Tips for Making a Costco Membership Worth It


If you are like me, you might find yourself repeatedly telling people that you won’t pay for a membership at a warehouse store because you (a) cannot stand the enormous size of the actual stores, (b) don’t feel you get the money back in savings, and (c) you are fairly sure you aren’t likely to find space in your home for the bulk quantities available to lucky members.

You may have even more reasons behind a refusal to use even a BJs or Costco 24 hour pass to see if your feelings are accurate or on point, and that’s perfectly understandable. Yet, the problem with that, as I have discovered, is that it lets you miss out on a wide array of savings and discounts that don’t involve the jumbo 48 rolls of toilet paper deal.

To really start to make a Costco membership worth it, let’s first consider a rather unusual point; you don’t actually need to invest in a membership to enjoy the deals that the store provides. How is that possible? It actually transpires in a few ways:

  • If you buy Costo cash cards on sites like Raise and eBay, you can just use them without investing in a Costco membership. This is straight from Costco itself, which says that you can shop in Canada, Puerto Rico, online and at all Costco stores in the U.S. as long as that cash card is on hand – and you only need a balance of $2 or more to make it work!
  • Save BIG on gas. This one requires membership OR that cash card just mentioned above. The Costco pricing on gas is some of the best, and if it is not out of the way, it makes sense to turn to it as a primary resource for fuel.
  • Go in for your eye and hearing checks. That’s right, the Costco locations that have optical and hearing services require anyone – not just members – to have access to those services. They even have special events to bring people in and tempt them with all of the store’s other offerings. To buy a hearing aid or your prescription lenses, though, you need a membership, OR you can use that sneaky trick above and purchase a Costco cash card online and pay the balance with a debit card or American Express card.
  • Go in for prescriptions- Just as the laws forbid Costco stores with optical and hearing services to require a membership for people to access them, so too do pharmacy laws. The good news is that those deep discounts Costco is known for providing actually apply to many prescription and pharmacy goods. Interestingly enough, you don’t need the membership to purchase your prescriptions, though online ordering may mean paying with Costco cash or using a membership.
  • Savor a meal deal – Just like pharmacy, optical and hearing customers don’t need a membership, those who want to savor the major snack and food deals at a Costco food court don’t require membership either. You need to pay cash, but you can buy their jumbo pizzas, slices, drinks, hot dogs, pretzels and food combos whether or not you are a member.
  • Bargain shop online – This one demands a bit of bargain shopping and math, but it can really keep a ton of cash in your pocket. How? Let’s say you want the latest Apple device. You know what the big box vendors are asking,and you even have some online options at a good price. That means your next step is to visit the Costco website to see if they  have that item available at a better price. If so, take it and add 5%. Does it still beat the prices elsewhere? If so, you can use a regular credit card, some Costco cash cards, or your debit card to make the purchase. Remember though, if that 5% exceeds the membership price of $55, it is best to just pay for the Costco regular membership.

Remember that the Costco website can often make a Costco membership worth it because it has sections you don’t find in the store. For instance, they have a much larger furnishings section, a funeral section (yes, discounted urns and caskets are part of the options), high end jewelry that is not always in the store (including high priced diamond engagement jewelry), travel deals, new car deals, and even a remarkable “prepper” package that lets you pay just $.13 per serving on a year’s worth of food (for a family of four). Their website also sells luxury foods that aren’t in the stores, such as Wagyu beef and high-end caviar. You can even purchase luxury alcohols, original artwork and more from the website – and all without the membership (keep in mind that most luxury items are a better deal with the membership as non-members have to add the 5% fee).

So, we know the answer to the question “does Costco require membership?” And the answer is: Not always. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily prove whether or not a Costco membership is worth it. To understand whether it can help you to save money and repay you the cost of the membership fee, we have to start with the actual cost.

The Price of Costco Regular Membership, and Other Options

The Costco regular membership and the business  plans are both priced at $60. Right now, your new membership also comes with so many bonuses that it just makes sense to get the membership. You get the membership and the second card for a household member for free. You get a $20 Costco cash card, $75 Cash Card to be used towards travel, $25 discount off a $250 online order, and a coupon book for free paper towels, flat of water and enormous Costco food court pizza. So, is a basic Costco membership worth it? Right now – absolutely.

If you are looking to actually make money on your membership as a business account holder, you can buy additional cards for $60 and find goods that you can resell at deeper discounted pricing. For example, Costco movie ticket prices are tough to match, coming in at around $8.90 per ticket. You can buy bulk packages and resell them for small yields, but you can also make a lot of money purchasing some surprisingly “in demand” goods to sell online. (More on that in a moment)

And, if you are a dedicated warehouse shopper, you can do the executive plan for $110 per year, which gets you a 2% cash back.Now, if you quickly did the math, you’d be saying, “I’m not going to spend more than $2700 per year – and that’s what it would take to earn back the membership price alone.” Yet, if you take the math just a bit farther, you see that it is actually around $225 or so per month – which is probably an amount you will spend if you are intending to make money through reselling goods bought there as well as saving on household items.

Making Money From Your Costco Membership

Now, if you are worried that about whether or not a business Costco membership is worth it, you need only look at what people using Amazon and eBay are making on goods they resell. Take this example from one business success story: “one of my all-time great sellers…the Hickory Farms Taste of the Holidays Meat & Cheese sets… a seasonal holiday item they usually started selling in October/November through the Christmas season. The price at … $9.94. I would get $29.95 to $35.00 during the holiday season. I would also offer direct shipping to the recipient and include a greeting card if the buyer requested. I sold hundreds of these for a couple years.”

That is a single, well-chosen item that netted this individual thousands of dollars over the course of a few years. This would, obvious make a Costco membership worth it, but it would also mean setting yourself up in the right way. The first step is to find out about tax-exempt business memberships as this can save you from three to five percent at the time of purchase.

Remember too that if you are strategic about purchases, the return policies run for 90 days. That is a full quarter of your year and it can allow you to have a bit of breathing room if the items are not selling. You’ll know by day 70 if you are unlikely to get rid of inventory, and you can then just return for a refund – no questions asked!

If you have a keen eye for what’s trending and hot on sites like eBay, or you develop a niche for yourself, then you are likely going to find yourself a tremendous range of profitable goods. For example, premium brand designer jeans can often be purchased for less than $10 per pair and sold as NWT (new with tags) on sites like eBay for three to five times as much ($30 to $50).

The same goes for electronics, but be careful about just which items you consider. Entire gaming systems are a huge investment, but game system friendly gear like headphones and controllers are not, and you can often make a return if you don’t get any bites. Some of the best electronics to consider are the more portable goods like premium GPS units, mobile cloud and WiFi devices and more. Often, you will earn twice what you paid, if not more.

Knowing What to Sell

Many people will tell you that the key, when looking for savvy ways to make or save money is to invest in the time to learn as much as you can about any particular niche or opportunity. As one expert said, the best way to “make money buying and reselling things” is to choose those “you know about”.

Yet, many are doing the opposite.

For example, one savvy online seller leverages the cost of her annual business membership at Costco in a very unique way. She goes to the warehouse store with her digital camera and takes excellent photos of products on full display – including household goods, seasonal foods and books and toys. She then returns home and posts them as listings on her eBay sales page, bumping up the price to a decent profit point (figuring in eBay fees, shipping materials, and so on). She makes the listings short ones – seven days at most – and if an item “sells”, she just returns to the store, makes the purchase and ships it that same day. She leaves positive feedback about a fast payer and keeps on doing it on a weekly basis, tracking what she has listed, what is available, and so on.

In other words, she just puts it all out there online, makes sure she’s got profitable and competitive pricing, and sees what sells. She has seen patterns in top products and emphasizes those that seem the hottest. Because she established herself as an authentic business, she can write off the cost (mileage, fuel, etc.) of each trip to Costco, the price of her camera and more. She also gets tax free purchases equaling more savings.

So, is a Costco membership worth it? It is if you are looking for ways to earn a lot of extra income from the membership on top of saving on things you buy regularly (or even irregularly, I mean caskets and emergency rations!). If you opt out of membership, you already know where to buy Costco cash cards, so keep your eye on your resources for good deals on the cards and use them when and where you can.

However, to answer that question definitively – Is a Costco membership worth it? Yes, if you make a point of using that membership in order to buy low-cost household goods and you find a niche to resell from store inventories, you can definitely get a lot out of it.


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