Emily VanSchmus | 

10 Costco Membership Benefits You Instantly Get When You Join

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You probably already know Costco can help you save big on bulk products, but there are so many more membership benefits you get besides just the in-store prices. A Costco membership also comes with benefits like discounted travel packages (up to 20% off all-inclusive stays), cheaper gas, Costco coupons, and even discounted prescription glasses that don't require an eye exam (but those are cheap at Costco, too).

If you’ve been deciding whether a Costco membership is worth it (or if you should go with Costco vs. Sam’s Club), consider these benefits along with the potential savings on everyday items. As a card-carrying Costco member for more than a decade, I can vouch that these benefits are absolutely worth the price of the membership.

For more smart shopping tips and savings hacks, download the KCL app or text HACKS to 57299.

How much is a Costco membership?

The annual Costco membership costs for the three tiers of membership benefits.

You do need a membership to shop at Costco, but with so many perks and savings available, the membership price is definitely worth it in most cases. A basic Costco membership starts at $60 per year, and the Executive membership is $120 per year.

TIP: Our Costco membership guide can help you decide which level is right for you, but we generally recommend that families who spend more than $500 per month at Costco should upgrade to the Executive level.

Costco Membership Benefits 


These membership benefits are part of why the KCL team loves Costco so much. Not only will you save money on the items you add to your cart, but you can take advantage of these money-saving perks, too.

1. Cheaper gas prices 

One of the best perks of a Costco membership isn’t even inside the store. Costco gas stations are for members only (you have to swipe your membership card at the pump) and have such good savings that I will go out of my way to fill up there.

According to KCL's research, a gallon of gas from Costco is about $0.11 cheaper than local competitors, on average. That’s worth a few dollars in savings each time you fill up a 12-gallon tank!

Costco is also known for having a fairly strict quality control process on gasoline and diesel, so you’re getting high quality gas at a cheaper price than most other gas stations offer. Plus, if you have the Costco Visa card, you’ll also get 4% cash back on gas.

2. Discounted travel rates

Another major perk of being a Costco member is that you can book vacation packages through the Costco site for up to 20% off all-inclusive stays and international travel. When you book through Costco Travel, you’ll typically get a cheaper rate than if you were to book through sites like Booking.com, Expedia — or even directly with the resort.

Certain packages even come with additional perks just for Costco members. Our team found things like free massages, free champagne, free transportation, and exclusive resort credits listed among the perks. Some packages may also include a Costco Shop card (which is essentially a Costco gift card) worth anywhere from $100 to over $1,500. Executive members can access even more exclusive travel perks, as well as 2% cash back on all travel purchases.

3. Cheaper rental cars

Whether you need a car for an exotic vacation or a business trip, Costco has the best rental car prices available. You book these through the Costco Travel site, too. When we compared numbers, Costco's prices for rental cars were cheaper than anything we could find from Enterprise, Budget, Avis, or Alamo.

Even with the basic Gold Star Costco membership, you'd save 32% off the price of booking with Avis.

And if you're an Executive member, you'll get an additional 2% back in Costco rewards at the end of the year.

4. Affordable eye exams and discounted glasses  

Another surprising perk of being a Costco member is found inside the Costco Optical center. Not only can you get an eye exam in-store, but they also offer glasses for up to 54% cheaper than other retailers.

The price of an eye exam can vary depending on your location, but my store charges $89 without insurance (although they do accept vision insurance). You can also take an existing prescription to Costco and buy glasses without ever receiving a Costco eye exam.

TIP: Besides the savings on eye exams, Costco members also get access to special pricing on primary care visits (as low as $29), weight loss programs (as low as $179), and virtual therapy visits (as low as $79) through their partner Sesame.

5. Cheap photo prints and holiday cards 

You may have heard the news about the Costco Photo Center shutting down in 2023, but Costco members still have access to exclusive savings on photos, prints, gifts, and cards.

Costco has now partnered with Shutterfly, and anyone with a Costco membership can get 51% off all regular-price purchases from Shutterfly, plus free shipping on all orders over $49.

You can use the Shutterfly discount on tons of custom projects, including photo prints and home decor. And there’s no limit to the number of times you can check out with the discount.

6. The Costco coupon books

About once a month, Costco releases a fresh book of member-only savings. So whether you’re shopping at Costco online or filling your cart at an actual store, be sure to peek at the latest Costco Coupon Book before you check out.

The best part is, you don’t need to clip anything or bring any physical coupons to the store. Even though they call it the coupon book, the savings apply automatically at checkout for every Costco member.

Related: Don't have time to sort through the latest Costco Coupon Book? Check out our monthly roundup of the best deals at Costco.

7. The legendary Costco food court

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about getting a hot dog and a soda every time I'm in the Costco check-out line. The store is known for their iconic food court options, including a $1.50 hot dog and soda meal that hasn’t changed in price since they first introduced it in 1984.

In addition to the inexpensive Costco Food Court menu, they also have an impressive selection of freshly made Costco Bakery items at unbeatable prices. Costco sheet cake is hands-down my favorite dessert (I actually ordered one for my wedding!), and it comes out to just $0.52 per slice. According to our research, that’s 48% - 56% cheaper than sheet cakes from grocery stores like Walmart or Publix. Costco also offers catering, with options for as low as $1.67 per person.

8. The Costco Next online shopping portal 

This membership perk might be Costco’s best-kept secret. Costco Next is an online shopping platform available to members only.

Here’s how it works: You input your membership details to gain access to the site, and once you’re in, you have access to all kinds of third-party sales and deals negotiated by Costco. While the link to Costco Next is included in the Costco app, the brand doesn’t market it very much, which helps keep prices low for exclusive deals.

We compared pricing on some of the items on Costco Next and found that nearly everything was 20% off or more. Some name brand items (like a Baggallini bag) were 50% cheaper than prices at Amazon or other retailers.

KCL TIP: Anything you buy from Costco Next is technically purchased from the third-party seller, and therefore isn’t eligible for cash back deals, price matches, or Costco’s return policy.

9. Savings from Kirkland brand products 

Many non-Costco shoppers don’t realize that Kirkland brand items are often made by the same manufacturers as name-brand items. The only difference? Kirkland brand products at Costco get sold at a much lower price.

For example, Kirkland’s 12-piece cookware set is practically the same product as Ninja’s 12-piece cookware set. It looks the same, is made from the same materials, and includes all the same pots and pans — but the Kirkland set costs $129.99, while the Ninja set costs $410.69 on Amazon. 

This is true of almost all Kirkland brand products: I can tell you from personal experience that the Kirkland Shearling Slippers ($24.99) are indistinguishable from my UGG sheepskin slippers, which cost nearly $100 more.

10. Access to the Costco Business Centers

The regular Costco warehouse isn’t the only place you can flash your membership card to get into. While there are only 27 of them in the country, Costco Business Centers will let you inside to shop with any level of Costco membership.

If you haven’t been to a Costco Business Center, it’s like the Costco-size version of a Costco — meaning, they offer certain products in even larger bulk sizes than normal. It’s meant for business owners, so they sell a ton of drinks, foods, and commercial supplies, but anyone can shop there!

KCL TIP: If you’re planning a party or a large event like a wedding, you can save even more on bulk items by shopping at a Business Center rather than a traditional Costco.

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