Buying a car through Costco or USAA?
April 19, 2010 7:51 AM   Subscribe

If you have experience with either Costco's Auto Program or USAA's Car Buying Service, how'd it go? Would you use it again?
posted by The corpse in the library to Shopping (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I considered using Costco's auto program when I was shopping around.

Basically, the dealer gives you a pre-negotiated price. Sometimes it's good, sometimes you could do better negotiating on your own. However, once you inquire about the Costco program, most dealers will refuse to negotiate beyond Costco's price.
posted by schmod at 7:55 AM on April 19, 2010

Though I haven't used the service myself, my good friends recently used Car Bargains Service from Consumer Checkbook and were quite pleased with the results. They've been talking about to anyone who will listen. They got a great deal on their new Honda with no hassles, haggling or sales pressure.
posted by crayon at 7:57 AM on April 19, 2010

We used USAA's buying service a few years ago to purchase a Honda Odyssey and it went great.

Pros: we got a decent price on a loaded Odyssey at a time when you could hardly find them anywhere (this was late 2000, and we bought a 2001 model). It was easy as could be, and we didn't have to deal with the front-lot salesmen at all. You end up dealing with the fleet salespeople in the back - very low pressure, easy going.

Cons: it's a flat-price sort of thing, so there'll be no haggling. In our case, owing to the demand on the Odyssey, there wasn't much leeway over things like options and color - we could either take it or leave it. Also, the dealership was sort of a hike from where we lived - a good hour or so away.

We used it again to buy a larger van a couple of years ago with the same general experience - fleet sales, low pressure. Ended up waiting for delivery because they didn't have what we needed on the lot.

Tried it again a third time for a Camry, but there was a mixup in the options I was looking for and what the dealership had on the lot. In the end, the dealership honored USAA's price even though I wasn't going through the fleet dept. I thought that was pretty good of them.

So, all-in-all, we've had really good luck with USAA and always give them a shot first.
posted by jquinby at 8:02 AM on April 19, 2010

Most credit unions have similar programs; you may want to inquire if you're a member of one. My credit union price was cheaper than the Costco price and the credit union worked with the dealer's fleet representative.
posted by arimathea at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2010

We bought our SUV using USAA auto-buying and it was great. We got a hybrid so there wasn't a lot of negotiating room because they were in such high demand, but we ended up paying about $1000 less than other people we know. We had gone to the dealership beforehand to test drive and figure out exactly what we wanted and then when we got a call that one with all of our options was available we asked USAA to step in. There was no pressure and we just went to the dealership to sign everything once it had all been worked out.
posted by Kimberly at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2010

For the purchase of a Toyota Rav4 in fall of 2008, AAA, CostCo, and USAA all directed me to the same dealership for their flat pricing. The pricing for all three programs was the same. It was good and indeed painless to get that pricing. Another dealership was willing to give me the same price and was willing to haggle over the options we wished to add. We went with the other dealership.
posted by fief at 6:19 PM on April 19, 2010

I bought a car a few years ago (Lexus IS250), and the Costco price was decent, but not awesome and not negotiable. It was better than buying it for MSRP, but I ended up calling around to internet sales managers in the area (supposedly they are salaried instead of commission based) and got a lower price with no hassle.
posted by theDrizzle at 12:09 PM on April 20, 2010

For those who like resolution: I got a few offers through the USAA service, but then changed my mind about which model car I wanted and USAA didn't have the exact one on their site. The magic phrase "USAA discount?" worked just fine, though, and we got a good price.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:16 AM on April 23, 2010

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