Purchasing Programs (AAA, Costco, BJ's, etc.)

Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,126
Have you used one of these programs? How much do you think you saved? Was the program easy to use? Share your experiences here!


Need help navigating? [email protected] - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

Share your vehicle reviews


  • john_wjohn_w Member Posts: 72
    Hi everyone,

    I posted the following on a board for a specific car, and the host there suggested that I post it in Smart Shopper. However, for the time being it appears that there's actually no place to have the discussion, as this board is not about topics, but only about suggesting topics?

    Here's the post:

    In case anyone who belongs to AAA (as I do) isn't already aware of this, AAA can get a bid for you from the car dealers they work with. At least, the people at my local AAA office suggested that I have them do this. There's no charge. Perhaps they can get a lower bid than I could on my own. (We shall see.) They said the bid would be some amount over invoice--take it or leave it.

    Has anyone used this service? What was your experience?


    P.S. Where should I post this, if not here, or besides here?
  • john_wjohn_w Member Posts: 72
    Hi everyone,

    My question in post #2 above about where to post has obviously been answered by our host moving my question about AAA Vehicle Purchasing Service here.

    AAA gave me two dealers to contact. They usually give you only one, I think. Anyway, the first dealer has made a bid that I currently believe is too high ($385 over Edmunds TMV).

    I'd definitely be interested in hearing about other people's experiences with the AAA program.

    Thanks, Kristie H.

  • driftracerdriftracer Member Posts: 2,448
    and Sam's Club deals, and in my area, and in Oregon where I used to live, they had several dealers hooked up using a certain percentage over invoice.

    In my experience, the service didn't do much good considering paying $700 over invoice for a Cavalier or Focus doesn't make much sense. Also, there's no program or incentive for your trade.

    In my opinion, a consumer can do better on their own than to get locked into a "savings club" program and set pricing.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,428
    I used BJs about 9 years ago, and it worked well. I got a new design that was still somewhat hard to find for a better price than I was going to shoot for on my own (about $1500 off sticker on a 22K car). Best feature was the simplicity. Asked for the program guy, he looked up the price in the book (and showed me), and that was what I paid.

    IMO, these services are great for people that won't or can't negotiate (or are just afraid of the car dealer). Many people can grind down to a lower price (in many cases) if the want to go into the negotiating trenchs, or at least do some serious homework and legwork.

    So, you might get the "best" price, but you should get a "fair" price, and save some mental anquish.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

  • frankdnjfrankdnj Member Posts: 21
    Most dealerships have an "internet sales" request on their web site. Contacting them via the email listed on their web site, asking for a quote, usually provides a very competitive price. Or just call and ask to speak with someone from their internet sales. I've gotten very fair pricing in the past. The last time I used this mehtod was with an Acura dealer.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,428
    Actually, the internet and buying service person is usually the same, and in many cases so is the up-front pricing.

    I have used the internet departments in a few dealers very successfully, but it isn't true that you will always get the lowest price that way. Sometimes face to face works best, if you are in the rigth place at the right time.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

  • john_wjohn_w Member Posts: 72
    “. . . if you are in the right place at the right time.” --stickguy

    I live midway between southern California and northern Nevada. The AAA office where I live deals only with dealerships in southern California, but the TMV for the car I’m looking for is almost $200 less in northern Nevada. I won’t be surprised if I find a better deal on my own.

  • rob_lopezrob_lopez Member Posts: 4
    I have read alot of msgs. regarding money saved by going through the Costco program or Sam's club buying program. Can people tell me how much money I can save by doing this? I have read some people have only paid $500 over invoice. I am currently looking at the Audi A4, Vovlo S60, Saab 9-3 Arc, and Acura TL.


    Any insight would be great!! Can I expect to pay 2% over invoice, 5%, etc.?


  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    2% over invoice isn't going to work on a hot seller in high demand.


    I've never seen a "club" price that I couldn't beat. the "club" price is supposted to make car buying an easy process. The customer is given a firm, discounted price.


    Trouble is, they take that price, smile..." I'll be back".


