Is Costco membership worth it?

Is Costco membership worth it?




Is that a hint to not ask two questions? :slight_smile:


IMHO eyeglass prices at Costco and elsewhere are a gigantic ripoff. I buy my glasses from brokers like Zenni and Goggles4u. They have them manufactured in China on the same machines used by your optician and Costco yet they cost much less.

For my relatively simple prescription I get good stylish (for me) glasses for about $15 including shipping. For my wife’s relatively complex progressive prescription they cost about $35. She also bought some at Costco and they cost around $250 for two pairs and says they feel the same. She already had a prescription from her optometrist.

We can argue about quality–I think they are as good-you may disagree–but Costco is about 3-5X times as much since she had to buy 2 to get their price. For that you can afford to buy several and throw them away when they show wear.


You need a membership to buy glasses. You don’t need a membership to get the eye exam from the in-store optometrist.

I know there are cheaper sites online, but Costco seems to offer better quality glasses, they had a tremendous 2 for 1 sale last time I was there (and gave me an even bigger discount than that), and the staff will spend considerable time with you fitting the glasses, testing them, and explaining how to use them if you want. Several times I’ve had them adjust the frames. If you buy them online, you still have to take them somewhere to be tested to make sure they’re right.

Also, you can take the Costco glasses back (or refuse them) and get your money back immediately if you want.


Can you buy them with Costco cash cards without a membership?


But isn’t all of that lead too heavy? :slight_smile:

We usually buy a membership every 15 - 18 months, using it for tires and prime beef when they’re on sale, and rental cars at other times. Rarely do we buy gas there, as they frequently have very long lines.

The Costco shopping experience varies by location much more than I would have thought. It also has been a double edged sword for me.

The minuses:

  • crowded parking lot
  • jammed aisles if you go on a weekend
  • long checkout lines
  • the “you might be a thief” checkout lines at the exit.

The pluses:

  • most of their prices
  • I can understand most of their employees
  • the employees seem to have a long tenure (and the knowledge that comes with it)
  • the employees are generally in a good (or at least not foul) mood.
  • the quality of their products
  • their return policy


I will add that their liquor is some of the consistently lowest price there is. It’s rare to have a location that sells hard liquor inside the store, but when they do it’s a good value.


As probably already mentioned above, you don’t need membership to buy alcohol (at least not in CA).


If you have a parent or child with a membership I believe you can get added to their membership for free. My mom put me on hers a long time ago and we have split the membership cost for many years.

I’ve always had a great experience with Costco. You can sometimes get great deals on particular great quality items with instant manufactured rebates. I’ve stocked up on LED bulbs and super comfortable fleece blankets to name a few (it was even worth taking several trips to do so because of their purchase limits on those items).

There are a lot of things we don’t usually buy there but we do buy our household items such as TP, paper towels, klenex, garbage bags, laundry and dishwasher detergent, dog food and a few occasional luxury food items like fresh salmon or and salmon dip when they have it. No complaints here and we usually enjoy those outings with food samples.

It’s extremely unfortunate they just did away with their polish sausages though. I’m currently boycotting their food court because of that sad decision.


I am curious what search engines you used to compare Costco rental car prices? I can almost always beat the Costco prices with those I listed in item#4 of the original post, If not, using autoslash gets me better prices over time. I have found that the optimal time for prices is a couple of weeks before the trip but I like to have prices locked in before then so I can pick and choose.


I use or have used breezenet, or whatever they’re now called, priceline, carrentalsavers and the rental company website directly. Just to be clear, I only rent a couple of times a year, and am no longer “status-y” with any of them. Autoslash, wasn’t that great for me, but they only got one shot. You seem to have good success with them, so I just tried again. They did much better this time, but were still over Costco by 2.3%. We’ll see how they do with price tracking.


Right, the question isn’t whether it’s worth it to shop at costco, it’s whether it’s worth it to buy membership. It sort of went unsaid throughout this thread, but I think it’s at least worthwhile to mention that you can’t buy a costco gift card from a standard retailer. Of course, you can get them from friends and family or probably pay a premium to get them on Ebay, but it’s not like you can buy them at face value at a cvs.

A question I have is whether you need a membership to take advantage of the return policy. I would think not, but I don’t know. If you do, that alone is enough of a reason to get a membership.

Another benefit is that they often have pretty good MIR offers on their cell phones. It’s possible you can only take advantage of that with a membership (though I’m not sure), but iirc I had to provide my membership number.


I get access to a family member’s online Costco account and buy them there. I pay for them with one of my credit cards and have Costco mail them to my address. It helps that my relative has the same last name as I do.

A question I have is whether you need a membership to take advantage of the return policy. I would think not, but I don’t know. If you do, that alone is enough of a reason to get a membership.

I seldom return stuff but when I do all they asked for is my receipt.


It depends, but for me the Kirkland branded products, produce, and gas purchases results in rewards from the executive membership that actually pay for the membership fee.

This is in a household of two people and one car.

On the other hand if you aren’t experienced in buying in bulk you can definitely feel like it isn’t worth it.


What a timely comment. We just opened our last box of dishwasher tabs. I last purchased them in 2013 (and 500 miles away). Of course, that was more a Fatwallet effect than a Costco one. :smile:


Wow, you are spending over $6,000 a year at Costco for two people. That is a lot of TP and rotisserie chicken. :grinning:


I think he’s also counting the value of the savings on the cost of the goods, not just the 2% rebate.


I also purchase various household goods, electronics, clothes, and appliances. The best value are usually clearance (end in .97), or those Kirkland brands. It all adds up.


For those who share membership with friends or family - -can you give me some details on how you do it? I know no one here is an expert on this but I’m mainly interested in your experience and how you have done it.

Anyone had an account with family in another state?

Do all people have to be present when the account is opened?

Can a member card with an address in another state be used? For example when I’m visiting my family can I go with them to Costco and have them add me to their card? Then use it when I go back home?


Maybe, I know the memberships work nationwide.

Seems like an awful lot of scheming to save $5/month, but we are Fatwalleters, after all :slight_smile: