Costco Membership Benefits in Canada: Is It Worth It?
One of the best ways to save money when shopping, especially if you buy in bulk, is to join a warehouse club. These clubs charge you an annual membership fee, and in return, you get access to special deals on different products – and even some services. One of the most popular wholesale stores is Costco. In this article, I take an in-depth look at everything Costco offers to help you determine if a Costco membership is right for you.
Many people agree that a Costco membership is worth $60 a year. After all, you can save that amount in one trip alone with some of the non-grocery items sold at Costco. For example, I’ve found products like KitchenAid mixers and Ralph Lauren dress shirts at half the price of other stores.
In some cases, just buying that Ralph Lauren dress shirt is enough to justify the membership cost for the entire year. When you compare prices, it becomes evident that you are often ahead, depending on your family’s shopping needs.
The savings that come with a Costco membership can be significant, providing that you stick to your list, and shop carefully. Of course, this is often easier said than done. With so many tempting items on the shelf, shoppers often spend on impulse purchases.
Costco is great for larger families since you can often find items to buy in bulk. Even a small family can benefit from a Costco membership if they can preserve items over a longer period.
Regardless of your family size, it’s important to be realistic about how quickly you will go through perishables. While it’s possible to keep canned goods for a long time, and you can freeze meat and cheese items for later, produce like lettuce and bananas isn’t so easy to preserve.
In other words, make sure you don’t buy too much for your family since you don’t want to throw away half of your purchased food.
How A Costco Membership Works
Gold Star Membership Benefits
Costco memberships come in three types. It begins with the Gold Star membership, at $60/year. An additional card is free of charge for a spouse or another family member over 18 residing at the same address.
The Gold Star Costco membership is ideal for anyone who wants access to wholesale prices but is unsure whether they will spend enough money to benefit from a higher membership level.
Costco Business Membership Benefits
Costco offers Business Membership to licensed business owners, managers, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Like the Gold Star membership, the annual fee is $60, and a free spouse card is available.
The Costco Business Membership differs because it makes up to 6 additional cards available at $60 each and allows members to purchase items for resale. Business members must inform Costco of any information regarding things they plan for resale.
Costco Executive Membership Benefits
Costco’s Executive membership offers several additional benefits at an annual cost of $120/year. It also includes a complimentary spousal card that business members can use. Executive members earn a 2% cashback reward on qualifying Costco, Costco.com, and Costco Travel purchases, up to $1000 per year.
Here’s what you get with the Costco Executive Membership:
- 2% cashback on most of your purchases.
- Additional savings on Costco services, from mortgages to insurance to business services.
- Exclusive offers and extra discounts only for executive members.
A Costco Executive membership is worth the additional $60 if you earn more than $60 in rewards annually. That will cover the difference between the Costco Gold Star membership and the Executive level. To earn $60, you’ll need to spend $3000 on qualifying purchases.
If you earn $120 in rewards, it will cover 100% of your annual membership. If you can take advantage of some of the many Executive discounts, it’s an even better deal. $120 of cashback will require $6000 in qualifying Costco purchases annually.
How to Renew Your Costco Membership
Costco gives you four options for renewing your annual Costco membership:
1. You can renew your Costco membership online using your Visa or Mastercard. Simply sign in to your Costco account and select “Renew Membership.”
2. Renew your Costco membership while shopping at a Costco location. Let the cashier know you wish to renew, and they will add the amount to your grocery bill.
3. You can renew your Costco membership by calling 1-800-774-2678.
4. Lastly, you can renew your membership by mail to the following address:
P.O. Box 34783
Note that you must wait until 90 days before the expiration date to renew an active Costco membership. If your membership has already expired, you can renew online within 90 days of expiration. Otherwise, you will need to renew in person or by phone.
Additional Costco Services
In addition to its physical store locations, Costco offers many other services worth checking out. These include home and auto insurance, life and travel Insurance, professional installation services, and a tire center.
Costco Online Shopping
Costco makes shopping even easier by making many products and services available online. Costco’s online shopping experience is similar to that of most other online retailers.
Before placing your first order, you’ll need to take a moment to register, at which point your Costco membership will be connected to your online account. Shipping is available to most areas, except for a few very remote locations.
A lesser-known fact about Costco is that they offer members a full slate of travel booking services. They may be the place to go to book your next all-inclusive vacation, cruise, or car rental.
Make sure you shop around before booking, however. While Costco Travel has established a strong reputation based on service and value, online travel websites are very competitive, so there’s no guarantee that any single provider will always have the best deal.
If you live reasonably close to a Costco location, you can take advantage of reduced prices at the gas pump. Gasoline is available at most Costco locations and is usually priced at 6 or 7 cents/litre below leading gasoline retailers. Depending on how often you fuel up, this discount alone may be worth the cost of membership.
