Memorial Day weekend fast approaches. It’s a great time for new and used car shopping with summer just around the corner. More importantly, it’s an important time to recognize the military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Some automotive manufacturers extend special discounts to military personnel (and sometimes retired veterans) that might be worth considering if you’re shopping for a new car. Check their websites to find the models you might want. (The website MilitaryRates.com has a list of companies offering discounts.)
GM has had a program since 2008, and MilitaryRates.com calls it the best. The GM Military Discount Program features pricing below the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for eligible vehicles. Through June 30, 2015, all active, reserve, retired, and veteran military—regardless of separation date—can receive the GM Military Discount on eligible Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC vehicles.
There are additional incentives available that you can combine with the military discount. USAA Insurance members are eligible for an additional $750 discount. Eligible customers must take delivery by June 30, 2015.
Some of the savings can be substantive. For example, the MSRP for a Sierra 1500 Double Cab SLE 2WD with optional equipment is $38,375. The GM Military Discount price is $35,903. So already you’re saving $2,472, about 6 percent. GM is also offering cash discounts that could total another $2,750. Throw in the USAA discount if you’re a policyholder and you’ve knocked the bottom line down to $32,403.90. That’s almost a $6,000 drop in price.
GM includes surprising vehicles in its discount program. You can buy, for example, a Corvette (just not the Z06), all Camaros, all of GM’s pickups, and the Buick lineup (remember, retirees are included). In an unpatriotic move, all Cadillacs are excluded, which strikes me as odd.
Ford also runs a military program that isn’t quite as generous as GM’s. There are no current extra discounts available beyond a $500 cash discount. That tends to be the standard discount offered by other manufacturers.
It’s difficult to discern if Ford excludes any vehicles from its program. Well, the 2016 Ford GT isn’t on the list, but it’s technically not on sale yet.
According to the Ford military site, qualifying military and family members include:
- Active military personnel in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard
- Reservists serving on active duty and members of the Delayed Entry/Enlistment Program (DEP)
- Veterans separated within the last 180 days
- Spouse/surviving spouse, or other household members
So, if you’re a military member looking at a new car, take into consideration what special challenges lie ahead for you. Is there an overseas deployment in your future? Will you be separating from military service? You might have a period of unemployment when you won’t be able to afford your car payments.
You also need to have a serious discussion with yourself to determine if you can really afford the car you want to buy. Most enlisted personnel just starting out are young and have never made such a huge financial purchase before. Find a person you trust, and seek his or her advice. Malevolent people in the car-selling industry (both new and used) tend to prey on younger buyers, who usually aren’t well informed. Being armed with knowledge before walking in the dealership door will only help you.
As always, thanks to our military personnel for their service. Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend, and remember why it’s celebrated.
Shopping for a car this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.