Right behind Walmart for the leading retailer in the world, Costco has had immense success since opening its doors in 1976 under the name “Price Club.” Costco is by far the leading warehouse retailer in the world for anything you need in massive quantities. They currently have 707 stores throughout the world and even more impressive they have achieved all of this great success with no advertising and with a unique business model.
They have great food selections, clothing, electronics, alcohol, and about anything else you could think of. Their food court with pizza, chicken bakes, and other items are also extremely popular. Now, you can even order their pizza online! Unlike many retailers that have faced criticism for treatment of employees, Costco is routinely named as one of if not the best in the retail game when it comes to employee treatment.
You will also notice that many of their products are from the brand “Kirkland,” which is their own. It has been praised over the years for its high quality and the versatile products that it offered. Some of the stranger ones include coffins and wine bottles that cost thousands of dollars!
Now, with all these great features of Costco, you may be asking if there is a catch, and there definitely is. One reason Costco prices are so great but not everyone shops there is that there is a required membership that costs at a minimum $55 annually. If you pay for it, it will definitely pay for itself in the long run due to all of the great deals, but why not try to get it for free?
In this article, I will show you some great tricks and life hacks you can use to get the most out of your membership and in the end not have to pay a penny for it. There are several methods of doing this and each requires you to be a smart and mindful shopper. Continue to read for how to get the most out of that Costco membership.
Understand the Types of Memberships
There isn’t just one type of membership card for Costco, there are actually three. Let me go through all three briefly so you get a good idea about them.
Costco Gold Star Member
Starting off the varieties is the most basic membership, and anyone with an ID who is over 18 and comes into the store can get it. The cost is $55 annually and includes one card per household. For most of these tips, I will be using this fee, $55, when talking about how to save. This cost is the lowest and most purchased membership, as that is all a majority of people need.
This next membership is more selective than the previous, as it is open only to any licensed business, non-profit, government agency, or farmer. To apply for this card, you must show proof of your business or other entity I listed. You must also provide information about reselling the items if that is applicable. That is the biggest benefit of this card; you are licensed to resell your purchases. This is a huge thing for many businesses, as items per unit are extremely cheap at Costco as they are all in bulk.
You may think that the business card would be more, but it is actually the same as a Gold Star card, a $55 membership fee. Another great benefit of being a business member is that you receive one card, but you can add up to 6 additional business cards for $55 each. It’s not a membership most people will ever use or be able to, but it is still good to know it exists.
Costco Executive Member
A great bonus of all of these memberships is that if you are not satisfied with your membership at any time, Costco will refund your fee 100%. This is a small hack you can do if you want to shop there for free.
There are ways to get a membership at a discounted price if you wish to join the club and are eligible for the following offers that can save you money. They won’t allow you to save 100% off of the price of the membership, I will explain how to do that later. These simply are just ways to get it cheaper than $55. Combine these discounts with my other money-saving tricks will only allow you to make more money.
- Direct Membership Discount – Occasionally Costco will offer special membership promotions directly to customers in-store or through their website. Just make sure you are always on the lookout for theses deals, they usually happen about once a year.
- Costco Association Discount – If you are an employee of a major corporation that does business with Costco, you may be entitled to a special discount. Costco uses this as a marketing technique for large companies and organizations to promote memberships so they do it at a reduced rate. A good place to look for this would be on your company’s website under the employee section.
For another great membership discount, read Is There A PlayStation Plus Membership Discount?
How to Get it For Free
Now, for why you came here. How to get that membership for 100% free. Here are the most effective ways to get that done.
Starting off this list is a tip that can be used if you do a lot of shopping at Costco; $5,500 a year to be exact. If you purchase the executive membership that I already explained, you get 2% cash back on all of your purchases at the end of the year.
It may seem a lot from that number, but that is $106 per week or $624 per month. Definitely doable for someone with a large family who does most of their shopping at Costco.
So, next time you go shopping at Costco, take a look at your receipts. If you are consistently spending the amount of money listed above, you should definitely consider getting an executive membership. You may not only break even but also make money off of it!
Buy the Right Products
Just simply buying the right things, the items that have the best deals compared to other retailers, is any other easy way to get that $55 to pay for itself. This is by far the most effective method and how you really take advantage of Costco prices. Here are some great products to do this with.
- Tires: A great service of Costco is their tire center. Not only does Costco have excellent prices and the highest quality tire brands, they also give you lifetime rotation and balancing, lifetime warranty replacements, and nitrogen tire inflation, which keeps pressure much better than air. Just buying one set of tires with all of the benefits will easily save you several hundred dollars over the next couple of year
- Wine: If buy at least 1 bottle of wine a month, you will definitely save money if you shop at Costco. On average, you save $5-$12 on each bottle, and the quality is extremely high. Don’t believe me? Well, check out the Costco Wine Blog for reviews and updates on the varieties offered.
- Movie Tickets With movie tickets being so expensive now, buying at Costco is the way to go if you go frequently. The deals are usually 10-packs of AMC tickets for $89.99 or a 10-pack at Cinemark Theaters for $84.99. These are also great for gifts.
- Gift Cards: Costco always has great deals on at least some gift cards. You may not be able to find a card for a store you want all the time, but the time you do the savings will probably be in the 25%-35% off range. Buying around $200 worth of gift cards will pay for your membership, and you might as well if you are going to shop at the other stores anyway.
Buy Gift Cards Online
In Costco, you can only use Visa cards now. This is a bummer for those people who want to use other cards because they get great cash back on them. Lucky for you, you can shop on Costco.com with any card of your choosing. This step will work if you get great cashback on a card that is not Visa. Simply buy Costco gift cards on their website, and then use them in store. For instance, if you got 3% cash back on your card, to get $55 back you would only have to spend $1833 in a year, or $152 a month for it to pay for itself. I know this step may require a bit of work, but it is still a way to get that membership fee waived.
Costco is pretty hard to beat when it comes to wholesale goods in a warehouse setting that any consumer with a membership can use. When it debuted over 40 years ago, it definitely was a game changer in the retail world, as the way they do business is totally different than any other company.
The only thing that really deters anyone from shopping at Costco is their annual membership fee required to shop there. There are three levels of membership, and the one that most regular consumers get is $55 a year. It may not seem like a lot, but there are ways to avoid this fee and essentially shop at Costco without having to pay for a membership. From buying an executive membership to getting those products with great deals, there are many ways you can get the most out of your savings.