Costco Auto Helped Members Buy Almost 400,000 Vehicles Last Year

June 11th, 2015 · 8 Comments

Over the last few years, Costco has quietly become a big player in an area that it is not really associated with: buying cars.  Since 2008, Costco US has doubled the number of cars that their members have bought through the Costco Auto program to a whopping 398,875 cars last year.  The only auto retailer that outsells Costco is AutoNation with 533,000 vehicle sales last year.  Strictly speaking though, Costco is more of a referral agent than an actual seller of vehicles.

Costco Auto takes the hassle out of buying a car

Costco Auto takes the hassle out of buying a car

I’ve written about Costco Auto a number of times over the years, and everyone (pretty much) has only great things to say about the deals to be had by purchasing your vehicle through Costco.  I think what people really appreciate is that the prices are better than they could get by going directly to a dealer, and of course the whole point of the Costco Auto program is that you don’t even have to haggle with anyone for the outstanding prices.  Here’s an example of how great the Costco Auto program can be for buying your next car:

Ron Schurter didn’t bother visiting a dealer when he was in the market for a new car. He hit his local Costco. There was no haggling. Or upselling. There was just the price the warehouse retailer offers its members: about $39,000 for a 2015 Toyota Highlander, $4,000 less than the manufacturer’s recommended price. Schurter signed the contract and picked up his SUV from a Toyota showroom. “I’ve been telling everybody,” says the 75-year-old retiree from Yorba Linda, Calif. “I probably won’t shop anywhere else.”

As I mentioned, Costco doesn’t actually sell you a car.  They work with Affinity Auto Group, an auto-buying service, that Costco members go through to make a purchase from a local dealership.  Costco is pretty big, as you have probably noticed, so they have the clout to push local dealerships selling through Affinity Auto to give Costco and their members the best prices possible.  One local partner, a GMC dealership on Long Island, says Costco’s tough negotiations mean buyers save as much as $1,000 per vehicle.  And that doesn’t even include all of the other perks that car makers often offer to Costco members that make purchases through Costco Auto.  For instance, GM often offers $500.00 Costco cash cards, as well as low no haggle prices, to attract buyers through Costco.  These types of incentives led to fourth quarter sales of 43,300 GM vehicles through Costco, or 6% of GM’s domestic sales, in areas of the US where foreign brands dominate.  So, it’s good for members and it’s good for automakers.  But what does Costco get out of it?

What might be the most amazing part of the Costco Auto program is that they don’t actually make any money through member purchases!  This is purely a service that Costco offers to keep members happy, and of course, keep them signing up for membership.  Costco even sends out mystery shoppers to make sure the dealerships are really offering the right prices and are being good to members.

When Costco Auto first started up they didn’t have a huge list of local dealership partners available to members..  And even fewer automakers were wanting to take part in national promotions.  However, it is a very different story now.  They have local partners selling pretty much every available brand and have gotten so big that they even have a waiting list of dealerships that would like to participate.  And, even better for members, the big automakers are coming to Costco with special deals.  Costco Auto has definitely come a long way in the eight years that they’ve been around.

You can find out all about the Costco Auto program, through their website where you can find all of the details that you need to get a great deal on your next vehicle.  Be sure to pay attention to the Special Offers section that details all of the current offers from each automaker.

For more information:


Tags: · In the News · services Share

8 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 bflosue // 2016.05.03 at 11:45 am

    I am interested in the 2017 Chevy Volt. I filled out the info on the Costco Auto program website and it said they do not work with any of the Chevy dealers in my area (Charleston, SC).

  2. 2 Katherine // 2015.06.16 at 12:19 pm

    Two years ago I bought a new car. I knew what make and model I wanted. I worked through,, and Costco. Costco sent me the one dealer in my area (about 25 minutes north of where I live) and when I got there, they gave me the price, which was $250 more than one from I asked the salesperson if he could beat the price and he said no, because that one dealership was giving me the car at cost. I asked if he could at least match it, (I did like the salesperson) and he did. So yeah, I recommend Costco for car buying, but still, check other avenues because it may not be the best fit, as Noel said. The dealer I didn’t buy from was three miles away from my house and I was determined to buy a car that day, so I went with the Costco affiliate.

    • 3 Kimberly // 2015.06.17 at 4:08 am

      @Katherine – I agree with you, more research is better. A car is a pretty substantial purchase and it is good to know how much you should really be paying. The last car I bought I found the actual invoice price to the dealerships and then used that to decide how much I should really be paying before I called a dealer and said I’m willing to pay X if you can do it great, if not, I can go somewhere else. The local Austin dealership didn’t want to sell it to me for the price I wanted but one in Houston was happy to sell it to me instead and even had a couple of additional things that they threw in as well. And sure, it might only be a few hundred difference but why pay more than you need to, right? I should say, I couldn’t use Costco Auto because it was about 8 years ago, right when they were starting out, and didn’t have a partnership with the dealers in my area selling what I wanted. Writing this makes me realize that I have never bought a car from the dealership closest to me, they always seem to offer the worst deals.

