Costco is currently number 5 on the list of largest retailers in the world. A membership can help you buy bulk products including food, cleaning supplies, get discounts on travel and other services, and can even help you find the right furniture for your home. There are thousands of locations in the US alone with locations found in 7 other countries around the world.
Yes, you have to pay for a membership to get the most benefits, but there are ways to save on a Costco membership fee plus additional ways to save even more on your Costco purchases once you get in the door.
Is a Costco membership worth the cost?
There are 2 levels of Costco memberships, the standard Gold Star membership, and the Gold Star Executive membership. How you plan to use the membership, how often you shop, and the additional services that you will use each year may help you decide which is right for you, plus determine if it is worth the annual membership fees.
Costco gas prices are always the cheapest prices in the state. Costco fuel prices are the lowest allowed by state law. With just the gas savings alone, that’s over $120 in savings a year for the average household.
The savings at the pump will more than pay for your Costco membership.
The Standard Gold Star Membership and Benefits
- Able to shop online and in warehouse stores
- Two membership cards
- A yearly cost of $60
The Gold Star Executive Membership and Benefits
- Able to shop online and in warehouse stores
- Discounts on a variety of Costco services including movie tickets, cheap gas, and others
- The Costco Connection Magazine
- 2 membership cards
- Annual fee of $120
How can I save on a Costco membership?
To save money on Costco membership fees you can join with a family member and split the cost. You can also use your membership to buy bulk items and then split the cost with friends and family when you get home.
Join Costco through the Swagbucks link and you will get a $10 Costco card for a standard membership or $20 for an Executive membership. You will also get a cash back bonus.
What services can I use at Costco without a membership?
While you do need to have a Costco card to buy everything from bulk hot dogs to the famous rotisserie chickens, there are several things that you can access at Costco without a membership.
- Get prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications at the Costco pharmacy. Other health services such as immunizations can also be accessed without a membership
- See the in-store optometrist and order glasses
- Buy alcoholic beverages where permitted. Not all Costco stores sell alcohol.
- Buy and use gift cards
Is everything at Costco sold in bulk?
While the majority of items are sold in bulk, not everything at Costco is oversized. Some items, including some organic foods, are sold in smaller packages to reduce the risk of food waste. Bulk items can be a good way to save more than a few dollars on shelf-stable items but you are not saving money if you are just continually wasting food.
Before buying huge tubs of peanut butter and vats of cooking oil, consider the reality of buying bulk foods.
Do you have a place to store bulk items? Keep that in mind. And it’s always a good idea to calculate the per unit price. What is the cheapest price per oz for mixed nuts or dog food? Per unit price, Costco is often the cheapest. But your local supermarket or Walmart or Target may come in cheaper.
Best Things to Buy in Bulk at Costco
- Fresh eggs (Pay under $5 for 5-dozen eggs).
- Milk – if your household goes through lots.
- Olive oil
- Nut butters
- Energy bars and granola bars (Costco generic)
- Chicken thighs and chicken breasts
- Mixed nuts
- Breakfast cereal
- Frozen fruit
- Baking supplies (ingredients)
- Maple syrup
- Work shirts and work pants
- Golf balls
- Leggings (generic label)
Does Costco accept coupons?
Costco does accept coupons but only from the Costco coupon booklet. Members will automatically receive one of these. Non-members who are shopping with a Costco card can request one of these coupon booklets at the customer service desk.
Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons.
Do I need a Costco membership to order online?
You can order through the Costco website as a non-member but it will cost you. Everything you buy as a non-member will be at prices 5% higher than for members which can add up if you are ordering more than a few things. Add up the total cost and then compare that to the cost of an annual membership. If you are within $10 of the cost of a basic membership it might make more sense to sign up before completing your order.
You can still order prescription meds online without incurring this surcharge.
So, is the Costco Membership worth it?
A Costco membership is worth it for bulk shoppers, and in a number of other situations too.
- If you have a vehicle that you need to fuel up every week or every couple of weeks, Costco is worth it. The fuel savings alone can pay for your membership.
- You’re purchasing a large-ticket item online or in-store, like a mattress or large screen TV. With Costco’s generous warranties, Costco is effectively the cheapest place to buy a TV during big holiday sales.
- You’re getting car tires – either for purchase, for installation, or both. The savings on car tires is enough to make the membership worthwhile.
- You eat ready-made foods – the kind that you heat up in the microwave. Costco offers a ginormous selection of actually tasty ready-made foods that can far outshine the freezer section at other grocery store chains.
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