Costco Membership Guide


On the fence about getting a Costco membership? Chances are, you know at least one person with a Costco membership (and they likely won’t stop pestering you to join the club, too).

But how do you go about answering the question of "is a Costco membership worth it?" for yourself? And why are people paying $60 - $120 a year just to shop at a store?

Knowing where to find the best Costco deals is the key to justifying your membership fees. Costco members get exclusive savings in the Costco warehouse and online at, plus access to Costco Travel and Costco coupons. Once you learn all the best ways to save at Costco, you'll start to see what all the hype is about.

While you weigh the pros and cons of Costco Gold Star vs. Executive, use this Costco membership guide to find answers to all of the most common questions.

How much is a Costco membership?

Costco membership card in front of Costco store

There are three types of Costco memberships to choose from, and they range in price from $60 to $120 per year (at full price).

It's important to note that a Costco membership fee increase is happening Sept. 1, 2024. After the increase, the Gold Star membership will be $65 per year, and the Executive membership will be $130.

Here is the current membership fee breakdown (until Sept. 1):

  • Gold Star membership: $60 per year

  • Executive membership: $120 per year

  • Business membership: $60 per year

What is the difference between Costco memberships?

Unless you own a business (or need to purchase items for resale), you're likely choosing between a Gold Star and an Executive membership, which each have their own Costco membership benefits.

The Gold Star membership is the basic Costco membership level. As a Gold Star member, you get access to all Costco locations worldwide (including Costco Business Center locations). You can also purchase "Member-Only" items on once you're a member.

The upgraded Executive membership includes all of the Gold Star perks, plus the primary cardholder earns 2% in rewards on most Costco purchases (excluding Costco gas and a few other things). You can earn up to a maximum of $1,000 each year, and these rewards arrive in the form of an annual Costco rewards certificate a few months before your renewal date. As an Executive member, you also get additional benefits on Costco Travel and other Costco services.

A Business membership allows you to purchase items for resale (documentation is required) and add affiliate cardholders for $60 each.

KCL TIP: Gold Star membership is best for everyday savings, while Executive membership is worth it if you spend at least $500 per month at Costco (because you'll earn enough back in rewards to pay for the $60 cost to upgrade).

How do you sign up for a Costco membership?


You can sign up for a Costco membership in one of three ways:

  • In-person at the membership counter inside any Costco warehouse

  • Online at

  • By phone at 1-800-774-2678

You'll need to be at least 16 years of age and present a valid photo ID to become a Costco member.

If you sign up in-person, they'll take your photo and print your membership card(s) so you can start shopping right away. Each membership comes with two cards — one for the Primary Cardholder and an additional card for a designated member of your household.

If you sign up online or by phone, you can start shopping online with your membership right away. You'll also receive an email with your membership number and instructions on how to pick up your membership card(s) at any warehouse location.

Your renewal fees are due the day before your Costco membership expires, and you can renew by mail, online, by phone (1-800-774-2678), or at any warehouse location. If you don't renew before your membership expires, your renewal fees will be added to your next purchase in the warehouse.

KCL TIP: You can also enroll in auto-renew to keep your membership rolling if you don't plan to cancel it. Costco will automatically charge your Visa or Mastercard on the first day of your renewal month.

Does Costco have membership deals?

Costco-sanctioned membership deals are rare, but they do happen. They also offer certain perks for qualifying students, teachers, medical professionals, first responders, government employees, and military personnel who sign up as a new member. You can also find new Costco member offers on Groupon from time to time.

If you qualify for a Costco discount, you'll receive a bonus gift card (a Costco Shop Card) in the amount of $30 - $45, depending on the offer. Most offers require you to provide a valid email address, verify your status and set up auto-renewal with a Visa credit card.

All New Members

College Students


First Responders

Medical Professionals

Military & Veterans

Government Employees

Can you shop at Costco without a membership?


Yes, you can shop at Costco without a membership, but it's not as easy as grabbing a cart and walking into the warehouse. To shop in the Costco warehouse without a membership, you'll need to get your hands on a Costco Shop Card. Ask a friend with a membership to buy one for you and just flash it at the entrance of any warehouse to get in.

You can also shop online at without a membership, but you'll pay a 5% surcharge on each purchase. You also won't get access to exclusive "Member-Only" items online.