  3. 4 Noel // 2015.06.16 at 8:19 am

    Although I understand that this blog primarily talks only good about Costco, here is an unpleasant experience with Costco Auto.
    I was out in the market to get a new Subaru Forester. I tried all well known pre-priced options like Truecar, Costco Auto and Consumer Reports auto buying program, all Truecar based. I am just outside NYC (to give you an idea about number of dealerships around me).

    1. Costco Auto had only 2 Subaru dealerships working with them, and none were close to me.

    2. The prices were not at all competitive. Regular Truecar prices were cheaper. This is where we come into discussion, how much you want to save when you are buying $27K worth vehicle. Some folks may want to throw money, I don’t. I was willing to pay reasonable price without haggling (which I hate), not the cheapest.

    3. I wanted dealership to quote me price over the phone or email. None of the Costco dealerships gave me the price. They wanted me to come down to the dealership, show my Costco membership card before we could start talking about the price. My question is, if I had so much time, why on the earth would I bother to send you an email or a phone call? I have a full time job. I am definitely not going to take a day off or leave work early to show up at the dealership.

    4. Worst came later. I called up closest among the two dealership for the price. The owner of the dealership took the call. When I told him, where I live, his answer, I know you are not going to buy from me. This was weird, esp when I was thinking in my mind, he had car in stock (which is very odd for a Subaru dealership), and configuration I wanted, I was willing to pay whatever he asked for, because I just didn’t want to wait for 2 months. After his comments, I lost interest immediately (now I know why he had car in stock). I understand this is dealership specific and not Costco auto related but since I reached to the dealership through Costco Auto program, Costco gets a blame too. I complained about this to Costco over the phone but there was no follow-up. Not the best plan if you want to keep the customer.

    Finally, I reached out to Subaru forester forum and an owner from NJ recommended me dealership in NH. I was like I live near NYC, why would I get it from NH but I still sent the dealership an email. To my surprise, lowest price of all ($1200 below Costco price, without a word of haggling) with a guarantee that he will deliver the car at Stamford, CT. In all shopping experience, I made only one phone call to give credit card number to book the car, few emails back and forth to confirm the configuration and thats it. I haven’t met the guy who sold me the car yet (July 30, 2014 I got my vehicle). Most pleasant car buying experience so far in my life. Look who is getting my business, the same dealership when I get a Subaru Legacy next year, and all future Subaru vehicles.

    • 5 Kimberly // 2015.06.17 at 3:59 am

      @Noel – Thanks for the review of your dealings with Costco Auto. Even though my blog is pretty upbeat about Costco, I don’t always sing their praises and certainly for things like the services, I really appreciate people sharing their experiences – good and bad. I will say, I’ve not had a chance to use Costco Auto but have heard some really great things about it from lots of readers, but there’s been some less than great experiences too. I think a lot of that is down to dealers and how they actually fulfil their obligations with these deals, unfortunately, and that’s why Costco has to send in mystery shoppers to test out how it works.
      A number of years ago my husband worked someplace that made him eligible to get a discount on Nissan/Infinity vehicles through a special Nissan employee discount; pricing and haggle-free similar to how the Costco Auto program works. Turned out that even though our local Austin Infinity dealer was supposed to honor that pricing, they wouldn’t do it for our purchase (or for a number of his co-workers), so we had to go to a dealership in Dallas to actually get the right deal. We ended up reporting the dealership to Nissan because, just like Costco Auto, they want to know when dealerships aren’t following through on these deals because it looks bad for the dealership, but it also makes the brand or Costco Auto look bad too.

      • 6 Katherine // 2015.06.17 at 6:19 am

        As a native Texan, I know the drive time between Dallas and Austin to be four hours. I don’t know much at all about the northeast, but now I feel silly talking about a 25 minute ride to get a new car at a fair price. I will say that I loved the dealership. They really treat their employees well and the employees spoke very well of the owner. So I’m glad Costco worked with a dealership who takes good care of their people.

        • 7 Kimberly // 2015.06.17 at 8:09 am

          @Katherine – Without saying I speed, you can make it in a bit over 3 hours if you try. 😉

    • 8 katie // 2016.03.15 at 8:58 pm

      Noel, can you pm me the dealer info?

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  Notify me when other users comment on this post.