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Sam’s Club Car-Buying Service: A Perk for Members
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
If you’re in the market to buy a new car, using a car-buying service can save you a lot of money. These services offer prearranged special prices with other networks of car dealerships and sales websites, and often offer other after-purchase perks, too. Sam’s Club uses the TrueCar network for its car-buying service. The exact savings you can expect varies, but on average, people who purchased new cars through this service in 2020 saved $3,463 off the MSRP.
How does Sam’s Club car-buying work?
1. Sign in with your Sam’s club membership
Although you’re free to browse the prices of actual cars available for purchase on the Sam’s Club car-buying service website, you’ll need to be a Sam’s Club member to actually use it. You can sign up online or in store, and membership costs range from a reasonable $45 per year to a slightly fancier $100 per year for premium membership.
2. Decide on a vehicle
You’ll have plenty of cars to choose from, with almost a million used cars alone available through the Sam’s Club car-buying program. You can search for used cars near you based on a wide range of criteria, such as distance from you, engine type, mileage, etc. It’s a bit harder to search for a new car because you’ll need to select an auto brand first, instead of the wider search capability for used cars.
3. Receive your discounted price
Anyone is free to browse the discounted prices of cars on the Sam’s Club auto buying website. Often you can find the same cars listed for sale on the car dealership’s website, and you can compare that price to the Sam’s Club car-buying program price.
This is handy because you can see whether you’d be able to save money, even after factoring the membership fee to join Sam’s Club into the equation. If you’re interested in a car, sign into the website to get instructions for how to see the car in person, take it for a test drive and ultimately purchase it.
4. Shop for a car loan
Next, if you’re not able to pay cash for the vehicle (and most of us can’t), you’ll need to line up a car loan. You can do this through dealership financing, or from another lender. Remember to estimate your monthly payments, and make sure that they fit in your budget.
5. Finalize paperwork with the dealership and receive additional benefits
If you bought a car, make sure to report the purchase of your car to the Sam’s Club car-buying program within the next 45 days. You’ll be eligible for extra benefits (worth up to $2,000 or more) over the course of the next year, including:
- Auto repair expense reimbursement: You can receive 20% back on auto repairs, up to $500 per repair and $1,000 total over the course of a year.
- Auto deductible reimbursement: If you have to make an auto insurance claim within a year after buying the car, you can file for reimbursement of up to $500 for any deductibles you have to pay (for a maximum of two occurrences). You can file for two reimbursement claims per year.
- Auto expert opinion: This phone hotline lets you chat with a certified mechanic to answer any questions about your car, such as weird noises it’s making, how much certain repairs might cost, etc.
Note that these after-purchase reimbursement benefits aren’t available if you live in New Hampshire or New York, unfortunately.
Costco car-buying vs. Sam’s Club
The Costco car-buying program and the Sam’s Club auto buying program operate very similarly, by contracting with third parties to provide you with discounted pricing on new and used vehicles.
However, the Costco auto buying program has slightly more perks: discounts on Safelite auto glass, parts and service, and finance and insurance options too. You’ll need to research each of these independently to see how they compare to your current options, and if there are any opportunities for savings for you.
|Minimum membership cost||$45||$60|
|Average new car price discount||$3,463||N/A|
|Average used car price discount||N/A||N/A|
|Number of dealership partners||550+||3,000|
|Inventory size||Almost 1,000,000 automobiles||N/A|
|Inventory range||Sedans, trucks, SUVs, convertibles, electric vehicles (EVs), vans, etc.||N/A|
|Financing options||Dealership financing||N/A|
|Other membership benefits||Shopping at Sam’s Club||Shopping at Costco|
Other car-buying programs
There are many other car-buying programs available these days, most of them powered by TrueCar. Here are a few:
- Navy Federal Credit Union: Also operating through the TrueCar network, this ca-buying service also offers the same after-purchase benefits as Sam’s Club, but for a period of two years instead of one year. You’ll need to be affiliated with the military to be eligible for membership.
- AAA: AAA also offers discounts on new and used cars through the TrueCar system, with an average savings of $3,402 off MSRP for new cars. Membership starts at $60 per year.
- AARP: Membership for AARP costs $12 per year, and also unlocks basically the same TrueCar car-buying program as Sam’s Club, complete with up to $2,000 in post-purchase perks like auto deductible and auto repair reimbursement.
- Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports charges a minimum of $10 per month for membership, making it one of the more costly ways to access the TrueCar car-buying service. According to the website, people who bought a new car through its service saved an average of $3,218 off the MSRP.
Is buying a car through Sam’s Club worth it?
The Sam’s Club car-buying service offers a lot of opportunity for shaving the price down a bit on a new or used car. But it’s not the only game in town. We recommend checking to see which other car-buying services you might be eligible for, whether that’s from your current bank, an organization or even another warehouse like Costco. That way, you’re not paying twice for membership for something you might already have.