Costco, the much-loved warehouse club in America, has quite a fan following. People are so crazy about it that there are even Facebook groups dedicated to it, and some fans have gone as far as getting married in the store! With over 830 locations across eight countries and a whopping 117 million cardholders, Costco is a giant among membership warehouse chains. Today, we will dive into the world of Costco and uncover everything you need to know, from the cost of membership to what they offer in their stores.
So, what exactly is Costco?
Costco is different from your typical store. It’s a warehouse club where they sell large quantities to give you significant discounts. While it’s famous for its grocery section, you can find clothing, toys, electronics, and more. In the 1970s, Costco only sold things to small businesses, but in the 1980s, they opened their doors to regular shoppers.
Do you need a membership to shop at Costco?
Yes, you do need a membership to shop at Costco. But if you have a friend or family member with a membership, they can bring you along, though they’ll have to make all the purchases themselves. You can also shop on Costco’s website without a membership but remember that non-members only get access to some deals, and the prices online are often a bit higher than in the store.
How much does a Costco membership cost?
- There are three types of Costco memberships, each letting you shop at any Costco store worldwide. The Gold Star Membership is the most affordable option for regular folks who aren’t connected to a business. It costs $60 a year and is suitable for two adults living at the same address.
- If you’re a business owner, there’s a special Business Membership, also priced at $60 a year. This is for buying products for your business, personal use, or resale. It comes with two cards, and if you need more, you can add extra cardholders for $60 each annually. This is the only membership type that allows you to add more members. To qualify for the Business Membership, you must show some business credentials, like a business license or three types of business ID.
- Now, for those looking for some extra goodies, there’s the Executive Membership, costing $120 a year. It includes two Household Cards and offers even more savings on Costco services and select Costco Travel packages. Plus, you get an annual 2% reward on certain Costco purchases. If you shop a lot at Costco, that higher fee might pay off. For example, if you spend $3,000 a year on groceries, furniture, and electronics, you’ll get $60 back, which covers the cost of the upgraded membership.
Benefits of Being a Costco Member
When you become a member of Costco, a world of discounts and perks opens up to you. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits you can enjoy:
1. Food and Grocery Discounts:
- Costco is famous for its bulk discounts on groceries and household essentials. From huge packs of Listerine to big bundles of Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies, you’ll find great deals.
- Their brand, Kirkland Signature, offers incredible savings. You can snag items like Breakfast Blend K-Cup Pods at a steal.
- Some lucky members can even get same-day delivery of perishables via Instacart.
2. Gas Discounts:
- Costco is well-known for its low gas prices. They sell their Kirkland Signature Gasoline, designed to keep your car’s engine clean and efficient.
3. Clothing and Home Goods Discounts:
- Whether you need a new couch, a shiny air fryer, or a big-screen TV, Costco has it all. They offer a wide range of clothing, furniture, and home essentials from popular brands.
- With your Costco membership, you’ll enjoy in-home delivery and installation for major appliances, along with a two-year extended warranty.
- Keep an eye on their website for additional discounts and promotions.
4. Travel Discounts:
- Costco Travel lets you book car rentals, vacation packages, cruises, hotel stays, and more. However, it would help if you chose from Costco’s travel partners like Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.
- While Costco’s prices are competitive, it’s a good idea to compare rates with other booking sites before making reservations.
- You can receive fantastic deals like an extra night at resorts in tropical destinations or a 7-night cruise with a Digital Costco Shop Card as a bonus.
5. Discounted Car Rentals and Auto Services:
- Renting a car through Costco may allow you to add a second driver for free, saving you up to $15. You can book with Alamo, Enterprise, Avis, or Budget.
- If you want to buy a new or pre-owned vehicle, Costco’s Auto Program connects you with pre-vetted dealers offering set pricing for members. They also sell discounted tires and offer services like rotations and balances.
- Even if you didn’t buy your car from Costco, you can enjoy a 15% discount at participating service centers.
6. Insurance and Health Discounts:
- Costco offers home and auto insurance through CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, with additional discounts for students and safe drivers.
- You can also purchase health and vision insurance, life insurance, and pet insurance through Costco. Business owners and individuals can find suitable plans.
7. Pharmacy and Medication Discounts:
- Costco Pharmacy provides competitive pricing on prescription medications.
- As a member, you can access the Costco Membership Prescription Program, which offers additional savings on prescriptions.
8. Home Product-Installation Discounts:
- If you’re renovating your home or need installation services, Costco has you covered. When you work with their partners, you’ll receive a Costco Shop Card worth 10% of the service cost.
9. Photo Printing Discounts:
- Costco’s Photo Center allows you to print posters, photo books, calendars, cards, and more at discounted rates.
As a Costco member, you not only gain access to these fantastic discounts but also become part of a community that appreciates the value of savings and quality products.
Who Can Get a Costco Membership?
- Costco membership is available to individuals 18 years of age and older.
- Costco reserves the right to refuse or terminate membership at their discretion without providing a reason.
- Membership is subject to Costco’s rules and privacy policies, which can change without notice.
