Costco Auto Buying Program: Scam or Good Deal?


I’m paranoid about getting scammed.

It’s almost to the point where I don’t even want to answer the phone out of fear I’ll accidentally blurt out my social security number to someone claiming to work at my bank.

When it comes to car buying, my guard goes up like I’m a schizophrenic at a CIA interrogation. 

That’s why I was intrigued when I discovered an auto buying program at Costco. The company’s website claims Costco saves members a lot of hassle and an average of $1,000 off a typical transaction price. It works like this:

Members choose the make and model they’re interested in, then Costco refers them to a local dealer who shows the customer the vehicle’s invoice price, the MSRP, and the Costco no-haggle price.

A no-haggle price with built-in savings sounds pretty good on the surface, but still my paranoia wasn’t eased by browsing Costco’s website. Digging a little deeper online, I found a lawsuit filed in January by a New Jersey woman who says the program is deceptive.

Her main accusation, according the paperwork, is: 

The Costco auto program is misleading and deceptive because its “members only” price is exclusively defined in reference to the “invoice price” of authorized dealers. The Costco auto program does not control the underlying invoice price, and its participating dealers can and do manipulate that price in any number of ways.

A-ha! I knew there had to be something. Everyone knows dealers try to squeeze every ounce of cash they can out of people, so if there’s a price they’ll immediately accept, they must have a good amount of profit built in. Still, I trust Costco….

So I decided to put its auto buying program to the test.

While I was shopping to replace my wife’s car a few weeks back, we looked at getting a 2009 Honda CR-V EX AWD. It was black with a window sticker price of $25,635. We got pretty far into the negotiations before they broke down over the value of our trade-in. The purchase price we arrived at: $23,600.

With this in mind, I contacted the Costco Auto Program with no intent of buying, but to research this story. I wanted to see how close their offer was to the price I negotiated myself. I filled out the online form and waited 24 hours. They never called. So I called the “specially trained” Costco-approved salesman I was referred to and asked what my price would be.

He asked me to come in and see the car. I told him I’d seen it already and just wanted to know the Costco price. I eventually convinced him I wouldn’t come in unless I knew the price was acceptable. 

Then he told me: $23,900.

I admit, I was impressed. I came  to the conclusion that programs like Costco’s just might be worth it if you’re the kind of person who cowers at confrontation and despises negotiation. The deal, at least in this case, wasn’t too bad!

If you’re a negotiation pit bull, though, go after ‘em, and take every hundred you can get!

Would you consider, or have you used, something like Costco’s auto buying program?


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  1. Jason
    April 14th, 2015 at 12:13 | #1

    I agree. You ask for the pre-negotiated sheet which shows the dollars below invoice and that is the price you pay. If you ask for this and the invoice price, you are assured you are getting the best deal. Had one dealer that wouldn’t show me and I called costco and they referred me to someone else that treated me like a king. Got the vehicle for almost $4000 below msrp which was $1500 under invoice. @ Jeff Keith

  2. GrandmaE
    March 10th, 2015 at 19:05 | #2

    Bought new car 3/1/15 using Costco Auto Program. Honda CRV AWD EX Popular model. Came down to which dealership had what I wanted in stock. Was told model could be traded from other dealers but I had to accept with whatever accessories were dealer installed. Trading or locate fee would be charged. We drove farther than we wanted to buy off of lot.
    Costco reps couldn’t give me any prices. Reps talked about prearranged pricing and the infamous “Costco Member Only Price Sheet”. When I finally saw the Price Sheet it had no numbers on it. First page had a few sections. Under “New Vehicle Pricing information. Pricing Details” :
    Costco Base is calculated from the pricing below and the amount of the manufacturer’s invoice for the vehicle. It includes the manufacturer-installed options, advertisements fee, dealer holdback, destination charges and other applicable discounts and fees. Dealer trade or locate fee may apply if vehicle not in stock. Additional fee(s) added to each transaction: $75 dealer fee.
    First column is Make/Model, second column “Price” has either $xxx.xx under Costco Base, or Costco excluded, 3nd column “Factory and Dealer Incentives”.
    Invoice prices were different at each dealership. All were quite a bit more than what I found on Edmunds and other sites. Hard to compare.
    Did I save? Not sure. Costco pricing for model purchased was supposed to be $200 under “Costco Base”. Costco Base was hard for me to figure out. When I called Costco to say I made a purchase I was asked how much I saved off of MSRP. What a stupid question. Who pays full MSRP? Even I’m not that gullible.
    One dealership made it sound like they were doing us a favor even considering selling at Costco pricing. Told us they made zero profit. Walked away because of finance person’s attitude. We bought expensive extras. That alone would have made our purchase profitable. Their loss.
    I wanted certain accessories. Accessories were different prices at each dealership, some significantly higher.
    Costco Member Only Price Sheet (with no prices) has a section on first page about Dealer-installed Items. It says “30% discount on any accessory found on Addendum Sticker” but no dealer was willing to honor that. One dealer was willing to give 10% discount on dealer installed accessories. I was told dealer-installed and accessories installed at time of purchase are covered under warranty but not if purchased later. Another dealer refused to give discount on dealer installed accessories but would give 15% discount on after purchase accessories. That dealership was listed with Costco as offering 15% off on accessories and service. Not all dealerships participate. Contact Costco to find out.
    Elderly, raised to be polite and not make a fuss. Am the kind of person that is embarrassed to haggle for lower prices in foreign countries, garage sales, basically any transaction. Paid cash, every penny asked for. Could I have paid less. Yes, especially since cash purchase. Do I regret not negotiating? A little.
    Would I recommend Costco Auto Program to others. Not sure. I’m still confused about whether or not I saved any money. Not sure of the benefit.
    Use the program if you don’t want to haggle for lowest price. Use to get information to help in negotiations if you need or want absolute lowest price or enjoy haggling.
    Costco Auto Program is a marketing tool. A carrot to procure buyers. It doesn’t mean lowest price.
    Beware, some models are excluded. A dealership can offer Costco price on some but not all models. Not all dealerships give discount on accessories listed on addendum. Not all dealerships are part of the Costco 15% off after purchase accessories and service program.
    What I liked about the Costco Auto program – I absolutely hate talking on the phone. Costco trained salespeople are limited to 3 contacts. On Costco website I asked for referrals to several dealerships and they didn’t harass me. I sent email to each after I made purchase and contact immediately stopped. Now I wish dealership where I purchased would leave me alone.

