Let’s face it; we are a scam-paranoid bunch of consumers. And rightly, so. This is especially true since scammers are mastering the art of appearing like legitimate companies offering legitimate deals. Those buying a car have to walk a tightrope through the entire purchasing process, so as not to drive off the lot feeling emotionally nauseous. Such is the case with the now well-known Costco Travel Auto Program.

While it has received national acclaim for being able to save you money while buying a car, many a consumer has added it to their blacklist. Let’s take a closer look at the Costco Travel Auto Program so that you can determine if it’s right for you.

Costco’s Mega Auto Savings Claims

Visit the Costco Travel website, and you’ll see that they make some bold claims on how their program can work in your favor. Up front, here’s what they offer:

• Low, prearranged Costco member pricing
• All available national manufacturer incentives
• More than 3,000 hand-selected dealerships nationwide
• Trained Authorized Dealer Contacts to serve you
• Smooth, seamless buying experience

On the outset, it sounds like a great deal. After all, who wouldn’t want low member pricing, incentives, instant access to dealerships, trained experts, and the most accessible buying experience ever? You sign up for the program. You get to choose the vehicle make and model you want. Costco refers you to a local dealer and then you experience a no-hassle purchase with all the bells and whistles.

Some Red Flags with the Savings Plan

Do some digging around on the web, however, and you’re likely to find a plethora of problems that customers have reported in either trying to understand the program or apply to a recent purchase. Some of the reports include the following:

• The program doesn’t keep car sales associates from pressuring you into buying a car.
• Costco’s price and the dealership bottom line price often does not line up.
• The customer service is horrid, as customers complain of no-return phone calls and emails.
• Costco does not control the underlying sticker price on the car.

It seems that the bottom line on the bottom line is that there is a chasm far and wide between how much money Costco can save you and how much you can talk the car salesman down to before you sign the papers.

How to Effectively and Accurately Determine Savings with Costco

So now we’re back to the original question: how much money can you save with Costco? As the adage goes, “There’s only one way to find out.”

Here’s what you do:

First, call Costco. Don’t email the company or send a message on their contact page. Pick up the phone and talk to a warm body. Tell the Trained Authorized Dealer what you are looking for and then ask him or her how much money the Auto Savings Program will save you. Do not hang up until you get an actual numerical estimate. Then call your local dealership and ask the salesman the same thing.

Careful, the salesperson’s job is to convince you to visit the dealership. But stand your ground and be firm. Do not hang up until the person on the other end of the line gives you a quote. From there you can make an informed decision if Costco’s savings plan is worth it. The good news is that you can save anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 on a car by using the program.

Is the Savings Plan a scam? Probably not. Will it save you money? Probably. Should you do your homework first before committing? Absolutely!

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