This tip helps me maximize my savings at Costco


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This is a strategy you can also use.

Key points

  • Costco is known for its competitive pricing on bulk items.
  • A gesture on your part could result in additional savings.

When my husband and I started shopping together at Costco, we had just moved in together and had no children. And while we enjoyed walking the aisles, sampling different food items, and noting cheap household products, we usually didn’t visit Costco more than once or twice a month.

Costco shopping is a weekly thing in my house these days. That’s because we rely on Costco for discounts on things like produce, milk, eggs, and other food items that we use a lot. Compared to what we would spend at a regular supermarket, stocking up on these and other items at Costco saves my family’s grocery bills significantly.

But it’s not just Costco’s low prices that save money. Choosing the right membership could also earn you more, as I learned many years ago.

It might pay to upgrade your subscription

For years, my husband and I shared a basic Costco membership, which is now $60. But for $60 more ($120 total), you can upgrade to an executive subscription. It’s a decision we made a few years ago and has paid off ever since.

When you upgrade to an Executive Membership at Costco, you’re eligible for 2% rewards on your Costco purchases. And those rewards extend to online purchases as well as Costco Travel purchases.

Now many people know how to get cash back on their credit cards. This program works similarly, so if you spend $5,000 a year at Costco, you get $100 back.

Since my family typically spends over $5,000 a year at Costco, Executive Membership makes a lot of sense to us. Most weeks we shop there, our tab goes for around $100 – sometimes a little less, and sometimes (okay, often) more. Plus, we’ll also make one-time purchases at Costco, like a new TV or laptop. And these are also eligible for 2% rewards.

All told, it’s common for us to receive an annual award certificate from our executive members worth over $100. Since it costs $60 to upgrade, we come out on top financially.

Should you upgrade your Costco membership?

Costco’s Executive Membership won’t make sense to you if you don’t shop there often or don’t tend to spend a lot over the course of a year. But if you shop at Costco frequently, it pays to run some numbers to see if an Executive Membership makes sense.

In a nutshell, if you spend $3,000 a year at Costco, you’ll break even when upgrading to Executive Membership. Indeed, you will be entitled to $60 in rewards, but you will also spend an additional $60 on your upgraded membership.

So basically all you have to do is look at your Costco spend for the past year or two and see what it totals. If it’s $3,000 or more, an Executive membership is probably right for you (unless there’s a reason you expect your Costco spending to go down this year).

In fact, if your recent annual Costco spending puts you on the cusp of that $3,000 threshold, it might still be worth upgrading this year. The cost of living is much higher right now due to inflation, and while Costco’s prices are still competitive, like those of other retailers, they have also increased to some degree. So, investing in an Executive Membership could ultimately put more money in your pocket.

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