  3. Hoss
    March 10th, 2015 at 15:33 | #3

    As one of many honest auto sales reps I person refuse to be that guy who does try to put the screws to a potential car buyer. Sadly because of the recent years of shady salesman and even more confusing and complex negotiations. The auto Industry may never lose its long held reputation. But please keep in mind that all companies including yours need to make a profit. Profits are what support the company and its employees including all who read your blog. Squeezing every last dime out of a deal hurts not only a business that provides a paycheck for people to support there families. We also give heavily at my place of employment. We give back a portion of our profits to many different organizations that support non profit groups that help people through difficult times and even more serious to families with children with devastating illnesses. The idea that we make these huge commissions is not at all true. There is the occasional sale that does provide a reasonable amount of reward but 90% of my car sales pay a $100.00 pre tax commission. But I still refuse to hold any part of the old school stero typical car salesman. How ever with out profit we are ALL out of a job and with our low wage flat economy continuing to take every $100.00 you can get is not at all fair. Put yourself in my shoes work 12 hours a day and understandably having customers ready to do battle for every penny. Before making that phone call or visiting a dealership think about asking people who they bought there car from and how was their buying experience. I work hard for my customers to earn trust, respect and referrals. It’s my customers that are the heart and sole of my job that supports my place of employment and most importantly my family. I ask that do your homework for both your new car and the salesman that has great reviews. By starting out like this you will have a much more pleasant buying experience. Lastly of course we need you to come in. I understand you want the best price on the phone but with so many different options available on today’s cars you need to see what you will get for your budget. By not taking the time to look at what you want and when the person tells you what you want to hear to get you to come in is when the stress factor climbs and your chances of any positive buying experience may just disappear. Remember it’s our job to sell as it is for anyone in the sales industry. We all want and need to close the deal that’s how we all survive and support our families and stay employed and not in the unemployment lines and applying for food stamps and using public tax dollars to survive. I don’t think any of us want to be forced to stand on the side of the road asking for help. Thank you for taking the time to read my response and opinion.

    • tgriffith
      March 12th, 2015 at 14:40 | #4

      Thank you for this, Hoss. We really appreciate your candor and your perspective.

  4. Marcia Goodman
    February 27th, 2015 at 17:23 | #5

    The so-called Costco discount was ridiculous. The MSRP for the car we were prepared to buy was $30,128. The Costco discount was $1554. That brought the price down to $28,574, which happens to be the exact same number as the invoice price. What a coincidence! We were ready to leave, and the dealer said they’d bring the price down to $27,794. We almost went ahead with it, but a dealer closer to our home, which had given us our test drive of 2 vehicles, and which we’ve done business with before, and which has a higher customer rating, met the price of the other dealer so we went close to home.

  5. GDT
    January 27th, 2015 at 03:44 | #6

    @ Jeff Keith
    I read just fine thank you. I was promised a no haggle, low stress experience but that is NOT what I got. I still was faced with lies, high pressure sales tactics, a guy trying to change the terms of the warranty, not letting me read the warranty contract, trying to squeeze money out of me via my credit card and general condescension and rudeness. You said you were in and out of there in 3 hours. Good for you, son. But that was not MY experience.

  6. Jeff Keith
    January 16th, 2015 at 13:52 | #7

    GDT you sound like you don’t read the advertising. I took advantage of the program as I stated earlier and had no problems. They put me in touch with a specific contact at the dealership, in my case the fleet guy, and it was easy. In and out in 3 hours. Everything said the coupon had to be used at the dealership I bought the car at. So, I think you may just not be reading and now wanting to gripe. I’ve had three family members use it before me and they had great experiences. That is why I finally gave it a try. @ GDT

  7. Jeff Keith
    January 16th, 2015 at 13:25 | #8

    @ paul
    Submit the request through Costco Auto and they put me in touch with the fleet sales manager at the dealership I went through. That was their trained person.

  8. GDT
    January 15th, 2015 at 03:49 | #9

    I just went through the Costco auto program and was very disappointed. They advertise a no pressure, stress free buying experience where you get a discount but that wasn’t the case at all for me. People at the dealership (Culver City Toyota) still subjected me to endless sleazy sales tactics, pressure to give them my money as fast as possible and I could have gotten a much better deal by NOT going through Costco and just haggling on my own and going someplace else.
    I don’t think I’ll use Costco again and would not recommend their auto program to anyone. By the way, I also got this $200/ 50% off coupon but just found out you MUST use it at the dealership where you bought the car.
    I’m so reluctant to ever go back to that dealership again that I don’t even think I’ll use the coupon. I feel totally misled by Costco; their advertising materials are lies.

  9. paul
    January 10th, 2015 at 17:11 | #10

    @ Jeff Keith
    What is the best way to find a fleet guy?

  10. J brown
    December 22nd, 2014 at 01:23 | #11

    Don’t waste your time,, total scam. Special price was all of 200.00 under internet price on website.

