Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Trader Joe
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Trader Joe »

Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

No it is not. It is only worth a maximum of $60 per year.
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CardinalRule
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by CardinalRule »

MN-Investor wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:36 pm
I haven't bought any since the pandemic began, but I was always a fan of the $1.50 hot dog + soda. That may wait until the pandemic fades and they re-open their indoor dining section.
That and the famed $5 rotisserie chicken have to be among the most popular items at Costco. :D
bhsince87
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by bhsince87 »

nisiprius wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:42 am
bhsince87 wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 4:13 pm Is anyone here a member at more than one wholesale club?
When we first started, possibly twenty-five years ago, the nearest Costco was nearly 20 miles away, and the proposition was sort of marginal, and we canceled after a couple of years. Then my wife's employer had a great offer on BJ's membership--either free or close to free--and we joined BJ's. Then Costco opened up a store about four miles away, so we re-opened our Costco membership. Then BJ's opened a store a few blocks from the Costco (!) so we had a great opportunity to compare. Then the deal expired and we had to either pay two fees or make a choice, and we decided that a) the two were awfully similar, but b) we had a very mild preference for Costco.

Honestly, though, if you blindfolded me and took me to a Costco or a BJ's, removed the blindfold and challenged me to say where I was, if I couldn't see any Kirkland or Berkey & Jensen-branded items, I might not know.
Thank you.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams
Erwin007
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Location: Intermountain West

Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Erwin007 »

Trader Joe wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:39 pm Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

No it is not. It is only worth a maximum of $60 per year.
This isn’t true, at least for me. I got a check for around $500 last year due to my executive membership. So almost a 10x return on my “investment,” all for stuff that I was going to buy anyway. Obviously YMMV but to say this authoritatively is categorically false.
seawolf21
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by seawolf21 »

FYI Costco Gas in NJ does not require membership.
chipperd
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by chipperd »

danaht wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:25 pm
GreenLawn wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:50 pm
danaht wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:12 pm If you have another bulk membership club closer to you (ie Sam's Club) - then the answer is NO. I have a Sam's Club that is 1 mile away and a Costco that is 8 miles away. I tend to always go to Sam's Club. Having said that - there are some products that Costco has, that Sam's doesn't. I found that I can usually pay with Costco Gift cards (without a Costco membership) to get those rare items - the cashier calls this a "99" checkout. I join Costco every other year, and buy gift cards for the next year when I am not a member. So - this in effect saves half the membership cost. Now, if Costco changes there policy to get rid of the Costco gift card purchases (without membership) - then this will no longer work - and I'll just avoid Costco if that happened. Also the $120 executive membership would never be worth it to me - since I don't buy that much from Costco. I only get the cheaper gold star membership every other year.
Interesting idea on the bulk purchase of gift cards while a member. I was told by Costco if I left I'd have to give up my Costco Visa with it's great rebate percentages and that I use constantly.

Later this year I anticipate living an hour away from the nearest Costco, however I will be traveling interstates occasionally for vacation/trips that have Costco's adjacent to them. I'm renewing the card for another year, will reassess membership after that depending on how often I actually visit a Costco, to be determined.
There are better Visa cards than what Costco offers and won't make you keep that Costco membership. I have two Bank Of America Visa cards that offer better cash back rewards. But, there is a major caveat for the B of A credit cards. In order for the rewards to be good - you need a Merrill Edge brokerage account that has at least $100,000 of ETFs/Stocks/Cash (VOO is a good one to have if you just want to hold ETFs) . That will get you to a "Platinum Honors" level for the credit cards. You will also need to open a B of A checking account - but you don't need much money in it as long as you keep $100,000 of equity in the Merrill Edge brokerage account. (this will avoid any low balance fees for the checking account). You can also get that $100,000 level in Merrill Edge by transferring an IRA to Merrill Edge. Without the "Platinum Honors" level - you will not get the good cash back rates mentioned below.
The two credit cards I recommend are:
1) Bank of America Cash (I use this to get ~3% back on grocery purchases and ~5% back on gas) It's a no annual fee credit card.
2) Bank of America Rewards Premium (I use this on all other purchases to get ~2.5% back) This card has a $95 annual fee - but has other rewards that make up for the annual fee.
We use Amex Blue . 6% back on groceries and all subscription/recurring costs (ie: netflix, sling). 3% back on gas. We only use this card for these items and use a different card for everything else. Costs $75/year. Max of $180 back/year on groceries ($6,000 in groceries) which we get to every year = minimum 240% roi on the grocery portion alone.
We spent $4200 on gas last year (unlimited cash back on gas) for an additional $126 cash back for a combined roi of $308 (408%) return on that $75 investment on gas + groceries alone.
Subscription services on the card added another $33 back for the year for a grand total of $341 cash back on $75 investment or 454% roi.
Much better than I do with any of my mutual funds :D
hudson
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by hudson »

