Brynne Conroy | 

Costco's Military Promotion Will Give You a $40 Shop Card When You Join

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Just because you’re a military family doesn’t necessarily mean you’re limited to doing your shopping at the PX (post exchange) or BX (base exchange). Depending on where you’re stationed, you can get extra savings on your household’s basic needs by joining an off-base wholesale retailer like Sam’s Club or Costco. And if you have a Costco location near you, you’re going to want to know about the Costco military discount program before you join.

Now, it’s kinda a stretch to call it a military discount, since it’s more like a membership rebate in the form of a digital Costco Shop Card (their version of a gift card).

But if you’re signing up for a new Costco membership anyway, you might as well claim the military promotion. Today, let’s take a look at Costco’s program and how you can claim their onetime $40 Shop Card when you join.

Don’t forget to download the KCL app so you can keep on top of the latest Costco deals.


Does a Costco military discount exist?

Kind of. Costco doesn’t offer a straight percentage off for service members. But they will give you a digital $40 Shop Card (like a gift card) when you sign up for a Costco membership as a new member.

So you won’t save on every shopping trip. But you will get a onetime freebie!

TIP: Costco also offers a $40 digital Shop Card for first responders, government workers, and teachers. The value of the Shop Card drops to $30 for college students and medical professionals.


Who qualifies for the $40 Costco military Shop Card?

To qualify for the $40 digital Shop Card through Costco’s military discount program, you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Active duty service member
  • Veteran
  • Retired military
  • Military spouse (including surviving spouses)
  • Military dependent


How do I sign up for the Costco military discount?

A person looking at the costco military promotion

Costco partners with to verify your military affiliation on their website. The verification service gives you a lot of easy ways to go through the process, like linking your USAA account or signing in with your .mil email address.

You can also upload one of the following documents (or a photo of the document) to the website to prove your military status:

  • ARB/ORB/ERB Record Briefs
  • Casualty Report (DD Form 1300)
  • DD214 form
  • Driver’s license or DMV-issued State ID with Veteran endorsement
  • Enlistment contract
  • Honorable Discharge Certificate
  • Leave & Earnings Statement (LES)
  • NGB form 22
  • Reserve Activation Orders
  • Reserve Separation Orders
  • Retiree Account Statement (eRAS)
  • VA disability letter
  • Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran Identification Card (VIC)

TIP: They won’t accept Uniformed Services ID cards or CAC cards as proof of military status.


Are there any other special requirements?

Yes. To qualify for the Costco military Shop Card, you have to sign up for a Costco membership that auto-renews the following year. They’ll take your credit card information to set up auto-renew, so they’re serious about it.

Not only do you have to sign up with auto-renew, but the card you provide must be a Visa card. This could be a little problematic if all you’ve got in your wallet is Discover or Mastercard. Opening a whole new card may not be worth a onetime $40 Costco coupon in that case.

But if you do have a Visa card and want to keep shopping at Costco beyond the next 12 months, go get your 40 bucks.


How long does it take to get your Costco military Shop Card?

Your Costco military Shop Card will be emailed to you within two weeks of signing up for a Costco membership.



Can my spouse claim the military Shop Card, too?

Person in Uniform with family while walking on a large yard

That depends. Technically, your spouse qualifies for the military Shop Card as a military spouse.

However, there’s only one card allowed per household. So if you’re living in different locations that both have Costco stores, you could probably get away with each claiming the $40 Shop Card at signup.

But if you’re at a point in your career where everyone’s under the same roof, you’re not going to be able to claim the promotion multiple times.


Is there anything I can’t buy with my Costco military Shop Card?

Self Checkoutline inside of a Costco Warehouse

It’s not so much about what you can or can’t buy with the digital Shop Card but about where you can use it.

You’re not going to be able to use your card at any of the following locations:

  • Costco gas stations
  • Costco car washes
  • The in-store food court kiosk
  • The self-checkout line


Can I claim the Costco military Shop Card every year?

Nope. The Costco military offer is only available to new members. It’s meant to be a onetime deal.

Technically, if you haven’t been a member for at least 18 months, you’re considered “new.” So if you were a Costco member in the past but it’s been a minute, you could still qualify for this promotion (as long as it’s still available).


Which Costco membership should I get?

Costco might not offer free memberships, but with all the money you save by shopping at Costco, the membership usually ends up paying for itself.

There are two tiers of household membership options:

  • Costco Gold Star Membership. Gloss over the naming if you can — it doesn’t mean anything related to the military. Gold Star Membership is just the standard, everyday savings membership level at Costco that costs $60/year.
  • Costco Executive Membership. With this higher tier of membership, you’ll be eligible for 2% in rewards on your Costco purchases. You’ll also get extra savings on Costco Services and travel booked through Costco. This membership level costs $120/year. It’s worth it if you’re confident you’ll spend at least $500 per month at Costco.

TIP: If you want to get into the finer details about your membership options, check out our Costco Membership Guide.


Does Sam’s Club have a better military discount than Costco?

It depends on which way you look at it. Sam’s Club offers 60% off a new membership for military families and $5 off your first in-club purchase after you sign up.

And the Sam’s Club membership cost is $10 cheaper than Costco to begin with. When you account for that, you’re getting a slightly better deal with Sam’s. Check it out:

Costco Membership of $60 minus $40 Shop Card = $20 spend when all is said and done

Sam’s Club Membership of $20 (that’s 60% off the regular price) minus $5 off first purchase = $15 spend when all is said and done

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