Costco is known as one of the superior bulk shopping stores. From their great prices to the goodies in the Costco food court, what’s not to love? Just because a company is great to their customers, though, doesn’t always mean they’re great to employees. But from what we’ve researched — every Costco employee gets some pretty stand-out perks.
And it’s more than just a competitive paycheck. They get a free Costco membership, a free turkey during Thanksgiving, time-and-a-half pay on Sundays, and more. Spoiler alert: Costco employees even get to shop without customers in the store. Sign. Me. Up.
If you were considering becoming a Costco employee, buckle up because we’ve dug deep with answers to some of the most asked questions.
P.S. Love shopping at Costco? We have all the Costco deals you need to see, too!
1. Every Costco employee gets one free membership — plus three to give away.
“Does a Costco employee get a free membership?” is the top question people wonder about being a Costco employee, and the answer is … yes. Employees get one free Costco membership for themselves, plus three additional free memberships for others. So choose your three wisely.
If you’re a Costco employee, you’ll get the Executive membership, which gives you 2% cash back on your purchases. The free employee memberships are good for one year.
TIP: We put together a handy guide for everything you need to know about Costco memberships.
2. But you won’t get any store discounts as a Costco employee.
Sadly, the freebie train ends at the membership. But that doesn’t mean your savings end there. Even though the answer to “does Costco take coupons?” is no … you can still save with the Costco Coupon Book, whether you’re an employee or not.
3. You get special shopping hours as a Costco employee.
As a Costco employee, you get to shop after hours when the store is free of customers. Beyond getting the free memberships, this has to be one of the best practical perks that Costco offers. Have you ever seen a Costco empty? I haven’t. It sounds like a dream to shop after hours. Adulting at its finest.
4. You might get first dibs on new and sale items, too.
While it’s not an official policy, since you can shop after hours as a Costco employee, there’s a chance you can get your hands on new stuff and sale items before the general public.
5. Costco gives employees a free turkey for Thanksgiving — either to eat or donate.
Tell Grandma you’ll be supplying the turkey for Thanksgiving if you become a Costco employee. Costco gives all of their workers a free turkey for Thanksgiving. Don’t need a turkey? You can have Costco donate it on your behalf.
Related: We found even more ways to get a free Thanksgiving turkey than just being a Costco employee.
6. How much does Costco pay? The starting rate is 141% higher than the federal minimum wage.
Costco employees have a starting pay of $17.50. That means the average Costco employee is paid 141% higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 — and 48% higher than the national average of $11.80.
And that’s just the starting rate. The average hourly wage at Costco is quickly approaching $26, according to Costco’s Chief Financial Officer on a September 2023 earnings call.
TIP: Costco ranks #25 on Forbes’ list of the best large employers in the U.S., and #3 in the Retail and Wholesale category. Not bad!
7. Cashiers make more than the average Costco employee, and specialized positions make the most.
According to Glassdoor reviews, cashiers make $1 – $2 more per hour than the average Costco employee. Those who work in specialized positions — like employees in the Costco Optical center and pharmacy — will earn an even higher hourly rate. On average, the hourly rate for employees in specialized positions is $25 per hour.
8. You’ll start part-time but still work five days a week.
Although your starting pay as a Costco employee is much higher than the federal minimum wage, you’ll most likely have to start as a part-time employee. Becoming a full-time employee is viewed as a “promotion” within itself. Regardless of being part-time or full-time, you’re expected to work five days a week. Try and get one of your five days as a Sunday because …
9. As a Costco employee, you earn Sunday ‘Premium Pay’ — aka time and a half.
Missing the Sunday football games may be worth it for the extra pay incentive at Costco. No matter how many hours you’ve worked in the week, Costco employees get time-and-a-half pay for working on a Sunday. If you’re making $17.50 an hour, then you’ll make $26.25 an hour on Sundays.
Since Costco has most of their employees working five days a week regardless of full- or part-time status, I’d aim for Sundays to be one of my days.
10. Your Costco health benefits won’t kick in right away.
For part-time workers, Costco employee benefits begin the first day of the second month after you’ve reached 450 eligible paid hours. That start date sounded kind of confusing to me, so I asked a Costco employee about it. They explained, “If you hit 450 [hours] in the middle of September, for example, you’ll get health insurance on the first of November.” Obviously, the time it takes to hit 450 hours will vary, especially if you’re working part-time.
For full-time hourly employees, your Costco employee benefits start the first day of the second month after you’ve reached 250 eligible paid hours. Salaried employees and some specialist positions will get benefits the first day of the month after they’re hired.
According to Glassdoor reviews, the co-pays for Costco’s in-store pharmacy and vision center are very affordable, too. Costco offers health, dental, and vision insurance, short- and long-term disability, and a 401(k) match. Costco pays 80% of the cost of insurance premiums for part-time employees and 90% for full-time employees. Many online reviewers compare the Costco employee benefits to Starbucks benefits. Some even say Costco is better!
TIP: Costco employees get a 3% – 9% match on their 401(k) contributions based on their number of years of service.
11. Costco offers bonuses for employees after five years.
As a Costco employee of five years or more, you can get an average of $4,000 in bonuses every year. Every six months, Costco gives out a bonus of up to $3,500. Annually, Costco gives select employees another bonus, which can be an additional few thousand dollars.
12. The seasonal hiring period lasts from October to January.
Costco hires seasonal employees to help out with the shopping rush from October to January. If you’re interested in becoming a seasonal employee for Costco, I would recommend submitting your application in September.
If you want to become a permanent employee after the seasonal rush ends, I heard from a seasoned Costco employee that you should let your first 90 days be your interview — hustle and work hard. That way, when it comes time to communicate to your manager that you want to continue your employment beyond the season, they’ll know you’re a hard worker.
TIP: If you’re planning to shop at Costco during the holiday season, don’t miss our best tips for shopping Costco Black Friday.
13. Costco employees can take off for ‘winter leave.’
From January through March, Costco employees can take off any time, which is a super great perk. The time off can either be unpaid, or you can use your accrued PTO hours. Depending on which state you live in, you’ll have a maximum number of days you can take off during the 3-month period. Some employees have reported only being able to take 21 days off, while others said one month. One person even reported being able to take off all 11 weeks.
14. Avoid third-party sites when applying to Costco jobs.
Don’t be fooled by third-party job sites. To apply for a job at Costco, go straight to the Costco Jobs website. There you’ll see what jobs are available for the warehouse, call center, or home office. Be open-minded about what positions are available. Costco is great about letting their employees explore other departments, too. So just because you were hired in the Costco bakery doesn’t mean you can’t transition to the customer service desk one day.
Costco gets hundreds, if not thousands, of job applications. A tip from a Costco employee: after you apply online, wait a few days, then go to the warehouse in person and ask for a manager so you can introduce yourself. But don’t go when it’s busy —that won’t make a good first impression.
15. You must be 18 years old to work at Costco.
Costco doesn’t have it in writing that you must be 18 or older to become an employee. But when we tried to apply on their website with an age under 18, the application immediately came back saying, “At this time, your qualifications do not match any of our open positions.”
16. Costco doesn’t have any remote jobs.
If you’re looking to join the work-from-home community, it won’t be with Costco. There aren’t any positions within Costco that offer a remote workplace. You may, however, find third-party contractor roles that allow you to work from home and represent Costco — like customer service chat agents and IT positions.