Using a Car Buying Service

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“Buying a car" – three little words that may inspire exhilaration in some, anxiety in others. If you fall into the latter group, and researching a car or negotiating with a dealer are the last things you feel comfortable with, there is another option to get your new ride: using a car buying service.

What Is a Car Buying Service?

A car buying service is a company or agency that will take care of the legwork involved in buying a car for you.

There are a range of ways a car buying service will operate, from merely advising on the best car model and price, to organizing everything up to and including delivering your new car to your home.

Types of Car Buying Services

Car Concierges

These professionals work for a flat fee or a percentage of the savings they can negotiate on the price of your car. Typically, a car concierge service will include:

  • Advice on which car is best for you.
  • Purchase price negotiation on your behalf.
  • Review of your new car contract.
  • Delivery of your new car to your home or place of work.

Car concierges are a personal service, and costs will vary depending on the specific agency used and the price of the car.

Car Brokers

These services are paid directly by the dealer. Car brokers' services include:

  • Finding your car.
  • Negotiating purchase price on your behalf.
  • Arranging for delivery of the new car to your home or place of work.

Car brokers work by developing relationships with specific dealers, so car choices may be limited to those available at one or several dealerships. It may also be prudent to keep this relationship in mind when considering how low of a price a broker will negotiate.

Club Car Buying Services

If you're an AAA member or have membership at Costco (among other institutions), you may have access to this service. Typically, a club car buying service will include:

  • Research on which car is best for you.
  • Access to a network of dealers with pre-negotiated “club" prices.

Dealers usually pay these organizations to be included in the club deal package. When using a club car buying service, keep in mind:

  • The invoice and sticker prices of the car offered, along with the offered discounted price.
  • If the options you want are included in the offered discounted price of the car.
  • If additional fees are included in the offered discount price.
    • Taxes, tag fees, title fees, document fees, and regional advertising fees are a few to look out for.

Determining the Best Service for You

When deciding which type of car buying service you should use, there are a few considerations to make:

  • Price—Car concierge prices range considerably.
    • A club car buying service is typically covered with your paid membership.
    • Car brokers are paid by the dealership.
    • It is important to weigh out the quality of service you will receive against the price of the service.
  • How much work they do for you.
  • How quickly you want to buy a new car.
  • What happens if you're not happy with your car.
    • Ask about the customer satisfaction policy.

Before You Use a Car Buying Service

While a car buying service will typically do most of the heavy lifting, generally it's recommended that you should do some preliminary research on the car you want beforehand. This ensures:

  • You know whether you're getting a good deal from the car buying service.
  • You have a rough idea of the type of car you want—which makes the car buying service's job easier.
  • You have a rough idea of how much you're willing to spend on your new car.

Pros & Cons of Car Buying Services

Benefits of Using a Car Buying Service

  • Time—Most car buying services will do a bulk of the research for you, saving you hours of scanning the web or local dealership lots for the right car.
  • Expertise—This is a helpful aspect of a car buying service, especially if you're not very knowledgeable about cars. The professionals typically have a wide breadth of information and can offer informed advice.
  • Lack of anxiety—Finding the perfect car at the best price can be a daunting task. Working with a car buying service can help alleviate the stress involved in the ordeal.

Disadvantages of Using a Car Buying Service

  • Cost—While some car buying services come with a minimal charge (if any), others can be quite pricey.
  • Researching the service—Even if you will be able to do less research about buying a new car with the help of a car buying service, you'll still need to put in the time to research the service itself. This ensures you're getting the best deal possible.
  • Limited choice of cars—Depending on the service, the number of cars you could choose from could be limited. If you have a very particular type of car in mind that you would like to purchase, it could be difficult to find while using a car buying service.