- The centerpiece of Spelling Bee is a large board which conceals 30 cards: eleven each of "C" and "A" cards, six "R" cards and two which say "CAR." To win the car, a contestant must select cards that spell "CAR," either with all three letters or a "CAR" card.
- The contestant is given two free cards from the board at the start of the game, which are kept face-down; they can earn up to three more. Three small prizes are shown, one at a time, for which the contestant must guess the actual price. If their guess is within $10 (inclusive) of the actual price, they win that prize and another card from the board. Guessing the exact price of any of the small prizes automatically wins the three additional cards and all three small prizes, regardless of whether a previous prize has already been lost (as was the case on the January 8, 1999, #0965K, playing).
- All cards chosen are kept face-down and each is worth $1,000 while it remains face-down, up to $5,000 for the maximum five cards (prior to February 18, 2008, #4211K, the game's first playing in Season 36, each card was worth $500, up to $2,500 for the maximum five cards). The contestant is offered a chance to quit and take the cash value of the cards. If they decline, the cards are turned over one-by-one, with the contestant given the chance after each one to walk away with the cash value of the remaining face-down cards. If the revealed cards spell out "CAR" or a "CAR" card is revealed, the contestant wins the car; however, the contestant does not keep the value of remaining face-down cards if they win the car.
- If a contestant does NOT bid within $10 above or below the ARP of all three small prizes, however, the game is still not over. Since there are two "CAR" cards, as well as the fact that each card is $1,000 apiece, the contestant can still try to win the car by finding a "CAR" card or leave with $2,000.
- Until May 17, 2007 (#3994K), the game's last playing in Season 35 which happened to be under Bob Barker's tenure, the cards were worth $500 each (for a maximum of $2,500). The cards were increased to $1,000 each (for a maximum of $5,000) beginning on February 18, 2008 (#4211K), the game's first playing in Season 36, under Drew Carey's tenure.
- Originally, the strips completely blended into the numbered slots, so there was no way to indicate what card(s) the contestant had picked off the board except for close-up camera shots. Beginning on October 29, 1992 (#8554D), red strips were added behind the number slots to make it obvious what numbers have been chosen. A frequency chart of cards was added to the base of the game board on February 7, 1994.
- On two occurrences, on March 14, 1997 (#0295K) and on December 12, 2005, the electronics were broken; the prices of the small prizes were revealed on price tags.
- On January 8, 1999 (#0965K), a contestant named Amy Vitori played a perfect game, getting one "C," one "A," one "R" and both "CAR" cards; in addition, she won all three small prizes by correctly guessing the price of the fruit hammock after missing the prices of the rice cooker and the candle holder. However, Bob misheard Amy when she had chosen her fourth card. She asked for #26, but Bob placed #27-- which was an "A"-- in the fourth slot.
- On February 4, 1999 (#1004K), a contestant named Christine Gunther only had three cards. After she had two "A"s, she decided to bail out and take $500. However, after she did, she asked Bob to show her the one remaining card she had chosen. Bob declined at first, but wondered if Christine should've seen it after he looked himself. After a brief pause, he said to his dismay, "Ladies and gentlemen, she SHOULDN'T SEE IT!!!!" The card said "CAR." Christine and the audience were in total shock. Bob grimaced as he saw Christine blow the car.
- On May 23, 2014 (#6755K), contestant Lori Draves had four cards and Lori decided to take the $4,000. Her first three cards spelled out "CAR" and Drew Carey did not look behind the fourth card.
- On February 15, 2016 (#7411K), during that show's "Dream Car Week", Spelling Bee was played for a $120,265 Aston Martin GT. In addition, the money sides were raised from $1,000 to $5,000 apiece; for a maximum bet of $25,000. Contestant Francesca Penko got all three small prizes right and therefore got the maximum five cards, went for the car, and got a "CAR" on the first card; the other cards were not exposed. (Pictures of this historic event are seen below.)
- On February 19, 2018 (#8221K, aired out of order on February 22), during "Big Money Week", Spelling Bee was played for a $100,000 in cash. In addition, the money sides were raised from $1,000 to $5,000 apiece; for a maximum bet of $25,000 and BIG card instead of CAR.
- On Mexico's Atínale al Precio, the word "CAR" was replaced with the word "AUTO". The "A" was given for free and the contestant had to find the "U," "T" and "O" or one of two cards saying "AUTO." Each face-down card was worth M$2,000.
- The Netherlands Cash en Carlo changes the letters to "WIN," and adds four cards worth €1,000; there are 9 "W"'s, 9 "I"'s, 6 "N"'s, 2 "WIN"'s and 4 "€1,000" cards. Drawing a "€1,000" gives that amount to the contestant regardless of the outcome. Each face-down card was worth €200.
- On Vietnam's Hãy chọn giá đúng, the contestant had to find the name of the prize using words on 30 cards. There are 3 cards for the first part, 11 cards for the second part, 15 cards for the third part and only one card has the full name on it. Each face-down card was worth VND300,000.
- On Colombia's El precio es correcto, the word "CAR" was replaced with the word "CARRO", and adds four cards worth $300.000; there are 7 "C"'s and "A"'s, 8 "R"'s, 6 "O"'s, 2 "CARRO"'s, and 4 items playing.
- Spelling Bee was played once on the primetime Price is Right. On top of that, the game was won.
- Spelling Bee perfect playing (both car cards and spelling CAR) happened twice.
- September 29, 2000 (#1515K) was the only known time a contestant got nothing but R's. The contestant's name in that episode was Michael Finnegan.
- The most number of times this game was played in any season was 32.
Premiere Playing (September 14, 1988, #6944D)Edit
Spelling Bee for a Mitsubishi Precis (September 11, 1990, #7702D)Edit
Spelling Bee for a Plymouth Colt (February 1, 1993, #8681D)Edit
Amy's Perfect Spelling Bee Playing (January 8, 1999, #0965K)Edit
Christine's Super Painful $500 Bailout (February 4, 1999, #1004K)Edit
A Technical Bailout in Spelling Bee (September 29, 2000, #1515K)Edit
Spelling Bee for a Cadillac CTS (May 17, 2003, #011SP)Edit
Mabel Gets 5 A's in Spelling Bee (October 20, 2005, #3374K)Edit
Spelling Bee with the Broken Electronics (December 12, 2005, #3451K)Edit
James' Super Painful Bailout (November 15, 2006, #3763K)Edit
First Playing with Drew Carey (February 18, 2008, #4211K)Edit
Spelling Bee for a 1966 Pontiac GTO (May 10, 2010, #5161K)Edit
Spelling Bee for a 1956 Chevrolet Tow-Ten (September 23, 2011, #5635K)Edit
Moses' Super Painful Bailout (January 27, 2016, #7383K, aired out of order on February 3)Edit
Spelling Bee for a $120,265 Aston Martin GT (February 15, 2016, #7411K)Edit
Spelling Bee for $100,000 (February 19, 2018, #8221K, aired out of order on February 22)Edit
Sarah's Painful $2,000 Bailout (March 11, 2019, #8661K, aired out of order on March 4)Edit
Spelling Bee premiere (September 15, 1988, #6944D)
5 Straight same letter playing Spelling Bee
A perfect playing footage of Spelling Bee (January 8, 1999, #0965K)
Spelling Bee for a 1966 GTO (May 10, 2010, #5161K)
Mega Jackpot from Dream Car Week (February 15, 2016, #7411K)