  11. tom
    December 18th, 2014 at 12:07 | #12

    @ ADAM
    Dealerships are a business subject to losses like everybody else. Tired of dealers saying they have to eat. You are not a publicly owned entity guaranteed margin. You can go under and many of you have because poor sale tactics have been exposed by internet research empowering just about everyone. PLease explain the 500 dealer doc fees. Dealer moves 200 cars a month, the owner packs away one million like a cover charge. Can’t say the $13/hr book keeps cost 500 a car to process.

  12. Chris
    December 13th, 2014 at 23:08 | #13

    Disagree with your comparison Adam. A vehicle purchase, new or u used, is a commodity like anything else. Being a professional buyer as I am, I know that addendum, MSRP and invoice are ALL artificial price points. It is in the psyche of many Americans to haggle over prices. Unless you plan into the
    CARMAX pricing or a car dealers so-called “no haggle” pricing. Your comparison is like comparison apples with oranges and bears little semblance to real-world buying of vehicles, new or used.

  13. ADAM
    November 20th, 2014 at 18:46 | #14

    @ Chris
    sounds like the only “shark” here is you. Do me a favor and next time you are at your local grocer, take your items out of your cart, let the cashier ring them up for a total and then once you have the total, offer them 100 dollars less for the stuff you just selected. I’ll give you a hint, they will laugh at you, also you won’t get a discount. What other industry works on such a loose pricing system. Yes people negotiate housing prices etc. but that is something unique with each house and more subjective vs. a specific car with specific features and one person feels they should be able to buy for whatever numbers they pull from their arses?

  14. ADAM
    November 20th, 2014 at 18:40 | #15


    • November 20th, 2014 at 18:56 | #16

      We appreciate your comment, but many people consider all-caps comments yelling. Any chance you could re-submit this in upper and lower case?

  15. Jeff Keith
    November 17th, 2014 at 12:06 | #17

    Have to disagree with you. I saved $1800 below actual invoice, not dealer invoice. Dealt with the fleet guy who was specially trained, in and out in under 3 hours including finance. Got 2 cars this way, cheaper, easier and quicker.

  16. GDT
    November 14th, 2014 at 14:18 | #18

    I just went through the Costco auto program and was very disappointed. They advertise a no pressure, stress free buying experience where you get a discount but that wasn’t the case at all for me. People at the dealership still subjected me to endless sleazy sales tactics, flat out lies, pressure to give them my money as fast as possible and I could have gotten a much better deal by NOT going through Costco and just haggling on my own and going someplace else.

    I don’t think I’ll use Costco again and would not recommend their auto program to anyone. By the way, I also got this $200/ 50% off coupon but just found out you MUST use it at the dealership where you bought the car.

    I’m so reluctant to ever go back to that dealership again that I don’t even think I’ll use the coupon. I feel totally misled by Costco; their advertising materials are lies.

  17. Steve Ledbetter
    October 1st, 2014 at 13:43 | #19

    I can’t speak to every brand, but GM’s Costco price is the same as supplier pricing. That’s a good deal for most consumers. The dealer profit is locked in and it’s not nearly what most people think it is. Most dealers are working with a 2% margin. We are glad to work with the Costco program and all others. Quite frankly you will end up paying very similar with us and it’s a whole lot less frustrating than dealing with a buyer that thinks I’m making thousands of dollars at their expense! We’re no different than you. I don’t want to deal with the frustration and stress of a customer that buys a car, but hates the experience.
    I’m always disappointed that so many people think every car dealer experience is the same. The truth is, it’s not! I’m part of a great Dealer Team at a small town dealership in Vandalia Illinois.
    There are a lot of dealers that give the industry a bad reputation. There are a lot of unskilled, poorly trained, sales consultants who have no clue.
    Then there are dealers like ours.
    We use the same tools you use, KBB, Edmunds, Consumer Reports, and several others to show you exactly what we are doing.
    I will make a profit on every vehicle I sell. I’m not going to apologize for that. If a car buyer can’t accept that, they need to go somewhere else.
    I won’t retire on a single sale and I am looking for clients that want a long term relationship. If you own one car through me, great, but I want you to own the next 10 through me and send everyone you know. That won’t happen if you don’t understand the process.
    A relationship with a dealer is just like any other, you get out of it what you put in. If you are defensive and closed off, you will probably receive the same. If you are open, while still verifying and documenting, you will be much happier.
    We aren’t the only dealer that does this. If you go into a dealership and tell them you want that kind of a relationship, you just might get it.
    So if you want a dealer that will be open and engage you where you are in the process, give a dealer like us a try.

  18. Jay
    June 2nd, 2014 at 15:21 | #20

    The Costco auto program did nothing for us. On 2 vehicles the Costco price was $2000 more than the dealer’s internet price. We didn’t even like the dealers, and ended up negotiating a different deal entirely with another (much better) dealer.

    I think the Costco pgm makes people who hate haggling with car dealers feel like they are getting a good deal, when in reality it’s the car dealers who benefit most from the program. That’s my 2c.

