We live in the age of must-haves, when retailers have hit it big if they can go viral for a product or service. Costco is the fifth-largest retailer in the world, and is famous for multiple reasons, from its giant hot dog deals to its car-buying program.
However, before you sign up, maximize your benefits with these 15 things to know before buying a Costco membership!
15 Things to Know Before Buying a Costco Membership In 2023
1. You Have Three Costco Membership Options
Most Costco members have one of two memberships: the Gold Star (or “basic”) membership, which costs $60 per year, or the Executive membership, for $120.
There is a third type, the Business membership, which includes both a Business Executive option and a regular Business choice. Memberships last one year from the date of purchase and can be paid for by credit or most debit cards.
If you’re already a member and you know someone who you think would love it, consider gifting a membership.
Even better, if they’re already a basic Costco member, your gift will upgrade them to the Executive membership.
2. An Executive Costco Membership Is Especially Beneficial
While the Gold membership comes with terrific perks, the Executive membership is a step above.
Only with the Executive membership can you get two percent of your Costco purchases back annually as cash (up to $1,000).
Eligible purchases include not just warehouse goods, but the whole gamut of Costco services as well, such as travel packages and automobile purchases.
Executive members also have access to exclusive deals and discounts in stores and on many Costco services.
3. Purchase Your Costco Membership Online or in the Store
Purchasing a Costco membership has never been easier, as you can simply sign up online at Costco.com/join-costco.html – it just takes a few minutes!
Another alternative for signing up is to visit your local Costco warehouse and sign up at the membership desk. Further, you can also call in to 1-800-774-2678 and speak to a representative who can get you signed up.
4. You Must Be 18 to Purchase a Costco Membership
When you turn 18, you are eligible to sign up for a Costco membership.
The only real barrier to a Costco membership is age, but thankfully even college students who are old enough can take advantage of Costco’s low prices on bulk items.
5. Save on Your Costco Membership If You Belong to One of These Groups
In addition to the savings you receive when you shop at Costco, new members who sign up can receive additional bonuses if they fall under one of these six groups:
- Medical Professionals
- Military Personnel
- College Students
- First Responders
- Government Employees
The only catches are that you must use a Visa card to purchase the membership and you must sign up for auto-renewal.
However, by following these rules, in most cases you will receive a free $20 Costco Shop card (basically a gift card) to use toward the purchase of any in-warehouse goods you like.
6. Retrieve Your Costco Membership Card in the Store
If you signed up online, you might be wondering how you get your physical cards. Rather than mail them or have you print them, you can come into the warehouse for your first shop and visit the membership desk.
Bring your confirmation email with you when you come in so that the associate at the desk has the information they need to look you up.
7. No Sharing Your Costco Membership, But…
Unfortunately, you can’t “share” your membership card (i.e., let a friend borrow it for a visit), but you can bring up to two guests (not counting children) while shopping. These non-member guests cannot make purchases unless they have Costco Shop cards.
If they don’t, you will have to make the purchase for them – and hopefully they pay you back!
8. Save Even More Outside of Warehouses With Your Costco Membership
In early January 2022, Costco announced it was expanding its Costco Next program to include “dozens of brands and hundreds of products.”
Costco Next takes additional discounts off of certain brands sold in Costco stores, but the expansion includes yet more brands that are not currently sold in stores.
Instead of receiving the discount in stores or at Costco.com, customers can use it on the brands’ own websites.
For more information, check out this helpful article.
9. Your Costco Membership Is Good at Any Warehouse
Are you visiting family out of town or moving? With your Costco membership, you have the flexibility to shop any store in the world.
Your membership gains you access to any Costco warehouse anywhere, and if you’re visiting family who are non-members, you can even bring them along as guests.
10. A Costco Membership Nets You More Than Just Discounted Goods
Most people sign up for a Costco membership to get the best prices on foods and goods, but if you fail to take advantage of Costco’s many services, you’re missing out.
Some of the more popular services include the following:
- Costco Car Buying – Get exclusive discounts on new and used vehicles, plus a discount on services and accessories
- Costco Tires – Save on major tire brands and receive free tire maintenance for life
- Costco Travel – Get significant, exclusive discounts on getaways, hotels, car rentals and more; Executive members often receive perks and freebies
These are just a few of the services Costco offers as part of its memberships, and you can read about them all here.
11. Consider Using the Costco Anywhere Visa Card
If you anticipate that you will start fueling up at Costco and shopping there on the regular, consider signing up for the Costco Anywhere Visa card by Citibank.
This card helps you “maximize your membership benefits” by giving you the following:
- Four percent back on fuel purchases
- Three percent on restaurants and travel (including Costco Travel)
- Two percent on all Costco purchases
- One percent on all other purchases
Learn more about the Costco Anywhere Visa here.
12. You Don’t Need a Costco Membership for All the Store’s Services and Products
Thinking about a Costco membership but not sure if you’re ready to commit? There are some goods and services available to non-members.
These include the pharmacy (some stores even have separate entrances that lead directly to the pharmacy area) and the optical center.
For the latter, you don’t have to be a member to schedule an appointment, but you do have to be one to take advantage of the discounted glasses and lenses rates.
You can also purchase alcohol without a membership in some states.
13. Sign up for Costco Membership Auto-Renewal
If you’re a procrastinator who lets subscriptions run out and can’t seem to get around to restarting them, the Costco membership auto-renewal is your friend.
You can sign up for this feature and never worry about your membership running out.
14. Costco Membership Comes With a 100 Percent Satisfaction Guarantee
Costco is renowned for its generous 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, which includes a full refund for many and most items.
Though individually you get a great deal on food items, the sticker shock because you’re buying in bulk can be jarring.
If you’re nervous about spending so much money in one place on a single grocery trip, you needn’t be.
Members can take full advantage of the refund policy, which covers most anything except electronics and diamonds.
15. Even Your Costco Membership Can Be Returned
Did you know that Costco’s return policy also applies to its membership?
If you’re unhappy with your membership for any reason, you can “return” it and get a refund! You could ostensibly do this if you wanted to visit the store and see if it’s worth the membership for your family.
To know more about Costco, you can also see our posts on whether or not Costco membership auto renew, Costco cash card, and if Costco offers a senior discount on membership.
A Costco membership is a good investment for most families, with Gold and Executive options for $60 and $120 annually, respectively.
Memberships include Costco’s generous return policy, but also net members extra discounts and deals on many common services.