- The Costco Auto Program allows Costco members to buy discounted cars through participating dealerships.
- The program makes a lot of the hardest parts of buying a car — like research and negotiation — easier.
- But it also limits the customer’s options in some areas.
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Shopping for a car can be overwhelming.
Even if you know what kind of vehicle you’re looking for, you have to decide on the brand, model, and model year you’d like, as well as the dealership you want to use, whether you’d like to buy new or used, and whether you want to buy or lease.
Where do you start your research? Which sources can you trust? What’s a reasonable price?
The Costco Auto Program attempts to eliminate some of that uncertainty.
In the past five years, Costco members have purchased over 2 million vehicles through the program, a Costco Auto Program representative said. The program allows members to research and compare vehicles, calculate monthly payments, and get a discount at participating dealerships through the program’s website or call center.
While the size of the discount varies based on the vehicle’s class, brand, and model, a Costco Auto Program representative told Business Insider in 2018 that the average discount was over $1,000 off a vehicle’s average transaction price.
And since the program is available only to its members, Costco has plenty of reasons to vet dealers and salespeople so their customers don’t end up feeling tricked and blame Costco.
“We’re not just providing leads to dealers — we’re creating a referral,” Rick Borg, a Costco Auto Program senior executive, told Business Insider in 2018.
Here’s how using the Costco Auto Program is different from the average car shopping process.