A great discussion!
I usually read discussions like this and go re-join Costco; that's where I got my hearing aids. I'd buy them there again.
I haven't been a member for 4-5 years since it's over an hour away, and I'd have to drive in big city traffic.
My brother-in-law loves Costco, and won't stop talking about it. He always invites me to go with him for a shopping excursion. I plan to go with him some day.
Right now my preference is to drive to a small food store 2 miles away. The prices aren't that bad. It's convenient and simple. If I go at 7 am, I've got the place to myself.
I like the idea of having stuff shipped to my door. I need to explore that.
hudson
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by hudson »

NMBob wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 11:03 pm been a member for years but only go about 3 times a year. bought my tv from walmart after shopping around. i found i could get many items cheaper and not so huge at walmart or when on sale at grocery stores. bought tires once, one ruined, knew i would not get in very quickly at all when i was busy, and paid somewhere ese. the bacon package is a good deal , like 4 1lb packs for 12 dollars, and the butter pack. ritz crackers or frosted flakes,...not a good deal. no great prices on coffee last time in store, which was my only time in 9 months given covid...coffee cheaper on sales in grocery stores....almost 2 years ago i eyeballed the profusion razor blades for a while . they raised the fake regular price when they had them on sale so they were barely on sale actually ....there was even a disclaimor in the sale booklet that the stated reg price may not be the reg price or something. i sign up for emails from cvs, got the blades cheaper with either their 30 or 40 percent coupon at cvs. can sometimes get some somewhat name clothes at good price. actually, ordering bday cakes from their website and shipping is free, can't beat it. also the last time i mail ordered steaks and lobster pack as a gift, costco was as cheap as anywhere for the package they had. but daily grocery type thing...not expecting that many items to be cheaper...
Thanks NMBob,
I may have to test that out!
lazydavid
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by lazydavid »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:27 am Just checked, my cash reward is currently $117.95. I pay for the $60 lower level membership, not much extra offered by the $120 membership that we are interested in.

This year I have purchased four Chrome books, and two Apple IPads, those purchases added a lot to our cash rewards.
Four chromebooks + 2 iPads + normal grocery shopping (like the steaks and cases of prosecco you mention later) doesn't get you to $3k total spend?
stoptothink
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by stoptothink »

Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:12 pm
stoptothink wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:27 pm
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:56 pm You can pretty much immediately discount the opinions of people who say that the quality and cost of things like meats and cheeses are identical at their local grocery store. I’ve lived in lots of places in the US and have never seen the selection and quality of meat and seafood like they have at Costco at regular grocery stores (Aldi, Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, Kroger, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, etc).
"Quality" being the operative word, which when discussing food is highly subjective. I can tell you that I did the comparo when I moved to my current area and Costco offered not a single grocery item our family regularly purchases for cheaper than I could get at a local grocer, in some cases the cost differential was very significant (ie. produce, which is the bulk of our food). I've never had concerns about the perceived quality of these items. I challenged my mom, brother, and sister to do the same (when they moved to my area) and all of them discontinued their Costco membership after two decades of membership.

When I was in California, Costco was a no-brainer, but I have lived all over the western U.S. (LA, central California, Mesa, Houston, Austin, Salt Lake, and currently in Utah County, Utah) and the value proposition isn't the same everywhere.
Just on items I bought this week in produce raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mandarin oranges and avocados were all cheaper at Costco (and better quality) than those same items at Albertsons. Maybe you don’t buy those things.

For quality I don’t think it’s at all subjective to say that prime and choice cuts of meat are better than select, or that wild caught Alaskan salmon are better quality than farmed salmon of any variety.
Meat has different grades, the HUGE majority of foodstuffs don't, so how is "quality" not subjective? You are generalizing your personal experience and opinion to everybody, everywhere, and stating it as fact. It's great that what you bought was cheaper at your local Costco than your local Albertson's, but that does nothing to support your statement that quality/price is better at Costco everywhere. This isn't the case in my area, and I convinced 3 loyal Costco members to test this when they moved to my area and they all agreed. If I was still in California, I'd still be a member; here in Utah, it isn't worth it.
michaeljc70
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Costco is definitely worth it to us. We have the standard membership. If you don't like to buy in bulk, I don't know why you''d get the executive membership.

As others said, you can always get the difference in memberships back if it isn't worth it at the end of the membership year.

Costco is 5 minutes from our house. There are only two of us, but we buy a variety of things. We entertain frequently. We buy some food, gas, electronics, plants, wine, liquor and numerous other things (vacuums, luggage, etc.) Just on the wine/liquor alone it is worth it to us. I find they have a well cultivated selection of wine and their own private label wines tend to be a good value.

