Is Costco Worth It? 8 Items That Could Pay for Your Membership

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It’s well-known that money expert Clark Howard is a big fan of Costco Wholesale. He loves the warehouse club’s bargains.

But you have to be a member to shop there. Is that annual membership worth it to you? To help you decide, we’ve listed eight popular items that could help you decide.

These 8 Items Could Pay for Your Costco Membership

You can get a Gold Star membership (that’s the “standard” level) for $60 a year. You can see the available membership plans here.

Here’s a list of items that could single-handedly pay for a year of Costco membership.

Table of Contents

  1. Tires
  2. Lunch
  3. Movie Tickets
  4. Baby Formula
  5. Wine
  6. Returns
  7. Rotisserie Chickens
  8. Gas

Tires

Where’s the last place you bought new tires? If it wasn’t a warehouse club, you may have paid too much. Costco’s prices are competitive, but its overall tire-buying experience consistently appears near or at the top of Team Clark’s rankings.

Costco offers free tire balancing and rotation plus free flat repairs. And it can be worth it to search Costco’s tire selection online periodically, because you can often find discounts that will more than pay for a year of membership.

Pay attention because Costco often offers $70-$80 off certain brands of tires at different times of the year. Just one set of tires will more than pay your Costco membership fee.

Check out Team Clark’s full review on buying tires at Costco.

Lunch

It will take you a few weeks to save enough money on lunch at Costco to pay for a year’s membership, but it can be a delicious way to go about this process. It can also prove to be a long-term source of savings.

Almost everything at Costco’s food court costs less than $5, and several items are less than $2. You’d have to work pretty hard to spend $10 on lunch at Costco, so that’s a savings even over fast food.

But here’s where the long-term savings come in: the free samples. Not only can you make an appetizer out of the samples (OK, some people make their whole meal this way), but getting to taste the grocery items Costco has for sale can help you make smart purchasing decisions.

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Movie Tickets

Costco offers discount cards for movie tickets. Many of the cards include concessions, so depending on where you live, you could save $10 or more on date night.

Baby Formula

Baby formula at Costco can cost less than half the price at your local grocery store. And it’s highly rated.

Kirkland signature brand formula is 57 cents per ounce as of May 2022, and the name brand, Enfamil, costs 68 cents per ounce.

You’ll pay for your membership quickly with the purchase of just this item.

Wine

The deals you can get on wine are so prevalent that you can find plenty of articles about Costco’s wine selection and prices online. Check out these entries from ReverseWineSnob and EatThisNotThat! The latter recommends a Gruet Brut sparkling white for $12, calling it “an incredible deal for a delectable wine,” and notes that the $20 Kirkland Signature Champagne (that’s Costco’s own label) is just $20 for real French champagne.

Costco has its own wine blog to keep you up to date on the latest selections.

Returns

It may seem odd to say you’ll save money on something you don’t end up buying, but Costco’s return policy is one of the best in retail — so much so that we wrote a whole article about it.

That policy even extends to what you paid for your annual membership. If you’re ever dissatisfied, at any point, you can get a free refund for the full cost of the membership itself. That means that if you test out our Costco membership theory and find it lacking, it won’t cost you a dime.

Rotisserie Chickens

We added these items to the list because they can make dinner really easy on a day when you’re just too busy or tired to cook. I’m pretty sure Costco loses money on the rotisserie chickens, too, because $5 is much, much cheaper than you’ll find in the grocery store.

Gas

In some areas of the country, you can save almost 30 cents per gallon just by filling up at Costco instead of your local gas station. That means that one or two tanks of gas a month could single-handedly pay for that $60 Costco membership.

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If you’ve never filled up at the warehouse club before, here are 7 Things to Know Before You Buy Gas at Costco Wholesale.

Final Thoughts

If any of these eight items are something you buy regularly elsewhere and there’s a Costco near you, it’s worth considering purchasing, a Costco membership. Buying just one or two of these items at Costco can save you big money, and you’ll find plenty of other bargains throughout the store.

TO learn more, check out Clark Deals where we always keep up with the latest and best deals from Costco.

What are your favorite things to buy at Costco or any other warehouse club? Share your opinion in our Clark.com community!

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