Is a Costco Membership Worth It?

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I love Costco. Money expert Clark Howard loves Costco. And we have heard that many —though not all— of you love Costco too.

I’ve been a Costco member for ten years, and I feel that it is excellent value for money. In addition to my personal opinion, we will share the views and feedback from real readers later in this article.

Why I’ve Been a Costco Member for 10 Years


Costco is famous for many things. Chief among them is their Kirkland Signature gas. Purchasing fuel from Costco is great for your wallet and your vehicle. Costco has competitive prices and only uses Top Tier gas, which is great for your vehicle’s engine. 

Pair the fuel savings by purchasing gas with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, and you can earn 4% cashback on up to $7,000 in fuel purchases per year (and 1% thereafter).


Among the variety of services offered by Costco are its Tire Centers. You may have noticed cars up on lifts as you walked toward the store and wondered if it was worth it vs. the many other places where you can shop for tires. 

I have purchased tires for my Toyota Highlander over the years at the Costco Tire Center. The price vs. the competition initially drew me to them as well as the fact that I could shop while waiting.

It wasn’t long before I realized other benefits to purchasing tires at Costco, such as the included 60-month road hazard warranty and free lifetime tire balancing and rotations.


This is my favorite category and my first stop whenever I plan a trip. The Costco Travel website has many cost-saving services, such as theme park planning, cruise planning, and even a tool to help shop for a rental car.

Whenever I need a rental car, I price compare between Costco Travel and car rental comparison sites. Nine out of ten times, Costco is cheaper. And since I am an Executive Member at Costco, I get 2% back on my rental costs. Paired with credit card rewards, this is a fantastic deal. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes, Costco offers promotions such as offering a Costco Shop Card or resort credits for shopping with them. If you travel frequently and are considering joining Costco, their travel arm could save you enough money in one purchase to make the membership worth it.


Return Policy

Costco is known for having one of the best return policies out there. Many items that Costco sells can be returned months or even years later. While I am in no way recommending that you return something a couple of years old, I am suggesting that if you are like me and don’t always remember to take the return with you as you head out the door, there is always next time. Even if you forgot your receipt, it’s not a problem. They can look up the transaction with your membership card. Just knowing that Costco has my back makes it worth being a member.


Another area that I love to visit on my frequent trips to Costco is the optical department. While I don’t necessarily change out my glasses that often, I do like to take note of what is currently being offered. Online Costco only sells their house brand of eyeglasses from Kirkland Signature. In the store, however, you have a much more extensive selection. 

Time and time again, Costco Optical ranks as one of the best places to purchase glasses, as reviewed by Consumer Reports. Costco shines in price, frame quality, and more. Having a doctor on hand also makes the club so much more valuable for me as a member. I can schedule my annual visit and also shop. It is a two-fer for your time and your wallet. 

We decided to ask our audience about what they think of their Costco membership and if the cost to join was worth it. Here are some of the responses. 

Why Costco Is Worth It 

Here’s a summary from our audience about the things that make Costco worth it to them:

  1. Ability to purchase bulk items like paper products and special items not available elsewhere.
  2. Savings on gasoline, both by price and convenience when already shopping there.
  3. Substantial cash rewards and cash back options with Costco Visa card.
  4. Exclusive access to sales on a variety of products such as electronics, furniture, food items (fresh and frozen), and appliances.
  5. Extra warranty on electronics which can cover the cost of membership.
  6. No-hassle return policy and impressive customer service, including free replacements for items like appliances.
  7. Significant discounts on services like travel bookings and vehicle rentals through Costco Travel.
  8. General merchandise is not marked up more than 14%, ensuring good deals.
  9. Costco’s buyers ensure high-quality product selection.
  10. Fast checkout process and a generally positive shopping experience compared to other retailers.
  11. Benefits from ancillary services like the Vision Center offering durable glasses.
  12. Promotional strategies like the encouragement to buy desired items immediately to avoid missing out.
  13. Special member privileges like free delivery and haul-away services for large appliances.

Why Costco May Not Be Worth It

Here’s a summary from our audience about the things that make Costco not worth it to them:

  1. Alternatives like Target and Amazon offer similar or better product selections with added conveniences such as easier accessibility, free shipping, and customer reviews.
  2. Large bulk item packaging can be impractical for smaller households or limited storage capacities, leading to potential waste.
  3. The need to travel long distances to reach a Costco store can outweigh the benefits of membership for those living far from a store.
  4. Competitors may offer comparable or superior cash-back options and other financial incentives without a membership fee.

Final Thoughts

Joining a wholesale club makes a lot of sense for many people, including me, but it is not for everyone. Only you can decide if buying in bulk is the right for you or if these services appeal to your daily needs. 

Are you interested in learning more about the three big wholesale clubs? Be sure to see where Costco stands vs. Sam’s Club and also where Costco stands vs. BJ’s Wholesale Club

This is just a reminder that membership sharing is a no-no, and Costco is cracking down on sharing membership cards

If you do decide to join, remember: At any point throughout the year, Costco will issue a full refund on your membership should you decide it isn’t for you. You have nothing to lose.