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Do members-only car-buying programs really save you money?

Houston – Buying a car may be one of the biggest purchases you make, second only to your home, so it makes sense that you want to save every penny you can. Some members-only clubs and groups, like Sam’s Club, Costco and AAA offer reduced rates on new cars for their members. You use your membership number at dealerships that partner with these clubs to get what they call “exclusive discount pricing.”

KPRC 2 consumer expert Amy Davis wanted to know just how good the deals are.

How it works:

Costco Auto Program

Through Costco’s Auto Program, members simply type in what kind of vehicle they want to buy to get a list of approved dealers that will give them special Costco member pricing.

AAA

AAA’s Auto Buying program works the same way.

Putting the discounts to the test

To test them out, Davis shopped for a base model 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe on both websites. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $50,295.

Costco’s dealer partner revealed a Costco price of $45,254. AAA’s dealer partner gave us a price of $43,733. When a salesperson called Davis, she said the member price I got online was just the starting point, and that if I came in, they could help me get a better deal.

Auto industry experts said consumers can absolutely beat the prices KPRC 2 received from both the Costco and AAA programs. They said the member deals are little more than lead generators for the dealerships. That could explain why, after Davis made the two inquiries, she received three phone calls, five emails and three text messages from car dealerships wanting to talk with her about buying a new Tahoe.