Monday, November 30, 2020

Costco Auto Buying Program: Your Best Bet for a Low Price

This is not the first article that I’ve written on Costco’s auto buying program, but because I receive so many questions about it, I thought it useful to write another column on the subject.

Click on Costco Auto Program and navigate through their recommended process for buying a new or used car. You must be a Costco member, but this costs only $60 for the basic membership. I promise you that you’ll same many times this cost when you follow their instructions to buy from their dealers. Costco has new and used car programs, but I recommend you use only the new. Their used car program requires only that their dealers discount their list price to Costco members. The dealers with the highest asking prices for their used cars offer the discounts, but dealers with low prices can’t.

Carefully follow these recommendations for purchasing your car through the Costco Auto Program:

  • When you put in your zip code, you’ll be shown the nearest authorized Costco dealer. You should find other authorized dealers in your market so that you can compare prices, especially on those that add extra non-government fees, like Doc fee, Electronic Filing Fee, and Tag-Agency Fee to the prices on their “Members-Only Price Sheet”. Costco requires that these be itemized separately on the Member-Only Price Sheet but ARE NOT INCLUDED IN COSTCO MEMBER-ONLY PRICE. 
  • Dealer installed accessories like window tint, floor mats, protection packages, nitrogen in tires, stripes, etc. are SUPPOSED to be included in the Costco Member-Only Price Sheet at NO CHARGE TO COSTCO MEMBERS. Be sure to verify that these items aren’t added later for additional charges. 
  • On the Costco Website you will be offered the Costco Auto Program Price Verification. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you check this box giving the Costco Auto Program permission to obtain a copy of your purchase agreement from the dealer. If you’re not contacted by Costco and suspect a problem, call Costco immediately at 800 755-2519.
  • Deal Only with the Costco Authorized, Trained Contact(s) at this Participating Dealership. Call the authorized contact and make an appointment. NEVER deal with another salesman that’s not listed on the Costco website. 
  • Insist on seeing the official Member-Only Price Sheets (two of them) to verify the price you’re given. One price sheet if just for the car you indicated online that you want to buy. The second price sheet shows all of the cars the dealer offers for sale. The prices are indicated by an amount below or above invoice. A high percentage of cars are usually shown at hundreds of dollars BELOW invoice, because invoice is not the true cost of the car to the dealer.
  • Insist on seeing the dealer’s factory invoice on the car you’re buying. You can then verify the amount under or over invoice the dealer has promised Costco they will see this to their members for. 
  • Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that the check you’re writing to the dealership is for the total amount you have to pay plus government fees only…sales tax and license/registration paid directly to the state department of motor vehicles. This amount should be for the amount, under or over invoice, shown on the Costco Member-Only Price Sheet. Dealer installed accessories must not be charged to you, and should not alter the amount below or above invoice you’re charged.

If you believe all the above is very complicated, I totally agree with you. I’ve had many, long discussions with the Costco Auto Buying program about why they don’t simply give you their price online for what you can write your check out for…an out-the-door price. But, with that said, if you do carefully follow the above procedure, you can buy your next new car for a very low price.

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