Does using a Visa save money for Costco members?

Today, Costco has nearly 800 stores worldwide and is known for its $1.50 food court. hot dog and soda combo, his private label wines that rival award-winning vintages, and his giant packs of just about everything. Even Mr. Marks can agree that this is one membership investment that can pay off big…and anyone can join as long as they have the $60 for the basic fee.

But before heading to your nearest Costco to get your card, read on for everything you need to know about joining a club.

You can check out the store for free before investing

Gabriel Buys/Getty a secret that might blow your mind: You don’t need a membership to walk-in doors. There are several ways that even those who are not members of the club can familiarize themselves with the legendary savings rows. The easiest way is probably to find a friend who is a member and go on their next shopping trip with them. Technically only members can make purchases, but as long as your friend lets you scan your membership card at the checkout, you’ll be able to pay for your 30th pack of toilet paper.

Another way to get in is to get a Costco Cash Card. This gift card allows you to shop without a membership, using the amount on the card to pay for a gallon bottle of maple syrup and a three-pound bag of lemons. Only members can buy Costco Cash cards, so again, you will need to know someone who is a member to connect. But once you have that gift card, you can give the store a real test drive—and even take some of those must-have wholesale items with you.

Know that not everyone is at Costco

If you’re getting a membership simply because you want to save big on everything you buy, be aware that some items sold at Costco aren’t much cheaper than if you bought them at a traditional grocery store. For example, some cheeses and organic milk don’t seem all that important compared to buying them from your local supermarket. In a benchmark test, one report shows that certain foods, fresh chicken and coffee, were also cheaper in brick-and-mortar stores.

That’s why it’s a good idea to take a quick look at the store before investing in a membership. Make a list of the items you buy most often and check the prices at Costco, then compare them to what you would normally pay.

Another thing to watch out for: As with any warehouse club, most of Costco’s products are only sold in bulk packs. It might be cheaper if you calculate the price per ounce, but for perishable foods, if you can’t eat them all before they go bad, you’re wasting money (not to mention wasting food!). We’re not saying that Costco membership doesn’t come with benefits, but those benefits depend on what you buy regularly.

Sometimes you can get a discounted membership

Keep an eye out for these deals on Groupon and Living Social, and be sure to grab them when you see them as they are often in limited supply. We have also seen similar savings through banks and other organizations. And sometimes even teachers are offered special offers where they can get a coupon booklet when buying a new membership. The booklet is suitable for $60 worth of items, making up for your initial investment.

If you’re not too worried to start spending money at Costco, with patience you might be able to get a cheaper membership – or at least a cheaper bill on your first shopping trip.

You can only pay at Costco with these methods

Costco had a long-standing relationship with American Express starting in 1999 but ended that partnership around 2016 when AmEx was no longer accepted at warehouse stores and Visa was being phased in. While AmEx customers may be frustrated that they can’t flash their plastic at Costco, Visa charges a lower fee… so hopefully those savings will go to members.

So, when you head to the store, make sure your debit card is loaded or you have sufficient balance on your Visa card just in case some of Costco’s less traditional offerings grab your attention.

Perhaps the pursuit of executive membership is worth it

Tim Boyle/Getty ImagesHere are some options for Costco membership. The basic membership is called the Gold Star membership. At $60, that’s the minimum you can spend to walk in the door and start tossing some of that Kirkland goodness – which is often 20 percent cheaper than most other brands in the store – into your very large shopping cart.

The Gold Star Executive membership is another option for individuals. It costs twice as much as a Gold Star membership, but before you ditch it outright, consider how much you can spend at the store each year. Since you get 2 percent of your purchases (in the form of a Costco gift certificate that can be redeemed at the store), spending about $3,000 a year (that’s $250 a month) is enough to offset the extra $60 you spent on more expensive. annual membership. Executive members also receive additional benefits when using certain Costco services.

If you think you’re going to be a true Costco fan, the Costco credit card offers even more benefits.

Posted by AFP/Getty ImagesWhen Costco ended its aforementioned partnership with AmEx, it quickly joined Citi to offer the official Costco credit card. The Costco Anywhere credit card can be used not only at Costco (and it works in place of your membership card), but also anywhere else that also accepts Visa.

You need a membership to get a Costco Anywhere card, but if you’re planning to apply for a credit card, just skip the basic Gold Star membership as purchases with the card will give you back the same 2 percent as the Executive level. membership.

The reward is paid out every year in the form of a certificate that you can redeem for cash at the Costco store or use at the store to get more stuff… maybe even a pack of Costco’s best-selling item: toilet paper.

You can share your membership

Posted by AFP/Getty ImagesWith a Gold Star or Executive membership, you can get a second card for another member of your family; they just need to live at the same address as you. These family members receive their photo membership card and can use it to enter the store and shop on their own – you don’t even need to be with them.

And since shopping with a buddy is usually more fun, know that you can always bring up to two guests with you every time you shop. It’s a great way to introduce Costco to potential new members… and get an extra hand or two to load all your deals into the trunk of your SUV.

Students and military personnel can get additional benefits with membership

Are you in college or studying? A Costco membership can help students on a budget get beer, Cheerios at a good price, frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, and other essentials for college life. And you can save even more by purchasing a membership through UniDays, where you are eligible for a $20 Costco card (you can buy a lot of ramen noodles with it!). Of course, you can wait until you go home to visit your parents and convince them to take you shopping with their membership… maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll even pay for your stuff!

