If you can get a car or a party platter for a good deal at Costco, why not shop its selection of cell phones? Like many other services the store offers, the members-only perks of buying a cell phone from the world’s fifth-largest retailer make the annual fee worth it every year.
However, before you check out the selection and savings, read up on these 15 things to know before buying Costco cell phones!
15 Things to Know Before Buying Costco Cell Phones In 2023
1. Look for the Wireless Advocates Kiosks When Buying Costco Cell Phones
The easiest way to find the cell phones at Costco is to look for the Wireless Advocates branded kiosks in the store, which tend to be rectangular in shape, black with punches of color from the different carrier logos and fairly tall.
They’re topped with a sort of “roof” of carrier logos, so if you just look up a bit – or wander toward the electronics area – you should be able to find it.
Instead of handling cell phone sales themselves, Costco instead outsources them to Wireless Advocates, an experienced “third-party provider and retailer of wireless products.”
2. Understand the Salespeople at the Costco Cell Phone Kiosks Are Wireless Advocate Employees
Since Wireless Advocates is its own company operating within the grounds of Costco, the employees at the kiosk are not Costco employees.
That means if you have a question about something relating to Costco, the Wireless Advocate employees are not the ones to ask.
However, this also means that the kiosk employees are trained and knowledgeable about the products they’re selling, which is in contrast to Costco employees who man the jewelry department and are not trained in gemology or diamond expertise.
3. Costco Cell Phones Are Sold Via Wireless Plans
All of Costco’s phones are sold as part of three major wireless carriers: Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
If you’re already on one of those plans, you can buy a phone that is primed to work, and if you’re not, you can get a phone and sign up for a new plan, but it must be one of the above-mentioned options.
Clark.com reports that the plans offered at Costco are the same as you would find in the carriers’ retail locations or online, but the difference is Costco’s special member pricing.
4. You Can’t Buy Unlocked Costco Cell Phones
Unfortunately, Costco is not a seller of unlocked phones that can be used with any carrier. You simply cannot purchase the latest iPhone and hope to use it with a Cricket Wireless plan.
Rather, you will have to be ready to switch to a new plan with Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile if you aren’t already.
5. You Can Find the Top Brands When Shopping Costco Cell Phones
Clark.com also reports that Costco’s Wireless Advocate kiosks tend to have the newest phone models available.
A visit to membershipwireless.com, Costco’s external cell phone website, reveals the latest Apple and Samsung models, including the iPhone 13 and the Galaxy Z Flip3.
Costco did not, however, have the latest Google Pixel model, which was surprising since it had been out for a few months at the time of publication.
The company also has a decent selection of older models, which are of course even more affordable.
6. Expect to Save up to 10 Percent on Costco Cell Phones
The latest cell phone models are no small investment these days, but Costco helps take the sting out of the price tag for its members.
While 10 percent off is the exception and not the rule, you’re most likely to see anywhere from three to four percent discount off retail prices.
For example, the Apple iPhone 13 in Starlight is $899 on Apple’s website. However, you can get it for $865 through Costco, a savings of about four percent.
7. Don’t Worry About Paying for Your Costco Cell Phones All at Once
Like most other retailers, when you purchase your cell phone from Costco, you don’t always have to worry about paying for it all at once.
Instead, you can pay for most phones in monthly installments, and you can even put down a down payment to lower those monthly fees.
8. There Are Benefits to Buying Costco Cell Phones Versus Other Avenues
Costco has done a really nice job of partnering with Wireless Advocates and offering exclusive members-only deals to its customers.
Currently, shoppers can save up to $700 off Apple phones if they went into the warehouse and purchased in person with a trade-in.
As well, there was a deal where customers who signed up for a new line with T-Mobile could get a Samsung Galaxy A32 for free.
9. Buy Your Costco Cell Phone When You Have Some Time
One of the major complaints about buying a cell phone at Costco is that the entire process can take a while.
Sometimes there is only one person working, so just one individual has to work their way through the line of people.
Clark.com also mentions that there is quite a bit of paperwork to get through, so just plan ahead, especially if it’s the weekend or other busy time.
10. Shop With a Second or Third Choice of Costco Cell Phones
One other complaint about Costco cell phone shopping is that in-store inventory is limited.
If you’re walking in and absolutely have to walk out with a phone that day, you should come prepared with second or third choices.
11. Costco Cell Phones Are Eligible for Return for 90 Days
Overall, you can return a Costco cell phone up to 90 days after purchase. This is obviously not in line with Costco’s general return policy, which is much more lenient; unfortunately, electronics like mobile devices follow a different policy.
According to Clark.com, returns are actually handled through Wireless Advocates and not Costco.
Therefore, don’t bring your phone back to Costco. Instead, contact Wireless Advocates via email at CostcoOnlineSupport@wirelessadvocates.com or by phone at 1-888-369-5931.
12. But Make Sure You Read the Fine Print on the Costco Cell Phones Return Policy
No one likes reading the fine print, but in this instance, it could save you a lot of money.
Check and double-check on the length of the trial period, because while It’s generally 14 days, the length can differ from carrier to carrier.
13. The Service at Costco Cell Phones Kiosks Isn’t Quite as Thorough
The services you can receive at a Wireless Advocate kiosk are not, by nature, as thorough as you might receive if you went to a Verizon Wireless store.
For example, at a VZW retail location, the employees can get your iCloud (for iPhone) connected after activating your phone.
However, Wireless Advocate employees are unable to do so, but will instead give you printed instructions on how to do it when you get home.
14. Check Out the Costco Cell Phones Accessories for Members-Only Deals
Cell phones aren’t the only products getting the Costco members-only deal treatment.
You can also find all kinds of accessories like screen covers, cases, chargers, cables and more, for low Costco prices, and through limited-time specials.
15. Shop the Black Friday Sales for Even More Deals on Costco Cell Phones and Accessories
Do not miss Costco’s Black Friday deals, especially if you’re in the market for a new cell phone, as the company tends to roll out sweet deals during this period, so if the timing is right, you could save big.
For example, in November 2021, Costco offered a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE for only $499 – as well, customers who opened a new line with T-Mobile also received a $300 Costco Shop card!
If you want to learn more, you can also see our posts on Costco’s phone return policy, Costco iPad return policy, and Costco laptop & computer warranty.
If you have a membership to Costco and have been thinking about getting a new phone, the warehouse is a great place to look.
Costco’s lower prices, combined with ongoing deals and perks, can’t be beat, and you get the trusted, quality service of three major carriers- Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.