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Is The Costco Executive Membership Worth It?

costco executive membership

I would like Costco more if I didn’t have to pay to shop there.

We joined Costco for the first time last year. If you are not in the US, you might not know what Costco is, so here is a short intro. Costco is a membership only warehouse store that sells all kind of consumer products such as TVs, clothes, food, wine, and much more. Costco usually has lower price than other stores, but most of their products are sold in bulk. So instead of buying a small box of Cheerios, you have to buy a giant 2.5 lbs size. You also have to be a member to shop at Costco.

*Update – I just wrote a post about Amazon Prime. A lot of people love Amazon Prime and I think it’s way better than CostCo. I’m not an Amazon Prime member, but many readers are. Check out the comment section in that post.

There are two kinds of membership. The Goldstar membership costs $50 per year and you get the privilege of shopping at Costco. The Executive membership costs $100 and you get 2% reward on most purchases in addition. The price of membership is going up in 2012 to $55 and $110, respectively.

In 2011, we signed up for the executive membership because Costco promised that if we don’t get at least $50 reward, then they will make up the differences. We just received the 2% reward recently and our reward was $26. Luckily, I remember their promise and went to see customer service and they gave me $24 in addition to the reward. So the executive membership didn’t work out for us after all.

We just didn’t purchase enough to go over the $50 threshold. We would have to spend at least $2,500 a year to get over $50 reward to really benefit from the executive membership. I’m sure most people forget to go in and ask for the difference.

We joined Costco mainly because we wanted to purchase Kirkland brand baby formula. The Kirkland formula is much more affordable than national brands like Enfamil and Similac. Our cousin recommended Kirkland so we went with that and it worked out well. Once baby RB40 weans himself off formula, we probably will discontinue our Costco membership. The one benefit I would miss is their cheap gas station.

It was nice to shop there, but we just are not bulk buyers. Our condo does not have room for bulk items and our refrigerator is quite small. If we have a larger family in a larger home, then it would make more sense. It is fun to taste all the different food they have to offer, though. Costco has many tasting stations at lunch time to showcase their various packaged food products. That place is a zoo at lunch time.  While their packaged food products are quite tasty, we prefer to cook from fresh ingredients, so we rarely buy their frozen food.

In conclusion, the executive membership is worth it for the first year as long as you remember to get cash back if your reward is less than $50 ($55 for 2012.) You will see how much money you spend at Costco in one year and you can adjust to the cheaper program or continue with the executive membership as you see fit. If you have a small business like a restaurant then I think the executive membership is definitely worth it.

Are you a Costco member? Did you pick the “Goldstar” or Executive membership? How much was your reward check this year? 

* update *

After weighing the pros and cons of Costco, we decided to cancel our membership. Baby RB40 is drinking whole milk now and Costco was not really needed anymore.

photo credit – wiki

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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{ 81 comments… add one }
  • Junebug624 November 19, 2018, 7:09 am

    We have a Costco membership. The money I save on Cheez-its, Goldfish, Carnation Instant breakfast powder, milk, and gas more than pays for my membership. Household of 4 but seem to go through those basics like crazy. We do entertain a few times a year so bulk crackers, cheeses, & dips not to mention veggies and fruit are way cheaper at Costco than at our local grocery store. Also love the discount on movie tickets. They make great teacher gifts (under $20) so we buy several of those at Christmas time. Can you get carried away and buy more than you would at a grocery store? Sure but Target is just as bad! Who hasn’t gone into Target for one or two items and leaves $100 later.

  • Walt K August 31, 2018, 3:31 pm

    Next time you gas up at Costco gas station look for a small sign that says something like 10% ethenol. It’s one reason it’s cheaper, I think. But I always got noticeably less power from it on my motor home or SUV so I stopped going there. Watch for the lower octane rating there unless you have a vehicle made for it.

  • Gloverboy6 June 5, 2018, 7:07 pm

    Have you ever bought their toilet paper? It’s a real bargain compared to what you’ll pay anywhere else, along with their gas. I’d probably get their paper towels in bulk too, but like you, I don’t have a lot of extra space for a giant pack of them.

