How To Buy a Car With Your Costco Membership

girl singing in brand new car Costco Auto Program
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If you’re a Costco member, you should already be familiar with all the great deals you can get, but there’s another feature of your membership that you might not know about: the Costco Auto Program. Through partnerships with more than 3,000 U.S. dealerships, this program provides low, prearranged prices for members— which means you can save on new and used car purchases and leases year-round without the annoyance of haggling.

Is the Costco Auto Program a Good Deal?

The Costco Auto Program is a good deal for those who want to save money buying a car without the hassle of negotiating with a salesperson. However, Costco does not have a low-price guarantee. If the need to get the lowest possible price outweighs the convenience of a hassle-free auto purchase, you might get a better deal outside of the Costco Auto Program. However, if you choose to purchase through the program and have concerns about the dealer’s pricing, you can contact the program’s member advocacy group to have the offer reviewed.

Here are some pros and cons of the Costco Auto Program to consider.  

Pros

  • Enables Costco members to save money on a car purchase without negotiating with dealership salespeople.
  • Provides discounts on new and used cars and leases.
  • Member-only incentives can lead to more savings.

Cons

  • Choices are limited to dealerships that are part of the Costco Auto Program.
  • Inventory may be limited.
  • You might be able to negotiate a better deal on your own.

How Much Are Cars Discounted With the Costco Auto Program?

There is no set discount with the Costco Auto Program and pricing will vary by the dealership, whether you’re buying a new or used car, the vehicle’s options and other factors. Once you choose a car, you will receive a Costco member-only price sheet that lists your vehicle’s price and savings. Costco sometimes offers limited-time specials that can save you even more money.

Make Your Money Work for You

Is It Cheaper To Buy a Car Through Costco Than Directly From the Dealership?

Costco does not guarantee the lowest price when you shop through the Auto Program. It offers a hassle-free purchase for a prearranged price. Dealers pay a participation fee to be included in the program to get customers in exchange for providing a discount to Costco members. However, savvy negotiators may get a better deal without going through the Costco Auto Program.

How Does the Costco Auto Program Work?

Finding a car — and, more importantly, getting a good deal on one — is easy with the Costco Auto Program. Just follow these simple steps for finding a new or used vehicle:

  1. Go to the Costco Auto Program website and click on “New Vehicles” or “Pre-Owned Vehicles.” Here, you can browse available makes and models, read reviews, research safety features, compare specs and view photos. You can also see any manufacturer incentives currently available.
  2. Once you find the right car for your budget, click the “Locate Approved Dealer” link to get connected with a dealership near you. You’ll be put in touch with an authorized dealer, whom you can meet in person by making an appointment. These contacts have been trained by the Costco Auto Program to ensure a smooth buying process.
  3. When you meet with the dealer and decide to move ahead with the car purchase, you’ll receive a Costco member-only price sheet showing your exclusive price. You’ll also be able to view the vehicle’s invoice and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for transparency — plus any available rebates — so you can see exactly how much you’ll be saving.

You can trade in your current vehicle when buying a car through the Costco Auto Program and your trade value will be deducted from the purchase price. You can also include dealer add-ons and an extended warranty at the time of purchase. If you feel like the dealer isn’t giving you the best price or you have questions about the amount they’re asking for, you can contact the program’s member advocacy group to have a professional review the dealer’s price, which is a major perk of buying a car through Costco.

Can You Negotiate the Price With the Costco Auto Program?

The Costco Auto Program’s preset pricing is fixed specifically to save customers from having to negotiate. If you are that comfortable negotiating, you might be able to negotiate a better deal on your own than the Costco Auto Program.

Make Your Money Work for You

What Is the Best Month To Buy a New Car?

According to Edmunds, a trusted car shopping guide, December is the best month to buy a car. However, you can also get considerable discounts in October and November. You will need to do some comparison shopping to determine if the end-of-year discounts are reflected in the Costco Auto Program pricing or if those are better months to forgo the program to get the most significant savings.

Final Take

If you don’t want to haggle or bounce from dealer to dealer — and you like the Costco Auto Program’s price transparency — you can likely get a good deal on your next car purchase through your membership. However, never assume you’re getting the lowest possible price. If you spend time researching dealers, comparing prices and, yes, resorting to old-fashioned negotiation, you could end up with a better deal than the price you’d get through the program.

Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Jan. 3, 2023. 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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