  19. Roofus
    February 22nd, 2014 at 13:10 | #21

    I have a fair amount of experience buying and ordering new vehicles from a consumers standpoint. The very first thing that any buyer or perspective buyer should understand is that the term “Dealer Invoice” is a term that the new car industry created to imply to the consumer that this magic number is what the dealer actually paid for the vehicle. This is absolutely not true, and if a salesperson or a sales “manager” tells you otherwise, he’s not being honest with you. It’s a marketing tool that is used industry wide in an attempt to fool the public into believing that they are getting a “one time super deal” if they only pay “Dealer Invoice” for a vehicle, when in fact there is already a substantial profit built into the “Dealer Invoice” price. You will hear the term “$100.00 over invoice” frequently, that’s an additional $100.00 over the already built in profit of the “Dealer Invoice”. The fact of the matter is that ALL dealers in the entire country pay EXACTLY the same price for any given vehicle, whether the dealer is across the street from the assembly plant or in Fairbanks, Alaska. There may be a very slight difference in the shipping price that they charge but that price will be posted on the window sticker, it’s generally less than $50.00 from one location to another, and again, the dealers are making a profit on what they charge for shipping as they get a fleet rate for the volume of business that they do with the transport companies. Bottom line: Car dealers ARE NOT going to sell you a vehicle unless they make a generous profit, and they will look you straight in the eye and lie to you about how much profit they are making. Watch out for “high rollers” in the game as well, these are sales people who work strictly off of MSRP, meaning that their starting point is always MSRP. As a buyer, you always start low and go up, as you can always go up, but you can’t go back down once you’ve started high. If you find yourself up against one of these, go to another sales person or find another dealer. Play one against the other, they will do it to you in a heartbeat. It’s an extremely slimy business, and these sales people/dealers need to be reminded from time to time that the money belongs to the potential customer until he signs on the bottom line, and that customer can spend his money anywhere he so chooses.

  20. Bill Askew
    November 19th, 2013 at 10:36 | #22

    Buying a car is simple today. First, Go drive what you think you want to buy. Then go to to check out the car and decide on what options you want. Edmunds will tell you what the average price that users paid for that car.


    Then send an email to three of the closest dealers of the car you want. Ask them for their best internet price. Then you have three quotes and the Edmunds price to compare. I’ve bought my last four new cars this way. It works with no Hassles.

  21. Chris
    November 12th, 2013 at 14:04 | #23

    I just purchased a new 2014 vehicle and I used the Costco program to help get a good deal. I didn’t actually purchase the car through the Costco program but I took advantage of the program to start the process and get a better price. Here is what I did and learned:

    I submitted three requests through Costco using three different zip codes. This sent my quote request to three different dealers. One got back to me within 20 minutes with a detailed quote that was $500 below the invoice price. The quote included a copy of the invoice. Now I had a starting point.
    I requested additional quotes online from other dealers in the area and three came back below the Costco quote and a bunch were over.
    I sent an email back to the dealer with the Costco quote and told him I had three quotes better than the Costco price. I asked if he could beat the best quote I had received. He came back with a quote that was around $400 better than the previous best quote.
    I then used that quote to try to get a better deal with the other dealers. I received replies from all three dealers but no one could come within than $200. One of the competing dealers actually told me the quoted price was below dealer cost , even after dealer incentives, and if it was a real offer and there were no shenanigans it would be the best price he had ever seen on the car and I should jump on it.
    I then went to the dealership and meet the salesmen who provided the Costco quote, and then bettered it. We looked at number of cars to decide on the color; he had the keys for 6 cars ready and waiting for me. My wife took a test drive. There was not added pressure to upgrade to a different model or add on accessories. The price was the quoted price, no shenanigans.
    In the end I bought the car from the dealer who gave me the Costco quote but it was not purchased under the Costco program. I beat the Costco price by over $1000.

    The Costco Program won’t necessarily get you the best price but it will get you a competitive price compared to walking in to a dealer and haggling. If you want to get a decent price and don’t want to take the time to try and get a better price, it’s not a bad program. But you can get a better price if you want to talk the time and use the internet and email to negotiate.

    I’m happy with the experience. This is my third new car purchase in five years and it’s the first time I didn’t have a nagging feeling I could have done better.

    Now I have to deal with the auto insurance sharks.

  22. Joe
    June 22nd, 2013 at 19:10 | #24

    @ Kyle L.

    We purchased a Mazda CX-5 through Costco a few weeks ago. We got a price of $100 over invoice-no haggle. What we also got was essentially locked in the back room with the “finance manager” for an hour after we had already signed the papers (which she was holding). She told us she was “required” to give us information about add-ons, even though we said we weren’t interested. Occasionally I would ask her to move on; she would say “absolutely” and continue on with her spiel. This completely ruined the buying experience for me and I hope to never buy another new car.

  23. June 21st, 2013 at 13:06 | #25

    True car (dot) com is better. I went shopping for a fully loaded 2014 Subaru Forester and the Costco discounted offer was $500 over invoice. After putting some pressure on them, I got them down to invoice price. However, True Car got it down to $700 UNDER invoice, and with some further haggling, I got it to $1300 under invoice. Costco may offer deals with other makes and models, but I could haggle much better than what they could get me.

  24. Mattie Mae
    June 1st, 2013 at 11:32 | #26

    If you are using the Costco pricing, you need to go through the Costco web site and receive a quote from the dealer to compare before you go. They usually send the names of. 4 or 5 so you can compare.

    There are some disreputable dealers that will state they are part of the program and there are some web scams that have done spoofing and set up links that are not Costco.

    You need a membership card to use the pricing it works like fleet pricing and if you are buying a new car they ensure you – the buyer get the rebate monies that are intended for you. The dealers gain by picking up customers that may have never come in and volume. They can also market and create a great customer service atmosphere and make money on the service contracts an subsequent service fo the vehicles.

    If you don’t want the hassle, want all the rebates and a fair price, Costco works.

    Unfortunately a lot of us don’t know how to find a reputable dealer and would just like the piece of mind it did not cost us an arm and a leg . It is sort of like health insurance, you need some leverage to get fair pricing and stop the pain points.