    Then they shop it all over town.
  • jasmith52jasmith52 Member Posts: 462
    Hot sellers aside - They are a special class.


    When I looked into this issue several years ago, the club buying programs for readily available cars were $500 over invoice less any available incentives.


    So if you are looking for a readily available car, the very most you should pay is $500 over invoice. The one exception is expensive (luxury and other) cars. They may have a greater markup than $500.


    You can probably beat this deal by several hundreds of dollars. However you'll have to bargain hard for it and hold your ground.


    Good Luck
  • rob_lopezrob_lopez Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for the information jasmith52. Unfortunately the cars I am looking at are entry luxury. I had an Acura dealer give me a price for a 2005 Acura TL of $31,250. I thought this was pretty reasonable...it was about $1200 over invoice.Other cars are Audi A4, Volvo S60, Saab 9-3 that I am checking out.
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,428
    Not sure about the Audi, but the Volvo and SAAB are being readily and heavily discounted normally.


    I agree that the value of the club is getting a good price, without having to negotiate or play games. You can often beat that price if you want to work at it, but many people don't (or can't) negotiate like that.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

  • jvp25jvp25 Member Posts: 7
    Folks in the D.C. metro area- ever hear of or deal with UBS?
    Or can anyone tell me if these programs through credit unions and other institutions that link you with specific dealers in a given area are worthwhile in purchasing a new/used car at a better rate than average negotiating (which is about all I'm probably capable of) at a dealership of your choice?
  • exb0exb0 Member Posts: 539
    I used UBS to purchase a new Pontiac about 12 years ago. It was an easy $100 over invoice with no junk fees deal, but you still have to watch your back because everyone in the store was trying to pull something. In addition, I ended up purchasing from a dealer 25 miles away. It was extremely incontinent to take the car for warranty service in DC traffic. Also, at the time, their deals on Japanese cars were not that good.

    My advice to you would to use them to get a number for the car you want, and then have your local dealer match that price. Remember, with UBS there are no junk fees (i.e. processing fees, doc fees, advertising etc.). Also, when you call UBS for a certificate, make sure you ask them about customer rebates and also manufacturer to dealer incentives. Their deals are supposed to pass both of them on to you.
  • jvp25jvp25 Member Posts: 7
    thanks- i'll take your advice!
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    We used UBS to buy a Ford Taurus in 1987 and the deal went very smoothly.

    Since that time, we have bought Hondas by going to the dealer and offering a take-it-or-shove-it OTD price and that method also works well. The only problem is that you would have to do a good deal of research first to determine a reasonable OTD price.

    If you want to get a decent price with no hassle, UBS is probably OK. However, you may pay too much.

    For example, we usually paid about $150 over invoice for Hondas in the 1990's. Before we bought an Accord in March 2005, I did some research on Edmunds and found others were getting their Accords for about $500 under invoice. I found that hard to believe, but we went to Fairfax Honda and offered that price and they accepted. In short, the info I got from Edmunds saved us about $650.
  • bremertongbremertong Member Posts: 436
  • bremertongbremertong Member Posts: 436
    Was looking for a Chrysler 300C about a year ago and had Costco refer me to a local dealer. The dealer manipulated me around in every direction and than offered me the car for about $ 300 dollars under MSRP. I said no thanks and left. Started to get phone calls, just so much more manipulation.
    After about the fourth call I said either sell at invoice or find another customer. To my surprise they said yes but at that point their credibility was gone so I kept the car I own, a recent model Cadillac Deville. Bottom line Costco program would have resulted in my paying a much higher price than haggling on my own. Costcos response was something like we are sorry our program didn't work out for you. We will note your experience on our records.
  • waynethepainwaynethepain Member Posts: 31
    Try Costco. I bought mine tonight -- XLE V6 everything except navigation and traction control & butt warmers. MSRP 28,665 --- walked in and was quoted 26,050. Decent deal with no hassle -- dealer gave full blue book on the trade in as well. First ever "no haggle" buying service and definitely will do again. Sure others might get a lower deal -- but I was completely satisfied for how easy it was. Good luck in your search!
  • kcrnmalekcrnmale Member Posts: 47
    The bottom line: Buying a 300C at the time you were looking was automatically MSRP. This was a super hot car and you paid sticker....Costco or no Costco. Please don't try to claim you know somebody that got it for invoice. There are exceptions, but dealers weren't dealing on this car. Some people were lucky enough to work for Chrysler and receive a substantial discount. It's not really fair to blame Costco in this example.
  • simonnycsimonnyc Member Posts: 1
    My company participates in these following Auto Discount Programs.

