Is Costco membership worth it?

Is Costco membership worth it?


I save 100% by buying nothing at costco.


It may be because I always shop at Costco on weekday afternoons and go to a store on the edge of the burbs, but I don’t think I’ve ever waited in line more than 5 minutes, other than just before Christmas.


I share membership with a friend who now lives in another city (same state, but I don’t think it matters as long as we keep paying for the membership). I believe this was allowed when we signed up and we got grandfathered, and I heard (but never checked) that it can’t be done anymore and new signups must be from the same household.


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

Stubtify, FWIW, looks like you are one of the Cash Card shoppers. A few days ago, the Ass. Manager at my local Costco decided he did not want me using a Cash Card for my purchase, but said I could do it one last time.
Note: I plan to buy a whole bunch of Costco Cash cards with either my Chase Freedom or Discover card this quarter. If they refuse to sell to me merchandise at their store, I’ll ask for a refund on the Cash Cards.


I keep a low profile–only go there about once a month and go on weekdays to minimize the crowd for me and for the cashier/asst manager. But as you say, worst that happens is that they have to refund the money to you.

I only buy a few items at Costco–TP and sardines (no relationship :grinning: ). As I mention in the original post, I can get better prices for everything else I buy by shopping the sales.


I don’t see how this is enforceable. I’d call Costco HQ and complain about the manager. You’re entitled to use whatever gift cards you have access too without issue. They can’t tell you to just eat the money and get lost.


Cash Card wasn’t the issue … it as a Cash Card without a membership. They obviously lose a membership when you shop this way and the whole membership pyramid would crumble if too many did it. Just like they are cracking down on non-household membership sharing.

The Cash Card page though does clearly state that the Manager is wrong.


Members and non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online at


Great! Now, if I could only buy cash cards in Canada, at a ~25% exchange rate and use them in the U.S. :wink:


The other day they had folks with scanner guns trying to upsell people on Executive membership. I countered and said I didn’t become Executive because I didn’t buy enough at Costco. They then said my refund check would be $65 (my membership is up for renewal in November). Basically it’s a $5 difference if I became Executive, and because of when the executive check is issued it would be less. I was executive a few years ago but downgraded when my check didn’t cover the difference.


I’m a huge Costco fan. Shared a membership with my father for 30 years now.

In addition to the points others have mentioned about superior return policies, Kirkland items, and pricing of staples, I like the lack of gimmicks and the curated selection of items (i.e., they have one or three of the best brands/items in a category, not 50). Together, those factors help me shop efficiently for items I’ve got no real expertise on.


They’ll always give you cash for the difference between executive and regular membership (as long as you give them whatever rewards you earned). IOW, if the difference in price between executive and not is 60 dollars, and you only get 5 dollars in rewards, you can bring the 5 dollar reward certificate to them and they’ll give you 60 dollars cash. You could also keep the certificate if you want, and they’ll give you 55 dollars cash.

I’ve also heard of people being able to get cash for their reward certificates up to the price of membership, though not sure if this is an actual costco policy or a decision by local management. In the end, memberships are fully refundable so customers do have considerable bargaining power.


For me, it’s all about consistency. While Costco doesn’t always have the same stuff, they typically have 90-95% of the staples we get there, and their prices are good:

Organic Whole Chicken - 1.99/lb
Organic Frozen Vegetables
Organic Frozen Fruit
Organic Eggs
Kerrygold Butter
Maple Syrup

If I go to Costco and pick all of that stuff up, it’s a pretty good deal for me to visit every 2-4 weeks and load up a chest freezer. Plus, buying in bulk simply saves me time. That’s probably the biggest savings.

One other “tip,” is to share your membership. I added my in-laws to the membership years ago. They think I’m doing them a favor by saving them a membership fee, but because I have the executive membership, I get the 2% on their spend for free.


If you have Trader Joe’s or Sprouts in your area it makes sense to check their prices. We haven’t bought maple syrup for a while but when we checked Joe’s house brand cost less per ounce.

We don’t do organic but I know both Joe’s and Sprouts carry a lot of organic stuff. Joe’s has good everyday prices and Sprouts has good sales.

Most people assume Costco has lower prices but as I mentioned in the OP if you price compare especially for sale items you can easily beat their prices.


There are a lot of things sold at Costco that can be found cheaper elsewhere if you buy generic. I usually do buy generic for those items. There are some cases, however, where Costco has more premium and better quality items for about the same or slighly more. Depending on the item, I sometimes find better value at Costco. They do have some other items that we only buy at Costco and no-where else because we love the bulk value and the item itself. Of course not everything is a good deal and ‘value’ to anyone is relative.


But is the membership worth it? If I want to buy their well reviewed formula for 12 months, I can either join and pay them $60, or just buy it online without a membership and pay the same amount.

What am I getting for the $60? Nothing? Something? Clearly when picking just a few items up there the executive 2% back doesn’t make sense…so everyone is ok giving them $60 for nothing? Can you all send me $60 instead?


Not every decision is purely financial. This is one of them :slight_smile:

I could probably split with someone or use the gift card trick to save the $60/year, but it’s just not that important to me to save $5/month.


I think for many people, not buying a warehouse club membership allows one to save a lot of money. I think most people spend more on stuff when they go into a Costco warehouse than not (same is true with prime on Amazon). If this was really about the membership fee, it would be a different conversation, but it is whether people really buy stuff they need or just spend more overall.

In terms of prices, I think most of that advantage is gone on goods sold in the warehouse. I see Amazon matches prices from Sam’s Club a lot on in-warehouse only items. That is the way it is supposed to work.

I think there is some serious threat in the membership model for access which is why all of these loopholes continue (the Costco Cash cards, accepting non-visa online, Google Express, etc.). I think Sam’s Club will blink first on the membership issue, but they already did by closing down so many warehouses without notice. And those start-up deals from Groupon or Living Social are effectively free memberships.

The travel components (theme park tickets or travel deals) can be very compelling. So, the best Costco membership is someone else who has one that you can access to buy these items via the website or a tagalong visit.


The following benefits require membership:

  • CostcoTravel for rental cars.
  • Tires. Better if you have more than one car or drive a lot.
  • Citi Costco Visa.
  • Save time by not having to get a temporary shopping pass at Guest Services each time you want to use a Cash Card. I guess this is YMMV.


Never understood Sam’s appeal. Walmart has the same prices, but doesn’t require a membership or to buy in bulk.

Costco at least has quality meats, excellent customer service, extended warranty and good deals on appliances, and the Kirkland brand, which offers quality products at a good price.