I like looking what they have as they change merchandise frequently and sometimes have unique items I didn't know existed (and probably didn't need :shock:).

We also have a Sam's membership that we use less. They are similar, but not the same. Sam's and Costco are the same the way Target and Walmart are the same :D.

The generous return policy at Costco has more than made up for my membership fees (and no, I don't go crazy abusing it).
elle
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by elle »

I think it depends on your shopping habits and lifestyle habits.

I am a organic shopper and the prices beat any other store. Plus their turnover is high on produce which means I get fresher organic produce than I do at the local grocers. I have two young children so we are able to get through a couple pounds of sugar snap peas or 6 bell peppers in one week. Planning meals around different ways to use ingredients is helpful to make it feel more varied. I also have a deep freeze so I pick up large packs of meat to freeze for future use. It’s not for everyone but I personally think it’s worth it. I have the executive membership and it pays for itself in cash back and discounted cost. If I didn’t shop organic, I’m pretty sure I would feel differently. Also if I had the time to shop multiple stores to maximize discounts I would feel differently. I know that I can shop at Costco for good prices in one place. Some weeks I don’t do additional grocery shopping outside of what we get at Costco.

Our closest Costco is about 20 min away but in corona we drive 30-35 min outside the city to go to a less crowded one.

I have Amazon Prime, used to have BJs when it was local, and have a target red card. That’s the most price comparing I do these days for non food items.
mega317
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by mega317 »

Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:40 pm
Trader Joe wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:39 pm Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

No it is not. It is only worth a maximum of $60 per year.
This isn’t true, at least for me. I got a check for around $500 last year due to my executive membership. So almost a 10x return on my “investment,” all for stuff that I was going to buy anyway. Obviously YMMV but to say this authoritatively is categorically false.
Perhaps the poster means that as your reward increases it costs and is therefore worth less and less. In your case negative $380.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
Erwin007
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Location: Intermountain West

Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Erwin007 »

mega317 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:59 am
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:40 pm
Trader Joe wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:39 pm Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

No it is not. It is only worth a maximum of $60 per year.
This isn’t true, at least for me. I got a check for around $500 last year due to my executive membership. So almost a 10x return on my “investment,” all for stuff that I was going to buy anyway. Obviously YMMV but to say this authoritatively is categorically false.
Perhaps the poster means that as your reward increases it costs and is therefore worth less and less. In your case negative $380.
Not sure I follow. I got $500 back just for my executive membership, for things I was already going to buy. That doesn’t even count the almost $2000 I got back for the regular membership and using the Costco Visa card. So for the extra $60 I got an additional $500 back. But I forgot this is Bogleheads where every purchase is a frivolous one.
mega317
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by mega317 »

This is semantics. We are discussing if it is worth paying $120. If you don’t get 60 back it’s not worth paying more than 60. If you get more than 60 back you aren’t paying even 60 so it’s worth less. If you get 120 back it pays for itself so it’s not worth paying anything since you don’t have to. I’m just being goofy basically.

Mine feels like a ”this thread has run its course” post so I’ll add something of value, that I love the pillows too, which are better and cheaper than my last ones from bb&b.
Last edited by mega317 on Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
Erwin007
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Location: Intermountain West

Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Erwin007 »

stoptothink wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:09 am
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:12 pm
stoptothink wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:27 pm
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:56 pm You can pretty much immediately discount the opinions of people who say that the quality and cost of things like meats and cheeses are identical at their local grocery store. I’ve lived in lots of places in the US and have never seen the selection and quality of meat and seafood like they have at Costco at regular grocery stores (Aldi, Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, Kroger, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, etc).
"Quality" being the operative word, which when discussing food is highly subjective. I can tell you that I did the comparo when I moved to my current area and Costco offered not a single grocery item our family regularly purchases for cheaper than I could get at a local grocer, in some cases the cost differential was very significant (ie. produce, which is the bulk of our food). I've never had concerns about the perceived quality of these items. I challenged my mom, brother, and sister to do the same (when they moved to my area) and all of them discontinued their Costco membership after two decades of membership.

When I was in California, Costco was a no-brainer, but I have lived all over the western U.S. (LA, central California, Mesa, Houston, Austin, Salt Lake, and currently in Utah County, Utah) and the value proposition isn't the same everywhere.
Just on items I bought this week in produce raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mandarin oranges and avocados were all cheaper at Costco (and better quality) than those same items at Albertsons. Maybe you don’t buy those things.

