Does the Costco Auto Buying Program Save Money?

Amy Finley
Costco Auto Buying Program

Costco's Auto Program has been around since 1989 and can help consumers save money on a new or pre-owned vehicle. However, it's important for consumers to understand the way the program works in order to ensure they are getting the best deal.

Average Savings With Costco Auto Buying Program

According to Business Insider, the Costco Auto Program typically saves customers about $1,000 off the average vehicle price, though the savings could be greater depending on the specific vehicle. In addition, customers get a 15 percent off discount on things such as parts, service, and accessories (though there are certain restrictions, such as that this discount is only applicable at participating service centers).

Incentives

Another way members can save is with Costco-specific incentives; certain brands or models may be packaged with deals such as $500 store gift cards that can be used on everyday items. All national manufacturer incentives on new vehicle purchases also apply to vehicles sold through the program.

Key Facts About Costco Auto Buying Service

A few facts can help you understand how to get the best deal on your vehicle purchase.

Costco Might Not Have the Lowest Price

It's important for consumers to note that although customers save according to pre-set, Costco-negotiated pricing on vehicles in the program, using the service does not guarantee you will get the lowest price. Costco only works with select dealerships, so it is possible you may be able to negotiate a lower price on the vehicle you want from a different dealer.

You Must Be a Member

You'll also need to be a Costco member to use the service, though the membership fee (about $55) is small compared to the expected savings. Non-members can use some of the car search features, but they won't be able to access pricing.

You're Still Buying From a Dealership

The way the program works is as a partnership between Costco and select dealerships they've authorized. Consumers should be aware they are still buying a car from a dealership and not Costco itself. Customer experience can vary greatly depending on the dealership, so it can help to look at reviews for the specific Costco-authorized dealers in your area.

You Won't Have to Negotiate

Because Costco has already negotiated prices in advance, one of the top perks in using the program is consumers don't have to haggle over prices. According to customers who have used this service, there are mixed results. Many felt they were happy to get a good price and skip the hassle of negotiating, while others ultimately decided to skip the service in favor of trying to find the lowest possible price elsewhere.

The benefit of having a smooth, seamless auto buying experience is one of the reasons that many consumers turn to it, and with over 520,000 sold in 2017, Costco's car service is making a name for itself as one of the top car sellers in the nation.

Good for Most Makes and Models

According to Car and Driver, buying a vehicle through the Costco Auto Program is a "solid option," and one that works well for most standard makes and models, allowing consumers navigate the sometimes stressful new car process with "relative ease." However, if you are looking for specialty makes or models, or limited-production vehicles, they might not be as easily available through the service.

Peace of Mind With Pre-Owned Vehicles

Another consideration for consumers is that not all used vehicles are accepted for the program. Vehicles must be certified pre-owned or meet certain mileage or other restrictions to be eligible, so consumers won't be looking at vehicles they need to be wary of.

Saving Made Simple

Costco has proven to help customers save on everything from engagement rings to groceries. While purchasing your next car through Costco's program can save you money, it may also be possible to negotiate for a lower price at a standard dealer. The fair pricing, simplicity, and convenience, however, make the service highly desirable to many consumers. If you're a Costco member or considering becoming one, it can be worthwhile to check it out.

Does the Costco Auto Buying Program Save Money?