  • Mike March 1, 2016, 4:01 am

    I would never cancel my membership. Nearly everything you buy is returnable. I returned at 5yr old AC unit and several keurigs just to name a few. People who get their vitamix from Costco don’t have the worry after their 7 yr warranty expires. I’ve even considered getting my hottub from Costco! Let that sucker die, it will cost me $175 to haul it back to Costco and 7k back in my pocket.

    So many pros to keeping a Costco membership!

  • Doris Sullivan February 22, 2015, 9:22 am

    We’ve had both Sam’s & Costco memberships for years & LOVE them! Prices are GREAT! Even if don’t eat all of a package of frozen meatballs, would have paid more at grocery store for small package! Just compare costs for cereals! IF you eat cereal regularly, you will consume the larger size for MUCH less! Also have great value deals on seasonal items, furniture, clothing and I could go on and on! If you are buying at regular stores, you are paying a high markup! Don’t believe me? Just do some comparison shopping on items you use all the time. You’ll see. 🙂

  • PriceError March 30, 2014, 4:41 pm

    Where in the world are oranges 6 pounds for a buck? Maybe 1948?

  • mayanqueen February 18, 2013, 1:29 pm

    I am great at savings and that has helped me be debt free! I believe that getting the rewards,rebates, etc…it is a way of getting the right price on items. We are a family of 4 plus a dog and a cat, we couldn’t survive without Costco and their good quality of products. We live in California and we do shop at less expensive stores for certain items that I consider they might be too expensive at Costco. I do have the executive membership plus the American Express Costco Rewards Card, it is a win-win situation if you are not a compulsive shopper. I pay my bills as soon as I receive them so I never carry a balance to have to pay interest on them or extra charges. This year we got $95 from Costco and $750.00 from American Express Costco Credit Card. Every year we get enough to pay for the executive card. We only get the necessary stuff and are not compulsive shoppers. You need discipline for that,rule number 1. never go shopping to Costco if you are hungry . Rule #2. Never carry a balance on your cards. I use the Costco American Express to pay other bills such as phone bills, medical bills, other purchases, travels, etc. But the key is discipline! All those percentages do add up! I hope my recommendations do help someone out there to be DEBT FREE! NO MORE MORTGAGE! Just try sending a bit extra each payment directly to the principal. Read advertisements and do buy oranges when they cost 6 pounds for a buck! Thank you all for your comments, very helpful too! I hope mine is not too late for some.
    Mayan Queen

  • TheGooch January 21, 2013, 8:07 am

    I finished my first year of Executive membership at CostCo and got around $60 back. I decided that it wasn’t worth it and downgraded to a normal membership.

    I like the idea of the TrueEarnings card. I’m about to compare Sam’s club and CostCo to see if I should switch to Sam’s club after my current membership expires.

    Does anyone know the credit score you need to get a TrueEarning’s card? Mine is about 655 right now.

  • Pooja January 2, 2013, 4:08 pm

    I got a Gift of Membership from my friend who gets discounts from my husband who fixes her car occasionally (he is a mehanic) She got mee the Gold Star since it was my first time at Costco. I really enjoyed the benefits of buying in bulk for my family of 4.

  • Dawn bornstein November 12, 2012, 11:52 am

    Please let me know where is my reward check -I always get it by nov 5 thanks dawn bornstein

  • Michelle October 16, 2012, 12:26 pm

    First off, I do not work at Costco. lol

    With that said, I love Costco and I’m a single woman with a house. I bought everything I needed for my new house (after price checking much of the more expensive items) and I saved thousands of dollars in the first couple of months of membership. Somehow you failed to talk about the trememdous savings.

    Who says you have to be a bulk buyer to shop at Costco? I’m a 30 year old single woman! Last shopping trip I bought roses for the house, a sweater (Calvin Klein), a backpack (Swiss Army), Haivana sandals ($8 dollars, reg. $25 in the stores), organic chicken, individually wrapped, organic baby carrots (to throw in lunches), Xerox printer paper, Unibal pens, a Thomasville wool rug ($14!!!), few small gifts in the kids section, some replacement pillows (serta $6!!!), a set of Amy’s organic frozen dinners to eat at work and much more. Get to the point where I’ve bought any BULK items.

    I save hundreds of dollars every time I go to Costco. I recently bought a $800 Whalen (?) desk for $239. I’m typing on it now. I purchased the Executive membership through AAA and frankly, I got a huge discount on it.

