Costco has become a cult store since its inception in 1983 in Seattle. At the time, individual subscriptions were only $30, plus $15 for a spouse (a bargain compared to today’s prices!). Today, Costco has more than 500 warehouses across the United States and is well known for its food court with the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, its private label wines that rival several award-winning wines, and its bulk products. Anyone can become a Costco member if they pay the $60 basic fee. But before you go to the Costco branch nearest you to get your card, read on to find out more about joining the club.
1. You live alone
The main reason people shop at Costco is that it saves them money by buying items in bulk. Obviously, it doesn’t make much sense if you live alone. Of course, it may seem tempting to stock up on ground beef, but how much food can you eat before it expires? Saving money is not very smart if you can’t eat this huge yogurt pot before it expires. There is a limit to what one person can eat, and since Costco sells its products in bulk, chances are you’re tired of the monotony of eating the same thing over and over again.
2. You don’t have a pantry, freezer or empty closet
Unless you have a huge amount of storage space in your home, buying bulk items can mean you’ll end up with a huge bag of dog food in your room or a 25-pound bag of jasmine rice in the trunk of your car. Costco rarely sells small products, so unless you have enough storage space in your home, it is best not to go to Costco.
3. Your nearest Costco is too far away
Costco gas prices are quite legendary, but if your nearest Costco is a long drive away, it may not be worth the cost of a round trip plus the wear and tear of your car. It’s not a good deal if you end up spending all your savings on gas plus the cost of your time to get to another city just to do the shopping.
4. You don’t cook much
This is where you have to take the time to be honest with yourself. If you don’t cook much and go to restaurants frequently, Costco is probably not for you. Everyone is lazy from time to time and it is sometimes nice to order a pizza instead of making the chicken breasts you have in the meat compartment of your refrigerator. If you are the type of person who likes to plan his meals in advance and do a lot of meal preparation for the week, then a Costco membership could be perfect for you. But if the restaurant next door knows your culinary preferences by heart, avoid taking out a subscription for Costco.
5. You live on the third floor and do not have an elevator
Having to climb up and down the stairs every day is hard enough, now imagine doing it while carrying a heavy crate of bottled water. There are many advantages to living in an apartment or condominium, but before you pay money to become a Costco member, you must consider the distance between your parking space and your home and determine whether or not your building has an elevator.
6. You have no control over your shopping impulses
If you have no control over your shopping impulses, Costco is a store you should avoid. In fact, he uses many sneaky little tricks to encourage impulse buying, whether it’s setting up his stores, moving items or offering time-limited items that will only make the average consumer want to buy more.
7. You eat mainly fresh food
If you like to decide what you want to eat for dinner depending on the season, then Costco probably won’t suit your lifestyle. Many people like to buy and eat locally, and spending the day at the farmers’ market is a great way to find inspiration for dinner. That’s why a Costco membership is probably not the best solution for you if that’s the kind of thing you do.
8. You are already an Amazon Prime or Sam’s Club member
If you are already a member of another warehouse store (such as Sam’s Club or BJ’s Wholesale Club) or an Amazon Prime account, why become a Costco member in addition?
9. You know someone who is a Costco member
Here’s a secret that may surprise you: you don’t need to be a member to enter a Costco store. The easiest way to do this is probably to find a friend who is a member and accompany them on their next shopping trip. Technically, only members can make purchases, but as long as your friend lets you scan his membership card at the checkout, you can pay for your own package of 30 rolls of toilet paper.
10. You can make your purchases with a Costco Cash card
Another way to get in without a membership card is to get a Costco Cash card. This gift card allows you to shop without a subscription, using the value of the card to pay for your one-gallon bottle of maple syrup and your three-pound bag of lemons. Only members can purchase Costco Cash cards, so again, you will need to know someone who is a member to get one.
11. You should know that we don’t only find good offers at Costco
If you get a membership simply because you want to save a lot of money on everything you buy, some items sold at Costco are not much cheaper than if you bought them in a traditional grocery store. Some cheeses and organic milk, for example, don’t seem to be such a good deal compared to buying in your local supermarket. It is, therefore, better to list the items you buy most often and check the prices at Costco, then compare them to what you normally pay. You may find that the savings are not large enough to offset the annual membership fee and, perhaps, the trip to Costco. Because unlike some local grocery stores, you can’t find Costco everywhere!
12. You do not need a subscription for all Costco services
You don’t necessarily need to be a member to enjoy all the many benefits of Costco. Anyone can have lunch or dinner at the food court. It is usually located near the exit, so simply enter through the exit or near customer service to take your favorite meal on the menu, whether it is a slice of pizza or ice cream.
In some states, alcohol must be legally available for sale to the public, with no membership restrictions. In this case, even non-Costco members can shop at Costco’s extensive alcohol department – some even have their own entrance – where you can find branded spirits and the company’s Kirkland private label products, most often in larger 1.75-liter bottles. Don’t lose sight of one of the most sought-after finds by whiskey lovers: an 18-year-old single malt scotch that sells for about $40.
Finally, non-members can take advantage of some of Costco’s health services. They can take eye exams since optometrists are not employed by Costco (but they cannot buy glasses). In addition, in most states, non-members can fill prescriptions in Costco pharmacies, allowing them to benefit from lower prices for human and pet medicines. One report ranks Costco’s drug prices second among other pharmacies, but it is important to note that drug prices are even lower for club members, thanks to the Costco Member Prescription Program.
13. You can shop online
If you really need to get your hands on some Costco products, you can shop on Costco.com or via Instacart, but non-members pay slightly higher prices, as well as shipping fees, if applicable.
14. Do you know all the options of membership?
In case you decide to become a Costco member there are a few options about this membership. The basic membership is called Gold Star membership. At a price of $60, this is the minimum you can spend to enter the store and start buying a portion of Kirkland brand products – which is often 20% cheaper than most other brands in the store – in your extra-large shopping cart.
Membership in the Gold Star Executive is the other option for individuals. This is twice as expensive as the basic membership, but think about how much you could spend in the store each year. Since you get a 2% discount on your purchases (in the form of a Costco gift certificate to spend in-store), spending about $3,000 per year ($250 per month) is enough to offset the extra $60 you spent on the more expensive annual subscription. Think about it: if you buy, for example, a new iPhone or an HDTV, you’ll get that $3,000 in no time. Members also benefit from additional benefits on certain Costco services.
Finally, if you own a business, Costco offers the opportunity to become a Business Gold Star and Business Gold Star Executive member. Professional subscriptions cost the same as individual subscriptions, but you can buy items for resale and purchase additional membership cards for your account. In addition, Costco Business Center’s special business centers stock everything from vending machine snacks, janitorial supplies, office equipment, electronics, and business equipment.
15. You can share your membership
With a Gold Star or Executive membership, you can get a second card for another member of your household; all you need is for them to live at the same address as you. These household members receive their own photo ID card and can use it to enter the store and shop on their own – you don’t even need to be with them.