Costco Membership Guide

Updated

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of becoming a Costco member, I see you.

It’s easy to get sucked into the Costco hype. How many of us have a BFF or a sister who swears by Costco? But if you’re hesitant to put a ring on it, or you’re slightly skeptical whenever people are overly excited about something (I’m raising my hand), I hope this will help answer your questions. Maybe it’ll even push you closer toward deciding whether a Costco membership is worth it (or not).

 

How much is a Costco membership?

Customers and employees at the Costco membership counter

Costco’s membership starts at $60 per year (Gold Star) and can go as high as $120 per year (Gold Star Executive). Gold Star Executive, or Costco’s executive membership, is the way to go if you spend more than $500 at Costco in a month. Since it offers 2% back on purchases (including Costco Travel!), you can earn back your membership fee if you total $6,000 in a year. And before you say you don’t spend that much at Costco, remember that’s just $500 a month!

A Costco business membership is $60 per year and it gives you the opportunity to resell items you buy at the warehouse.

 

Watch for Costco membership deals.

A person holding up a Costco Shop card near the the membership counter.

The membership deal I see most frequently is a free Costco Shop Card (gift card) when you sign up for a membership. These can come directly from Costco or through Groupon. For example, most recently I saw this offer:

  • Gold Star Members: $10 Costco Shop Card
  • Gold Star Executive Members: $20 Costco Shop Card

 

Costco membership discounts only exist for medical personnel, students, military, and teachers.

You won’t find a membership discount at Costco for the general public (outside of jumping on a Costco membership deal like I outlined above). But if you work in the medical field, you’re a student or you’re active duty, retired or a veteran in the military, you can get a Costco membership discount in the form of a Costco Shop Card. Depending on what category you’re in, you’ll get a shop card just once when you sign up or every time you renew.

  • Medical personnel: Get a $20 Costco Shop Card when you sign up as a new member
  • Students: Get a $20 Costco Shop Card when you sign up as a new member
  • Military: Get a $20 Costco Shop Card when you sign up as a new member or renew your membership
  • Teachers: Get a $20 Costco Shop Card when you sign up as a new member

 

Can I shop at Costco without a membership?

The Costco Optical and eye exams center with customers shopping and waiting in line.

In short, yes. Now, you can’t walk into the warehouse and just start buying but you can always place orders at Costco.com as a non-member. In order to shop inside the warehouse, you need to get your hands on a Costco Shop Card. Ask a friend who is a member to buy one for you and you’re in.

Also, some items (like liquor, eye exams and pharmacy items) must be made available to the public, based on state laws. Learn more about this and other ways to shop at Costco without a membership.

 

Don’t try and find a free Costco trial membership — it doesn’t exist.

The best way to create your own “trial membership” of sorts, is to use the Costco Shop Card trick. You’ll probably know if the monthly membership fee is worth it to you after a few zero-commitment visits to the warehouse.

 

Yes, you can renew your Costco membership online!

A Costco membership renewal screenshot from the website

Don’t want to stand in line with the mob of people trying to either get to the Costco customer service area or trying to exit with cartfuls of Costco treasure? Renew your membership online.

Costco Delivery

Sometimes getting to a Costco store, navigating through the widest aisles in groceryland and hauling bulk-everything through a busy parking lot is just. too. much. Enter Costco Delivery. Get the 411 on delivery fees, shipping times and even Costco delivery coupons.

Costco Black Friday

Did you know you don't have to be a member to shop Costco Black Friday online? Yep, it's true. And did you know Costco has not one, but three savings books for Black Friday? The best savings — including what to buy and what to skip — are revealed here.

Costco Return Policy


Costco Coupon Book


Costco Black Friday Deals


Costco Warehouse Savings


Best Costco Deals


Price Matching Costco