Research, Buy, and Insure Your Next Car Purchase With USAA’s New Auto Circle Program

by Hank

I hate buying a new car. I dread it. I don’t know anything about cars. I grew up in the suburbs, the son of a single mom trying to just make ends meet. My mom and I were so clueless about cars, buying and maintaining them, when I was growing up that we would take the car into the dealership for the littlest problem or even to get the oil changed. Now, looking back, I can see how we were definitely taken advantage of and paid for it dearly with money that barely stretched to cover the basics as it was.

Now, I find my wife and me making some of the very same mistakes with our own car purchases. Buying a new car is such a time consuming and aggravating process. It takes so much time and effort to research a new car purchase. Eventually, I find myself getting frustrated and making a less than optimal snap decision on a car, financing, and options only to regret the way I handled it later.

Car Buying Doesn’t Have To Be A Pain With Auto Circle

USAA has taken the process to a whole new level for their members and taken most of the pain out as well. For years, USAA, the financial services giant has had a car buying service. They, of course, are one of the leading insurance providers to members of the military and their families. You can also find car financing with their banking division, but there used to be huge walls separating the three business entities all housed under the same roof at USAA’s massive San Antonio, Texas headquarters which made the car buying process cumbersome. I can remember financing my very first car with USAA (I’ve been a member for over ten years now). I called and got preapproved for a bank loan first. Then, after getting my approval, I was on my own more or less to find a car and negotiate the sale. And, finally, I had to be call back to the insurance folks to set up my policy. But, no more!

USAA’s Auto Circle Launches August 4th

USAA is launching its own complete car buying experience on its website August 4th called Auto Circle. The new program brings together the synergy of USAA’s separate financial products under one online portal at www.autocircle.com and adding an incredible array of research tools as well that will streamline and ease the process for everyone, especially those of us who hate it like I do. Over the past two days, I have had the chance to test drive the new car buying service and website at USAA’s global headquarters in San Antonio, Texas. And, I have to tell you that I am very excited about all this new program offers USAA members.

Incredible Research Tools With USAA’s Auto Circle

Now, all on one place, you can buy your car from start to finish. You can research different cars, both new and used, that are available through a dealer network of over 3,500 dealerships across America that have been vetted by the folks over at USAA. When you find one you like, you see an incredible wealth of pricing data. You see what the MSRP, dealer’s costs, discounts available, and the price that USAA’s incredible buying service can get for you. The best part is that you then can download and print a price guarantee certificate to take to your local dealership in USAA’s network. You are guaranteed that price on your new dream car or you can try your negotiation skills around town with your certificate in your hand. But, before you leave the Auto Circle website, you have links to apply for your new car loan and links to set up your insurance policy or add it to your existing policies. These options are all under one website. No longer do you have to call back on the 1-800 number and get transferred around and around to different departments to conduct your business.

USAA’s Auto Circle Challenges Consumer Reports

USAA is also rolling out a comprehensive list of USAA preferred automobiles that they feel are wonderful potential selections for their members to purchase. USAA has painstakingly rated new cars based on factors such as reliability, safety, fuel economy, price, and of course insurance cost. Have you ever wondered just how much a V-8 Ford Mustang GT compares over its younger, standard V-6 brother? How much would you save in gas and insurance costs by choosing the V-6? USAA knows thanks to their huge historical database over the past eighty-eight years, and now they are sharing those recommendations by listing great cars like the V-6 Ford Mustang, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and several others as USAA Preferred Cars. In addition to those recommendations, there is also a forum for USAA’s members to provide feedback to one another on cars that they liked or did not like and why. 80% of people know what kind of car they want before they walk into the dealership thanks to the recommendations of their friends, family, and coworkers. Now, you can tap into over seven million of your newest friends that will help tell you which cars to stay away from.

Buy, Insure, and Finance Your Car From Your iPhone With Auto Circle

As if this new program wasn’t enough, the folks at USAA, who brought you an iPhone app that lets you deposit a check in your bank account from home, are including Auto Circle on the next version of the bank’s iPhone app that is already available from Apple’s App Store. The new upgrade to the USAA homepage app on the iPhone and Touch iPods will be available the same day the Auto Circle website launches, August 4th. You will be able to buy, finance, and insure your car all from your iPhone. They are also working on a version for the Android and are considering an app for Blackberry phones as well.

I have seen firsthand some of the innovative ideas and products that USAA is coming out with in the near future. I always forget that USAA is a Fortune 200 company with over 22,000 employees around the world, 7.4 million members, and over $100 billion in assets and investments under management. It is a huge company with a huge research and development division that strives to create incredible financial products for its membership to use. It should be no surprise that a company that broke the mold on depositing checks by taking a picture or scanning them instead of mailing them into your bank would come up with an iPhone app that would let you buy a car all the way through the process from idea, research, loan, purchase, and insurance.

I am very appreciative for USAA flying me out to San Antonio to check out their headquarters and their new products like Auto Circle. I am truly excited about all of the innovations that the company is making and truly believe that Auto Circle will be a great experience for USAA members who are looking to buy a new or used car and who are fed up with the old way of doing it and getting taken advantage of.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronnie Oliver JR August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

What if my credit is bad?… can I still apply for auto insurance through usaa?

Hank August 3, 2010 at 9:59 am

Ronnie,

Yes, you can still apply for insurance with bad credit. But, you may have trouble getting insurance coverage depending on how bad your credit report actually is. Also, you may not qualify for the best insurance rates if your credit is poor. You should call an insurance company such as USAA and ask for a free insurance quote. That will give you an idea of where you stand.

Laura Lizabe August 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

I came across this page doing some web work for GM and I thought it might be helpful let you all know that GM has a military discount available to active duty members and Reserves.

They have a Facebook page that aims to bring military families together to share their experiences. Check it out when you have some time http://bit.ly/ahsrkW

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