Save & Invest
Is a Costco Membership Worth It?July 26, 2023
Costco is known for amazing deals and has many loyal shoppers in Canada. Buying in bulk reduces how often you need to shop and can save you money on the cost per item. But you do have to pay for a Costco membership and buying in bulk isn’t right for everyone’s lifestyle.
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So, is a Costco membership worth it for you? That’s because you can get more in bulk for less. And.. if you shop a lot at Costco, you could end up earning your membership fee back.
Gold Star Membership vs Executive Membership
Costco offers two personal-use memberships. The Gold Star Membership costs $60 annually and allows access to any Costco worldwide and online at costco.ca. It also includes in a Spouse Card for a spouse or family member residing at the same address over the age of 18.
The Executive Membership costs $120 annually. With this membership, you get the same benefits as the basic membership as well as deals on member services like travel and dental insurance, home telecommunications, and credit card processing. Executive Memberships also include a subscription to Costco’s Connection magazine and Costco.ca inserts by mail.
The biggest draw of the Executive Membership is that it offers a 2% reward (up to $1,000) on most Costco purchases. To cover the $60 extra dollars of this membership over the basic membership, you would need to spend $3000 annually, or $250 a month. If you find that you’re spending a lot at Costco, then this would make a big difference. You don’t have to have a large household either. Meat alone is much cheaper at Costco. If you purchase a lot of that, then the Executive Membership could be worth it.
And, like the rest of their legendary accommodating exchange policy, Costco will refund your membership if you’re dissatisfied.
Here are some things to consider if you’re on the fence about getting a membership, and tips on how to make the most of it.
1. Brand awareness
Costco tends towards stocking higher-end brands with a good reputation. If you like buying organic, Costco has a pretty good selection, but you might not find your preferred brands. And if you’re more about quantity over quality, you may find better deals buying generic brands from other grocery stores.
For many shoppers, Costco’s own brand, Kirkland, is enough to justify the membership. For instance, Kirkland’s affordable vodka has been compared to Grey Goose. However, not every Kirkland product is made equal, so you’ll have to figure out which Kirkland products are worth it.
2. Be wary of buying products you’ve never tried
Likewise, the stock often varies at Costco, so you can’t always find the same deal twice. This can lead to substituting your purchases or just trying new ones. You then run the risk of buying a large quantity of something that you may discover you don’t like. Maybe a 12-pack of veggie chips at Costco had a cheaper per-unit price, but if you ended up hating the taste of them, you’ve spent more overall than if you had bought a single pack to test.
3. Think about how much space you have
On a purely practical level, you can only buy as much as your house will hold. If you have a pantry or extra closet space in your house, then a jumbo-sized box of paper towels is super handy. If you have a small condo or apartment-sized fridge, you’ll run out of room quickly.
4. Share Costco memberships
One way for couples or singles to get the most out of a Costco membership is to share one. The cost of the membership is then halved, and purchases can be likewise be split. Just remember the cardholder has to be there, meaning you have to coordinate shopping trips.
5. Consider the shelf-life of products
If you’re shopping for a family, then buying perishable goods at Costco might be just fine, but if you don’t cook regularly or you live alone, it might be a waste of money.
You may be able to individually freeze the family pack of chicken breasts, but there isn’t much you can do to extend the life span of a bag of bananas. Buying perishable goods in bulk can lead to a huge amount of food waste on top of wasting your money.
6. Resist impulse purchases
You also need to be honest with yourself about the type of shopper you are. If you can make a list and stick to it, then Costco might not present a challenge. However, if you’re prone to impulse buying or have a hard time passing up a bargain, then Costco can be a dangerous place.
This is where the Costco Connection Magazine (part of the Executive Membership) could help you out. Armed with this information, you can plan ahead for your trip and scope out the best deals.
7. Costco gift cards and tickets
Costco’s discounted tickets, passes, and gift cards are an offering that can get overlooked. You can save money buying gift cards, memberships, and passes to spas, restaurants, museums, gyms, sports games, movies, and more. If you regularly go to the movies or certain restaurants, then a Costco membership may well be worth it for you.
Renewing Your Costco Membership
When it comes to renewing your Costco membership you can either go in person and renew, or you can set up automatic renewal. Either way, you can renew your membership efficiently and you don’t have to keep the same membership. If you start out with the Executive Membership and don’t think it’s worth it, you can always change it to the standard membership.
A Costco business membership is similar to a regular membership, except for the fact that you have to prove that you’re a business owner. The fee is $60 plus tax, and it includes six additional cards and a free household card. It lasts one year, just like the other cards, and can be renewed online or in person.
Which Membership Works Best for You?
Each of the membership options have some great features. Lets take a look at the differences of each.
For starters, all of the memberships start with the base fee of $60. With the standard membership, you get one free household card and it can be used at any Costco Worldwide. The Executive Membership includes the same except you pay an extra $60 to upgrade. You get an extra 2% back on all purchases and you get some extra perks with Costco travel products and Costco Services. To figure out which works best for you depends on how much you intend to spend annually.
Costco: the final decision
Whether you should get a membership comes down to your lifestyle and your shopping habits.
If you have a large family and the space to store extra goods, buying in bulk can save you time and money. For families, the Executive Membership may be the best option with its 2% Rewards program.
For a couple or single, a Costco membership might be less useful, especially if you’re living in an apartment. But, you could try sharing a membership and avoiding perishable goods.
It also has to be said that you don’t like crowds and hate line ups, Costco might not be the place for you. At the very least, you might have to skip shopping on the weekends and find a quieter weeknight.
The bottom line is that like any money-saving venture, you need to plan ahead. If you know what you need, how to spot a good deal, and can stick to your shopping list, then Costco can be a boon to your bank account.