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Car buying services explained

Hate negotiating with pushy salespeople? Let someone else do the work for you.

You can avoid a trip to the dealership by using a car buying service. And while the costs can vary widely, you may be able to save money and avoid stress by working with a service dedicated to getting you a good deal.

What is a car buying service?

A car buying service helps you research and negotiate the price of a car. But the exact discount you’ll get — along with the features available to you — will depend on the type of service you use.

Car concierges

  • What does it cost? Upfront fee based on the type of car you want — the more expensive the car, the higher the fee — plus, a percentage of the money it saves you

A car concierge does the shopping and negotiating for you, usually providing more of a comprehensive and personal service than car brokering. You simply explain the type of vehicle you’re looking for, and it does the research to find potential offers available. It then contacts the dealership or manufacturer to begin negotiations.

This allows you to sit in the backseat and avoid the hassle of salespeople — some may even be able to get your vehicle delivered to you. One example of a car concierge service is Clutch, which operates primarily out of Halifax and Toronto.

    Car brokers

    • What does it cost? A flat fee, often between $200 and $500

    Car broker services like Automall Network and Car Compass are similar to car concierge services — a professional car buyer researches and negotiates a deal for you. They can often secure a lower price for the vehicle you want because many are former salespeople. And since hunting for good car deals every day is their job, they likely have a better idea of where to look than you would.

    Car broker services may be less comprehensive than concierge services, meaning you may not get your car driven straight to your door. However, the fees can potentially be lower as well.

    Find a competitive car loan using a car loan broker service

      Club car buying programs

      • What does it cost? Typically free with membership

      Many banks and credit unions, as well as some big companies like Allstate, allow you to browse cars through an online network of certified dealers. They typically offer discounted rates to members, which allows you to avoid having to listen to sales pitches when you visit the dealership. However, you may find that the price you get isn’t much better than what you could negotiate yourself, and you aren’t guaranteed to find the exact vehicle you want.

      Note that you don’t need to be an Allstate customer to use its car buying service.

        Online car buying stores

        • What does it cost? Services may charge a small markup on the car you end up buying, or you may be able to choose from a tiered service list with different prices ranging from free to around $100.

        Online car buying stores like Unhaggle and CarCostCanada offer a fast and convenient way to shop for cars — no haggling or dealership visits required. Typically, these services provide information such as price reports, dealership locations and available discounts or promotions on the type of vehicle you’re looking for. With this knowledge, you’re better equipped to shop for the right car on your own. Or, for an extra fee, the online service will solicit offers from a network of dealers and send these offers to you for review.

        Many services offer a money-back guarantee and give you several days to drive your car after purchasing it to make sure it’s right for you — much longer than the 20-minute test drive you get at a traditional dealership. However, because you’re not actually meeting with a salesperson, there’s little room for back-and-forth negotiation when it comes to the price.

        Not sure whether you should use an online service to buy a car? Take a look at our guide on buying a car online versus in person to find out if this option is right for you.

          How much does a car buying service cost?

          It depends on the type of service you use. Some charge a flat fee, others charge a percentage of the amount you save and some are completely free. Check with the concierge, broker, club or online store to see what you might have to pay. You can also take a look at our explanation of different car buying services above to get a rough idea of the costs you could be looking at.

          Beyond the purchase price: What’s the real cost of buying a car?

          Do car buying services provide auto financing?

          Usually, no. Car buying services help connect you with dealers that offer the vehicle you’re looking for at a price that suits you. Though some services, such as Unhaggle, will help transmit offers to you and convey your acceptance to dealers, how you decide to finance your purchase is ultimately up to you.

          Want to learn more about your options? Check out our guide on how to find the best vehicle financing for your needs, or check out the table below to compare auto loan options from reputable online lenders.

          Name Product Min. Loan Amount Interest Rate Loan Term Min. Credit Score Requirements
          CarsFast Car Loans
          $500
          4.90% to 29.90%
          12-96 months
          300
          Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
          Browse thousands of vehicles from dealers across Canada and get matched with financing that meets your needs. Apply online to purchase a new or used vehicle and get the vehicle delivered to your door.
          Loans Canada Car Loans
          $500
          0% to 29.99%
          3-96 months
          300
          Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
          Get access to financing from multiple lenders across Canada through a single application with Loans Canada. Bad credit, CERB and EI borrowers are considered.
          Car Loans Canada
          $7,500
          3.99% to 29.95%
          12-84 months
          300
          Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
          Search thousands of vehicles online, including $0 down options, from dealers across the country and get matched with affordable financing options. Auto loans are also available to those with bad credit, consumer proposals and bankruptcies to help rebuild credit.
          Coast Capital Car Loan
          $10,000
          Varies
          18-84 months
          650
          Able to service debt payment of $300/month
          Finance or lease both new and used vehicles with competitive rates and flexible terms from one of Canada's largest credit unions. No credit union membership required for this product.
          Canadian Auto News
          $7,500
          3.99% to 29.95%
          12-84 months
          300
          Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
          Answer a few simple questions to get matched with affordable financing options. Auto loans are also available to those with bad credit, consumer proposals and bankruptcies to help rebuild credit.
          LoanConnect Car Loans
          $500
          9.90% to 46.96%
          3-120 months
          550
          No min. income requirement
          Get access to 25+ lenders through LoanConnect's brokerage. Receive pre-approval in as fast as 60 seconds and get your funds in as little as 24 hours.
          Canada Auto Finance
          $500
          4.90%-29.95%
          3-96 months
          300
          Min. income of $1,500 /month, 3+ months employed
          Canada Auto Finance is a broker that connects borrowers with partnered local lenders. Financing for a new or used car is available for borrowers with bad credit, no credit, CERB, EI or bankruptcy.
          Carloans411 Car Loans
          $500
          1.90% to 19.99%
          Up to 72 months
          300
          Min. income of $1,600 /month, 3+ months employed
          Get connected with suitable lenders through CarLoans411. Finance your next car, van or truck with loans available in amounts from $500 to $50,000. Check eligibility for this loan through LoanConnect.
          Fairstone Secured Personal Loan
          $5,000
          19.99% to 23.99%
          36-120 months
          560
          Established credit history and own your home
          Fairstone offers secured personal loans up to $50,000.
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          Compare up to 4 providers

          Is using a car buying service actually worth it?

          It can be. Some people find that the money they save counterbalances the fees that brokers and concierges charge. Others enjoy the fact that they don’t have to deal with persistent salespeople during the negotiation process.

          If negotiation isn’t a hassle — and you don’t want to pay any fees — then some car buying services may not be the best choice. However, you can still use an online car buying store or a club car buying program to compare deals.

          How do I find a good car buying service?

          Go online, check out the company’s website and read the terms of service. Reach out to the company and see what types of fees they charge. In the case of brokers or concierges, make sure they aren’t affiliated with any dealerships — they might not have your best interest at heart.

          You may also want to read actual customer reviews on trusted websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot as well as forums like Reddit. This should help give you a well-rounded picture of what you can expect with each company so you can find the best one for you.

          Bottom line

          While dealerships have some advantages, dealing with pushy salespeople can make many people uncomfortable — and leave you wondering if you’ve actually gotten a good deal. A car buying service may come with fees that you avoid at the dealership, but it could save you money in the long run and help you avoid stress. And the expert help during the research and negotiation process could be well worth what you spend.

          Before you commit to a service, check out these tips and tricks for buying a car so you know what to expect and how to land a good deal.

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