Most Costco locations feature a full-service optical department. They accept current prescriptions from licensed doctors, optometrists or ophthalmologists, and you don’t require an eye exam from a Costco location to purchase eyewear products. That said, Costco does offer full eye exams at most locations, completed by independent Doctors of Optometry.
Most Costco locations come equipped with a full-service pharmacy and can be a great way to obtain competitive prices on a wide range of health-related products and services.
For added convenience, Costco members in all provinces, except for Quebec and Prince Edward Island, can now order prescriptions online from Costco pharmacy and have them delivered directly to their home address.
Costco Pharmacy Services:
- Online prescription management
- Free prescription delivery by mail
- Vaccination booking – Flu, COVID-19, Shingles, Hepatitis A&B, and more
- Coming Soon! – same day prescription drug delivery via Instacart.
Costco Credit Card
It’s essential to understand what credit cards are accepted at Costco Warehouse locations. Currently, Costco Canada only accepts Mastercard branded credit cards. In the past, they had a relationship with American Express, which ended in 2016.
Capital One offers a Costco Mastercard exclusive to members. It’s a no-annual-fee card, which offers 3% cash back at restaurants, 2% on gasoline purchases, and 1% on all other purchases once you reach $3000 in annual spending. The first $3000 of regular purchases is set at .50% cashback.
Other benefits of this Costco-branded Capital One Mastercard include Purchase Assurance, Extended Warranty, and Auto Rental Insurance.
Helpful Hint: While it’s true that Costco does not accept Visa credit cards for purchases, it does allow you to use your Visa card to purchase Costco Cash Cards, otherwise known as gift cards, online.
This makes it possible for Visa Card Holders to collect reward points while using the cards to shop at Costco locations.
How to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
If you’re still not sold on becoming a Costco member, there are ways that you can benefit from their wholesale prices without a membership.
A Costco Cash Card (gift card) will get you in the door, can be used by non-members, and can be purchased with a minimum balance of $10.
There is one caveat. Once the card balance has been used up, it must be reloaded or another one purchased by a Costco member. In other words, you need to rely on a Costco member to help you, which may be inconvenient for either party.
Costco Return Policy
Costco’s return policy has become a thing of legend. A simple Google search will reveal some amazing Costco return stories, with items sometimes being accepted years after the initial date of purchase.
Simply put, Costco guarantees client satisfaction with every purchase and will offer full refunds upon the return of an item. There are a few exceptions. Most electronics, for example, are limited to a 90-day return policy, and things with a limited useful life expectancy, such as batteries or tires, may be subject to a product-specific limited warranty.
And their return policy isn’t limited to their products. Costco will also fully refund memberships to customers who aren’t satisfied with their shopping experience.
Costco Membership FAQs
How Much Is a Costco Membership?
A Gold Star membership is $60 annually, while an Executive membership is $120. Regular business membership is also $60, and a business executive membership is $120.
Can I get a 1-day Costco membership?
No. You can only purchase an annual Costco membership, whether it’s Costco Gold or an executive membership. However, non-members can still buy drug prescriptions from a Costco Pharmacy.
Can I Borrow Someone’s, Costco Card?
You cannot borrow a Costco membership card from a friend or family member. However, they could bring you with them to Costco and purchase items for you.
Why do they check your receipt at Costco?
According to Costco’s website, they do this to “double-check that the items purchased have been correctly processed by our cashiers. It’s our most effective method of maintaining accuracy in inventory control, and it’s also a good way to ensure that our members have been charged properly for their purchases.”
Drawbacks of Shopping at Costco
Even the biggest Costco fan can admit a few drawbacks to shopping there. For one, it’s almost always incredibly busy, and simply finding a parking lot can be a chore in and of itself. And while Costco stocks high-quality products, they can sometimes come and go without notice. Just as you get used to an item, it’s gone, and you can no longer get it. Of course, there are credit card restrictions, as they only accept Mastercard, no Visa or Amex.
If you are on a limited budget, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to buy a full load of groceries at Costco. Because everything is in bulk, buying two or three items can easily set you back $50 or $60. If you can only spend $100 on groceries, you won’t be able to get the variety of products you need.
Is a Costco Membership Worth the Cost?
Let’s face it; shopping at Costco has a few irritants. But those aside, the money-saving opportunities may be too great to ignore. As a reminder, here’s a list of my favourite reasons for buying a Costco membership.
- Low prices on consumer staples, such as bread, eggs, and meat.
- Wholesale savings from buying items in bulk.
- A near-legendary return policy.
- Regular gasoline discounts for members.
- A focus on high-quality products, from food to clothing.
- A wide range of additional services, including, travel, optical, and pharmacy.
If you live near a Costco store but haven’t yet taken the plunge and become a Costco member, it’s a step worth considering.