For quality I don’t think it’s at all subjective to say that prime and choice cuts of meat are better than select, or that wild caught Alaskan salmon are better quality than farmed salmon of any variety.
Meat has different grades, the HUGE majority of foodstuffs don't, so how is "quality" not subjective? You are generalizing your personal experience and opinion to everybody, everywhere, and stating it as fact. It's great that what you bought was cheaper at your local Costco than your local Albertson's, but that does nothing to support your statement that quality/price is better at Costco everywhere. This isn't the case in my area, and I convinced 3 loyal Costco members to test this when they moved to my area and they all agreed. If I was still in California, I'd still be a member; here in Utah, it isn't worth it.
That’s why I specifically spoke about things like meat and seafood for quality (which of course your post didn’t acknowledge) and then said I found produce cheaper at Costco than at my local grocery stores (where quality is difficult to compare). All I was trying to say was that there are plenty of people who care about improved quality for things like meat, and for those people Costco makes sense. When people on here say they can get steak cheaper at their local grocery store I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison. That’s great that it doesn’t work for you. For me, even if I just bought meat and gas and travel through Costco it would be worth it to me.
bighatnohorse
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by bighatnohorse »

My annual rebate is always more than $400.00
I save on almost everything.

Works for me. . .
Luckywon
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Luckywon »

mega317 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:30 am This is semantics. We are discussing if it is worth paying $120. If you don’t get 60 back it’s not worth paying more than 60. If you get more than 60 back you aren’t paying even 60 so it’s worth less. If you get 120 back it pays for itself so it’s not worth paying anything since you don’t have to. I’m just being goofy basically.
Sorry but I'm not following either and would like to understand your point. If you don't pay for the executive membership, you will not get any rebate. So why do you say it is not worth paying anything if you get more than $120 back?
mega317
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by mega317 »

Dude I’m just speculating what that other guy meant since the statement had no explanation.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
stoptothink
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by stoptothink »

Erwin007 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:31 am
stoptothink wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:09 am
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:12 pm
stoptothink wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:27 pm
Erwin007 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:56 pm You can pretty much immediately discount the opinions of people who say that the quality and cost of things like meats and cheeses are identical at their local grocery store. I’ve lived in lots of places in the US and have never seen the selection and quality of meat and seafood like they have at Costco at regular grocery stores (Aldi, Meijer, Piggly Wiggly, Publix, Kroger, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, etc).
"Quality" being the operative word, which when discussing food is highly subjective. I can tell you that I did the comparo when I moved to my current area and Costco offered not a single grocery item our family regularly purchases for cheaper than I could get at a local grocer, in some cases the cost differential was very significant (ie. produce, which is the bulk of our food). I've never had concerns about the perceived quality of these items. I challenged my mom, brother, and sister to do the same (when they moved to my area) and all of them discontinued their Costco membership after two decades of membership.

When I was in California, Costco was a no-brainer, but I have lived all over the western U.S. (LA, central California, Mesa, Houston, Austin, Salt Lake, and currently in Utah County, Utah) and the value proposition isn't the same everywhere.
Just on items I bought this week in produce raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mandarin oranges and avocados were all cheaper at Costco (and better quality) than those same items at Albertsons. Maybe you don’t buy those things.

For quality I don’t think it’s at all subjective to say that prime and choice cuts of meat are better than select, or that wild caught Alaskan salmon are better quality than farmed salmon of any variety.
Meat has different grades, the HUGE majority of foodstuffs don't, so how is "quality" not subjective? You are generalizing your personal experience and opinion to everybody, everywhere, and stating it as fact. It's great that what you bought was cheaper at your local Costco than your local Albertson's, but that does nothing to support your statement that quality/price is better at Costco everywhere. This isn't the case in my area, and I convinced 3 loyal Costco members to test this when they moved to my area and they all agreed. If I was still in California, I'd still be a member; here in Utah, it isn't worth it.
That’s why I specifically spoke about things like meat and seafood for quality (which of course your post didn’t acknowledge) and then said I found produce cheaper at Costco than at my local grocery stores (where quality is difficult to compare). All I was trying to say was that there are plenty of people who care about improved quality for things like meat, and for those people Costco makes sense. When people on here say they can get steak cheaper at their local grocery store I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison. That’s great that it doesn’t work for you. For me, even if I just bought meat and gas and travel through Costco it would be worth it to me.
There's a really simple answer to the OP's question (and it's the answer to almost everyone of similar threads): IT DEPENDS. Nobody can really offer anything other than their own anecdotes, which may be irrelevant to the OP because their area, eating and shopping habits are unique to them. I can tell you for a fact, your generalization about Costco having high quality meat/seafood at cheaper prices than other options was absolutely the case when I lived in California, but it is not true where I currently live.
JackoC
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by JackoC »

