Since it started in 1991, CarBargains from Consumers’ Checkbook/ has helped over 15,000 people get good deals on a car.

Consumers’ Checkbook was founded in 1974 with funds from the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs. It is an independent nonprofit.

The CarBargains service helps consumers get a good price on a car by getting competitive bids from local dealers. The service takes a few days, costs $250+, and has a good success rate.

Keep reading for pros and cons, plus Carbargains reviews from consumers like you. 

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The Good

  • Unique Business Model
  • No Dealer Kickbacks
  • Savings vs. TrueCar
  • Guarantee
  • Personal Information

Unique Business Model

CarBargains is a service for car shoppers that offers to get you a lower car price.

How does CarBargains work?

  1. Tell the company what make, model, style you want, plus whether you want to purchase or lease.
  2. It takes 9-11 days for a purchase report or 3-5 days for a lease report. Five local dealers bid against each other. Then, you get written confirmation of your dealer bids.
  3. You receive a report with dealer quotes, factory invoice costs, value of your used car, financing options, details about any factory rebates or incentives, and information about add-ons like extended dealer service contracts.
  4. Then, you contact the dealer and use the information you’ve received.

The service is similar to a car buying concierge, but the final deal and vehicle delivery are all up to you.

No Dealer Kickbacks

To keep its motives pure, CarBargains doesn’t accept kickbacks from dealers. It is not affiliated with any group of dealers.

Many other car buying services or brokers are affiliated. When they help you buy a car, they get incentives when going with specific dealerships. While they can get you a good price, they may not be necessarily getting you the best price for your vehicle.

Avoiding dealer kickbacks means that CarBargains is more unbiased. There isn’t any incentive changing hands, so you get an objective view of your prospects.

Savings vs. TrueCar

When you are looking to buy a new vehicle, you want to get a good deal. On average, each consumer saves even more money with CarBargains than by using TrueCar. It may take a little longer than TrueCar, but the unique bidding process helps car shoppers save money.


If you buy the same car in the bidding period for less without using your CarBargains report, you get your fee refunded with proof of purchase.

Personal Information

As this is a nonprofit consumer service that gets bids on your behalf, it doesn’t give your personal information to dealers. Most other car finder services beg for your details before getting any quotes, and then you will get phone calls and emails all the time.

The Bad

  • Trade-Ins
  • Report Timeframe
  • Service Cost


If you are planning to do a trade-in as part of your purchase offer transaction, you will still have to do a little work. You don’t get an exact trade-in price offer. You can get a general price range for cars ten years or newer, but you will have to get a direct quote from the car dealer for your vehicle, which likely means an inspection.

Report Timeframe

When you are buying a car, it can take up to 11 days for your report. This is a long time.

If you can’t wait for your report to arrive and you buy a car at a lower price without using it, the service fee will be refunded.

Service Cost

This service isn’t free. It costs $250 for a car purchase and $375 for a lease. This is worth it, considering that customers saved an average of $1,503 compared to buying a car with TrueCar. Getting the lowest possible price without having to do some negotiating means paying someone to negotiate for you with the dealership.

The Bottom Line

CarBargains will negotiate with the dealership for you and take the stress out of buying a car. You go to the car lot with your offer in-hand to test drive and then drive away with your prize.

The bidding process saves customers more money than TrueCar. On average, customers save thousands more than TrueCar.

It's not free. Plan on spending $250 if you plan to purchase a car and $375 if you are looking for a lease. However, you will get a great deal on your purchase price.

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