    I’m sorry, but if you want to save money and get nice tings, then Costco and Sam’s Club are where you go. My other favorites are HomeGoods, Target and Marshall’s in no particular order. I’m not the only one who feels that way….search through the Consumer Reports findings regarding customer satisfaction of retail chains.

    And feed your baby raw milk. You’ll be glad you did…I fed mine raw milk and they’ve never had a cold and they’re 7 and 5 years old. Healthy, even-tempered, and they’ve excelled in sports and academics. Organics and raw milk are the way to go. God bless, Michelle.

  • Patrick September 14, 2012, 7:18 pm

    I live by myself, I buy toilet paper, paper towel, laundry detergent, fabric softner, dishwashing tablets, and anything else that wont go bad. I don’t have a lot of fridge space but I like a few of the frozen items, the individually wrapped chicken, and the individually wrapped salmon. From time to time I do buy some other food items. There is a learning curve to shopping at Costco. You can’t just buy everything you see. But on the other hand if you can buy a few of the things there and adapt your way of life to them, it usually works out. I get 70$ back a year on the Exec membership. I only pay 40$ out of pocket to renew. They also offer a free American Express Card, I use that for every gasoline purchase, I use it when I eat at a restaurant, and I also use it when I shop at Costco. I get 300$ back a year on that alone. I pay it off every month. I don’t spend money I don’t have with it. Between the two reward checks I get 370$ back a year and I pay 110$ for the executive. That means it pays me $260 a year to shop at Costco. I may spend more occasionally than I plan, but the savings on the items I buy plus the $260 far outweighs any impulse buys I make, especially since those impulse buys are usually a great deal. I’m amazed by all these people that can’t make it work. Also FYI you can’t just buy a gift card, you need a member card at the register then you can pay with a cash card.

  • Jeff May 24, 2012, 2:21 pm

    I keep my receipts and noticed Costco has raised their prices by as much as 50% on a lot of the items I buy. Believe me they have great deals on some things but those items are getting further and far in between. Everytime I went into the warehouse the price of items I like would go up 50 cents at a time. I bought Michelin tires for our vehicle for $25 less per tire at America’s Tire plus received a $70 + $30 rebate for all 4. On a per use basis, I can buy 2 12 oz packages of cheese for less than the Costco 2 lb that I need to break up into Ziploc bags out our local grocery outlet Winco. Costco used to be around 50% less so buying large quanities was worth it. Now, I’m only noticing higher prices or a 10% savings which isn’t worth having to repackage the foods, or the risk that the food could go bad. For this reason, I haven’t yet renewed our $55 memebership. But their Fage yogurt is a great deal but that’s one of thousands of items.

  • Jennifer Furtado May 2, 2012, 12:12 pm

    I love costco, my parents were always shopping there back when it was price club! I have fond memories of the shopping experience when I was a kid. I have the executive membership and I try to buy almost everything there to get the most out of the 2% and limit my shopping by buying in bulk and not having to go to the store all the time, or even preventing myself from going to multiple stores. One benefit/Trick of the Trade is that my old roommate and I share an account, we don’t live together anymore but we still share the expense and the reward money goes toward the annual card membership the following year and thing left over we split. I think between the two of us we spend $4-$6/year. She is a newly wed and I have another roommate now so its almost as if we are sharing the expense for 4 adults.

    Things I Routinely Buy At Costco:

    Household/Kitchen Items:
    Toilet Paper
    Paper Towels
    Paper Plates
    Ziplock Bags
    Sarran Wrap
    Brita Water Filters
    Trash Bags
    Laundry Detergent
    Dishwasher Soap
    Hand Soap
    Dish Soap

    Office Supplies:
    Office Ink & Refills
    Office Paper
    Photo Prints
    Photo Frames

    Personal Items:
    Daily Vitamins
    Shampoo / Conditioner
    Razor Blade Refills
    Electric Toothbrush Replacements
    Body Wash

    Organic Chicken Breast
    Prime Filet Mignon
    Organic Ground Beef
    King Crab Legs
    Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
    Turkey Burgers

    Fresh Mozzarella
    Baybel Cheddar Cheese
    Sliced Turkey Lunch Meat
    Egg Whites

