Knowing the pros and cons of a Costco membership will help you decide better!
I recently signed up for a Costco membership after having waited on it for a number of years… I always heard really good things from friends and family. So I finally decided to do it…
Before I get into the meat and potatoes about the membership benefits, let me tell you what I like about it…
My own personal experience with the Costco membership…
In our household, we shop a lot of organics. So we pick Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Fresh Thyme—primarily. Although, these places can get expensive (aside from Trader Joe’s)…
What I’ve found to be the biggest benefit of Costco is buying those items that are non-perishable items. I’m not a huge fan of the Kirkland brand fish or meat. Although, I am a big fan of getting Spindrift (January 2023) in 24-packs. And getting larger-sized gallons of laundry detergent.
Aside from the minimum yearly spend (which doesn’t really make the membership worth it)—I’ve been able to use a friend’s account and share the expenses that way. Costco does allow this as long as it’s not at scale. It could be a friend or a family member that you use, too.
Splitting the fees for those non-perishable items—really makes it worth it to me…
Okay, now let’s get into the details so you can make the best decision for you!
Is a having a Costco membership worth it?
A Costco membership will be great for you if you fulfill the following criteria:
- You reside near a Costco warehouse.
- You stay with multiple people at your home.
- Your car has ample boot space to store items in bulk.
- You have plenty of storage space in your house.
- Refilling your gas tank is highly frequent.
- You don’t mind spending at least $2000 in a year.
- You are fine navigating large crowds.
- You have a credit card from Visa – as Costco does not accept anything other than Visa, debit, check, or cash.
So, if you’re fulfilling these points – you can sign up for a Costco membership, and hopefully, it’ll be worth it for you and your family!
Why is having a Costco membership so popular?
Costco memberships have huge popularity because it is the biggest warehouse in the global world, with over 750 stores. It boasts over 115 million members and rakes in billions of dollars in annual revenue.
The main pros of a Costco membership are its low prices, bulk sales, premium quality merch, and a consumer-friendly return policy.
Unfortunately, only members can take advantage of these offers by paying a yearly subscription fee.
Related: Does Costco take Mastercard?
Why isn’t a Costco membership worth it? Some the drawbacks I found out…
A Costco membership is probably not going to work for you if you think some of these are deal breakers:
- You live far from a Costco warehouse.
- You don’t live with anyone else in your current residence.
- All you have is a small vehicle that lacks substantial trunk space to fill it up
- You don’t have sufficient storage (or space) in your apartment or home.
- You are highly brand-loyal and stay away from generic products or Kirkland products.
- Large crowds are not your thing!
- You don’t plan on spending at least $2,000 a year on Costco items.
- You don’t have a Visa card.
What are the different types of membership tiers that Costco offers?
Costco Warehouse offers four types of membership tiers with varying annual subscription fees/costs. The Gold Star membership is the least expensive tier coming in at a $60 annual fee.
Then you have the Gold Star Executive tier, which would set you back by about $120 yearly. The Business tier of the membership costs its members around $60 annually, and the Business Executive tier costs its members around $120 annually.
So how much does a Costco “Gold Star” membership cost me annually?
The Costco Gold Star membership costs around $60 per year… Meaning that it won’t break the bank!
With this membership, you’ll get a Costco membership card that you can use to make purchases from all Costco stores worldwide.
You’ve seen this card, and your friends have it. It’s awesome—you’ll finally get one!
Related: Does Costco take EBT?
Okay, so how can I sign up for Costco’s “Gold Star” membership?
If you want to sign up for this member type, all you have to do is follow the steps below.
Fill out the details on the ‘Sign Up‘ form on the Costco website. It will ask for a few details about you and then will get into the preferred payment (Note: this is a recurring payment).
After your payment gets processed, Costco will send you a welcome email. And you’ll get a new membership number.
The next time that you visit Costco, you’ll need to show this email and your valid photo ID to the Costco representative at the front door in order to get your “new membership card” from the Costco membership counter.
A little bit about Costco’s benefits when it comes to upcoming deals and discounts…
Yes, Costco members can choose to receive exclusive information regarding the benefits from third-party businesses of Costco (meaning upcoming sales, coupons, and more!)
Members can also choose to receive exclusive promo notifications via mail, email, or text! Keep in mind that if you opt-in, your contact details will be sent to out specific third-party business providers of Costco.
For those who are worried about privacy, this might be a slight drawback!
How much does the Costco “Executive” membership cost?
Costco “Executive” members have $120 every year as a subscription fee. They can use this card to get a 2% cashback reward on eligible products.
Additionally, Costco will send you a gift card worth 2% of your total spending at Costco three months before your membership renewal date. However, the reward value will not exceed $1000.
You can visit Costco’s official website to learn more about this policy.
How much does a Costco “Business” membership cost?
Costco Business card holders have to pay $60 every year as membership fees. Only business owners are eligible for this card.
These businesses resell these products by adding an additional markup, increasing the selling prices of products.
How do I sign up for Costco’s “Business” membership?
Signing up for Costco’s business membership is pretty easy and requires you to follow only a few simple steps. You’ll have to submit documents to establish your business identification.
