For many years, we've seen TV commercials showing luxury vehicles topped by huge crimson bows and presented as holiday gifts. But how do you pull it off without the special person knowing? Can you really purchase a car and get the title and insurance without your spouse getting tipped off? Actually, playing a car-gifting Santa should be fully within your capabilities, as long as you have decent credit and you get a little help from the elves at the auto dealership and insurance agency.
Financing and titling
Your dream of giving a vehicle as a gift won't become reality unless you can title the car and finance its purchase. Start by contacting the finance and insurance manager -- the "F&I guy" -- at the dealership where you want to make the purchase. Tell him that you would like to give your spouse a car for the holidays without your sweetheart's knowledge. "Most dealerships will be experts in DMV [Department of Motor Vehicle] titling," says Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. "It makes sense that they would be able to do this [from the dealership]. It saves the buyer a trip to the DMV. And from the dealer's perspective, it's a convenience service they offer, making it more likely you will come to that dealership." If your spouse's name is going to be on the title, and Reed recommends it is, the spouse will have to sign financing paperwork at some point. "But that doesn't mean you can't give him the car and have him enjoy the surprise, and then have him sign later, as long as the gifter's credit is sound," he says. "It will be a slam dunk for people with good credit. But if your credit is mid-tier, you might run into problems," he says. What if your salary alone doesn't allow you to purchase a Lexus, but together you could afford the vehicle?