    Meyer Lemons
    Salad Spring Mix
    (I juice apples, celery, lemon, and cucumber, and spinach)

    Can Goods:
    Refried Beans

    Spinach & Mozzarella Raviloi
    Kirkland Cheese Pizza
    Dino Chicken Nuggets

    Cooking Staples:
    Olive Oil
    Vanilla Extract
    Sea Salt


    Movie Tickets (Birthday & Christmas Gifts)
    Books / DVDs

    Random Large Ticket One Time Items I Bought:
    $299 – Bicycle
    $350 – Laser Hair Removal
    $450 – Visio 42″ TV
    $200 – Living Room Rug
    $130 – 2 Sets of White 600 Thread Count Sheets
    $80 – Waterpic

    Executive Memebership Benefits:
    TRAVEL!!! Extra Rewards when you go on a trip! (Haven’t used this yet!)

    Items I Plan To Buy:
    Oreck Steam It $159
    Patio Set $299
    Pet Supplies (Dog Food, Pet Bed, Treats, Toys) – Plan on getting a french bull dog

    I know that is what I buy, I don’t know about my exroommate…

    • mayanqueen February 18, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Wow,you but all that! I recommend you get the American Express with Costco too, you will get a lot of money back at the end of the year. Yeah, I do remember when it was Price Club! I think their best is the “Return Policy”, no questions asked, sometimes I don’t even have the receipt. You will love how American Express Costo keeps track of your spending and during tax season just print out and do taxes, no receipts to save. Everything done in one card, I even pay DMV with it!
      Mayan Queen

  • Elizabeth April 27, 2012, 9:43 am

    Everyone uses the phrase “cash back” when talking about the Executive membership reward, but it is store credit, not cash back, that you are given. I don’t consider them equivalent.

    • retirebyforty April 27, 2012, 10:19 pm

      You got a point there. 🙂

    • Art July 17, 2012, 3:48 pm

      The cash back is indeed cash back, not just a store credit. You take your rebate check to the cashier and voila, cash in your hand.

      My Costco Executive membership (and Costco American Express) is worth every penny.

      • retirebyforty July 17, 2012, 9:56 pm

        That’s true. I got the $25 cash when I took the check in. We just don’t buy enough stuff to make it worth it. 🙁

        • Kumar February 5, 2016, 8:45 pm

          You would be able to get the difference between $55 and your reward if your reward is less than $55. You will get it only if you ask for it. In your case, you could have got $55 cash back ($25 + $30) instead of the $25.

    • mayanqueen February 18, 2013, 1:47 pm

      The Costco American Express does give you the cash back in your hand. The Costco Executive 2% Reward is store credit only and you can purchase almost anything besides liquor and cigarets.
      Mayan Queen

  • lifeoverwork January 26, 2012, 7:27 am

    You made a comment about the cheaper gas at CostCo. I’ve never found it to be worth it, personally. The discount tends to be only around $0.10/gallon compared to some of the cheaper stations near me. With gas over $3.40, I can usually do better using a points or cash back credit card — especially when a card is running a 5% back promotion on gas, as they often are.

    • retirebyforty January 26, 2012, 4:29 pm

      When Chase Freedom has 5% back for gas, I’ll use the regular gas station too. 🙂

  • JA @ Who Took Your Money January 17, 2012, 11:20 am

    I’d say that the Executive membership at Costco is always worth it! [note that I am surprised that Corey had the experience that he had.] At my local Costco (here in Canada), they have a big sign stating that they guarantee their membership with a full refund. i.e if at any point you are not satisfied with your membership, you can cancel it and get a full refund of the fees. So for someone like Corey … he could simply have invoked that clause and asked to cancel his membership and got a full refund of his fees.

    Since they guarantee their membership as well as promise to refund you the difference if your 2% rebate cheque isn’t $55 or more, I see their Executive Membership as a no brainer. If you end up spending a lot … you get more than $55 back and actually end up getting a discount on your GoldStar membership as well. If you end up spending too less, you go back and get your refund and you have broken even.