  25. Ron Pennock
    May 11th, 2013 at 00:12 | #27

    I found jout real quick this program stink!!! The dealer 2 days before offered me a $2000 factory discount and a $1400 dealership discount for total of $3400 including destination charges. Went to a diifferent location of the same dealership in the area with costco the sales person laughed at me and told me they would give me $1000 off or if I wanted their dealership discount it would be $34000 plus 5 year road side warranty and a $1700 warrenty extension to bring the total to a 5 year bumper to bumper and 100000 7 year drive train warranty. Costo needs to reevaluate the program

  26. mario
    April 13th, 2013 at 16:41 | #28

    I tried the costco program for a Prius V Five and I got decent quotes. 26k to 27k. However I was able to find a better deal on my own. 25.5k at Stone Mountain Toyta in GA.
    I used where I could install a program which sends any phone number from my computer screen directly to my smartphone’s dialer. Nice not to have to dial by hand. I used it when calling about cars for sale off Autotrader or Craigslist etc.

  27. jamesp
    March 31st, 2013 at 11:33 | #29

    I used them yesterday, March 30, 2013, regarding a 2013 CR-V. I found the experience a complete rip-off and a far cry from the consumer reports free program (you may need to be an online subscriber, but no additional cost.)
    And I love Costco. They are the best when it comes to quality, service and standing behind what they do and sell. That’s why I was so disappointed.
    I completed the forms and was contacted by Concord Honda.
    I was told that “Our agreement with Costco will not allow us to quote the special costco price unless you are here in person.” That was disclosed on the website, so can’t claim misleading. However, my first point of wondering…..going in to the dealer to find out the price is always a warning sign….they are getting you to commit your time to get to first base.
    Told him what I was looking for, and he came back saying they did not have that in stock, but would try to locate for me. I told him fine, if they could get it, I would go down there. Told him I was ready to buy that very day.
    When he called back later and said they could have the car there tomorrow I just needed to come down to get the price, I told him what I had been quoted by a different dealer (from the Consumer Reports program.) His answer was “I really wish I could tell you what our Costco pricing is, but I can’t.” I figured we were in the ballpark, so told him I would be down there in 10 minutes.
    Upon arrival, he not only looked at my Costco card (which was disclosed on the website as necessary to make sure I was qualified for the discount) he took the card and copied it. So he copied my American Express credit card.
    Costco, do you really feel that is appropriate, having them take a photocopy of my credit card, front and back?
    Turns out the Costco special price, which they claimed was “invoice”, did not include the $830 delivery fee which is printed on the sticker. So, he was offering me a car for $830 above what I had told him I had been offered by another dealer. I showed him the email from the other deal, which detailed exactly what was included and what was not included in their quote. And it specifically included the $830. He shrugged and said it didn’t include it from them.
    So having wasted both of our time, I got up and left.
    Good News is that I bought the car from the Consumer Reports dealer. Saved the $830 (a lot on a $30k car) and it was a much more professional experience. No need to go into the dealer to find out the “secret exclusive” price, much more transparent overall, and cheaper.
    Will never use Costco auto buying again, and it is one (if not the only time) I have been disappointed like this from Costco. They are world class when it comes to transparent, high quality, value-priced offers. Everything about them screams integrity. Except for this program.

  28. Joe
    March 13th, 2013 at 11:53 | #30

    Update (see post #17). After being contacted by several more sales people at the same dealership and to know avail, the final sales rep. was forthcoming with all of the information that I requested (i.e., money factor, depreciation, etc..) documented in an email. No sales pitches or surprise add-on fees. We negotiated a price and completed the transaction, which was for leasing a Mazda CX-5. The deal was very good, however, with some persaverence, as similar deal could be had at a nonparticipating dealership. I do think the costco program saved me a little time on negotiating, though.

  29. Bryan
    March 3rd, 2013 at 06:38 | #31

    One word. Useless. After seeing the Costoc “deal,” I made a better one. It was not hassle free or exclusive or anything. What it did do was take me to a dealer farther from my home and one that I would not have considered. So kudos for the dealer for being part of the “Costco program.” It got me in their dealership, but, no it’s a waste. Total fail. Just do it on your own.

  30. Joe
    February 26th, 2013 at 12:27 | #32

    I spoke to a Mazda lease manager on 2/23 about leasing a vehicle. This dealership is a participant in the Costco auto program. I stated exactly what vehcile and trim I was interested in and my target monthly lease payment. The manager stated that the Costco price for the car is the invoice price. So I’m thinking, great! This will reduce my capital cost, thus reducing the monthly payment. The manager stated that he can provide me with a break-down of the costs (i.e., vehicle price, taxes, fees, etc..). I requested that he send me an email with the figures, so that I can review them. The manager stated that at the moment he couldn’t, because the computers were down (red flag), and that he will send me the information no later than Monday, 2/25. It is now Tuesday, 2/26 and no email. SCAM

  31. nadene borsvold
    January 17th, 2013 at 13:23 | #33

    I want to buy a Rav4 2013.

  32. John
    December 30th, 2012 at 18:53 | #34

    went through costco auto purchase program for a 2013 camreo at Smithtown Chevrolet, St, James NY and was told $100 over invoice(about $1000.00 off msrp), said great write up the sale as a 3 year lease on that price, they added $2780.00 to the MSRP of $25,655(2LS Coupe) and used that for the cap cost(minus $500 GM rebate).I have contacted GM & Costco Auto Purchase Program Executives……all I can say is buyer still has to beware and not get lulled into a false sense of security under this Costco program(bait and switch is alive and well)…….I hope costco is good on their word of kicking these types of “stealerships” out of the program. I think all sales should take place at a costco store office and all transactions should be controlled by car headquarters, reviewed by a costco finance person.the problem is the good name of costco vs the scummy reputation of car dealers…..costco needs better internal control.there is a flaw in this program as it now stands.