    1. GM Supplier Discount (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn)
    2. Ford Partner Recognition Program (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Jaguar, Landrover, Volvo)
    3. Daimler Chrysler Affiliate Rewards Program (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep)

    Are the car prices through these programs good? Or can I get better deals haggling with the car salesmen? I'm figuring that if I go through any of these programs, I won't have any room to negotiate.

    Anybody have any experience with any of these programs?
  • tsgeiseltsgeisel Member Posts: 352
    The whole point of the various discount programs is to get you a *good* deal on a new car, while allowing the dealership to make at least a small profit. Also, by taking out the negotiation factor, the sales folks have more time to work with other customers.

    You may be able to get a better price through haggling, but it'll take time and trouble to do so. And, note, that if you have a trade-in, you may be haggling on that as well.

    You won't get ripped off by going through the discount program, so don't worry about that. It then becomes a matter of deciding if your time is worth the effort and money you *might* save.
  • theflushtheflush Member Posts: 100
    A friend has access to Ford's A-plan employee pricing. He says the A-plan is apparently 4% less than the X-Plan. You might be able to beat the X-plan by negotiating, but rarely by more than 4%. These prices should be before any rebates or other incentives are applied.
  • mirthmirth Member Posts: 1,212
    You might be able to beat the Ford X-plan pricing on some vehicles if you put in a lot of effort going to a number of dealers. But if you don't feel like putting in that much work, the X-plan is a good price.
  • graphicguygraphicguy Edmunds Poster EmeritusMember Posts: 13,553
    Ford dealerships are reimburssed some amount by Ford corporate for X plan deals. IF you try to negotiate X plan deals, it's more than likely you'll just frustrate yourself since it's a rock bottom deal to begin with (only ones better are the Ford employee deals).

    For GM, my bro-in-law is a GM employee, so that plan is the very best you can expect.

    I'm not too familiar with Chrycos programs, but would imagine they are similar.

    I also qualify for Nissan's supplier pricing. I've yet to see better prices for non-Nissan employees.
    2022 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
  • bretfrazbretfraz Member Posts: 2,021
    As others have said, on certain cars you might be able to negotiate a better deal but it'll take a lot of time and effort, and you may have to buy a car that is not exactly what you want.

    With the factory plans, there is no negotiation. Some dealers will direct you to a specific salesperson (or not). They'll show you their invoice where it states what price you pay based on your eligibility. You are eligible for all rebates or other promotional offers. Also, dealers don't charge you for doc fees or any other silly fee. That right there can be a nice discount. Finally all vehicles are eligible with the plan except for those specifically noted, so no having to compromise on the car you want.

    If you time your purchase right you may even get additional offerings like an additional rebate. For example, I bought my current truck on the GM Supplier Discount. I got exactly what I wanted, about 2% below invoice, got the consumer rebate plus a little extra for plan buyers, and I qualified for the best financing rate. I cannot imagine a car deal going smoother than that one. I suppose I could have grinded out a better deal but why bother?

    If there are vehicles you are interested in from your plan suppliers, seriously consider taking advantage of the opportunity.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Member Posts: 8,502
    The worst thing I have had happen is when someone spends hours negotiating a deal and then pulls out the oh and I have X,Y,Z, A or S plan pricing so I want that discount to.

    They throw it out there like it is a dart and they are sticking you to the wall with it. They could have saved themselves a lot of time just by saying they have that plan and want to use it. Most of the time they have already negotiated their way below X plan but no one gets down into the A plan range.

    I had one guy do this to me and the entire negotiation process was just painful. At the end of it when we finally settled on a price he goes, "Oh yeah and I have X-Plan through work so I want that discount too."