    Ofcourse whether Costco Membership itself is worth it or not is a different question. 🙂

  • My University Money January 10, 2012, 7:55 pm

    I’m 240 pounds, my brother is over 220, and my dad is somewhere in between (we’re all over 6’1 as well). We weren’t quite this big in high school, but we were big boys nonetheless. You better believe that Executive Membership paid for itself! The best deal we ever had was to buy whole sides of beef from a local farmer. Mega savings on that one. Out of habit my parents still keep the Costco membership, but it probably doesn’t pay for itself anymore. Maybe they feel obligated after all those years of 2 shopping carts full!

    • retirebyforty January 11, 2012, 12:59 pm

      Man, I’d hate to see the look of the face of an all you can eat buffet proprietor when your family walk in. 🙂
      We are on the opposite end of the spectrum and we definitely don’t eat enough to justify bulk buying.
      Thanks for sharing.

  • 101 Centavos January 10, 2012, 4:47 pm

    Sam’s Club is good for certain things. For us, it’s good cheese, paper goods, rice, olive oil and pasta….. the basics.

    • retirebyforty January 11, 2012, 1:08 pm

      We usually buy non perishable stuff like TP and such. The cheese is too big for me. The olivo price is really good and that make our list too.

  • Taline January 10, 2012, 2:36 pm

    I live in Souther California and I have an executive membership at Costco. I think it all comes down to your personal needs and as I always state, it all comes down to numbers. If you will spend under at minimum the break even point to get back what you paid for your membership, then executive may not be the way to go.

    I have a 13 month old son and I purchase diapers and baby wipes from Costco and I seriously save a lot. The have coupons (you no longer need to cut and present) that make a huge difference in how much you spend. I usually will not make a purchase from Costco unless there is a coupon for the item.

    Ever considered getting the American Express rewards card? Or any rewards card that does not have an annual fee. I use the AMEX card on just about everything and annualy get back over $1K from it in rewards. Just an idea 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 11, 2012, 1:03 pm

      We buy wipes and formula from Costco, but I’m pretty sure Amazon mom has cheaper diapers.
      I try to buy only the coupon items too, but sometime the coupons aren’t there. I guess we need to plan ahead a bit better.
      I got the Costco AmEx card and they don’t have any rewards. I haven’t check the reward plan, but $1k is nice.
      We use Chase Freedom and probably get about $250 back/year.

      • mayanqueen February 18, 2013, 1:36 pm

        Yes, American Express From Costco have rewards. I just got almost $800.00 this year and around $900.00 last year. This comment might be too late, but if you purchase everything with the card even milk and eggs you will notice the difference. I even pay my cell phone with that card, it is worth it.

  • Hunter - Financially Consumed January 10, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Not a member, and I don’t blame you for disliking the fees. Thankfully we have access to the Military supermarket: Commissary. I thnk bulk buying leads to wasteful use at home. Plus, I don’t like filling the cabinets with supplies that could last a year or more.

    • retirebyforty January 11, 2012, 1:00 pm

      I haven’t heard of the Commissary before. It sounds like a great benefit for our service members.
      Yeah, we still have enough TP to last us 3 more months. hahaha. 😀

    • John M. Ashworth Jr. February 27, 2012, 7:28 am

      I’m a Veteran,

      When I was on Base, I went to the Commissary. There isn’t a difference from the Commissary compared to target, or walmarts. Not only was this a let down, we were also controlled & watched at this store. We had to walk in a line from Isle to Isle (We Can’t just skip to a certain section), & it continued til you were at the register. I will never shop there again. No Benefits there. I did My research, Found that off base stores like smiths- Meats, Walmart – Frozen Foods, Target – Misc/ Fruits & Veggies were the best.
      I am 25 now & I have Both the Executive Membership & Sams Clubs Basic Membership. We get our Fruit & Veggies, Bread, Eggs, Cheese, & Coffee from Sams Club. We usually get our Meats, Beans, Rice, Condements, Whey Protein(It’s $5 – $7 cheaper than walmart), Big items (Rarely). I’ve made back my money from Sams already, Costco not so much yet. May be breaking even soon though. It’s only me & my wife (+ dog).
      In Conclusion, Sams is better, but each store has their own ups & downs, but for me I like to keep my options open. We just moved, so now Costco is very close, & Sams is 20 minutes away. GAS – is the main reason we went with Costco. I hope this helps a little.

