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 thousands of local dealerships nationwide, this program provides low, prearranged prices for members — which means you can save on car purchases and leases year-round without the annoyance of haggling.
Millions of Costco members have already taken advantage of this program, with more than 650,000 cars purchased through the program in 2018 alone. With the potential savings that the program offers, the $60 Gold Star membership fee seems like a drop in the bucket.
If you’re in the market for a new car, keep reading to find out how you can use the Costco Auto Program to save on this major purchase.
How the Costco Auto Program Works
Finding a car — and, more importantly, getting a good deal on one — is easy with the Costco Auto Program. Just follow these simple steps:
- Visit the Costco Auto Program website and go to the new vehicles page to browse available makes and models. Here, you can read reviews, compare specs and view photos. You can also review safety information and see if any manufacturer incentives are currently available.
- Once you find the right car for your budget, click the “Locate a Dealer” tab to get connected with a dealership near you. You’ll be put in touch with an authorized dealer contact, 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.
- When you meet with the dealer and decide you want to move ahead with the car purchase, you’ll receive a Costco member-only price sheet, which will show 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.
More than 3,000 dealerships are part of the program, so you should be able to find one near you. The dealers pay a participation fee to be included, and prices are arranged in advance with participating dealers. However, 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.
Read More: 30 Biggest Do’s and Don’ts When Buying a Car
How One Costco Member Used the Program To Buy a Car
Mark Evitt, a journalist living in the Los Angeles area, used the Costco Auto Program to purchase a Toyota Prius V with his wife in January 2014.
“We started looking at models at our local Toyota dealership. We actually didn’t have a great experience with the salesperson we met and weren’t looking forward to negotiating the sale price, so when we heard about the Costco program, we were happy to try it,” he said. “It was really simple to use. Costco partnered with a Toyota dealership about 30 minutes from where we live. Initially, we were wary about not buying a car from our local dealership, but it hasn’t made any difference. We can get the car serviced at the dealership close by.”
Related: 20 Deals You Can Only Get At Costco
Evitt said the buying process was seamless.
“A specific salesperson deals with all the Costco Auto Program leads, so we had a much better and more personalized experience,” he said. “The only place we negotiated was on the trade-in value of our car, and we got a price we were happy with. We drove down to the dealership in one car and drove back home a couple of hours later in our new Prius. My wife and I were surprised by how smooth and painless the whole process was.”
Are There Any Drawbacks to the Costco Auto Program?
One drawback, which Evitt touched on, is that you might have to travel farther than your closest dealership to visit one that participates in the Costco Auto Program. Another drawback is that you might not be getting the lowest price possible. 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.
But, if you don’t want to haggle or bounce from dealer to dealer — and you like the price transparency that the Costco Auto Program offers — you can likely get a good deal on your next car purchase through your membership.
Click through to see 15 items that are always cheaper at Costco.
More on Cars