    I wanted to choke him.

    Instead I just said ok well your new X plan price will be XXXXX which just happened to be about 250 dollars above what he has already gotten down to.

    He actually did not believe me that his special X plan was not a better deal or could not be put on top of what he already negotiated.

    I guess he had just started working for the company and so had never used the X plan before.
  • graphicguygraphicguy Edmunds Poster EmeritusMember Posts: 13,553
    bret....every Ford and GM car I've bought, for myself and family members were either GMS/GMO (GM) or X plan (Ford).

    About a year ago, when Mustang GTs were as hot as July 4th firecrackers, I bought one on X plan when every other dealer in the country was getting MSRP and above. That proved to be a great deal. Looked at pricing for a new Explorer for my sister. An all loaded up Eddie Bauer, which MSRPs for more than $40K, can be bought for around $32K with rebates on X plan. A GMS/GMO '07 Tahoe can be bought for low-mid $30s with rebate. So, they're great easy deals that don't take any effort to buy.
    2022 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
  • billingsleybillingsley Member Posts: 69
    In reading your messages, I've come to the conclusion that using the "plans" is a good way to buy but also a lazy way. Someone could get a good deal by showing the dealership the invoice and asking how much above that he'd be willing to go. I expect the dealer to make a profit or he wouldn't be in business. I have bought 2 Chevy's in the last 5 years from a local dealer in So. Cal., and he sells it to me for $300 over invoice. Not bad when MSRP is quite a bit more. I'm pleased and I like the dealership. I have all the services done there.
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    In the last 5 years, most Chevys have had a rebate.

    Did you get the rebate? Or did you give Invoice + $300 + let-the-dealer-retain-the-rebate?

    If so, they made a ton of money, twice.
  • billingsleybillingsley Member Posts: 69
    I get whatever rebate is coming to me. I apply that rebate to the down payment, which is of course my choice. Of course, there may be manufacturer to dealer rebates which most of the public doesn't see. So, the dealer may be making money that way. But, that's not my business.

  • valleyvalley Member Posts: 12
    Agreed. Also beware if your program is an employee program - even an affiliate employee program. Chances are that IRS is after you. One guy was very excited about a $6,000 off MSRP on a GMC truck he bought. But the program actually entitles IRS to add that full $6,000 to his regular income and tax at the marginal rate with elevated income. If he was in 30% bracket, the $6,000 is now worth less than $4,000. Could he have negotiated more than $4,000 below MSRP?

    In fact, when GM did that "everybody gets employee price" campaign, his employer issued a blunt memo saying that employees would be better off going on the street and take the dealer offer :P That company takes the position that an affiliate program should not be treated the same as employee program and has contested (publicly but unsuccessfully) IRS rules.
  • peetertpeetert Member Posts: 124
    We are just starting to investigate a replacement for the family minivan, the hope is as soon as my 2yo starts outgrowing our need to tote around the stroller all the time, we will have chosen a suitable replacement. One of the contenders is the Freestyle. Friends of ours have one and I was given a demo of it while visting them this past winter. It seems to have alot of what we are looking for, 3rd row seating (we have 3 kids), based off the Volvo (big pluses for the Mrs. there) and since its a Ford, it has the optional keypad entry. believe it or not, this little "feature" is a must of for my wife.

    Enough of the background, now to the questions. I have Ford X-Plan pricing through work. I also am a member of Costco & BJ's. Assuming we are looking to purchase a Freestyle, which would give me the better price? I've looked at the Ford X-Plan prices and they seem to be just below invoice plus incentives. Haven't investigated the club benefits yet since we are not ready to buy yet.

    Now, to add something else to the mix.

    Over the weekend my wife got an offer from Ford to test drive the new Escape and get a $50 Target Card, as well as a coupon for $500 off the purchase. In lurking here for quite some time, and occasionally posting, I told her go down to the dealership midweek during the day and see if she can get someone to just sign the card as we are not really interested in the Escape anyway as it is too small for our needs. Also, while the other two will be in school, she'll have our little 2yo monster in tow so I don't want to wish him upon any salesman, just yet.