mega317 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:30 am 1. This is semantics.
2. If you don’t get 60 back it’s not worth paying more than 60.
3. If you get more than 60 back you aren’t paying even 60 so it’s worth less.
4. If you get 120 back it pays for itself so it’s not worth paying anything since you don’t have to. I’m just being goofy basically.
1. No, it also involves some logical confusion.
2. Right
3. If by this you mean the $120 membership is strictly* superior to the $60 membership at annual Costco spending above ($60+sales tax)/.02, $3k neglecting the sales tax, yes.
4. But there is no practical significance to $6k and getting back $120. Say you could keep track** and quantify even subjective aspects and say Costco gives you 5% more on average for your money on what you buy, what I called Costco Added Value in an earlier post. Then your breakeven *on shopping at Costco (as member) v. somewhere else*, neglecting sales tax on the membership fee, is $1200/yr with the $60 membership, $60/CAV, and $1714/yr, $120/(CAV+2%) with the $120 membership. If CAV is 10% (I figure it's more like that for us), $600 for $60, $1000 for $120 are the break evens *to pay to shop at Costco* (our actual spending varies widely was well over $10k last yr because of vacation package maybe $4-5k? typically). And if you look on EBay the premium over face on Costco Shop Cards is generally at least 15%, eg. some people pay more over face value for a $400 Shop Card than the $60 membership (eg. there's a $400 card on offer for $479, a $100 for $123 etc.). OTOH if for the items you'd buy at Costco you believe Costco has no advantage in value, CAV is zero, in that odd case $6k would be significant because that's where you get the same $6k value at Costco you could have gotten anywhere else...but why would anybody shop anywhere near that much at Costco if they felt it gave no advantage in value? The practical case is where the consumer perceives positive CAV, in which case the breakeven to be a Costco member is less than $6k, maybe way less. Whereas, *assuming you get a membership* the breakeven between $60 and $120 memberships is $3k/yr (neglecting sales tax and *) by simple math independent of CAV, if it's constant.

*neglecting some discounts you get on Costco services programs with the $120 membership you don't get with $60 one, I don't believe we've used any but for some people this could be significant.
**as various posts always point out on Costco threads, you also have to consider items Costco isn't allowed to limit to members in your state, like gas in NJ and optical or pharmacy in some states, and/or if a friend/relative can get you in but the latter is kind of obvious, mooching off friends and relatives generally cuts costs. :happy
JackoC
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by JackoC »

unclescrooge wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:39 pm
AlphaLess wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:45 am Costco membership value hinges on a very narrow proposition.
Especially since the pandemic Costco quality has gone down the drain a lot.
You might like Costco for whatever reason, but it is clearly not the great value proposition it used to be.
We are maintaining the membership only because the fee is not a big dollar figure for us.
Not sure what you're buying but we recently bought a leather sectional during quarantine for $3,300.
Simply amazing quality for the price.
I'm also not seeing what AlphaLess is, but I'd note the intervening post where somebody else said Costco's relatively quality of non-brand items (meat, produce etc) was superior to local alternatives in one place they lived, but not in another place they lived.

Here in northern NJ we've perceived no decline in Costco quality recently on non-brand food items, it remains better value than walking distance supermarkets (Trader Joe and Shoprite) for various things though not everything.

For national brand packaged items, they are what they are and Costco's prices are usually lower, seen no change there either (again not for everything, for example Shoprite's best deal on brand name soda, Gatorade etc is often cheaper than Costco).

Then as you refer to, we occasionally buy bigger ticket items at Costco at great value. I bought wooden file cabinets there a few years ago, way less than furniture stores, could be my ignorance of furniture but they seem if anything higher quality (ignorance is bliss? :happy ). And again back to name brands, bought a set of relatively expensive Michelins PS4S for my car earlier this year, $194 better than TireRack all in (installation, discounts, cash back etc). We've only once gone with Costco Travel, package to Ireland last year looked like good value assuming OK hotels, but it turned out huge rooms/suites in top places.
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MN-Investor
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by MN-Investor »

CardinalRule wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:49 pm
MN-Investor wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:36 pm
I haven't bought any since the pandemic began, but I was always a fan of the $1.50 hot dog + soda. That may wait until the pandemic fades and they re-open their indoor dining section.
That and the famed $5 rotisserie chicken have to be among the most popular items at Costco. :D
Mmmm... chicken.

My husband loved their chicken. We would regularly buy a rotisserie chicken and, when we got home and let it cool for a bit, my husband would take all the meat off the bones. I had a plastic container which perfectly held that amount of chicken. Since my sweetie loved white meat and I liked dark, it worked out well. And it was so easy to then further cut up for casseroles.

Now that I'm by myself, I haven't bought a Costco chicken, but I think I'll give it a try. I want to eat more salads and adding chicken to salads sounds good to me. One chicken is a lot for just me, but it's easy enough to divide it into several plastic bags for freezing.

Thanks for reminding me about the chicken!
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Broken Man 1999
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:50 am
Broken Man 1999 wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:27 am Just checked, my cash reward is currently $117.95. I pay for the $60 lower level membership, not much extra offered by the $120 membership that we are interested in.

