Costco's Auto Program: How It Works

With pre-arranged, no-haggle pricing, Costco members can experience significant discounts on new and used cars — with a few conditions.

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What is the Costco Auto Program?

Millions of customers head to Costco for deep discounts on bulk goods — and those cheap hot dogs. As part of their annual memberships, Costco customers can also take part in an equally discounted system for buying a car.

The Costco Auto Program offers preset membership pricing for new and used automobiles, plus RVs, at a number of dealerships around the country. On average, the retailer claims, customers can save about $1,000 off a vehicle purchase, though that will ultimately depend on the customer’s car choice and the dealer.

The program aims to be a simple way for Costco customers to find the vehicle they want at an attractive price. For dealers, who pay a fee to take part in the program, Costco provides a reliable stream of business from the company’s millions of members. Those fees are the only profit Costco takes in the transaction.

One caveat is the Costco Auto Program’s prices are fixed, so don’t expect to be able to haggle for a better price. That adds to the ease of the entire process, which is ideal for customers who aren’t interested in those back-and-forth negotiations you might usually experience at a dealership.

How Do I Buy a Car through the Costco Auto Program?

Before you call the Costco Auto Program’s toll-free number or start searching prices on the Costco website, it’s good to have a clear idea of how much you can afford, and what range of vehicles interest you. You should also do some internet searches of your own to see if Costco’s incentivized pricing beats prices you could find at other dealers or national car networks.

The Costco Auto Program’s website allows you to search through a wide array of vehicles that might suit your needs. In some instances, you’ll be able to customize the automobile that you’d like, choosing color, features and trim level; with other vehicles, you’ll be limited to the inventory on hand.

You’ll also have to arrange your own financing, unless you can do a cash deal. That requires another round of research to get financing pre-approvals from your bank or other lender before you can get serious about buying a vehicle.

It’s then a matter of submitting your request, including your membership number. Costco will send you the contact information for the appropriate dealer, and you’ll go there to meet with an appointed sales associate. You’ll receive the Costco member-only price sheet, which will outline the discounted price and other purchase details.

You can make the final call at the dealership if you’re ready to move forward with the purchase. You might decide leasing is a more affordable option — or you might simply want to walk away. Remember that the purchase is ultimately made through the dealer, not Costco, so the dealer will be responsible for any warranties or service.

If you run into a problem while shopping, Costco’s Member Advocacy Group is there to help. The Costco Auto Program also provides a 15% discount on many accessories, parts, and services, with Executive members receiving additional coupons for those services.

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Andy Stonehouse
Andy Stonehouse literally fell into the world of auto writing while working as a ski-town journalist, and has not looked back since. A childhood spent dealing with the eccentricities of a 1976 MG Midget has made any subsequent auto experience a more safe and reliable drive. He has been blessed with nearby mountain trails and snowy roads in Colorado to do TV-adventure-styled test drives on a weekly basis.