Many of us hold off on our vision appointments because they can be expensive, whether it’s paying for the exam or ordering lenses and frames.
Fortunately, however, Costco has taken the money-saving business model and applied the benefits to its many optical centers, where members can receive vision exams and order lenses. If you’d like to learn more about Costco Optical, read through this list of 15 useful facts!
15 Things to Know Before Visiting Costco Optical In [currentyear]
1. Find Out if Your Store Has a Costco Optical Center
Not every Costco warehouse store will have an optical center, but many do. The best way to find out if your location does have an optical center onsite is to enter your city, state or ZIP into the Costco Warehouse Locations finder.
If your store has an optical center, you will see an icon that looks like a little pair of glasses.
2. You Don’t Have to Be a Member to Make an Appointment with Costco Optical
Despite Costco being a members-only club, it does offer some shopping and services to non-members, including making an appointment at Costco’s optical center.
In many cases, particularly based on location, an exam at the Costco optical center will be much cheaper than at any private practice (even with insurance).
Non-members can take their eyeglass or contacts prescription, or both, and use them at an online retailer, like Warby Parker.
3. You Have to Be a Member to Place an Order Via Costco Optical
Non-Costco members have to take their prescriptions from the Costco Optical Center to a different retailer because you do have to be a member to place an order through the center.
4. Making an Appointment With Costco Optical Means Picking up the Phone
Costco Optical doesn’t offer online appointment setting, unlike rivals such as VisionWorks or LensCrafters.
To make an appointment, you should call your local warehouse (after ensuring there is a vision center within) and use the automated menu to access the vision department.
Next, you’ll just speak with a staff member, and they will get you set up for your appointment.
5. Occasionally You Can Snag a Walk-in Appointment at Costco Optical
Some Costco Optical centers offer walk-in appointments, though you are probably further ahead scheduling an appointment.
Still, if you walk in and see the area isn’t busy, and you don’t have any other plans for an hour or so, it’s a convenient option.
6. Costco Optical Accepts Many Insurance Plans
According to its rather vague website, Costco accepts “most insurance plans.” Cheapism purports that “most insurance plans” include VSP, EyeMed, Blue Shield, Spectera, United Healthcare, and more.
However, one glaring exclusion from the list is Medicaid. Costco’s pharmacy doesn’t accept Medicaid, so it’s unclear if the Optical Center also excludes this option.
That said, if you want to know if Costco Optical accepts your insurance before heading in, your best bet is to call in and ask.
7. You Will See a Licensed Optometrist at Costco Optical
Costco only employs licensed optometrists (O.D.s or Doctors of Optometry) in all vision centers.
These individuals tend to be independent optometrists, meaning they aren’t Costco employees (more likely an independent contractor-type role).
8. You Will Find a Lot of Options on Glasses at Costco Optical
Costco Optical really boasts a robust selection of frames, lenses and contacts for its members to choose from.
You can find designer frames from Fendi, Burberry, Bebe and Tod’s, plus lenses with blue light and anti-reflective treatment.
Costco sells polarized lenses and HD progressive lenses, and they also sell Transitions lenses and prescription sunglasses (with frame brands like Ray-Ban).
9. There Are Plenty of Contact Lenses to Choose From at Costco Optical
For contact lens wearers, you can order through Costco and gain access to brands like Acuvue, Biofinity, Dailies and Ultra.
10. Costco Optical Even Sells Kirkland Signature Lenses
The store brand that saves customers more can even save money in the vision center, as Costco sells Kirkland Signature daily disposable contacts in a 90-pack, and HD Digital Progressive Lenses under the store label.
11. Prices at Costco Optical Are Pretty Good
Estimates of Costco optical exam prices put the retailer at slightly cheaper than competitors’.
Cheapism thinks an exam, without insurance applied, costs about $70-80 (and a commenter on e suggests calling and asking directly what your exam would cost).
Frames, lenses and contact lenses will all have different price tags attached, but what you can count on is a much lower mark-up than usual.
In fact, thee suggests that the mark-up at Costco is as little as one percent of the price that Costco pays to carry vision items.
The optical lens prices at Costco are comparatively cheaper than other competitors. For example, a six-pack of Biofinity toric lenses costs $49.87 at Costco, while the same item costs $69.99 regularly at 1800 Contacts.
12. Members Can Bring in Existing Prescriptions to Take Advantage of Costco Optical Prices
Costco members can take advantage of the vision centers’ flexible rules regarding existing prescriptions.
Rather than being locked into a vision exam in order to purchase glasses or contacts through Costco, members can simply bring in their existing prescriptions.
As well, customers can use these to purchase what they require for Costco’s lower prices.
13. Costco Optical Tends to Have Longer-Than-Stated Wait Times for Orders
Some customers have remarked on Costco’s faster-than-expected delivery times for glasses or contacts to come in.
However, some customers have commented that slower-than-expected delivery times are the one major pitfall to using Costco Optical.
Overall, if you need glasses or contacts in a hurry, Costco Optical probably isn’t the wisest first choice.
14. The Retailer’s Generous Return Policy Is Not Applicable to Costco Optical Purchases
Costco members get used to the retailers’ uber-relaxed return policy, but unfortunately, it does not apply to their optical purchases.
Instead, members have 60 to 90 days to get their lenses replaced if there is a problem. Where contact lenses are concerned, unopened boxes can be returned for a full refund.
15. Ultimately, Costco Optical Even Appears to Be Worth the Price of a Membership
Despite the drawbacks of longer-than-expected delivery times and a replacement policy (versus refund), Cheapism thinks Costco Optical is worth the price of a membership.
Keep in mind that a Costco membership costs $60 or $120 (depending on which one you choose), but Cheapism believes what you save at the optical center makes up for it.
You get so much more than just these vision benefits with a Costco membership, as well!
Costco Optical is an affordable and convenient location within Costco warehouses, where members and nonmembers alike can receive vision exams.
Members alone are permitted to purchase glasses and eyeglasses through Costco, though, and the retailer’s low mark-ups could save you hundreds of dollars.