    Since we are "interested" in the Freestyle, I told her to see if she can test drive that (assuming they won't just sign her card). Is that an option?


  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    Since we are "interested" in the Freestyle, I told her to see if she can test drive that (assuming they won't just sign her card). Is that an option?


    I don't see why it would be a problem. We do it all the time here. Have her test drive the van first then when she is done have her ask the Salesperson for a "favor" and ask him to get the other signed. Is the $500 just good on the Escape or any models? If you are not sure tell me the program # and your zip code and I will find out for you.

    Also allot of times there are rebates for plan customers that regular retail don't get.
  • peetertpeetert Member Posts: 124
    thanks for the reply. I looked at the card, and it is actually the Edge, not the Escape (too many similar names). The Coupon says the $500 discount is for a 2007 Edge only.

    Anyway, my Zip is 07869.

  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    OK, for your Region there X-plan will probably work better because there is an additional $500 A/X/Z/D planners. Your incentive break down is as follows

    $3000 Rebate
    $500 Bonus cash
    $500 X-plan Money

    $500 Bonus Cash
    $500 X-plan
    0.00%-5.9% rate on 60 months depending on your credit. With a little bit better then average credit you can usually qualify for 0%. If you hav had Credit problems then up to 5.9% is still a great rate
  • peetertpeetert Member Posts: 124
    Thanks for the info. My wife went yesterday mid-day with our 2 yr old. The place was empty so I guess the salesman was looking for something to do.

    She was upfront about why she was there, to get the coupon for the Edge signed, but, since we are interested the Freestyle, she wondered if they could test that instead. They drove the car and she seemed to feel it was an adequet replacement.

    We still have to look at what else is out there, so I'll probably be posting those questions to the relevant threads.

    Also, I now have to do the math to see if we can do this now or wait. If we wait, the X-Plan may *not* be an option as I don't know how long I plan to stay at this position. That is the reason for the original question as to if the Costco, et. al. plans are similar to the X-Plan

  • joel0622joel0622 Member Posts: 3,299
    If we wait, the X-Plan may *not* be an option as I don't know how long I plan to stay at this position.

    I am not sure about X plan but I know A/Z/D plans are good for the entire calender year. Meaning if you get it on Jan 1 you can use it up till Dec 31. I know I have had folks leave the plant and get a PIN # for a purchase before they leave and use it 6 months later. Something worth checking into. Call 1-800-348-7709 and ask, that is the A/X/Z/D plan HQ. If that don't work let me know and I will dig up a web address for you.
  • peetertpeetert Member Posts: 124
    Thanks for the info. I did read where you would need to provide "proof of employment" with a "recent" paystub, etc. I guess "recent" may be a subjective term. I did generate a PIN last night so I do have 12 months to use it.
  • leeharvey418leeharvey418 Member Posts: 38
    I already know that unless a miracle occurs, this summer when I'm in the market for my next vehicle, no dealer for 200 miles is going to have one that is exactly what I want. Has anyone ever had any experience with ordering vehicles through one of these programs? Would I probably be able to get at least as good a deal by contacting a dealer's fleet manager directly?

    On another note- my wife has access to a special buying program through her work. (corporateperks.com) Has anyone ever used this service?
  • humblecoderhumblecoder Member Posts: 125
    A few years back I was in the market for a small car, and being eligible for the X-Plan I was considering a Ford Focus. It being the end of the model year at the time, Ford was offering a $2K or $3K (I can't remember which) incentive on top of the X Plan pricing, so I decided to pull the trigger on the Focus.

    I went into the dealer expecting to just take the X Plan price without any serious negotiating. However, when I got there, the vehicle that I wanted wasn't there, so the salesperson tried to put me into a higher trim vehicle which had stuff that I really wasn't interested in.

    Anyway, I, of course, asked him if he could "check around" to see if there was a dealer swap that he could do. He made a big show of pretending to call around to other dealers, but I am fairly certain that he was probably just talking to a dial tone. Anyway, this charade went on for awhile and he said that there was no cars available with the feature that I wanted.