      • retirebyforty February 27, 2012, 2:17 pm

        I’ve never been in the Commissary. From you what you said, I don’t really want to!
        We’ll probably cancel the Costco membership when baby quit drinking formula.

        • Knp446 April 17, 2014, 10:16 pm

          Ok so I realize this is an old post I have been looking up info about Costco memberships. But I am really bothered by this Commissary statement from that guy just based on being plain wrong. As for being controlled or watched, I have never experienced that at any Commissary I have shopped at. I am a Navy wife and I have shopped at the Commissary for 17 years. It is just like a normal grocery store where u can go down any aisle. They sell things at cost and add a 5% surcharge at the end when you check out. Sometimes things are cheaper. Usually they are around the same price as a Walmart or less. Meat is almost always cheaper. It also depends on where you live. When I lived in FL I could usually do better at Publix when stuff was on sale because there is no food tax. I live in Illinois and there are high taxes, so I generally do better at the Commisarry. Anyway, I am new to Costco. I have been going a couple months. I signed up when there was Living Social special. I got a $20 gift card about $2o in coupons. It was a great deal. Then get so many people to join from my link then it is free plus the coupons woot woot. I just upgraded my membership to the Executive. When my kids were younger and we had a smaller home there was no way I was going to join a wholesale club. I had no room and my kids did not eat much. Now we have a larger home and a freezer in the garage and my kids are older and eat EVERYTHING. I also have to pack lunches daily. I think if someone is a great planner and organizer Costco is great. When I get home from there I take most of what I buy and split into usable portions and freeze it. Most of the produce there is in too large of packaging for us. It would go bad before we can eat it. I buy organic milk and eggs there. I have bought some clothes too. I think there are many good deals there. I do buy a lot of the store brand items at Costco. I am moving soon and I found out I can get a good discount on a car rental with my Costco membership.

          • Lori September 3, 2014, 3:49 pm

            executive memberships are well worth it when using it for more than groceries. ( unless you have big family or business purchases, then it’ll pay itself quickly) SO- the 2% on purchases, auto services program ( free roadside assistance with that), prenegotiated vacation packages, vehicle rentals and purchases, auto insurance, too. The American Express Costco card, earn 3% on gasoline, 2% restaurants n other stores. double check the cc details, but combine those $ with Costco return$ and the discounts and its easier to see the savings can add up. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • SB @ One Cent At A Time January 10, 2012, 11:30 am

    I don’t have this. Had for one year. Calculation showed we paid more than we saved. For a two member family we didn’t buy enough to offset $50 towards membership. We only buy rice from there. We ask our friends to buy for us from there.

  • Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog January 10, 2012, 8:47 am

    I’m currently not a costco member – we dont really have the space to store all of that extra stuff!

    • retirebyforty January 10, 2012, 9:41 am

      We don’t either and that’s why we’ll cancel our membership soon.

  • [email protected] January 10, 2012, 5:51 am

    We are not bulk buyers either. We just joined the Costco membership for baby stuff like wipes, diapers and formula. After our baby daughter is done with these things we will probably cancel it too.

    • retirebyforty January 10, 2012, 9:41 am

      Amazon actually has cheaper diaper if you join their mom plan (forgot the exact name.)

  • Untemplater January 9, 2012, 9:37 pm

    I have yet to get a Costco membership. If I ever have a family I probably will get one, but for now I just don’t really see a need for one. I used to go with one of my friends who had a membership every now and then which was fun. -Sydney

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 10:25 pm

      You need a big family to make the membership worth it. 🙂

  • youngandthrifty January 9, 2012, 8:51 pm

    I think Costco membership is the devil haha.. Everytime I go in there I spend a pretty penny.

    The meat is great though and I divide the meat up and package into smaller portions. The tasting stations are great but they make you want to buy the product.
    I also hate the lines.

    My Costco membership is expiring in May and not sure if we will renew again (this is the 1st time renewing)

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 10:25 pm

      I like the tasting station too, but usually we can resist buying the food. We try to avoid frozen food so most of those products do not make it into our cart. We always spend more than we plan to at Costco as well. Anther reason to stop going. 🙂

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin January 9, 2012, 7:14 pm

    We had Costco membership for one year. Not even executive. It is simply not worth for us because we don’t need a family size packaged chicken that will go bad because we cannot eat it all. Our family consists just of two us, we don’t need wholesale sizes.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 10:23 pm

      You can put the chicken in the freezer. 😉 We don’t really need those huge bulk packages either. I don’t think I will continue the membership for more than a year.

