(Updated to modify fees to current)
Costco is arguably one of the top warehouse stores people usually go because of the various savings that you can get. If you are a frugal person like I am, it is almost a must to become a member.
Because of this, people are searching for ways to get free Costco membership or to get any kind of discounts so they can test shopping at the store.
But a lot of people will argue and have ask this question:
“Is paying for the Costco membership really worth it?”
Three Types of Costco Membership and How Much Does It Cost
Before we explain how you can get the free stuff, let’s discuss first the three kinds of Costco membership offered: the Gold Star, Executive, and the Business. What’s good about the membership is that all Costco cards can be used WORLDWIDE and at Costco.com. So you may have membership here in United States and you can also use that if you go to Costco Japan, Costco Canada or Costco UK.
- Gold Star - cost is $55 annually and the card can be used for personal use purchases only and you can add a member of your household as an additional card holder
- Business - Cost is $55 annually and the card can be used for personal, business, or resale purchases. Business identification (business license, resale certificate, or three pieces of business ID) is required when applying for a Business Membership. The card member can also add a member of his/her household as additional cardholder. In addition to this, Business members also may add up to six additional cardholders (add-ons) as Business Members to their membership at $55.00 each per year, which includes one household card per add-on.
- Executive - This is the highest type of Costco Membership offered at the warehouse club and this one cost $110 annually. The Executive Membership card can be used for personal, business use or resale purchases and you can also add a member of your household as an additional card holder. The extra advantage of this is that Executive Members earn a 2% Annual Reward on most Costco purchases with a maximum cash back of $750. Moreover, you can receive additional benefits on other member services such as lower prices on check printing, payroll services and identity protection; an account bonus for money market and online investing accounts; free roadside assistance for vehicles covered through the auto insurance program; and extra travel benefits.
Six Ways to Get Free Costco Membership
Just to let you know, Costco does not really provide free memberships but you can actually recover the full cost of memberships, thus, making this look as if you have gotten the membership for free. For the most part, Costco or other affiliates will provide some sort of incentives such as Costco cash card, cash back rewards, or third party coupons. This is how we can show you how you can get those incentives and cash back in order to offset the cost of Costco membership fees.
1. Get Cash Back from Executive Membership
As mentioned earlier, the Executive Costco Membership provides 2% cash back on most items purchased at Costco stores. Simple math tells us that if you purchase $5,500 annually, you’ll be receiving cash back of $110, thus, offsetting the cost paid for the membership fees. For smaller families, this may not be a good route if you can’t reach the break even point of $5,500. However, I was able to take advantage of this because of the having two households.
Back when it was still Price Club in my area around 1995, I signed up as a member with my mother as the cardholder. Now that I have my own family, I never cancelled the membership for mother so she can still continue shopping at Costco. Having two household really helped us reach the $5,500. With my volume, I am averaging $135 cash back annually so I actually made money by having the Executive Membership.
2. Savings at Costco Pays For The Membership
If you buy often enough in bulk and with the instant rebate and coupons provided, the savings that you’ll get more than pays for the Costco membership.
- Gasoline - In my area, the cost of gas at Costco is usually $0.30 cheaper. I have a 15-gallon tank car and I usually fill out every two weeks so in a month, the savings to me just with gas alone is $9 per month ($0.30 x 30 gallons per month) or comes out to $108 annually. Some of you probably fill out gas more often which yields to more savings. If you add the 3% rebate when you use the Costco American Express True Earnings card, you pretty much recovered the cost of the membership fees even if you have the Executive Membership.
- Coupons and Instant Rebates - Costco have instant rebates and coupons as well that you can use. On average, I usually save around $10 per month with those coupons ($120 annual savings). If you buy big ticket items, of course the instant rebates are much higher. Examples are $60 instant manufacturer’s rebates on tires or $100 rebate on TV. Even the small coupons or rebates add up.
- Wholesale Savings - I think this is pretty much self-explanatory that you can save around 20% to 50% on your purchase when you buy in bulk and the savings varies on how big is the family. But if you add all of them up, you can at least get the equivalent of the cost of membership.
- Store Gift Cards or Certificate - Most gift cards or certificates offer you 20% and people usually buy this not only as a gift but also for personal use. Lucille BBQ, Elephant Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Coffee Bean cards worth as much as $100 only cost $79.99 at Costco. If you are already going to those restaurants anyways, why not stop by at Costco . During Mother’s day, we treat our mom to Lucille’s BBQ and spend $300 worth of food. Well, we only paid $240 (savings of $60) just by buying gift cards at Costco.
3. Third Party Offers and Incentives
If you do not know it yet, there are actually a lot of third party organizations that offer incentives when you sign-up for a Costco membership. However, the biggest Costco Membership discount is probably just $50 so if you get the Gold Card membership, you can offset the cost of that and essentially get the membership for free.
4. Get Cash Back from Costco American Express True Earnings Reward.
If you are a member of Costco, you should also try to get the Costco American Express True Earnings card as this provide additional cash back to offset the Costco membership cost. At the end of the year, the cash back really add up and may end up making you money in the long run.
5. Costco Membership Money Back Guarantee
Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their memberships. If you are not satisfied with your membership, you can get a full refund at any time. Some people have suggested to use the Costco card for the full year and right before you reach the 365th year, you cancel the card and then re-sign again. It’s a slick and dishonest way of getting a free Costco membership and it’s not really recommended. But hey, this is legal and Costco allows it so I guess you can do this if you wish. I just don’t understand why you would cancel this if you can get your money back a number of ways which I have stated above.
6. You Do Not Have to be a Member of Costco to Shop In The Stores
This is really a separate discussion so rather than repeat myself here and lengthen this article, I prefer to direct you to the article about: Don’t Have A Costco Membership? See How You Can Still Shop At Costco!
How about you? Do you have any ideas of how you can get free Costco Membership that are not mentioned here? Please feel free to provide this in our comment section.
- How to get free membership at Costco
- 5 Ways to shop at Costco without being a member
- Where to find Costco Membership discounts
- How to become a member of Costco: 4 Ways to Sign-up
- How to save at least 20% on your next restaurant and entertainment using Costco
- Costco American Express Card: A Few Things You Need to Know or Watch Out For
- Shopping At Costco: The Good and the Ugly
- Costco Return Policy: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Why Buy Tires At Costco