  33. Rick Skinner
    December 14th, 2012 at 11:56 | #35

    I skimmed through the post and hope what I tell you is not redundant. Costco pricing is hard to beat…sort of. Each Dealership makes it’s own deal. My price on a f150 is $900 below invoice at one Dealership and $1200 below invoice at another. Here is my experienced recommendation: 1. Get referral from Costco. 2. Go to Dealer and get Price. 3. Go to other Dealers and see if they will beat it. 4. Get our vehicle. If you go through Costco ask them to review your deal to make sure the Dealership followed the agreement. If they didn’t Costco will go and get your money. Costco has already fought the battle and I doubt if you are better. Costco can not force the Dealer to accept Costco Pricing. But, once the referral is made and the Dealer accepts the referral, the Dealer is bound. The Dealerships are full of money-motivated people (Liars and Sharks). Costco is your ally and the Dealership hates Costco for a reason. This information is gathered from Costco, Dealerships, Salesman and my own experience of late.

  34. Mike
    October 17th, 2012 at 14:27 | #36


    I am a sales consultant for a major Toyota store in the pacific northwest. For the record we don’t “mark up”. It’s shady and dishonest. As a sales guy I don’t “love” anybody for paying sticker for a car since I make a minimum commission most of the time anyway (there is very little margin in cars nowadays). I get more value out of getting a new customer and them referring their friends and family to me. I earn a living just like anybody else, people like you are ignorant. It’s sad really. How do you earn a living? ..and paying off a boat and vacations? God I hate people like you so much, why am I the bad guy? WE ARE NOT SCREWING YOU OVER. You’re living in the past. It must suck being so negative. Smile. Personally I would not post something for the world to read if I didn’t know all the facts. You are making yourself look bad posting shit like that.

  35. September 1st, 2012 at 11:05 | #37

    You are obviously a car salesman/dealer or a complete idiot! If it wasn’t worth it for the dealers to “pay” Costco for inclusion into the auto sales program, THEY WOULD NOT DO IT!!!!!!! They would also NOT sell a car BELOW their cost and lose money! A dealer will come close to a “break even” agreement to move inventory! This “break even” point is where all buyers should negotiate to.

    All dealers mark up their inventory in hopes of getting a huge profit from the suckers out there that can’t/won’t negotiate. Only a fool (like you) would be happy to pay over the bare minimum for any purchase (especially for a BIG TICKET purchase of car/truck)! It is the buyers responsibility to get the best price; just as it is the responsibility of any business to maximize profit!

    Your local dealer must LOVE you; you’re paying off his boat and paying for his vacations! I’ll sell you a car, or anything for that matter, ANYTIME! As a matter of fact, I have a bridge for sale right now…………

  36. Holly Golightly
    July 19th, 2012 at 14:03 | #38

    In all dealing with the dealer watch how the destination charge, typically $900+, is quickly added back to any agreed price as a line item in the sales order document. Also, most dealers will add the window etch fee, typically $400, and a doc fee, also about $400. Best to do the dealer on line, get a printed e-mail.

  37. Frank
    June 14th, 2012 at 18:19 | #39

    Just bought a new car on the Costco Auto Program. After checking the dealers invoice through the Consumer Report I sadly discovered it is a scamm. Also Costco promised a $50.00 certificate for service and 15% off parts which they did not deliver on. I was taken by the dealer and Costco.

  38. Jerad
    June 6th, 2012 at 14:43 | #40

    Sean, your comments about dealerships and car sales people show some ignorance or possibly remorse. My neighbor has been selling me Hondas for 15 years. The dealership, sales manager, and the sales person are wonderful people to work with and they work hard long hours. I could comment that doctors, dentists, judges, and police officers are sharks, thiefs, and liars also… really depends on who you choose to do business with I guess!


  39. Jerad
    June 6th, 2012 at 14:34 | #41

    Wow! Soo many worries about getting ripped off buying a car. But what is getting “ripped off”? Paying a fair price for a car that you like, from a local dealership that respects your business? I’ve been buying from my local dealership for the past 15 years and they always give me a great deal. I inquired about the Costco price for the purchase of my 2012 Accord and recieved an exceptional deal. After discussing the program with my local dealership I came to learn that the real deal is for Costco. The delaership pays roughly $6500 to the dealership each month to be a part of the program. They then discount the cars to $100 to $200 over invoice price. Great deal for the customer, GREAT deal for Costco, not so good for the local dealership working to stay in business! I’m not going to complain about the great deal I got, and will probably use the program for my next car. But look at what Costco is doing… And yes the dealer may get incentives from the factory, but this poor salesperson feels that Costco did absoulutly nothing to help him sell this car? He still had to learn the features, present the product, and do his follow up. And they make all that money for ??? Sorry Costco, but when I learned of this I really had to take a hard look at what this does to our economy.

  40. Barb
    April 26th, 2012 at 14:23 | #42

    I was very happy with the Costco Auto Program! I submitted online inquiries through the Costco website regarding several different vehicles and received prompt responses from the dealers. Each dealer had a different offer (one was $50 over invoice; another $300 over invoice; Subaru offered $500 cash back after the sale, etc). Most of the sales people were willing to give me their price by email but of course they wanted me to come in and drive the vehicle. I ended up purchasing a 2012 Honda Accord. I got an excellent deal on the vehicle ($4,000 under MSRP) and .9% financing.

  41. sean
    April 15th, 2012 at 22:19 | #43

    all dealerships are the same.. they are full of sharks and liars. They all promise a hassle-free transaction, so long as you give them exactly what they want LOL..

    Car salesmen are turds, while the sales manager is the biggest turd of them all, every stinking one.

    My suggestion is to go to a car purchasing company to do the negotiations for you. They will usually get your car at invoice or a little above invoice. They charge a flat rate (and probably take a cut somewhere in the sale, but they don’t tell you). At the end of the day you’ll still pay way less than you would trying to negotiate yourself. The car purchasing services comprise of ex sales guys who utilize their inside contacts to find you the car you’re looking for, at a much lower cost…

    good luck!

