Cash Back and No Haggling: How the Costco Auto Program Saves Money and Sweat On Your Next Car

The Costco Auto Program will help you save money on your next car purchase, you can earn a Costco gift card, and best of all, no haggling!

Gmc Terrain Denali
2019 GMC Terrain Denali is a great choice for a family car. Photo: GM Media

Costco isn’t just for buying in bulk.

Even if you’re a Costco member, you might not know much about the Costco Auto program. We think of Costco as a place to buy things in bulk, like toilet paper and double-sized jars of peanut butter, not to mention, trying miles of samples. It’s also where we go for deals on things we want, like Dyson vacuums, LG widescreen TVs and Keurig coffee makers.

But just as the company negotiates rock bottom prices on those things, Costco also strikes best-deal pricing on cars.

Can you imagine not having to negotiate the price at all? Not having to deal with a pushy salesman and getting straight to the deal? That’s what we learned when we looked into how the Costco Auto Program works, and what we heard when we asked friends who have used it.

Further Reading: Here’s How to Get the Best Car Deal at Costco

A Girls Guide To Cars | Cash Back And No Haggling: How The Costco Auto Program Saves Money And Sweat On Your Next Car - The Cadillac Xt4 The Fin Front Lights Are Designed To Hint At The Brands Iconic Past

2019 Cadillac XT4 Sport, available with special pricing and cash back through the Costco Auto Program. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Costco’s Membership Perks Include Discounted Pricing and, Often, a Gift Card With a Car Purchase

If you do a little research on Costco membership you will find there are quite a few more perks, including low prices on gas, vacation packages, fine jewelry, insurance, home services and car maintenance such as oil changes and new tires.

The car buying program does the same thing, pre-arranging prices on almost any car and then setting up a process designed to make the purchase easy for you. So, no haggling.

But the program goes further: Costco often has special pricing on specific models, typically fully loaded at a base or mid-level price, and includes any dealer or manufacturer incentives, such as cash back or special financing. And, often, members taking advantage of these specials will get a Costco cash card, too.

Further reading: Don’t make this mistake: I almost didn’t buy my car at Costco! 

How To Take Home A Christmas Tree In The Chevy Silverado

You can have the Silverado of your dreams and get a Costco Cash Card in the process. Photo: Lillie Morales

How the Costco Auto Program Works

First, you need a Costco membership. The rest is really simple. To qualify for a Costco Auto Program deal you need to register and get an authorization number. You must also be an active Costco member and take delivery of your new vehicle within a certain time frame. You can read all the specific details here before you start researching your purchase. After registering, begin your online research, conveniently all accessible via the website. Not only can you see the wide variety of makes and models, but you’ll find details about each trim level, features, safety information and manufacturer incentives, such as cash back or special financing.

With a new vehicle, select the dealer and submit a request; this will generate a contact from the dealership for an appointment, but you can also obtain direct contact information if you want to contact them on your own. At the dealership you’ll meet with the Costco authorized salesperson, take a test drive and view the special Costco Member-Only price sheet to see the pre-arranged price. You’re under no obligation to purchase the car and the dealership is limited to add-ons they are allowed to sell you. However, if they do sell you anything extra, such as an extended warranty or service package, it comes with a Costco discount.

If you have a vehicle to trade in, inquire with the dealer as Costco doesn’t manage or monitor that part of the sales deal, so be sure to ask your questions and be prepared to know if the trade-in offer is a fair one. And even if you’re not buying a vehicle right now, the Costco website can point you to a participating dealer where you can save 15% off parts, service, and accessories just for being a Costco member. That can really add up fast.

Deals for All the Wheels

Pre-owned cars are also eligible, and the purchase process is similar. Just be sure to show your current Costco membership card when you arrive at the dealership. The dealer’s Costco sales rep will let you know if you need to bring anything else. Aside from cars, the program also offers options for motorcycles, power sports vehicles, and RVs. You can pretty much find deals for all types of wheels using the Costco program.

Further Reading: How Car-Ed makes picking out your next car easier

Gmc Terrain Denali

2019 GMC Terrain Denali is a great choice for a family car. Photo: GM Media

We Had to Ask Costco Car Buyers: Would You Do it Again?

If you’re unsure about buying a car through Costco, ask around. Chances are, someone you know has already used the program and has good things to say about it,

“Love, loved, loved it – we purchased two [cars] through the Costco Auto Buying Program and would do it again,” said my friend Gayle Feldman Turner. “The ease of it all! They made buying a car a breeze. We knew what we wanted, called and talked to them, they located one, no haggling over price – no fuss or muss or “let me talk to my manager and see what we can do,” she said.

Suv Sport

What if all you had to do was pick a color? The Ford Edge lineup offers some nice choices. Photo: Jana Seitzer

Buy a Car in … 20 Minutes??? 

“The dealership where they had us pick up both cars had the paperwork and car ready and waiting when we got there,” Gayle told me. ‘It took maybe 20 minutes from the time we got there till we were driving it home. It was seriously one of the greatest experiences of our lives, so much so that we bought the second car through them as well. They took all the fear of what you normally dread when you buy a car out of the equation and spoiled us forever at just how easy buying a car should be! We’ve suggested it to friends and family and they all have similar stories!”

Volvo Xc60 Hybrid Plug In Suv

The front cabin of the Volvo XC60 R Design is elegant and subdued. Photo: Scotty Reiss

More Savings, More Gas Money!

An easy, no haggle experience is probably worth the price of membership. But like all things Costco, the deal gets better: each purchase includes any manufacturer rebates and incentives that can be stacked with your member-only price. Information on these is available on the website as well.

And, for some cars that don’t offer manufacturer rebates, Costco often has a cash card incentive for making the purchase. Currently, there is a Volvo promotion going on. Purchase or lease an eligible, new 2019 Volvo to receive Volvo employee pricing and Costco member incentives such as $1,000 incentive on S60, S90, V60, V90, V90 Cross Country, XC60 and XC90  OR  $3,000 incentive on S60 T6 R-Design and S60 T6 Inscription. And for completing a Costco auto program survey, you can get a $100 Costco card. How sweet is that?

Volvo Xc90 Suv Luxury Crossover

The Volvo XC90. Photo: Lillie Morales

Millions of Sales Without Haggling? Imagine that! 

The Costco Auto Program, which began in 1989, consistently ranks as one of the top member-based auto-buying programs, resulting in more than 2 million vehicle sales at participating dealerships in the last five years. It’s a relief to know that it can be easy to shop for a car and save money on one of the biggest purchases we make. The best part? Haggling is a thing of the past!

The Costco Auto Program Will Help You Save Money On Your Next Car Purchase, You Can Earn A Costco Gift Card, And Best Of All, No Haggling!


Donna is a SoCal mom of four who lives by the motto that life should never be boring, so... More about Donna Biroczky