Should You Get a Costco Membership?

updated May 1, 2019
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We write a lot about Costco (because most of our readers love it!), but we realize that not all of you are members. Maybe you’ve been reading all of our recent stories, though, and you’ve been really considering joining in. Should you? If so, which membership should you get?

Keep reading to figure out what’s best for you.

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Shopping Without a Costco Membership

Although Costco is widely known as a members-only store, you don’t necessarily need to be a member to shop there. For example, non-members can buy Costco alcohol (depending on your state’s laws), fill prescriptions, get hearing and vision checked, and eat at the food court (try the $1.50-hot dog!). Non-members can also shop online — either right on Costco’s site or through a delivery service like Instacart. (Note: You can expect to pay more and you won’t get access to special membership deals.) Some Kirkland Signature items, from Costco’s private-label brand, are even available on sites like Amazon and Jet.

There are two other slightly shady ways you can shop Costco without a membership. One is to tag along with a friend who is a member (she’s allowed to bring her children and up to two guests on a single trip). The other way is to have said friend pick up a gift card for you. This gift card acts as a temporary membership and gets you all the access her membership card gets her. Of course, both of those options can end up being a bit of a hassle and you might find that the $60 is worth it.

This is the basic membership and it gets you into any Costco worldwide. (Because who doesn’t want to visit the Costco in Australia to see what it’s all about?) The card gets you through the door and gives you access to the special members-only prices. And let’s say you get a membership and don’t use it or find you just don’t love it: Costco will cancel and refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.

Saving Money at Costco

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You’ll pay double for this membership and you’ll get a bunch of stuff (like discounted insurance rates!). The most enticing thing you’ll get? An annual two percent cash back rewards on purchases. There are some exclusions (read: tobacco and alcohol in some states), but almost everything else is included. Is it worth paying up for the $120 membership? Let’s do the math: You’d have to spend $3,000 a year in order to make back that extra $60 bucks. That’s $250 a month. Would you spend that much on groceries and household supplies? If you would, then it’s totally worth it.

For New Costco Shoppers

Are you a Costco member? If you are, which membership do you have? If you aren’t, why not?