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Is a Costco Membership Worth It?

A hand holding a receipt with the brand name and logo in Costco warehouse

Whether you’ve been considering getting a Costco membership or you’re having immediate buyer’s remorse after paying the fees for your new membership, it’s time to determine if the cost is worth it.

New people flock to Costco and Sam’s Club yearly to invest in a membership that allows them to get cool deals and lots of bulk goods. What makes it worth the anywhere from $60 to $120 fee (for Costco) depends on who you are and what, or who, you’re shopping for.

What You Get for Your Costco Membership

While many people find themselves overwhelmed when they walk into Costco, and one online blogger said her friend described Costco as an “impersonal airplane hanger,” Costco has a lot to offer when you purchase a membership. It’s a nice shopping experience, and most of the employees are friendly.

A quick overlook of the benefits of a Costco membership:


  • It gets you in the door: First thing’s first; without a membership, you won’t be able to buy most things at Costco (though even non-members can visit the food court or buy prescriptions from a Costco pharmacy). For small and large businesses, and people with larger families, the most significant benefit of shopping here are the deals on bulk food items.
  • There’s more than food: Don’t focus entirely on the food aspect of Costco shopping; there is so much more. They have books (at great prices), discounted “in season” clothing, furniture, and more. You can stock your office and design your living room with purchases from Costco.
  • They have gas stations: The Costco gas pump with save you money on gassing up your vehicle, whether you drive a hybrid or an SUV.
  • They offer things you wouldn’t expect: While not available at all locations, many Costco stores offer help with mortgages, renters and homeowners insurance, travel discounts, and even movie ticket discounts.
  • They have vehicle services: Save money on parts and tires by bringing your car into the shop at Costco with your membership. The tires, especially, are a great deal. If you have a couple of vehicles, replacing tires at Costco can sometimes make up for the membership fee.

Of course, you need to make sure you look at the differences between the membership price points. Costco offers four different types of membership:

  • $60 Gold Star
  • $120 Gold Star Executive
  • $60 Business
  • $120 Business Executive

Business memberships provide something more, like the ability to add more people (not in the same home) to your membership, for a fee. You can also purchase for resale with a business membership card. If you just want to shop for home supplies, the Gold Star and Gold Star executive are the cards for you. There is a two-percent cash back option for the executive membership, and it offers “extra benefits on select Costco services.”

So, What Makes It Worth The Membership Cost?

You pay your membership yearly. If you shop there monthly, or even a couple of times a year, you should be able to earn back savings in the amount of your fee pretty quickly, with the right shopping choices. Like any shopping experience, there are items you’ll get significant savings on and there are some you won’t get as substantial a savings on.

Some of the areas where you’ll save the most money, which make it worth the membership, are:

Bulk Toiletries and Cleaning Supplies

While you still want to compare prices between the bulk purchases you make at Costco and the prices you’d spend elsewhere (some people prefer Amazon, but Prime is more expensive than a basic membership at Costco, and you get to see the stuff in hand before you buy it if you shop local). You may save money on diapers, toilet paper, bathroom and baby wipes, and even paper towels. The environmentally friendly bulk Kirkland dish soap is a great deal, and Costco carries a plethora of cleaning supplies, from brand names to their own Kirkland logo.

Specialty and Bulk Foods

For people with big families or a food-based business, buying food in bulk is always a better deal. However, even couples can find ways to save money on food with their Costco membership.

Organic and gluten-free grocery costs can add up quickly, and while you’ll usually never get out of Costco with a bill under $200, you will save money on the specialty foods you prefer. Costco has a decent selection of both organic and gluten-free items, as well as plenty of dairy-free options (like rice milk, soy milk, and almond milk in bulk). Shelf stable foods will last you a while, and you can freeze other stuff, so you won’t have to worry about food waste as much as you might think.

Wine and Spirits

isle of bottles in wine section of Costco store
Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Costco has a massive selection of alcoholic beverages. Some people swear by the Kirkland whiskey, for its taste and for the savings they get by buying it by the gallon. The deals on alcohol make it worth trying a membership out if you’re supplying drinks for your wedding or throwing a big party.

Pet Supplies

If you own multiple cats and dogs, shopping for your pet supplies (especially food and bedding) at Costco can help you save some money (maybe enough to adopt another pet). Anyone that has pets knows that going to pet stores is extremely expensive, so it’s worth the membership for pet owners too.

The Samples and the Dining

Another thing that Costco has that makes it worth the stop, is its own little restaurant space. Get a super affordable lunch before or after you shop. They have pizza, hot dogs and more. Not hungry, but could use a snack? You’ll find lots of sample stations set up throughout the food department with everything from juice and dessert, to sausage and breaded cod.

For an individual or for a couple with no kids that don’t use a lot of stuff, Costco might not be worth the money. However, if you have a small family, a small business, or require specialty foods that add up quickly elsewhere, Costco is definitely worth your money for that yearly fee. If you opt for the executive options to get that 2% cash back, you’ll need to spend around $300 a month to earn back your fee (just something to keep in mind when deciding which membership is right for you).

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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