28, 2016 at 20:20

"I'm paying up front." This means that you are paying the full amount before taking ownership of the car.

  • 1
    This is the obvious answer to me but speaking Australian English, sometimes I'm at odds with other answers here. Is this sense of the phrase only used in the Southern Hemisphere? Aug 28, 2016 at 23:56
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    @JoelRoberts: Perhaps not common in Canada (but neither is paying up front anymore), but certainly a phrase I would expect to be commonly understood. I cannot speak for the U.S. Aug 29, 2016 at 0:14
  • @JoelRoberts Amazon Web Services use this expression on their admin console Aug 29, 2016 at 10:21
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    @JoelRoberts Sounds fine to my American ear, though it has more of a connotation of paying now for delivery of goods or services later. It might be a little odd if used, by itself, for a situation where money and goods are exchanged more-or-less simultaneously. But in context - when used in contrast to paying through a loan - it would be perfectly understandable.
    – R.M.
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:37
  • Is it up front or up-front/ upfront?
    – Ram Pillai
    Mar 29, 2020 at 14:41

"I'm paying cash" is a common, widely recognized euphemism to indicate you do not want to make payments. You could pay by cheque, bank transfer or even with a suitcase of cash if you so wished. In most countries, cash is still "legal tender". The salesman's concerns were totally inappropriate and it would have been good to talk to someone more experienced like the sales manager or owner.

I think it's a bad idea to defer to the a salesman's worries by changing commonly accepted terms. However, you could simply say, "I don't need credit terms since I'm paying in full".

  • 1
    Great first answer! Welcome to ELU. I would like to see you answer more questions. Do sign up. :)
    – NVZ
    Aug 28, 2016 at 16:05
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    @NVZ Not that I disagree, but aren't these kinds of answers usually dinged for lack of research, no citations to reliable sources, and the inclusion of commentary? Like the "suitcase of cash", which the dealership doesn't have to accept (at least in the US).
    – deadrat
    Aug 28, 2016 at 16:51
  • 1
    It's important to note that businesses are not required to accept cash payments - see this answer.
    – alex_d
    Aug 28, 2016 at 21:28
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    Please note that the US may or may not be included in "most countries". Because of the international nature of English, this site is not necessarily limited to the United States, or even North America.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 29, 2016 at 7:36
  • @AndrewLeach Meant to include that in my comment - thanks for clarifying.
    – alex_d
    Aug 29, 2016 at 9:40

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