Car buying the
Costco’s Auto Program takes the
angst out of buying a new car
By Steve Fisher
THERE’S ONE THING everyone agrees on:
Buying a car is one of the most frustrating
experiences in the consumer universe. Until
they try the Costco Auto Program (CAP).
“I’ve bought cars before where you negotiate and the guy goes into the back room to
talk to someone and it’s just nonsense,” says
Cincinnati, Ohio, Costco member Mort
Nicholson of his pre-CAP transactions.
Debbie Elliott, a Costco member from
Atlanta, Georgia, loved how CAP worked.
“I hate negotiating for cars. It’s the most
unpleasant experience in the whole world,”
she says. “And this time it was ‘Here’s the car
you’re looking at, here’s the price you pay as a
Costco member and here’s the deal.’ And it
was done. It was amazing.”
It was also “unbelievably easy,” Elliott
enthusiastically reports. “In the evening I
sent an e-mail, somebody called me back the
next morning and I made an appointment.
The whole thing was really fast.
“I wasn’t really planning on buying a car
the night I went in, and I walked out with a car.
And they weren’t pushy. They weren’t doing
anything to try to sway me into buying.”
In the past 10 years, CAP has helped
more than 2 million Costco members find
great deals on their vehicle purchases.
The Costco Auto Program features:
•Low, prearranged Costco member
pricing with no haggling
•More than 2,200 participating dealer-
ships, with specially trained Authorized
dealer and asked about the Costco Auto
Program. The dealership said they’d give him
the Costco price, but they weren’t actually
part of the program. Luckily, Nicholson realized his error and did it the right way.
“Any dealer will say they’ll give you the
Costco price,” John admonishes. “But only a
participating CAP dealer has access to the
member-only, prearranged pricing.”
Both Elliott and Nicholson say, unequiv-
ocally, that they would use the Costco Auto
Program again. Nearly all members do. C
Doing it the right way
To use the Costco Auto Program, call
1-800-800-9288 or visit Costco.com and enter
“GR8VALU” in the search box to locate a participating dealer in your area. After providing
some basic information, you will receive contact information for the Authorized Dealer
Contact, who will meet you at the dealership
and help you select a vehicle. You will be
shown a Costco member-only price sheet and
the vehicle manufacturer’s invoice and suggested retail price to immediately see the savings the program provides.
John Gleason, manager of the program,
cautions, “The Costco Auto Program works
with a select group of participating dealers.
You must find a dealer through the program
to get the true Costco member benefit.”
Nicholson concurs. “We tried to use the
[Costco Auto] Program in 2005 and [the
dealer] said they’d give us $50,” he says. “But
in the end I realized I didn’t do it correctly.”
He had walked into a neighborhood
See more automotive stories beginning
on page 24.
Note: The manufacturer’s invoice is not shown in all states, based on state laws. Factory invoice may not reflect the
dealer’s actual cost for a vehicle. The invoice may be higher than the true final cost to the dealer. Factors that may
affect the dealer’s actual cost include, but are not limited to, holdback, factory-to-dealer incentives, advertising fees,
reserves and other charges, which may vary by vehicle. Program details vary in Texas.
Facts and figures
Satisfaction survey results
• 96.5% rated the professionalism of the
authorized dealer contact as “good to
excellent” (86.4% said “excellent”)
• 96.4% would recommend the Costco
Auto Program to others
• 96.3% rated the value of the Costco
Auto Program “good to excellent”
(84% rated it “excellent”)
• Number of vehicles sold through the
Costco Auto Program last year: more
than 200,000 (more than 1 million over
the last five years)
• Number of participating dealerships
nationwide: approximately 2,200
• Money saved by Costco members
through the Costco Auto Program last
year: more than $200 million