  • krantcents January 9, 2012, 5:26 pm

    I am a Costco (Gold Star) member. I do not buy enough products to justify the membership by itself, however my Costco has gas. My wife and I purchase all our gas there and my 3% gas rebate literally pays for my membership nearly by itself.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 10:21 pm

      You guys drive a lot so it is worth the membership fee. I’ll have to check on how to get the 3% gas rebate. I thought gas purchases doesn’t count toward the Costco reward. Are you talking about an AmEx program?

  • Lisa @ Cents To Save January 9, 2012, 5:12 pm

    We like BJ’s. They have stores closer to us, and we like their selection. Oh… we like the deals we get on their tires. With three vehicles, we always seem to need tires.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 10:19 pm

      We only have one car and drive about 8k/year. 🙂
      I hear they have good tire deals, but I haven’t tried that service yet.

  • YFS January 9, 2012, 2:25 pm

    I’m not a costco member for the math reasons you just cited. I’ve learned that costco isn’t much cheaper than walmart or target when it comes to their items. The only advantage I noticed when ever I went to costco was their gas and tires. But automotive reasons are not enough to warrant me getting a costco membership

  • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter January 9, 2012, 1:14 pm

    We have always had a gold star membership until this year. We don’t shop at costco very often, every few months, but when we do it is usually for something big and specific. Apparently based on what we spent last year, the executive membership was well worth it so we decided to give it a try. I will let you know if it was worth it at the end of the year.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 4:14 pm

      I’ll look forward to see what you spent. They do have good deals on TV and other big ticket items.

  • kathleen January 9, 2012, 11:48 am

    Costco isn’t really conveniently located for me. That said, my parents live about a mile from a Costco, so I go with them when I visit!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 4:13 pm

      That’s nice of your parents. 🙂

  • MLISunderstanding January 9, 2012, 11:33 am

    My mother has (had?) a Costco membership for a family of 4, so when I lived at home, I went shopping with her there. When I visited on school breaks, she often took me there to stock up on food in bulk before I went back to college. (One year, our driving route to college was snowed in and I unexpectedly had to take a flight — imagine me shuffling soup cans from one suitcase to another, trying to get both under the maximum weight allowed by the airline!)

    I don’t have a membership of my own, but on a few occasions I’ve partnered up with a friend who does, shared the shopping and the expense, and split the bulk packages up between us. That works all right, because neither of us has the space or need for so much food (etc.) at once, but scheduling it for mutual convenience is tough.

    Something I *DON’T* like about Costco is that they don’t accept most credit cards! I had an American Express card for about a year, which I could have used if I’d gone to Costco in that year (I didn’t). But my Chase Freedom card (a Visa) isn’t accepted, and it would be nice to earn the rewards points on a big purchase. Also, if you are a guest of a member, the member has to pay for the items (I just reimbursed my friend with cash or PayPal after we got the total).

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 4:13 pm

      I used my debit card for a while and then decided to get the AmEx. I would love to put it on my Chase card as well.
      Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great to share the bulk food with roomates and friends.

      • retired April 10, 2013, 11:16 am

        you can. buy a $500 cash card @ costco.com, use that in store until you run out, repeat. you can use ANY cc on their website.

  • Andy Hough January 9, 2012, 8:46 am

    We don’t have a Costco in our area but we are Sam’s Club members. We get the membership free but I doubt it would be worth it if we had to pay. The prices don’t seem that much cheaper to me. We have also had some stuff go bad before we could use it all thus negating any cost savings. As long as the membership is free we will keep it but now we only buy certain items there.

  • Corey @ Passive Income to Retire January 9, 2012, 8:02 am

    Oh man…I signed up with the executive with this promise that they would give us the difference if we did not spend enough to earn at least $50 in rewards. I was hesitant to do so when signing up because I knew I wouldn’t spend that much. They insisted and I gave in, trusting them. When it came to the end of the year, I went to get my difference and they refused. (Side note- I had moved states and was at a different store). I asked to speak to the manager and she insisted that she was the manager. She had never heard of this promise. I refused to lose my money, so I asked to talk to her supervisor, which happened to be the warehouse manager. I explained to him the promise that was made to me and he told me he had never heard of that and that the store who told me that was lying. After convincing him that I wouldn’t have signed up for the executive had I not been convinced, he agreed to give me my money back if I dropped down to a gold member. ughhh! Come to find out, my in-laws (who signed up for the executive the same day, but did not move) were able to get their money back. Thus, reading your story brings back all of the frustration.