This year I have purchased four Chrome books, and two Apple IPads, those purchases added a lot to our cash rewards.
Four chromebooks + 2 iPads + normal grocery shopping (like the steaks and cases of prosecco you mention later) doesn't get you to $3k total spend?
This year for sure. But, I don't need the $120 membership to be able to get rewards, as I can use the $60 membership with my Citi Costco card to get 2% on Costco warehouse and online purchases. Some 3rd party services require a $120 membership, but we don't use Costco for those.

I also use the Citi Costco card for 3% on dining, though, right now I'm using Discover as it is a 5% category. I could use the Citi Costco card for gas for 4%, but DW buys the gas and her Sam's Club credit card gets her 5%.

Broken Man 1999
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tesuzuki2002
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by tesuzuki2002 »

sabhen wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:11 pm What is the big deal about Costco?

Per this article, the main way Costco makes its money: membership fees.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/15/how-cos ... there.html
It was never a big deal to me.... I have shopped there with a few friends.. I used to have a SAM club membership that I had for free years ago... That worked out ok. The "pick'n'pull" option worked great. You can order online and walk in and pick up the cart , pay and walk out. fairly convenient.

Online sales in general have basically made it to where I no longer have to go to the store... ship to home is GREAT.
lazydavid
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by lazydavid »

Broken Man 1999 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:36 am This year for sure. But, I don't need the $120 membership to be able to get rewards, as I can use the $60 membership with my Citi Costco card to get 2% on Costco warehouse and online purchases. Some 3rd party services require a $120 membership, but we don't use Costco for those.
Agreed you can get 2% from just the Costco Visa, but it's 4% with the card and an Executive membership. Not an either/or thing, so you more or less double the rebate. Obviously annual spend will vary by person. For us, we've had fewer visits in 2020 than any prior year (and no pricey electronics), and yet the check that showed up last week was $117. The Costco purchase rebate we've earned on the Visa YTD is a bit over $95.
JackoC
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by JackoC »

lazydavid wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:13 pm
Broken Man 1999 wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:36 am This year for sure. But, I don't need the $120 membership to be able to get rewards, as I can use the $60 membership with my Citi Costco card to get 2% on Costco warehouse and online purchases. Some 3rd party services require a $120 membership, but we don't use Costco for those.
Agreed you can get 2% from just the Costco Visa, but it's 4% with the card and an Executive membership. Not an either/or thing, so you more or less double the rebate. Obviously annual spend will vary by person. For us, we've had fewer visits in 2020 than any prior year (and no pricey electronics), and yet the check that showed up last week was $117. The Costco purchase rebate we've earned on the Visa YTD is a bit over $95.
Right, there's no trade off between CC rewards and Costco $120 membership cash back. We get 5.25% CC cash back on Costco spending by buying Costco Shop Cards as 'online shopping' with BOA Cash Rewards card (v no annual fee), then 2% more from Costco (v the extra $60+tax for the $120 membership), independently. That's also another 1.75% price advantage Costco has over supermarkets just on CC cash back since we usually get 3.5% back on BOA CR at supermarkets (except when Chase Freedom's rotating 5% category is supermarkets up to $1.5k).
Helo80
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Helo80 »

sabhen wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:11 pm After joining and signing for the "executive" membership with their Citi Visa CC, I am finding it less and less appealing.

If you don't feel like it's worth it, simply go to the membership desk and get a full refund. It's that simple.

/thread.
SuperGrafx
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by SuperGrafx »

Awww, Costco.
Costco...held in high regard by seemingly all Bogleheads.
Like a cult.

Avoid at all costs.
core4portfolio
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by core4portfolio »

We downgraded to $60 classic.
Its really a useful membership we save $36 in milk cost alone as pricey in other grocery stores.
it also depends on what you buy however totally worth it.

if you think its too much quantity then share with friends. we used to split until i came to this new place.
We buy Milk, cheese, spinach, kitchen tissue, laundry, dishwasher detergent, thrash bags, toilet tissue, Rice, beans, dal, olive oil, coconut oil, rarely chips, figs, dates, oranges ,butter, Bread, Strawberry spread, Pasta, spaghetti, Paneer and frozen yogurt.

For some reason, could get better price any where for the same quality. I tried slick deals many years

High quality items IMO. if you dont like product you can return them for refund

My friend relocated to another place where no costco and so he went to cancel after using 8 months and they refunded entire fees.

I was amazed by the customer service and their pricing
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Gort
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Gort »

SuperGrafx wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:58 pm Awww, Costco.
Costco...held in high regard by seemingly all Bogleheads.
Like a cult.

Avoid at all costs.
Why?
boglegirl
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by boglegirl »

If you already don't think it's worth it after signing up, you should cancel it, or at least downgrade to the regular $60 membership.

