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Ah, Costco. Land of 10 lb butter containers and pallet-sized packages of toilet paper. You know it, you love it. But have you truly explored all there is to offer at this economy wholesaler? Costco has some hidden surprises that aren’t well known to the general public, and the Costco Auto Program is one of them.

No, this isn’t your opportunity to own an entire fleet of Toyota Camrys at bargain-basement prices, but it is a chance to reap the rewards of your membership you may not have been aware of.

How it works

According to, the Costco Auto Program has been designed to give Costco members discount prices at select dealers on ‘almost’ every make and model.

The website offers a car comparison tool that allows you to research different vehicles. You must be a member to use the program, though a very limited version of the online comparison tool is available to non-members.

Once you locate a vehicle on the Costco website, they will direct you a specific dealer to carry out the rest of the sale. This includes a pre-negotiated price that Costco has secured behind the scenes with the dealer. 

What’s in it for me?

The Auto Program from Costco is a great place to research different vehicles if you aren’t sure which one you’d like to buy. The website curates information from a variety of sources and enables you to see different features, specifications, and safety ratings for multiple vehicles all in one place. For those who don’t have a lot of time or knowledge to carry out research before buying a car, the comparison tool can be a big help.

In addition, there is the Costco discount. This one is a little vague, as Costco states that the discount varies depending on the car. Surprisingly, the discount is not actually revealed until you visit the dealer.

Once you’re on-site, the dealer will present the Costco member-only price sheet for you to evaluate. If this sounds like you’re being used as a sales lead, you’re at least half right. On the other hand, Costco claims members save an average of about $1,000 on their purchases, which is nothing to sneeze at.

After the sale

Costco is well-known for its customer service standards regarding returns and refunds, and the Auto Program is no different. Costco claims to have an army of well-trained staff that will serve as customer advocates should any difficulty arise before, during, or after the purchase of a vehicle. This may not guarantee a favorable resolution in every dispute, but having Costco on your side is better than nobody.

Who is this for?

While the Costco Auto Program is a useful service for some people, it’s definitely not for everyone. So who should use it?

If the car of your dreams is only a handshake away, and you’re just looking for the best price, this could be the deal for you. Costco doesn’t guarantee the lowest prices, but it’s definitely worth a look. Even if the select dealer Costco works with isn’t local, for the money you could save on a $30,000 car, it’s probably worth the drive.

If you’re unsure of what car you want, Costco’s website has helpful tools to assist you in deciding what features you want and need in a vehicle. Buyers who need help researching are going to benefit from this service.

Car buyers who just have to go kick the tires of everything on the lot or bargain hunters who live for the roadside negotiations will probably steer away from Costco’s Auto Program. For the rest of us though, it can be at least a useful tool in the car buying process, and perhaps an easy way to save a few bucks while we’re at it.