Are Car Buying Services Worth The Money?

June 30, 2010

Car buying services provide a valuable service, but are they worth the money? The answer depends on how much you value your time. Everyone knows that car manufacturers advertise a higher sticker price than they expect you to actually pay. They do this because negotiating is expected in today’s market and car buyers want to feel like they got a “good deal”. Unfortunately, this means you really must do some negotiation in order to get a decent price on a car. The question is whether to do it yourself or have someone do it for you.

If you don't feel comfortable negotiating, then a car buying service might be for you. A typical service will ask you for the make and model you want and they’ll contact dealerships on your behalf. They are likely to have pre-arranged buying discounts with manufacturers or dealerships. You’ll normally spend around $300 to have the service find you a car and negotiate for you. If they end up getting you a car that’s $300 cheaper than you could’ve gotten on your own, then you can consider the investment worthwhile. 

However, according to, if you want to get a good deal and save that $300 buying service fee, you should consider negotiating yourself. They suggest getting car quotes and systematically negotiating with multiple car dealers over email. The process should take about three hours of sending emails to dealers to get a good price. At this rate, you would be saving about $100/hour. So here’s the real question, is your time worth $100 an hour?

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