2024 Sam’s Club Car Buying Program Review
Buying a car can be a super-stressful experience for many people. Because it’s something you don’t do very often, it’s easy to feel like you’re being taken advantage of by professional car salespeople. And once you figure out the tricks of the trade, it will likely be years before you have to buy another car (plenty of time to forget it all!).
One option to consider when buying a car is the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program, which promises upfront pricing and a transparent buying process.
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How does Sam’s Club car buying work?
Sam’s Club uses the TrueCar network for its car-buying service, and promises a host of benefits. After getting the true value of your current car and a cash offer within minutes, you can then search from millions of new and used cars. And if you do end up using the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program, you can register your purchase for as much as $2,000 or more in additional benefits.
To buy a car through Sam’s Club and TrueCar, you’ll just follow a few easy steps:
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 Auto Buying Program website, you’ll need to be a Sam’s Club member to actually use it. You can sign up online or in store — membership costs range from a reasonable $50 per year for a Club membership to a slightly fancier $110 per year for a premium (Plus) 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 Auto Buying Program. You can search for used cars near you based on a wide range of criteria, such as distance from you, engine type, body style, make, model and mileage, among others. When you search for a new car you can either select an auto brand or body style first. No matter which method you choose, you should be able to find a car that works for you.
3. Review your discounted price
Anyone is free to browse the discounted prices of cars on the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program website. You can often find the same cars listed for sale on the car dealership’s website, allowing you to compare that price with what’s advertised through Sam’s Club.
This is handy, as 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
It’s important to realize that the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program is just a marketplace, so you’ll need to secure funding. It is very clearly stated that “neither TrueCar nor Sam’s Club brokers, sells or leases motor vehicles. Unless otherwise noted, all vehicles shown on this website are offered for sale by licensed motor vehicle dealers.”
You can get a car loan either through dealership financing or from a lender, whether online or through a bank or credit union. Getting preapproved car loans will help you find a good deal. Estimate your monthly payments using an auto loan calculator.
5. Finalize paperwork with the dealership
Once you’ve selected the car that you want to buy and secured your financing, it’s time to finalize the paperwork for your new purchase. Depending on the dealership that’s selling your car, the process may look slightly different, but it should follow the same basic process. Once the paperwork and payment have been approved, you’ll simply contact the dealership to arrange to pick up the car and drive away.
6. Report purchase to Sam’s Club for additional benefits
After you close the sale, you’ll want to report the purchase of your car to the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program within the next 45 days. You’ll be eligible for extra benefits (worth as much as $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 in two instances, for $1,000 maximum 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 and $1,000 total cost).
- 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 or how much certain repairs might cost.
However, the after-purchase reimbursement benefits aren’t available if you live in New Hampshire or New York.
Other car-buying discount programs
Besides the Sam’s Club Auto Buying Program, there are other programs available from similar companies. It’s good to be aware of the different options so that you can make the right choice for your particular situation. Here are a few other car-buying discount programs to consider:
- Costco: The Costco Auto Program is very similar to Sam’s Club’s service. However, Costco has slightly more perks: discounts on parts and service and finance and insurance options, too. The Costco program also features over 3,000 dealerships nationwide that you can choose from. Further, you will need to have a Costco membership to participate in Costco’s car-buying program.
- Navy Federal Credit Union: Also operating through the TrueCar network, this car-buying service also offers the same after-purchase benefits as Sam’s Club, but for a period of two years instead of one year. And because Navy Federal also offers car loans, it can make it easier to secure financing for your new purchase. Keep in mind though that you’ll need to be a member of Navy Federal, which generally means that you have an affiliation with the military.
- AAA : Buying a car through AAA also offers discounts on new and used vehicles through the TrueCar system. That means that you can select from TrueCar’s nationwide network of dealers. You’ll also get the same benefits (as much as $2,000 or more) for reporting your AAA car purchase, which makes AAA a solid option if you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership. The cost of AAA membership will vary by location and the type of plan you select.
- AARP: Membership for AARP costs $12 per year, and also unlocks access to the TrueCar car-buying program. However, buying through the AARP Auto club doesn’t include the post-purchase perks of auto deductible and auto repair reimbursement (worth as much as $2,000 or more) that other programs offer. Instead, you’ll only get access to an AARP Smart Driver online course. Still, if you don’t value the auto repair and deductible benefits that come with the other TrueCar buying programs, the AARP car buying program can be attractive, since the cost to join AARP is much less than that of AAA, Costco or Sam’s Club.
- Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is another organization that partners with TrueCar to offer a car buying service. If you already have a Consumer Reports membership or would find it valuable, this can be another way to access this service. However, be aware that Consumer Reports charges for membership.