With a family, it has definitely been worth it to us over the years because of the savings on food and gas and household items. We upped to the executive membership a few years ago and that has also been a net-positive. But this year my executive rebate check was smaller than the upcharge for the first time. It's just the two of us now, and I don't shop there enough for food, and we didn't buy any extras last year (appliances, etc). So I might downgrade to the standard membership. In my city in CA, the gas is $.30/gallon cheaper than any other station so that alone makes the standard membership worth it.

Other things to consider are the home improvement services (we've used them for garage doors and got the exec rebate on that, too!) and travel. Costco almost always has the best car-rental prices - I check USAA & other discounts but almost always go with Costco.

We have similar threads every few months. There are always fan-boys and detractors.
boglegirl
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by boglegirl »

JackoC wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:23 pm ...
Right, there's no trade off between CC rewards and Costco $120 membership cash back. We get 5.25% CC cash back on Costco spending by buying Costco Shop Cards as 'online shopping' with BOA Cash Rewards card (v no annual fee), then 2% more from Costco (v the extra $60+tax for the $120 membership), independently. That's also another 1.75% price advantage Costco has over supermarkets just on CC cash back since we usually get 3.5% back on BOA CR at supermarkets (except when Chase Freedom's rotating 5% category is supermarkets up to $1.5k).
5.25% is great but I don't have that card. I use the Costco Citi card for gas - unless Chase Freedom has a gas category, Costco Citi's 4% is the best card I carry for gas. For shopping inside Costco, I use Apple Pay to get 4.5% back with the US Bank Altitude Reserve.
skor99
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by skor99 »

Right now, Costco has a buy $100 Proctor Gamble products , get $25 Costco gift card offer going on. Also, most of the items are on sale. You can get $50 back on $200 purchase of tide/Olay/Pantene etc products. These are nonperishable / long shelf life products, so it is easy to stock up. The gift cards alone will nearly cover the basic membership fee for the year and if you count the discounts on the products, it might come close to covering the executive membership.

Just one example of the kind of good deals you can get at Costco. $5/lb organic chicken breast, $6 for 24 organic eggs, $17 for 3lb wild alaskan marinated salmon.....Generally better deals than Best Buy etc on TVs / laptops and all kinds of electronics....the list goes on an on... And unlimited return policy on most of what they sell, generous 90 days on others.

Unless somebody is a single monk, It is pretty much a no brainer to have to get high quality products at bargain prices.. :D
biscuits
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by biscuits »

Whenever I rent a car, I do it through the Costco website. I never find a better price anywhere else. That alone is worth the fee (I have the regular membership, not the Executive).
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unclescrooge
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by unclescrooge »

biscuits wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 12:50 am Whenever I rent a car, I do it through the Costco website. I never find a better price anywhere else. That alone is worth the fee (I have the regular membership, not the Executive).
Autoslash was better for me.
mpnret
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by mpnret »

lazydavid wrote: Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:42 pm
atikovi wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 7:04 pm
quantAndHold wrote: Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:39 pm When we needed a TV, the price with tax at Costco was cheaper than the base exchange, even after sales tax.
Looking for a 55" TV now.

Best Buy: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/samsung-55 ... Id=6401735

Costco: https://www.costco.com/samsung-55%22-cl ... 49148.html

Are these not the same TV's for the same price?
Not exactly. The one at BB has a 1-year warranty, while the Costco one has 3, + 2 more if you use their credit card for at total of 5.
Gotta love that Costco warranty. Especially adds value to expensive appliances. I just needed it on a high end induction range I purchased from them. Adding the 5 year warranty to the above BB tv increases the BB price by $90.
sschoe2
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by sschoe2 »

I checked them out a few years ago and found that I could still get my groceries cheaper at Aldi and Walmart and both were closer to home than Costco So I decided not get a membership. I hear their car buying service is worth it. If you are like me and hate negotiating with dealerships I'd totally use it.
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beernutz
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by beernutz »

Gort wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:15 pm
SuperGrafx wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:58 pm Awww, Costco.
Costco...held in high regard by seemingly all Bogleheads.
Like a cult.

Avoid at all costs.
Why?
Because reasons.

The wine, beer, and liquor deals at the local Costco by themselves are enough reason to have a membership.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. --Will Rogers
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8foot7
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by 8foot7 »

Gort wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:15 pm
SuperGrafx wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:58 pm Awww, Costco.
Costco...held in high regard by seemingly all Bogleheads.
Like a cult.