  42. arieh cohen
    April 2nd, 2012 at 13:22 | #44

    I am shopping for a vehicle and today went to Inver Grove Heights, MN, Toyota dealer where I dealt with a Mr. Dan Schmitz. I informed him that I was a Costco Club member and needed the hassle/negotiation-free discounted deal made exclusively for Costco Club members.
    I was very specific about the model types and limits of accessories so when the returned quotes were given to me verbally, I was more then surprised.
    The quotes, were short on expectations and suspecting obvious dishonesty, I asked for the quotes to be given to me in a printed format.
    That request was denied/refused with further deception and a flat-out lie telling me that the quotes could not be printed (not a technical issue with the printer).

    Coming home, I found on the internet that the practice was universal with comments similar to this:
    The Costco auto program is misleading and deceptive because its “members only” price is exclusively defined in reference to the “invoice price” of authorized dealers. The Costco auto program does not control the underlying invoice price, and its participating dealers can and do manipulate that price in any number of ways.
    Feeling that Toyota must be above this obvious practice, I am posting this experience on-line, in the hopes that someone gives it the due attention and holds the practice of deception accountable.

    Price quoted with the Costco discount was $27 800.00 and should have been $26,593 to include the $810.00 destination charge.
    The second quote with the discount was $22 900.00 , and should have been $21,988.
    to include the $810.00 destination charge.

    Note to Toyota of Inver Grove Heights:
    By your actions, you have detoured me from doing all future business with you, and have given me the platform to inform the public of your dishonesty.
    You can not be trusted, and neighbors, Toyota, Costco, etc. will know of this experiance as well! !!!!

  43. 4mutts
    March 31st, 2012 at 07:26 | #45

    Just bought a Toyota 4 runner through Costco and I took the out the
    door price (taxes, tags etc) that the dealer in my area gave me and
    contacted several other Toyota dealers. They couldnt beat the price
    that I had received and in fact many of them wanted to see the specs
    of the car that I was quoted on so they could find out what was on
    the vehicle. Then I went in and got some options added on and another
    350 dollars off. I also went in on the second to last day of the month
    and the second to last day of the fiscal quarter at 12 noon when it was

  44. Andrea
    March 25th, 2012 at 22:25 | #46


    Whoooaaaaaaaa that comment needs to be deleted. I don’t think James understands how the internet works or he would not have posted his home phone number publicly!

  45. March 23rd, 2012 at 15:11 | #47

    Yes ,I’m quite interested in getting a C R V Honda for my daughter Erin who is

    in her 2nd year of college and would like to know if I could go through costcos with out getting rapped on the price ???
    Yes I’m a retired ny city firemen and the wife works as a schol nurse for my city, with a great credit report my home phone is 1 XXX XXX XXXX. Let me know how u feel thank u I have been with costcos for over 6 yrs and would like to know if I want to renew my membership , I’m on the fence, Costco has been good to us !!! Thank you

  46. February 18th, 2012 at 20:53 | #48

    I wasted 6 hours to find out that just like when you walk into a Costco store you better know your price of an item at other stores before purchasing at Costo or you might regret the purchase. COSTCO AUTO SAVE is no different then Costco stores. BUYER BEWARE!!!!!! We just returned from a recommended Costco dealer, They quoted me $1000.00 over from a dealer that I visited the day before. I am not the negotiating type, when I told this Costco dealer of the difference their response were that the vehicle for that price did not exist and unless I sat in that $1000.00 less vehicle it definitely did not exist. I showed them the invoice that the first dealer gave us and told them that I did sit in the $1000.00 lower vehicle and in fact it had 2 additional options in it that Costco’s dealer did not offer in price. I told them have a good night and left.

  47. Kostko
    February 16th, 2012 at 22:18 | #49

    If you can bargain you could get price >$1000 less than costco bs program

  48. Gregg Smith
    January 7th, 2012 at 14:04 | #50

    Hi Patricia,

    Thank you for emailing me, I really appreciate it! I am very disappointed with the Costco Auto Program and I prepared a statement about my experience which I have attached. Please let me know your thoughts on my statement, I look forward to reading them!

    I unequivocally state that if Power Nissan and ABC Nissan are the only Nissan dealers in the Phoenix metro area that participate in the Costco Auto Program, it doesn’t say much for the program or the folks accountable for making dealer selections! Please let me explain.

    First, let’s talk about ABC Nissan, Phoenix. I sold automobiles for many years, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Lincoln-Mercury, Honda and Nissan. I was a salesman at ABC Nissan (The Van Tyl Group) for a number of months and was completely dismayed with their sales process, follow-up and service department. Sales personnel were taught an aggressive approach to customers (“the four square”), emphasizing closing the deal at the most money we could get in the sales process. After the initial sales deal is completed a customer is then referred to the F&I Manager for financing, accessories, add-ons, hidden fees, warranties, insurance and service contracts. There are a thousand ways a dealer like ABC can get an unsuspecting customer’s money! Because they are participating in the Costco Auto Program, a customer may usually “relax” and will trust that the dealer will treat them fairly. Lowering one’s guard at ABC Nissan is a mistake! The longer a customer stays in the dealership, the more money can be had from them! ABC’s minimum time for customers to spend in the showroom is 3-4 hours. ABC had front/rear mount license plates installed on each new car delivery that read “I Got The Deal I Deserved At ABC Nissan.” This was our little inside joke concerning the inability of any customer to break through our aggressive sales techniques and get a good deal, much less a fair deal. This type sales technique is what the buying public finds so objectionable about US automobile dealerships and precisely why auto buying programs have become popular, even if they still may be ineffective. I can tell you from experience, ABC Nissan will get their pre-determined percent of profit one way or another, if not on the final price of the vehicle then somewhere on the back end of the deal as I stated above. Customers cannot beat this system and Costco can do nothing about it! Customers may very well get the “Costco price” but dealer sales people will more than make up for it somewhere else in the deal! It’s why I left the dealership and why I would NEVER buy a vehicle from ABC Nissan, Costco Auto Program or not!