    At this point, I thanked him for his time and "effort" (it WAS an entertaining show on his part) and I was about to walk. At this point, he asked me to wait while he keeps looking. He leave for about 5 minutes and comes back with another person in tow.

    This, of course, is the sales manager. The sales manager introduces himself and explains that it being the end of the model year, supplies are limited, so I pretty much have to take what's on the lot. I told him that what they have on the lot doesn't meet my needs, and I am just going to go elsewhere.

    The SM replies that he has a car on the lot that has everything that I want. I reply that I told the salesman that it also has features that I am not interested in, and I really don't want to pay for these extras. So the SM replies with that famous question "So what can I do to get you into that car today?"

    Like I said before I was pretty much done with this dealership, so I figured I'd throw out a ridiculous offer to see if they would bite. "Well, if you gave me that car for the same X-Plan price that I would have paid for a car that has only the features and I want AND you beat the interest rate that I am getting with my bank, then you have a deal."

    Much to my surprise, the SM immediately agreed!

    To make a long story short, I ended up with a deal that was better than X-Plan pricing, although that was never my intention. They did "get" me for VIN etching since it was pre-printed on the contract and I didn't notice it, so I suppose I didn't get the _best_ deal. Still it ended up being a good deal.

    Anyway, my perspective now is that X Plan pricing is good (usually around invoice price minus rebates), but I think you can do better if you are smart (or in my case, lucky).

    In retrospect, though, I kind of wish that I HAD walked since the salesman and the SM were your typical sleazy car salesman types. The fake phone calls to the other dealers really amused me, and the VIN etching was annoying (although it was my fault for not paying attention - I won't make that mistake again).

    I did start to go to them for servicing since they gave me a bunch of coupons for free oil changes and tire rotations. However, the quality of their service department was lacking (a story for another day perhaps), so I have been going to another dealership where I have had a much better service experience. I am thinking that if I am in the market for another Ford, I might just go to them.

    Two things to be aware of when it comes to X Plan pricing:

    1. According to the terms of X Plan pricing, the dealer is not allowed to charge any sort of documentation fee.

    2. The X Plan price includes the destination charge, so they shouldn't be adding that back in.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Member Posts: 20,555
    Very good spam, but spam never the less. Hosts?

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • moose888moose888 Member Posts: 1
    Apparently AAA just recently revamped their Auto Buying service. Their site allowed me to do the research I needed to ID the car I wanted. The dealer I worked with was great, if you can believe it, there was no haggling at all and the discount pricing was great.
  • rintintin1rintintin1 Member Posts: 1
    You did not mention what type of vehicle you are looking for.
    AAA did not find the best price and while AAA does not charge a fee the company that provides the service for them tacks 15% onto the cost of the vehicle. A bit misleading of AAA. Costco tries to give the best price but the dealers think the buyer will not check around and don't offer the best price. i checked Edmunds first had the paper in hand as well as contacting 3 dealers who had signed up with Costco there was as much as $1000 difference between them. In the end I went to the next city and purchased the same vehicle for $1000less, no hassles and lots of benefits, free oil change for a year, free car wash, free car rental.

    Hope this helps.
  • shauggyshauggy Member Posts: 4
    We haven't nailed down the deal yet (waiting for the car to come in, *should* be there tomorrow), but we went through Zag.com's service (through Bank of America's site) and we were quoted a price that was about $3,700 off invoice. We were looking at Corollas and originally wanted the base model in manual; since that car doesn't exist (Zag's system will still let you configure cars and tells you that they're available even when they aren't) the dealer offered to give us the same discount off of a manual Corolla S.

    Maybe we just got lucky - maybe they are blowing out the 2010 Corollas, since we tried searching lots of other models on Zag.com (Jetta, Sentra, Altima, Civic, Elantra) and couldn't get the same discount - YMMV. Even searching in a different zip code (still the same region, just a different city) produced different results. Also as noted above Zag will let you configure cars that aren't available, and the dealer might tell you that they have it in stock (when they don't, or even if the car isn't available with certain options) just to get you to come in.
This discussion has been closed.