In this post we answer the popular question “Is Costco membership worth it?” One topic that comes up quite a bit is about warehouse memberships. Most people who have a membership either belong to Costco or Sam’s Club. We’ve had a Costco membership for over 12 years and we’ve done the calculations.
Is Costco Membership Worth It?
Yes. As long as you use it enough to at least cover the cost of your Costco membership.
As of writing this post, the base membership cost is $60 per year. The video below breaks down how to save money at Costco to make the membership worthwhile.
Ways to Save Money at Costco
Use the Costco Credit Card
Costco Anywhere Visa credit card offers 4% cash back on all eligible gas fuel ups including Costco gas. 3% back on eligible travel and restaurant purchases. 2% back on all Costco warehouse and online purchases. 1% on all other purchases. We spend enough money on fuel (breakdown of travel expenses) each year to more than cover the cost of the $60 membership.
Credit Card: https://www.costco.com/credit-card.html
Fuel Up on Costco Gas
On average, we’ve found Costco gas to be anywhere from $.03 to $.20 less per gallon. If gas is your only consideration for a membership, make sure you plan to buy enough gas to cover the membership cost. Is Costco worth it if you only buy gas? At a $0.03 discount per gallon, it would take 2,000 gallons of gasoline a year to pay for the $60 membership.
Note: The height clearance is 13’6″ at all locations. Diesel is available at some Costco gas stations.
Costco Locations with Diesel: https://www.costco.com/gasoline-diesel.html
Costco Propane Refill
Newer locations have propane stations with significantly lower prices when compared to U-Haul and RV parks. Our last propane fill was $1.49/gallon in Prescott, Arizona. Let’s assume other propane services charge $2.99/gallon, it will take 40 gallons of propane in a year to cover the cost of the membership.
Note: Propane refill is available for fixed tanks on RVs and portable tanks. The service is not available at all Costco locations.
Check Costco Warehouse Coupons
Each month, Costco releases their warehouse coupons online. It’s a great way to find out what items go on sale. After being a member for a while, you will notice certain items go on sale on a regular basis. If you don’t need something right away, it’s best to wait for the next sale.
One example is Mobil 1 Motor Oil. A 6-pack of 1 quart bottles will usually go on sale at a $10 discount. Instead of paying $36.99, you can pick it up for $26.99. We’ve found that the prices at Costco are already competitive and when you add a coupon, it’s even a better deal.
Note: If an item goes on sale within 14 days after purchase, you can request a price adjustment at the refund counter with the original receipt.
Look for Manufacture Rebates
Some manufactures offer an instant rebate on their product. These rebates are not publicized on Costco’s website, which means you have to keep an eye out while shopping. Some rebates will have a limit on how many you can purchase. One rebate we recently saw was $1.50 off a bag of apple pears. Is Costco worth it if you only take advantage of the rebates? Probably not, unless you are buying a lot of apple pears to cover that membership fee.
Costco Clothing Selection
Costco has a decent number of clothes at very reasonable prices. It’s even better when these items go on sale. They also carry seasonal items such as swim wear, halloween costumes and winter clothes. Some of Joe’s favorite articles of clothing are from Costco. A pair of well made shorts costs around $10-$15.
Buy Costco Tires – Warranty Included
There is an ongoing $70 discount on Michelin or Bridgestone tires when you purchase four. That comes with free tire rotations, flat tire repairs and nitrogen fill. We purchased a new set of tires from Costco for one of our old cars and never had an issue getting rotations and other services at the tire center.
Note: Costco will work on tires not purchased from their warehouse. At one of the locations it costs $10.99 to repair a flat and $25.99 for a tire rotation.
Road Hazard Warranty: https://tires.costco.com/Common-Documents/Road-hazard-tires_us.aspx
Shop Costco Online – Free Shipping
Many items on Costco’s website offer free shipping. This is a great option when there isn’t a warehouse nearby or the item is only available online. We have noticed that certain items are priced higher online compared to the warehouse.
Note: Items purchased online can be returned to any Costco warehouse.
Buy Beer, Wine and Liquor at Costco
Costco is the largest wine buyer in the world with a good wine selection to choose from. The prices are the same or lower than a Total Wine or BevMo. Take advantage of discounts on alcohol especially around the holiday season.
Note: Alcohol discounts are not advertised in the coupon book.
Costco has its own brand of products labeled as Kirkland Signature. These are always cheaper compared to its name brand equivalent. Items include, but are not limited to, food items, alcohol, toilet paper, clothes and dog food. We’ve found the Kirkland Signature products to be as good or better than the name brand equivalent.
Kirkland Signature Products: https://www.costco.com/kirkland-signature.html
Costco 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
Their policy on membership is “We will cancel and refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.”
Their policy on merchandise is “We guarantee your satisfaction on every product we sell, and will refund your purchase price.” There is a 90 day time limit for returns on some electronics (TVs, computers, cameras, etc).
If you’re still asking Is Costco worth it? Then reread their membership policy. If you’re not satisfied with the membership, you can get a full refund.
Costco’s Return Policy: https://customerservice.costco.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1191
Costco Membership In Action
Costco isn’t just for big families and bulk purchases. See how we shop at Costco in the video below.
Some of our favorite items to purchase at Costco include: spices, nuts, fruits, vegetable, organic diced tomatoes, sardines in olive oil, garlic stuffed olives, and hot sauce.
Disclosure: We paid for the Costco membership and this post represents our own opinions.