There are ways new Costco members can reduce that $60 annual fee.
- If you aren’t in a rush to buy your Costco membership this month, you may get a better deal later in the year.
- There are ways to shop at Costco without paying the membership fee, which is the biggest saving of all.
- If you buy a Costco membership, get the best value for your money by using all the services.
Costco has over 120 million members worldwide, attracted, amongst other things, by its great prices, bulk offers, and other perks. But you’ll need to pay a membership fee to access many of those deals. An annual Gold Star Costco membership will set you back $60 a year. And its Executive membership, which gives extra benefits such as 2% cash back on certain purchases, costs double that at $120.
There are ways to save money on your membership, especially if you haven’t signed up before. Here are a few of them.
1. Watch out for new member deals
Watch Groupon and other online deal websites for special offers throughout the year. For example, last summer, new Costco members could get a $40 Costco Shop Card — a type of gift card you can use in store — as well as a $40 discount on an online order of over $250. Those two offers combined would have more than covered the cost of a basic membership itself.
Outside of special promotions, new Costco members can get a $10 Costco Shop Card when they sign up. It’s a year round offer, and to qualify you need to set up auto renewal on your membership. If you don’t want to automatically renew, you can cancel this further down the line. Costco also offers a higher value gift card — a $20 Costco Shop Card — for students, teachers, medical professionals, government employees, and other groups.
2. Use a cash back app
There are two ways cash back apps can save you money at Costco. Some, such as Ibotta and Fetch will pay rewards for certain products when you scan the receipts. Others, such as BeFrugal and TopCashback.com will pay cash back when you sign up for membership. These savings can add up and translate to more money in your bank account.
3. Make the most of your membership
The best way to save money on your Costco membership is to make the most of it. You can do this in several ways:
- Maximize your rewards: Ordinary Costco members can earn cash back rewards on all purchases with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. If you’re an Executive member, you’ll get that cash back as well as the 2% cash back you’re already earning. And that’s in addition to any rewards from cash back apps or other discounts.
- Watch out for offers: Check your Instant Savings booklet each month for products you buy regularly. You don’t actually need to clip coupons, but knowing what’s on offer will help you save in store.
- Buy Kirkland products: Costco’s own brand products often represent great value. Be aware that you still need to compare prices, as Kirkland isn’t always the lowest-cost option on the block.
- Buy in bulk: You can get serious discounts by bulk buying, as long as you use everything before it goes bad. Consider splitting your shopping with a friend or family member if you won’t eat what you’ve bought in time.
- Use all of Costco’s services: Costco does a lot more than gas and groceries. You can also buy insurance at Costco, get hearing tests, and even get help with home renovations. With an executive membership, you can access Costco travel services and save money on your vacations.
You don’t have to be a member to shop at Costco
The ultimate saving on your Costco membership is not to buy it at all. There are a few different ways to shop at Costco without being a member. One is to go with someone who is a member, or to get them to buy you a Costco Shop Card.
You can also shop online without a membership, but you’ll pay a surcharge and can’t access certain offers. This means you’re unlikely to save much. Similarly, you can shop via online delivery services like Instacart, but you may pay a hefty markup.
Finally, in some stores, you don’t need a membership if you’re looking for prescription drugs, eye tests, or want to use the food court. In some states, you can also buy alcohol without a membership.
A Costco membership isn’t the right option for everybody, but if you shop there regularly it could pay off. If you’re able to wait until later in the year when you could swing a bigger gift card bonus, the membership may even pay for itself.
The important thing is to work out how much you’re likely to spend in Costco each year, and how much you’ll save with a membership. That way you can decide whether to go for the normal Gold Star membership, the Executive membership, or no membership at all.
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