You don’t need a membership for all Costco services

You don’t have to be a member to enjoy all of Costco’s many benefits. Anyone can have lunch or dinner in the food court. It is usually located next to the exit, so just enter through the exit or next to the customer service to grab your favorite menu item.

Finally, non-members can use some of Costco’s health-related services. They can get an eye exam since optometrists don’t work for Costco (but they can’t buy glasses). And in most states, non-members can fill prescriptions at Costco pharmacies, taking advantage of lower drug and drug prices. as well as medicines for pets. One report ranks Costco’s drug prices second to several other pharmacies. However, it is important to note that drug prices for members are even lower thanks to the Costco Member Prescription Program.

And if you need a way to get your hands on some of these great Costco-only products, you can shop at or through Instacart, but non-members pay slightly higher prices, as well as shipping fees if applicable.

With a Costco membership, you will be taken to any store in the world.

Stephan De Sacutin/Getty ImagesThat’s right, although a visit to Costco might be the last thing on your itinerary while you’re traveling overseas, tucking your membership card into your fanny pack can come in handy. You can replace a broken suitcase, grab a couple of cheap beach towels, or buy a few outfits if your luggage gets lost by an airline. Or maybe you just miss the cheap and delicious Costco hot dogs from the food court.

Make the most of your membership with other services

A Costco membership gives you more than just the ability to buy groceries in bulk. If you’re buying a membership, take a look not only at the amazing deals on the grocery aisle but also at what else Costco has to offer as a Service.

Love to travel? As a Costco member, you have access to its exclusive travel service, which offers negotiated prices on travel packages, cruises, hotels, and even car rentals. And the company recently changed its policy so that executive members are refunded 2% of the cost of travel purchases upon completion of a trip.

Costco’s services also extend to savings, which isn’t as attractive as travel. You can get special member prices for new or used vehicles. More than 1 million Costco members have purchased vehicles through Costco in the past five years (as of February 2019), with rebates valued at around $1,000 on the more traditional vehicle buying path.

You can also save on home repair services, appliances, insurance, and even smaller services like printing receipts or developing photos. Costco’s automotive departments are an affordable place to shop for new tires and car batteries.

How much online shopping will you be doing at Costco?

If you’ve spotted some good deals on the Costco website and are wondering if a membership is worth it, here’s the deal.

Anyone can shop online at without a membership, but there’s a catch. You will be charged a 5% surcharge at checkout on top of any shipping fees you may have accumulated. Also, when Business Insider did some shopping comparison, they found that the prices shown on the website were 20% higher than the prices in stores. (The idea, they say, is that it’s probably an attempt to get people to go to the store and shop in person, where they’re more likely to be tempted into an impulsive purchase.)

Costco takes its store brands very seriously.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesEvery family has its unique habits, and for some, this means addicting to well-known brands. We all know the person who needs Starbucks coffee, who swears that Duracell batteries last longer than any other, or who believes that the only real tuna sandwich is the one made with bumblebee tuna.

If your love of name brands makes you think twice about becoming a Costco member, you may not have to worry.

Sure, you’ll head to Costco and stock up on Kirkland products, but you should know that Costco not only takes the quality of their products very seriously, but some of them may be the same as what you get under the branded labels. 

Even if you can’t find your favorite brands hiding under a different label, you should also know that Puree has found a ton of products – from olive oil and crackers to vodka – Costco and Kirkland have the best.

If you love sales and coupons, this might not be worth it.

There’s something nice about a great deal, especially when it’s tied to something you use all the time. What about coupons? Somehow – in an age where many newspapers and magazines have gone completely digital – coupons are still relevant. And it’s sort of understandable: shows like TLC’s Extreme Coupon give the impression that anyone dedicated enough to their cause can shop for free.

While not everyone falls into these extremes, those who like to keep an eye on sales and clip coupons to save money may find that Costco isn’t right for them.

When Business Insider did some comparison shopping, they found that if you’re already looking for the best deals, buying what’s sold at regular grocery stores, and clipping coupons, you’re probably not going to save money with a Costco membership. Break down items by their “unit” cost, and you’ll find that grocery chains often have better deals on items you buy all the time, especially if you’re waiting to stock up when things go on sale. Consider the bonus of being able to buy smaller sizes that will stay fresh longer, and bargain-hunters will find they might want to skip the Costco membership.

Find out how close you live to Costco

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesCostco has such a cult following that at first glance it might seem like getting a once-a-month ride membership could be an adventurous way to shake up your shopping habits. But according to Business Insider, figuring out where Costco is closest to your home or work goes a long way in determining if a membership is worth it.

While travel time, gas, and wear and tear on your car must be taken into account, there is also the issue of motivation. If you don’t have a Costco that’s conveniently located for you, the chances of you picking time out of your busy schedule are greatly reduced.

Don’t forget to weigh your options

Scott Olson/Getty images if you’re thinking about becoming a Costco member, you should know that not all warehouse stores are created equal. The best option for you depends on your individual needs, so it’s important to do a little research.

By Cary Grant

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