If you are ready to save money by buying in bulk at Costco, you may be a little annoyed knowing you’ll be charged a pretty decent fee just to earn the privilege to shop in the land of the 64-ounce jar of mayonnaise.
Membership prices range from $60 for a standard “Gold Star” membership to $120 for the “Gold Star Executive.” The warehouse club also offers business-based memberships with the same prices.
Standard club membership allows shoppers to purchase products at any Costco throughout the world, whereas the more expensive membership gives you 2% back on all purchases. However, to make that $120 fee worthwhile you’ll need to spend approximately $3,000 a year, which works out to $60 a week, according to Time.
If you don’t think you’ll get a decent return for your $60 or $120 membership fee or just want to find a way to reduce (or even eliminate) the fee, there are a few ways.
Check deal sites
Visit Living Social, Deal News, and Groupon for membership specials and Costco discounts on a regular basis. Most recently, Groupon and Living Social offered a one-year membership package deal that included a Gold Star membership, $20 Costco Cash Card and approximately $65 in coupons for $60. While that offer expired, check deal sites for fresh offers like one currently running for teachers and students.
Only make purchases that don’t require a membership
You can still purchase some Costco products and services if you don’t have a membership. Services to jump on include Costco’s vision and hearing screenings or fill your prescriptions at a discount, according to Clark. You can also chow down in the food court and buy booze without a membership.
Use a Costco Cash Card
Another way to get around the membership fee is to shop using a Costco Cash Card. Give a Costco member some cash to purchase one for you, which go from $25 up to $1,000. Cards are reloadable and your balance won’t expire. If you opt to shop online with the card, you’ll be charged 5% more on your purchases if you aren’t a member.
While anyone can make a purchase online you’ll be charged 5% more for items, which equates to paying about $5 for a $100 purchase. If you only want to make the occasional purchase, this can save quite a bit of money. The other restriction is you don’t have access to all of Costco’s products when you shop online. You’ll need to purchase any fresh items at a location.
Share your membership
Cut your membership fee in half by sharing the membership with a friend or family member. You can designate one other person to be on your membership, but it should be someone in your household.
Shop with friends or family with a membership
You could always shop with a friend or family member at Costco if they have a membership and you don’t. If you aren’t paying with a Costco Cash Card you’ll need to slide your friend or family member money to cover your purchases, as you can’t perform a transaction unless you are a member.
Use a delivery service like Instacart to bypass the membership fee, but it will cost you. Non-members pay a higher price for Costco items, plus you must place a minimum order of $35 and pay a service and delivery fee.
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