These could include your business license or a resale certificate.
Business members can include multiple affiliates in their Costco membership account as a bonus. They only need to pay $60 per year for every affiliate member who gets added.
How much does a Costco Business Executive membership cost?
The Costco Business Executive membership costs $120 per year to its members as annual subscription fees. It is similar to Business membership in a lot of ways.
Members get a 2% cashback reward of $1,000 at most on eligible products.
Members who plan on spending more than $3,000 at Costco annually can get the most out of this membership tier.
What are the benefits of a Costco membership?
There are several benefits Costco members can derive by making substantial purchases at Costco stores.
Some of these benefits are as follows:
- Costco provides low prices consistently by capitalization, a special strategy that allows them to pass on savings to members.
- They don’t have a lot of SKUs for every item. This allows them to keep inventory costs down. They only keep the products from top brands.
- Costco has very high purchasing power for each SKU. They spend billions of dollars on a few SKUs, whereas other wholesalers like Walmart spend billions of dollars on over 100,000 SKUs.
- Contrary to most wholesalers, Costco can keep theft quite minimal in their stores. This is due to their strict customer ID policies and more secure systems and processes.
- Members save time by limiting the frequency of in-store visits. This is possible due to the bulk selling model that Costco incentivizes.
- Costco keeps the most premium quality products on its shelves and cuts out all second-hand products.
- Members also get to take advantage of Costco’s fantastic return policy. You can expect an immediate refund for the entire product if the item does not meet your satisfaction level.
Do Costco members get to benefit from return policies for every product?
Most Costco products have a friendly return policy. However, exceptions do apply for the following products:
- After 90 days of purchase, Costco members will not be able to return electronic goods.
- Costco members cannot return diamonds that are larger than 1 carat.
- Members will not be able to return cigarettes and alcohol products after purchasing them from Costco.
To learn more about Costco’s return policies, you can visit the official website or download the official app.
How can a Costco member return an item?
Members can return a product at any Costco warehouse. They can also return products received through online shopping at any Costco warehouse or initiate the return process from Costco.com.
How can a Costco member return an item online?
One the things I’m always looking for the convenience of being able to return an item… And I must say that something that really stands out to me is the ability to be a “member” of a corporate program like this and getting some perks.
For example, this is the main reason why I have Amazon Prime! As a Prime member, we all get some exclusive discounts and better service.
If you’re a Costco member, here is your process for creating a return:
You’ll have to log into your account to return a product online.
Select ‘Orders & Returns’ from the menu on the website.
Then select ‘Return Items’ and follow the instructions to finish the return or to make a replacement request.
Upon acceptance of your request (which goes through the Costco system), you’ll receive the return label and a scheduled pickup. For bigger return items, Costco will email you the instructions to do so.
When can a Costco member return their product?
It’s another great question to ask because, well… If you’re an executive member, you might be looking to get exclusive perks like longer return policy times. 60 or 90 days, for example!
In most situations, a Costco member can return their product if it aligns with the following:
- You’re not happy with the product
- You purchased a product by mistake
- The product is defective or has damage to it
- You have the incorrect item (by accident)
- You purchased duplicate products
- The product package is damaged
- An item is missing from the package
- The shipment got lost (like from an online order)
You might get better service, but as far as I can tell, there’s no additional perk to take a look at!
Do Costco members get free product samples?
Costco allows specific businesses to install booths and provide free samples of their products for promotional purposes. Members should visit Costco on the weekend to take full advantage of these free samples.
What are some of the drawbacks for me about a Costco membership?
Some of the drawbacks for me of a Costco membership are as follows:
- For irregular customers, the yearly membership fee will not be worth it.
- Costco incentivizes bulk purchases. However, this also leads to more wastage.
- Customers who lack sufficient storage space cannot fully utilize a Costco membership.
- Costco stores are typically full of shoppers, especially on the weekends, and can stress out people with demophobia.
- Costco does not offer as many options to members in terms of brands and SKUs.
- Costco does not accept American Express cards or MasterCard. So, these customers will have to visit the nearest ATM before getting into a Costco store (yikes!)
Questions (and answers) from Costco customers!
How can a Costco member get the most out of the membership value?
If you are a Costco member, you’ll be getting the most out of your membership benefits by following these simple instructions:
- If you fill up your gas tank at a Costco gas station, you’ll save $0.20 per gallon on average.
- Hitting the Costco store on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays is a better option unless you want to encounter a stampede.
- Having a list while shopping in a Costco store is always helpful.
- Avoid purchasing items that perish easily (consumables) and focus on consumer durables.
- Take note of the specific deals on Costco.com before heading out to the store.
Which products do Costco members get the best deals on?
Typically, Costco members get the best deals on products, including – gas, wines, tires, spices, garlic, condiments, dry fruits, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, etc.
How can an existing Costco member be eligible for executive member benefits?
An existing member will have to upgrade to an Executive Membership to qualify for certain exclusive benefits like the 2% Annual Rewards.
Purchases you make before upgrading your membership will not qualify for the 2% reward.
To upgrade your membership, visit your nearest Costco warehouse and go to the membership counter.
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