Katie Searcy | 

Is Costco Raising Membership Fees? Their CFO Still Says Not Yet

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Inflation has been going bonkers in the last few years, with prices going up for just about everything. And the fact that Sam’s Club increased their membership fees in October 2022 had lots of people wondering if rival Costco was planning to do the same thing with their Costco membership fees. But here we are in 2024, and we count ourselves lucky that the answer to "Is Costco raising membership fees?" is still a no!

But that doesn’t mean it’s not in their plans — eventually.

Based on Costco’s history of price increases, it sure looks like we’re overdue for a jump in membership fees sometime this year. I listened in on the most recent Costco earnings call on March 7, 2024, to get the full scoop.

For more smart shopping tips, savings hacks, and Costco deals, text HACKS to 57299.

According to Costco, it’s a question of "when, not if" membership fees are going up.

a person holding up a costco membership card

On just about every Costco earnings call, someone asks the question of whether Costco plans to raise their membership fees. And just about every time, the answer given by Costco’s Chief Financial Officer (after a chuckle) is that "it’s a question of when, not if."

I've tuned into just about every quarterly earnings call since 2023 and here's what I've been hearing from their management team:

  • Sept. 26, 2023: "You’ll see [a membership fee increase] happen at some point," said CFO Richard Galanti. "We can’t really tell you if it’s in our plans or not. We’ll let you know when we know."

  • Dec. 14, 2023: "We like providing extreme value. Certainly, while we’ve gone a little longer than the average increase, we feel we certainly have driven more value to the membership," said Galanti. "So, you know, I’ll use my standby answer, my pat answer, it’s a question of when, not if. But at this juncture, we feel pretty good about what we’re doing."

  • March 7, 2024: "It's when, not if, still," said Galanti. "It's not some big analytical formula. It's simply a measure of, we will, at some point, I'm sure, do it."

They’re banking on the fact that Costco members have great loyalty. According to the latest numbers, renewal rates are at an impressive 92.9%.

TIP: Are you a Costco nerd, too? You’re totally allowed to listen in on the quarterly earnings calls on their website to hear the CFO talk about which items are selling well, how they’re revamping the Costco app, and when a fee increase is coming. It’s basically just an audio-only webcast.

How much does a Costco membership cost right now?

Costco’s standard Gold Star Membership costs $60 per year. With a Gold Star Membership, you get:

  • Member-only savings at Costco

  • Two membership cards

Costco’s Executive Membership costs $120 per year. Executive members represent about 43% of all paid Costco memberships. With an Executive Membership, you get:

  • Member-only savings

  • Two membership cards

  • Annual 2% in rewards on qualified Costco purchases

  • Additional benefits and more savings on Costco Services

  • Extra benefits on select Costco Travel products

Costco’s Business Membership costs $60 per year. With a Business Membership, you get:

  • Member-only savings

  • Two membership cards

  • Ability to add affiliate cardholders for $60 each

  • Purchases that are eligible for resale

TIP: Check out our Costco membership guide if you need help deciding which membership to spring for. And definitely check for a membership deal before you sign up!

The Costco membership price will stay the same — for now.

people in line for the membership desk at Costco

Is Costco raising membership fees? No, not yet. Costco execs went on record as early as September 2022 saying you didn’t have to worry about member prices going up anytime before January 2023. But now that we’re well past that date, their execs are still saying it’s "a question of when, not if" fees will go up, and that they’ll let us know as soon as they have a date.

In the past, we’ve seen a higher price tag on Costco memberships come up roughly every five years and seven months, so we’re well overdue.

When Costco raises fees in the future, expect to pay about $5 – $10 more per year.

costco shopping cart with items in checkout lane

Costco has said that, eventually, the membership fees WILL go up. And there’s reason to believe it’s going to be sooner than later, based on past price hikes.

Here’s what that’s looked like in the past:

Timeline of past Costco membership fee increases in 2000, 2006, 2011, and 2017.
  • September 2000: Gold Star membership went from $40 to $45 (13% increase)

  • May 2006: Gold Star membership went from $45 to $50 (11% increase)

  • November 2011: Gold Star membership went from $50 to $55 (10% increase); Executive membership went from $100 to $110 (10% increase).

  • June 2017: Gold Star membership went from $55 to $60 (9% increase); Executive membership went from $110 to $120 (9% increase).

Based on the pattern of about five years, seven months between price hikes, we would have been on target for a more expensive membership as of January 2023 — but according to Costco, that still hasn’t happened thanks to a financially successful last few years.

Costco hasn’t said when they’re raising membership fees, nor how much that increase would be, but based on the Sam’s Club’s increase and Costco’s pattern over the years, we can take a guess.

If the pattern is consistent, the Costco membership price would most likely go from $60 to $65 for Gold Star and from $120 to $130 for Executive — 8.3% increases respectively. Industry watchers expect this kind of new pricing to happen sometime in 2024.

TIP: With prices rising eventually, we can help you figure out if a Costco membership is worth it.

Sam’s Club membership fees went up $10 in October 2022.

A person's hand holding a Sam's Club member card over a wallet with a Costco card in it.

The buzz around a Costco membership price increase gained speed in September 2022 when Sam’s Club announced they’d raise their membership costs for the first time in nine years.

As of Oct. 17, 2022, the annual price for a Sam’s Club Basic membership level increased from $45 to $50 (11%). For the upgraded Sam’s Club Plus membership, it went from $100 to $110 (10%).

However, to ease the blow, Sam’s Club covered the increase for current members. If you were a Club member at the time they raised the fee, they gave you $5 in Sam’s Cash, and if you were a Plus member, you got $10 in Sam’s Cash.

When membership warehouse clubs increase their fees, the increase is usually by about 10%. But Sam’s Club is still cheaper overall.

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