    Now, let’s talk about Power Nissan, Tempe. Using your program, I attempted to purchase a ’09 Nissan cube from Power Nissan in May, 2009. Although I was informed by your telephone representative that the ‘09 cube was not yet on your list of priced vehicles, I was assured that the dealer would price this vehicle according to Costco Auto Program guidelines. That never happened. I paid way too much for the car, not the Costco price. Upon my return call to your program representative, I was informed “there are no guarantees since your car was not on our list!” Very nice way to instill customer confidence in the Costco Auto Program!

    In fact, I had placed a deposit with Power of $500 on the ’09 cube in December, 2008, based solely on the Costco Auto Program recommendation, in anticipation of the announced delivery date of March, 2009. Nissan postponed the cube introduction date to May 2009. In March, 2009, I actually placed an advance order of color, trim level, equipment and accessories with the authorized Costco Auto Program dealer representative at Power. That order was ignored and the CAP dealer rep quit the dealership (was this a clue?). Finally on May 7, 2009 I was offered a just arrived model which was not the color I wanted, but, was equipped as I wanted. Shortly after taking delivery, the car started experiencing problems with the A/C blower. The Power service manager said Nissan engineers, from the Nissan proving ground located in the Phoenix metro area, were dispatched to diagnose the problem, could not duplicate the condition as it existed at the time the service writer initiated the work order, but, replaced the A/C blower anyway. I later discovered this was a lie told to me by the service manager, the A/C blower was NEVER replaced and no Nissan engineers visited the service shop. After a second visit for the same problem, the service tech noted on the work order “customer does not understand how to operate the system”. I can assure you that I am familiar with and know how to operate an automobile A/C system! I have never received one follow-up phone call, letter or email about my sales or service experience at Power Nissan. I chose another dealership for my service needs and I have NEVER returned to Power!

    On August 21, 2011, I contacted the Costco Auto Program on another cube, a 2011 model, and was referred to Power again. I was disappointed to learn that Power was still an authorized Costco Auto Program dealer, especially after the letter I wrote to the program about Power in July, 2009. Perhaps they have improved, I thought, and decided to give them another try. On Sunday, August 21, I spoke with Brian Shirley (he called me) to set an appointment for 2:15 PM, Monday, August 22nd, to see the vehicle and get “Costco Auto Program’s preferred price”. I had a last minute urgent matter and could not keep my appointment with Brian so I called him about 1:15 PM on August 22nd, to reschedule for 2:30 PM on Tuesday, August 23rd, which he agreed. Upon my arrival at the appointed time I was told it was “Brian’s day off” and some other salesman would assist me. I simply left. It seems a simple courtesy call only works one-way at Power and that’s when the customer makes it. I still do not know the SECRET Costco Auto Program price on a 2011 Nissan cube. I never learned the SECRET CAP price on the ’09 cube I purchased! NOTHING has changed at Power Nissan, Tempe as illustrated by the rude manner me/my appointment were handled by the auto program authorized sales representative, Brian Shirley. Fool me once, shame on me! Fool me twice, shame on you! I have NEVER received any acknowledgement from the Costco Auto Program about the letter I wrote to you! I’ll NOT visit or buy another car from Power Nissan, Tempe!

    Based on my personal experiences with these Costco Auto Program recommended dealers and your lack of response to my July ’09 letter, I will not use the program in the future as I am sure there are much better buying programs out there. I would discourage any Costco customer from using your program! I do not believe the program has “strenuous” dealer requirements for participation as has been stated to me by your telephone representatives! I really do not understand how Costco, a really great company with whom I have been greatly satisfied, can subject its customers to such an outrageous program and auto dealers!

    If you are genuinely interested in my opinion and recommendations, CAP should approach Earnhardt Nissan, Superstition Springs Blvd, Mesa, AZ. It’s the dealer I chose for service. They repaired the faulty A/C blower that Power said I did not know how to operate (I can provide written documentation from both Power and Earnhardt concerning this matter, proving that what I assert is truthful) and they have satisfactorily performed all further service needs for me. They have an excellent, Nissan award winning, service department. I, previously, purchased two brand new Nissan Altimas from Earnhardt, an ’04 and an ’07, and negotiated a great price on both. Sales people DO NOT pressure customers, do not attempt to “inflate” deals and ALWAYS negotiate purchase deals fairly and with an even hand! The Earnhardt customer experience has always been an excellent one! There are, and always have been, a host of follow-up phone calls made from the Sales Manager, the Service Manager and a survey taker, in addition to email messages, about all my sales and service interactions with the dealership. They go out of the way to make sure I am satisfied. Based on my 7 years experience with them, Earnhardt Nissan should more than meet your standards for selection and provide a level of sales and service Costco customers really deserve!

    With a Nissan dealership like Earnhardt’s in the Phoenix metro area, you do Costco customers a disservice to recommend Power or ABC. The folks at Costco Auto Program accountable for selecting dealers really should do their homework and their job!

    I‘ll check back in a few months and if Power is still your recommended dealer, I’ll know I was ignored like I was in July, 2009 and will write the appropriate Costco web-site reviews and letters to those accountable. I’ve been a Costco customer over 10 years and my many assessments/web-site reviews of Costco products and services are un-biased and invaluable to other Costco customers!


    Gregg Smith


  49. Autumn
    January 2nd, 2012 at 18:41 | #51

    @ Hoku Gilbert

    We are looking to purchase a Honda Pilot and got referred to Honda Windward through the Costco program. What was the salesman’s name?

Comment pages
  1. March 20th, 2013 at 12:53 | #1