auto

Buy a new car, get a European vacation

Tara Baukus MelloIf you buy a new car in the future, you can pay less for the car and get a discounted European vacation at the same time by taking delivery of the car in Europe. Automakers with European delivery programs offer their cars at a 7 percent discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP, on average, with discounts higher on certain car models.

The European vacation packages are coordinated through a travel agent at discounted rates, with some programs including perks such as free airfare and hotel stay. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo currently offer the European delivery programs. Here's how the programs work.

Once you decide which new car you want to buy, visit your local dealer to have him or her order the car to your exact specifications for pickup in Europe. Pricing is arranged directly through the automaker at a discounted rate, so there is no negotiation at the dealer. Automakers can offer their cars at discounted rates because they aren't required to charge any destination fees or incentives paid out to a dealer to make the sale. Generally, it takes a minimum of two months to build the car to exact specifications. If you want to take your European vacation sooner than that, you may need to choose from a smaller selection of new cars already scheduled to be built.

Once the order is placed, the automaker connects you with the travel agency that coordinates its program, and it works directly with you to plan your trip. All automakers in these programs provide car insurance for at least 14 days at no charge as well as a range of drop-off points for your car when your vacation is complete and you are ready to return home.

Currently, BMW and Mercedes-Benz offer two-for-one pricing on airline tickets, while Volvo offers two free airline tickets. Audi, Porsche and Volvo provide one free night in a hotel, while Mercedes-Benz provides two nights in a hotel. All automakers offer various smaller perks, such as complimentary meals, airport shuttle or a borrowed navigation system for traveling in Europe.

The travel agent coordinates your entire vacation, in most cases customizing it to your interests and the length of time you desire. All hotels and many activities are booked at the travel agent's negotiated discounted rates, providing a savings over coordinating a similar trip on your own. European delivery trips with five nights of lodging start at $1,500, while a $3,000 budget will get you a longer stay in three-star hotels or five nights in five-star accommodations with many other amenities added.

Once your European vacation is complete, simply leave the new car at one of the pre-arranged drop-off points and fly home. The automaker takes care of all transportation costs, duty charges, clearing customs and insurance for the shipment. The car arrives in the U.S. about two months later and you simply pick it up at your dealer.

Ask the adviser

If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.
 

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