    All that aside, I still love costco.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:14 am

      Great job getting your money back. I guess each state has a different policy.
      Thanks for sharing your story.

    • gene April 12, 2015, 10:56 pm

      Costco has a stated policy that you can get your money back for your membership no questions asked. Not a per store thing so I am not really convinced about this story.

  • Little House January 9, 2012, 6:47 am

    We aren’t bulk buyers either and let our Costco membership expire a few years ago. It’s fairly easy to renew it if we ever end up going back to Costco. BTW – I like the new layout. 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:13 am

      Thanks! I want to clean up the site and speed it up a little bit.
      Did you miss Costco? I doubt it if you are not bulk buyers.

  • Jeffrey January 9, 2012, 6:06 am

    I’m not a Costco member (I’m single and not really a bulk buyer), but I’m not a huge fan of rewards incentives to spend more money. Your spending 100% of your money to get 2% back. I know that you’d be spending this in most cases anyway, but I still think there’s a psychological element to spending more to get cash back in these types of cases.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:12 am

      I agree with you. We resisted joining for a long time and only joined to buy the formula. We spend way more than usual at Costco and I’m looking forward to canceling the membership.

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 9, 2012, 5:55 am

    We have never been a Costco member but love our Sam’s Club membership. We don’t routinely shop there for our week to week purchases, but there are definitely several favorites that we shop for in bulk. Sometimes I do think we should purchase an extra refrigerator or freezer. Oh well!

    We don’t have the premium membership, as I don’t think it would be cost-effective.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:11 am

      We would get an extra freezer if we have a garage, but luckily we don’t. 🙂

  • Alexa January 9, 2012, 5:44 am

    We have a Sam’s Club membership and we love it! It sounds like we have more space then you do (we have a house w/ garage and 2 full size fridges, one in the garage). So buying in bulk is easy for us even though we are only a family of 2 (+ dog). I find that their fresh fruit is worth the trip alone. I can get a bunch or grapes for ~$5 from Sam’s or I can get the same amount at the grocery store for $10!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:10 am

      It’s great that Costco works for you. I find that bulk fresh food doesn’t work for us. We can’t finish everything and usually ends up throwing things out. 🙁

  • Moneycone January 9, 2012, 4:42 am

    When I did have a Costco membership, I spent waay more than what I needed! Ended up canceling it. Either that or have more shopping discipline!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:08 am

      I agree. It is so easy to overspend at Costco. 🙂
      We’ll probably cancel when we don’t need formula anymore.

  • Shaun @ Smart Family Finance January 9, 2012, 4:17 am

    I have a BJs membership that I got for gas discounts. However, my local gas station decided that they were going to be a low cost leader in order to drive convenience store purchases and haven’t seen the cost effectiveness of going to BJs since.

    The membership price is $45 for BJs and I often wonder if the discounts are worth the expense. My guess is that I’m just breaking even.

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:07 am

      The formula purchases definitely make the membership fee worth it for us. Once we stop purchasing the formula, I doubt the discount will be worth the admission price. I probably will get a credit card for gasoline discount instead.

  • The Frugallery January 9, 2012, 4:10 am

    One trick I learned is that you can shop at Costco without a membership if you have a gift card. You would have to have a member buy the gift card for you, but once you have it, it can be used as “admission” to the store. If you know how much you will spend there in a year, theoretically you could have a friend who is a member buy gift cards for you. Just an idea that might help someone!

    • retirebyforty January 9, 2012, 9:05 am

      That is a GREAT idea. Maybe I will buy a gift card for myself and cancel my membership next year. 🙂
      We just need a little more formula so $500 would be plenty to cover the year.

    • Jim Wang September 23, 2015, 10:20 am

      You’d need a new gift card each time because Costco will require you to use that card for purchases, but still doable.

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