When we think of Costco, we generally think of warehouse prices and deals on bulk food items, appliances, and electronics. What doesn’t typically come to mind is heading to Costco for the purchase of a vehicle, specifically in this case, RVs.
It may surprise you to know that while they may not have RVs displayed on their lot, they have what a program titled The Costco Auto Program. Intrigued? Imagine getting Costco level savings on huge purchases like an RV. The idea alone is enough to investigate.
While Costco doesn’t sell RVs directly, The Costco Auto Program works closely with RV dealers and dealerships across the United States to connect Costco customers to them in exchange for lower prices. The dealers negotiate a price with Costco and make this available exclusively to members. The Costco Auto Program not only deals with RVs. They work with a large network of sports vehicle dealers and also sell new and used cars.
But how much can you actually save by purchasing an RV through Costco, instead of directly through a dealer? Well, Costco members that went through the Costco Auto Program have reported saving up to 25% of the regular retail price. That’s a quarter of the cost! You may be able to haggle with dealers but still not even get close to that level of savings.
You will also get the added benefit of the Costco Auto Program’s Member Advocacy Group, which can help you with the whole process, making it easier and quicker.
What are the Advantages of Purchasing Your RV From Costco?
Most of the Costco members that purchased their RV via the Costco Auto Program are very happy with the price they paid. Buyers also say that not having to personally deal with haggling streamlined the whole procedure and made it much less difficult. There many benefits to using the Costco Auto Program and we’ve summarized them below.
- The dealerships have been fully familiarized with the Costco Auto Program so you will deal with knowledgeable salespeople who are used to working with Costco members.
- You do not need to haggle or discuss pricing as all the prices have been negotiated by Costco for you.
- Costco has team members assigned to help you with anything you need through the entire process. This includes being available after you purchase for any assistance.
- They provide a specialized price sheet, available just to members, which breaks down the pricing and keeps everything understandable.
- You may be able to get discounted Costco RV loan rates.
The Way The Costco Auto Program Works
RV dealerships are chosen based on a set of standards that have been set by Costco. The must comply with these standards and put the requirements into practice to remain part of the program. Salespeople must receive full training on the ins and outs of the program and understand how it works so ensure Costco members get proper treatment.
This makes sure that you will always get quick and seamless service and can feel confident in your purchase. The aim is to make your purchase process as stress-free as possible. The process includes 3 main steps.
Locate a Dealer in Your Area
The first step to purchasing your RV through Costco is to head to the program’s website and enter the RV type you’re looking for into the search bar. You will then need to type in your address, which will pull up dealerships in the area that sell that specific type of RV. All these dealers will be authorized, and the listing will contain their contact details, allowing you to get a hold of them to book a consultation. Your details will also be passed on to the dealership, so they have an option to contact you too.
Head to the Dealership and Check Out the RV Options
Once you’ve booked an appointment, you can head to the dealership to have a look at the RVs they have there and see if there are any that fit what you are looking for. Have a thorough look on the outside and inside of the RVs and make sure you pick one that ticks all your boxes. This is a no-obligation appointment, so don’t worry if you don’t find the one you are looking for during this visit. Make sure you also take your members card along to prove you are eligible for the program.
Once you have chosen the perfect RV to suit your needs you will get to see the exclusively members pricing sheet. This will break down the price that has been negotiated for you by Costco. Once you’ve seen the price you can make a choice whether to purchase the RV or to keep looking and see what else is out there. This way, you know the price you can get and are welcome to keep shopping around to see if you can find anything comparable.
The price will still remain the same for you if you choose to come back and purchase. On top of your Costco members discount, you may also be able to get special financing, manufacturer rebates or incentives from the dealership as well.
How Do They Negotiate Such Low Prices?
As Costco has so many members (more than 90,000,000 to be specific), they offer a huge advertising platform for small dealerships that may not be able to reach a market of that scale otherwise. This is a huge incentive for RV dealers to partner with Costco and therefore, even though they make less per sale, their chance of making sales dramatically increases.
This is the same reason Costco can offer such low prices on all their goods. This includes their travel agency, grocery, pharmacy, optical services, and even rental cars.
How Much Money Can You Really Save?
