Costco doesn’t do “discounts” in a traditional sense for anybody. Not military members. Not students. Not doctors. And no, not even teachers. This is probably due to the fact that the warehouse store thinks of themselves as providing great deals from the start.
While there is no Costco teacher discount to use year-round, they do provide a onetime promotional gift card if you sign up as a new member and verify your teacher status online. This quirky program has a lot of ins and outs, but if you’re a teacher who’s planning to sign up for a Costco membership anyway, it’s certainly worth claiming.
Before we start weaving through the finer details of this promotion, be sure to download the KCL app. That way you can stay up to date on ways to save at Costco even after you’ve paid your membership fee. We’re so good at this that we can even help you get that Costco membership to pay for itself.
Does Costco have a discount for teachers?
No, unfortunately Costco doesn’t have an everyday teacher discount that you apply at checkout. But they do give teachers a onetime $40 gift card when they join as a new member.
This card, known as a digital Shop Card, gets issued when you sign up for a new Costco membership through Costco’s teacher program.
Who qualifies for the $40 Costco teacher Shop Card?
Costco advertises their $40 shop card as “for teachers.” But they work with the third-party site ID.me to verify your teacher status.
If you can verify that your profession fits one of these categories, you'll be well on your way to getting the Costco membership perk for teachers:
Certified teacher (Obvs.)
Certified teacher aide
Certified teaching assistant
Certified educational assistant
Hold a lifetime teaching credential
Professor at college or university
How do I sign up for the Costco teacher Shop Card?
You sign up for the Costco teacher Shop Card through ID.me, but Costco has their own special landing page that will guide you through the process.
If you sign up directly through ID.me, you’ll get access to all of the teacher discount programs that use their verification system — not just Costco's. But getting into the Costco program will require a few extra steps.
Either way, you need to provide documentation of your position and/or credentials. Here are some examples of the paperwork that ID.me accepts:
School staff ID
State-issued educator certificate
Verification on official letterhead signed by an administrator
Are there any other special requirements?
Yes, and it’s a bit of an odd one. You’re going to need a Visa card on file in order to qualify for the $40 teacher Shop Card.
When you sign up for your new Costco membership, you'll have to set it up to auto renew the next year. Costco won’t let you put it on a Mastercard or Discover. Your auto renew has to be set up with a Visa.
How long does it take to get your Costco teacher Shop Card?
Once you officially sign up for your Costco membership, you should receive your $40 digital Shop Card within two weeks via email.
TIP: Make the most of your $40. Here are 13 Costco pricing secrets that will help you maximize your cash.
Is there a limit on how many $40 Shop Cards I can claim per household?
Yes. You’re only allowed to claim this promotion once per household.
That means even if your spouse is a teacher, too, they won’t be able to sign up for a separate Costco membership to claim their own gift card. If you live at the same address, only one of you can claim it.
And in case you're wondering, no, you don't get another $40 Shop Card when you renew your membership the next year. It's a one-time-only thing.
TIP: Technically, if you haven’t had a Costco membership in your household for at least 18 months, you count as a new member. So you could conceivably claim the promotion twice if you waited 30 months between sign-ups, assuming the promotion is still running between now and then.
Does Costco have similar promotions for other professions?
Yes. And if you’re participating in two different promotional categories, you may be able to get more than one $40 Shop Card per household.
The promotion is typically the same — a $30 - $40 digital Shop Card for new members who certify their eligibility and select auto-renewal at sign up. But there’s a separate program for each of these categories:
Costco military offer (get a $40 Shop Card)
Costco first responder promotion (get a $40 Shop Card)
Costco healthcare worker promotion (get a $30 Shop Card)
Costco college student promotion (get a $30 Shop Card; verification through UniDays)
Costco government worker promotion ($40 Shop Card)
Are there exclusions on my Costco teacher Shop Card?
There are exclusions, but not for specific items.
It’s more about where you can and can’t use your card. Obviously, you have to spend the $40 at Costco, but you won’t be able to use it in these places:
Costco gas stations
Costco car washes (yes, some Costco locations have these!)
The Costco food court kiosk
The self-checkout line
Which Costco membership should I get?
There are two different Costco memberships: Gold Star and Executive.
Most people are going to get the best value out of the Gold Star membership. It gets you admission to Costco's low prices for $60/year.
You have to be a relatively big spender for the Executive membership to make sense. It costs double, at $120/year, but it comes with extra benefits like earning 2% in rewards on your Costco purchases and extra savings on travel booked through Costco.
Executive membership is only really worth it if you feel 100% confident you’ll spend at least $500 at Costco each and every month. With inflation and food prices, this might not be as high a bar as it was just a few years ago.
Does Sam’s Club have a better teacher discount than Costco?
Kinda. Sam’s Club offers a slightly different discount program for teachers, giving you up to 60% off new memberships, which brings the fee down to just $20 for the first year. But their teacher discount is only offered during the back-to-school season.
We most recently saw the Sam's Club teacher discount offer pop up July 17 - Sept. 30, 2023, and you had to be a state-licensed or state-certified educator for these grade levels:
Pre-K - grade 12 classroom teacher
Pre-K - grade 12 principal or assistant principal
Pre-K - grade 12 school employee
College or university professor
But Sam’s Club often runs promotions that can get you 60% off a membership — even if you're not a teacher.