Avoid at all costs.
Why?
It's a statement made without reason. Some things are good deals at Costco. Others are not. There is no risk to shopping at Costco since they'll refund your membership fee in full at any time and their return policies for items are very generous. I don't worship at the Altar of Kirkland but to say "avoid at all costs" makes absolutely no sense.
stoptothink
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by stoptothink »

sschoe2 wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:33 am I hear their car buying service is worth it. If you are like me and hate negotiating with dealerships I'd totally use it.
Interestingly, this one thing we hear from Costco lovers on this board that isn't worth it.
Starfish
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Starfish »

I think it is very hard to make blanket statements about Costco.
From what I have seen there are large differences between different stores. There are 4 Costcos I go to or used to in my area and there is no resemblance. One of them, the one closest to my work, is surprisingly bad. If all of them were like that one I would not ever consider a Costco membership. Another one, within 5 miles, stands out in the opposite way: fancy wines, gourmet foods etc. The other are in between but closer to the good one.
While Costco in my area offers good price/quality ratios it is definitely not good for out budget. Large quantities o anything leads to more waste or unhealthy habits. Costco is to blame for a large part of our excess food budget and probably a year or two of life expectancy :mrgreen:
Starfish
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Starfish »

sschoe2 wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 8:33 am I checked them out a few years ago and found that I could still get my groceries cheaper at Aldi and Walmart and both were closer to home than Costco So I decided not get a membership. I hear their car buying service is worth it. If you are like me and hate negotiating with dealerships I'd totally use it.
You don't negotiate with dealerships. You send emails and play them against each other.
Bcdkgf
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Bcdkgf »

Starfish wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:14 pm I think it is very hard to make blanket statements about Costco.
From what I have seen there are large differences between different stores. There are 4 Costcos I go to or used to in my area and there is no resemblance. One of them, the one closest to my work, is surprisingly bad. If all of them were like that one I would not ever consider a Costco membership. Another one, within 5 miles, stands out in the opposite way: fancy wines, gourmet foods etc. The other are in between but closer to the good one.
While Costco in my area offers good price/quality ratios it is definitely not good for out budget. Large quantities o anything leads to more waste or unhealthy habits. Costco is to blame for a large part of our excess food budget and probably a year or two of life expectancy :mrgreen:
The Costco stores are indeed different, my county is known as a "Blue Collar" demographic. The food/merchandise they offer locally is not as nice or as "upscale" as is the Costco in a richer part of town. Since our Costco does not have a liquor store, we travel over an hour, once a month, to do our shopping in the upscaled Costco.

As we are retired, we have the time to make the trip and carry a large ice chest to haul our meats and other refrigerated stuff home. The $60 membership fee is sufficient for our newly retired needs right now. After we downsize and move into a Condo, we will up the membership to buy furnishings for our new digs.
Faith20879
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Faith20879 »

We have the $60 membership. Pre-pandemic, we have thought about cancelling many times because at our level of consumption, it just did not make economic sense.

Then the pandemic happened. During the early months of lockdown, our local Safeway and Giant were a total disappointment. Their shelves were either empty or online orders were out of stock. Thankfully Costco was relatively well stocked every time I went. It really got us over the hump during those difficult months.

So, for us, yes it is worth it but not in the monetary sense. If the 2nd wave ever happens, we will not waste time with the local grocery stores and will hit Costco first thing.
lateagain
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by lateagain »

As another poster mentioned, you get a $60 Costco certificate (can be redeemed for cash) every cycle, if you do not earn $60 on your own. If you're happy at the gold level and want to upgrade, its basically giving Costco an interest free loan.

Is it worth it? Depends on your buying needs! I happen to enjoy the Costco experience.

* Once you leave metropolitan areas the crowds and lines are manageable.
bighatnohorse
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by bighatnohorse »

I bought a $15,000 heat pump for my home through Costco using their credit card.
That one rebate alone paid for the membership and then some. . .
neilpilot
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by neilpilot »

bighatnohorse wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:50 pm I bought a $15,000 heat pump for my home through Costco using their credit card.
That one rebate alone paid for the membership and then some. . .
That's one expensive heat pump!
mega317
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by mega317 »

lateagain wrote: Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:39 pm As another poster mentioned, you get a $60 Costco certificate (can be redeemed for cash) every cycle, if you do not earn $60 on your own.
I was told this when I first signed up, but when my check came for $40 or whatever I had earned the first year, I called them to ask about the difference and they were like we don't' know what you're talking about. Also I didn't see it in writing anywhere.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
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Nate79
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Re: Is Costco worth the $120 membership?

Post by Nate79 »

Our Executive membership has been paid for multiple times with many bonuses related to the Travel program, the car buying program, etc. The membership itself has paid for itself by far every year with significant savings from gas, dog food, medicine/over the counters, etc etc etc. But we are not naive and think that all items at Costco are cheaper, we still shop prices and most regular groceries we buy at Aldi or Lidl. We also time our purchases at Costco almost exclusively around their coupon program - buying when on sale and stocking up as needed until the next round of coupons for that item.
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