Costco members have reported saving between 22% up to 25% off the retail value of their RV by purchasing with the Costco Auto Program. The money you will save on cost is huge, but members will also save time and hassle of trying to personally negotiate with dealers. The process can be tiring and not the stress you want to deal with when you should be excited about having fun in your new RV!
On occasion, there have been Costco members who’ve said they’ve seen prices advertised that were lower than the ones offered in the Costco Auto Program. These will be listed on the dealership’s website and is known as the Internet Sales Price. While these may pop up sometimes, they aren’t always what they seem.
The Internet Sales Price will be valid on that one specific RV, not on all RVs of that model. Also, the reason dealerships will advertise this huge saving is to attract potential buyers to them. Throwing a low price online will get customers attention and make them more likely to visit the dealership.
Essentially, it will get buyers through the door, where the salespeople can then upsell them to a different model. This technique is used across many different RV and car dealerships.
How Do Other Members Feel About the Costco Auto Program?
While it’s all well and good to hear our opinion on the program, it helps to know what members who have actually used the program feel about it.
One member had said he was not a good negotiator. He knew he wanted to save 25% of the retail value but didn’t know how he would get to this. He had been advised by a friend that for a cheaper RV, dealers may only give you 15% off, as the dealerships had a set profit target or threshold per sale.
While on a larger, more expensive unit, you could get upwards of 35% off. Regardless, purchasing through the Costco Auto Program means you can get more money off than private negotiations, especially with a lower-cost model.
Another member saved 22% off the retail price using the Costco Auto Program. They were linked up with a local dealer in their area and went in to check out their RVs. They were greeted by a salesperson who had recently come from another dealership across town but was very impressed with his knowledge of the Costco Auto Program. They raved about his professional service and were quite happy with their purchase.
You can find a lot of reviews online regarding the program, whether it was purchasing RVs or cars. They range from 5-star reviews to those of people whose experience wasn’t as great. With all online reviews you’re best not to take them at face value. Typically, the people that make the effort to get online and post reviews are usually the ones that have something negative to say, so it’s not always the best way to judge the reality.
That being said, it’s a good idea to do some thorough research and look for statements that are consistently repeated across multiple reviews. This is more likely to give you a realistic representation of what members are experiencing in the program.
When taking the time to dig through many of the reviews out there, we noticed a few themes across them.
- Depending on which dealership was visited, the customers had varying experiences. All dealerships and salespeople will be different. This is not necessarily a reflection of Costco or the program may very well just be a salesperson who is having a bad day. It’s a good idea to speak to the manager of the dealership and ask to be set up with an alternate salesperson. Alternatively, you can call up the Advocacy Group and request to be linked to a different dealership.
- There were not many reviews that made mention of the Costco Auto Program’s Member Advocacy Group. This dedicated team of people can be reached to aid you at any time during your purchase journey. For any concerns or questions, or if run into any issues before, during or after your purchase, don’t hesitate to give them a call. Not enough people have been using this resource and it could really benefit the buyer’s experience. The phone lines are open from Monday – Friday, 6 am – 7 pm. On the weekends they are open at 7 am – 5 pm. The number to call is 1-800-556-4730. You can also connect with them online on the “Talk to Us” section of the website.
Before using the Costco Auto Program to purchase an RV, it’s good to have an idea of what you are looking for in general when it comes to your ideal RV purchase.
What’s the Ideal RV For Me?
RVs are broken down into two main categories. You have the ones that you can tow behind your vehicle and the ones that you sit in a drive. There are perks to both and it will depend on what your needs are. The ones you tow offer more versatility as they can be stored when you’re not using them, but you still can drive your vehicle. This also makes them a cheaper option. While the ones you drive can be easier and safer. There are many different options within these specifications, so make sure to sit down and make a list of what you require from your RV. That way you can be confident you know which is most suitable and go into the program knowing exactly what you are looking for.
Should You Buy? Or Just Rent?
Before you embark on the purchasing journey, make sure that buying is the right option for you. An RV is an investment and you want to get proper use out of it. If you’re a newbie to the RV camping world, we recommend renting first to see if you enjoy it. This will also give you a chance to try multiple different options and see which features you like and which you don’t. It’s easy to just look at pictures and pick what you want, but it’s another thing to actually live in it and experience it for yourself.
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can enter the Costco RV Program with excitement and feeling confident this is the right decision for you.