In a situation where you want to purchase a car but you do not want to go through the stressful processes like having to deal with salespeople or spend weeks reading the classifieds, the best stress less option is opting for a car buying service.
The United Services Automobile Association, is a car-buying service. They offer detailed price information and even shops around for the cars for their member.
Here is how the service works. You go to their website, autocircle.com, shop for cars in diverse geographic areas. This will require you to enter your zip code. You browse for the your specific car which can be by model or direct searching.
After choosing a car and adding options, a request is sent to three USAA approved dealers who will then send back a price. This is a price certificate with the details of the car you want at a price below the dealer’s invoice.
USAA car buying service is available as an iPhone application as part of the free USAA app though there are less activities you can do on the phone.
The major problem with most of the car buying services is that they don’t really make dealers compete for your business. It’s more like a referral program where all car buyers within a certain location are directed to one exclusive dealer. This dealer agrees to a pre-negotiated price (which is usually pretty fair), but they also have to pay a commission to the car buying service – usually between $250 and $500 per vehicle sold.