- You must provide valid photo identification issued by the United States, Puerto Rico, Canadian Federal, State, or Provincial governments, or a valid passport to sign up.
Membership Cards and Fees
- Your membership fee covers 12 months starting from the date you enroll as the Primary Cardholder.
- Your membership card is valid at any Costco warehouse worldwide and is non-transferable.
- You must present your membership card when entering any Costco warehouse and checking out at a payment register. Bar codes, photos, or copies are not acceptable.
- To be valid, your membership card must display a card number and a recognizable, unobstructed, full-face photo. If your image is not on your card, only passports and government-issued photo IDs are acceptable.
- Report lost or stolen cards to any Costco membership counter immediately or call 1-800-774-2678.
- Membership cards remain the property of Costco and must be returned upon request.
- Primary and Affiliate Members can receive one additional card for a designated household member over 16 years old living at the same address. Proof of shared residence is required.
- You are limited to one Gold Star and one Business Membership per person. Businesses with similar addresses or ownership may be treated as a single business.
- Non-members may purchase specific merchandise, including prescription drugs and alcohol, in some states, as required by law.
- Specific merchandise can be purchased online by members and non-members, but non-members pay 5% more for these items. Online prices may exceed in-store prices.
Renewing, Adding, or Deleting Cards
- Renewal fees are due by the last day of the month your membership expires. You can renew by mail, at Costco.com, or any warehouse. You can also set up automatic renewal using a Visa or Mastercard debit/credit card.
- Membership renewal must be completed for all cardholders.
- You won’t receive new membership cards each year.
- Renewals within two months after expiration extend your membership for 12 months from the expiration date. Renewals over two months after expiration extend your membership for 12 months from the renewal date.
- The Primary Member is responsible for the membership and must authorize cardholder changes.
- The Primary Member can designate a Personal Administrator or Business Administrator to make specific changes to the membership but cannot remove the Primary Member or change Affiliate Members’ personal information.
- Primary Business Members or Business Administrators can add Cardholders (Affiliates) to their membership at any warehouse’s membership counter.
Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
- Costco offers a risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee on your membership and merchandise. Limited exceptions apply.
- Each item in Costco is marked with an item number or UPC code, along with the description and price.
- Costco warehouses accept various payment methods, including Visa cards, debit/ATM, cash, checks, EBT, and Costco Shop Cards.
- Costco.com accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, debit/ATM, and Costco Shop Cards.
- Photo identification and supervisor/manager approval may be required for certain payments.
- Costco does not accept manufacturers’ discount coupons other than those distributed by Costco.
- The Primary Member is responsible for purchases made by any additional cardholders.
- In the case of a returned check, the Primary Member must pay the face amount of the check, a service charge, and other related expenses.
Sales and Use Taxes, and Resale Certificates
- Members agree to pay any applicable sales, excise, use, or ad valorem tax on the sale price of purchased items.
- If merchandise is purchased for resale, the member must have a valid resale license number on file with Costco and inform the cashier before the sale.
- To purchase tobacco products for resale, specific criteria must be met, including a matching business address and reporting requirements.
- Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times on Costco property.
- Members can bring up to two guests into the warehouse; members are responsible for their guests.
- An adult must accompany children and should be supervised.
- Costco is committed to providing a harassment-free shopping environment.
- Costco reserves the right to inspect bags upon entry and exit.
- Receipts and merchandise may be inspected upon leaving the warehouse.
- Liquor and tobacco sales are prohibited to minors.
- Firearms and weapons are generally not allowed on Costco premises except for authorized law enforcement officers.
- Animals are not permitted in Costco warehouses, except when required by law.
Costco Membership Fees:
- Gold Star membership: $60 per year. Includes two membership cards and the ability to shop both in-club and online.
- Executive membership: It costs $120 per year. Includes all Gold Star membership benefits, a 2% annual reward on Costco and Costco Travel purchases, and additional discounts from third-party service providers.
Special Discounts for Costco Membership:
- College students over 18 can join for $30 a year.
- Teachers, first responders, government employees, and military members can get a $30 Costco gift card when signing up as new members.
- Hospital employees and medical providers can also receive discounts.
How can you grant authorization to another individual on your Costco membership?
Authorizing another person to access your Costco membership is a straightforward process. Here’s how to do it:
- Sign in to your account.
- Click on “My Account.”
- Go to “Account Details.”
- Add the person you want to authorize.
- Once added, the authorized person can collect their membership card at your selected local Costco store.
Is a Costco Membership Worth It?
- Whether a Costco membership is worth it depends on your shopping habits and household size.
- Consider the potential savings on bulk purchases compared to regular grocery stores.
- An Executive membership offers a 2% annual reward on purchases, which can be substantial.
- Costco also offers services like tech support on electronics, easy returns, price adjustments, free grocery delivery, and cashback rewards for Executive members.
- Familiarize yourself with Costco’s rules and guest policy before deciding.
Before committing to a Costco membership, assess your shopping needs and habits to determine if the benefits outweigh the membership cost.