I get a lot of readers asking about deals at Costco. Do I shop there a lot? Do they take coupons? Is the membership worth the price? Here is my run down of Costco.
The Gold Star basic memberships are $50 a year for 2 cards.
The executive membership is $100 a year and includes a 2% cash back per year that comes in the form of a check made payable to Costco. It also includes 2 cards.
*The 2 cards are PER HOUSEHOLD, not automatically a "spouse card".
I upgraded my basic to an executive when my father-in-law bought a lap top using our card. I figured it would be nice to get the cash back....I was wrong. It was great for that first year, but then I let the membership go for over 2 years renewing at the executive rate because I was getting cash back at the end of the year. What I didn't do is calculate the amount I was getting back against the extra $50 I was paying to have the dumb card! Needless to say, 2 days ago I came to my senses and "downgraded" my card to the basic membership.
You need to spend $2,500 a year in order to break even and get your extra $50 back that you paid to have the executive membership. So to ACTUALLY be getting "cash back" you must spend more then $2,500 in a single year and I don't believe that you get cash back with the purchase of fuel for your car.
If you have big purchases (couches, washer/dryer, trees, TONS of food, prescriptions, glasses..) then you might want to consider an Executive Membership. You can also "upgrade" at anytime so if you have an unexpected expense (like my father-in-law's laptop) you can choose to upgrade for that purchase. Overall, in my opinion for just groceries and occasional purchases a Gold Star Membership is more then sufficient.
**I'm adding this after looking into Kristy's comment. I read her comment and then contacted Costco. They DO reimburse your "cash back" checks if they are less the $50. So take in your check if it's less then $50 and they will make up the difference.
***I went to Costco today and told them I have had my Executive membership for 3 years and have never gotten a refund check that was $50. She instantly pulled up my account, wrote down the amount of all my cash back checks over the past 3 years and then handed me the difference....$84.58. WOW!! Everything was in the computer so if you are in the same situation, definitely go talk to Member Services.
Do I personally shop there a lot?
No. Next question. HA HA, just kidding. :)
I do not shop Costco a lot. I'd say it averages to once a month. That might be fairly typical, I don't know. The thing is, I don't purchase much from Costco. Over the course of a year, here is what I typically buy:
- Kirkland batteries
- Sunny Delight individual bottles (if they have a coupon....like they do right now)
- Muffins from the bakery (they have these new Vanilla Chocolate Chunk that are AMAZING!)
- Strawberries (they are usually the same price as on sale at a grocery store)
- Lint Rollers (we adopted 2 kittens from the shelter last May, Costco has a 5 pack of rollers for under $10)
- Tillamook pre-sliced cheese (I will splurge for Tillamook. The pre-sliced are great for burgers and sandwiches or just to eat with crackers)
- Gum. Although I've recently been using coupons to get gum for WAY cheap, so I might not be purchasing gum from Costco anymore.
- Finish dishwasher detergent (ONLY with coupon)
- Prego sauce (even without the coupon it's a good price)
- Milk if we need some and I don't want to make a second stop at Smith's
I was at the register a few weeks ago with a few bottles of Prego that I listed above. I didn't have my coupons on me, so I asked the cashier if she had a coupon I could scan. She said "Sure" and pulled one out and scanned it for me. I've had them scan a coupon without asking, but I was at the self checkout area so I had to ask her to come over.
Besides the "Costco coupon" that come in the mail, Costco does NOT take manufacturer coupons.
- Costco Photo is great. I've used their tire center and had a wonderful experience there too. I've heard the pharmacy is good as well as the eyeglass place, but I've never used either
Okay.....so....is it worth it???
Short answer in my opinion is YES. Here's why:
- I buy things at Costco that I can only find at Costco
- Their discount gas is a great deal especially when we are on vacation
- We've used their tire bay a few times and you can get tire repairs at ANY Costco
- We've used their discount on a car rental last summer
**If I were only using my membership for groceries,I would NOT get a membership. The discount on items is NOT worth the membership price.
Costco trivia tid-bit:
*Did you know that the "free samples" are on items that are nearing their expiration date? I was told by one of the sample ladies that it's basically their way of getting you to try their product so you will buy it and help them clearance that item out.