How Much Is A Costco Membership?

If you're struggling with an ever-growing cost of living, you're not alone. According to CNBC, 64% of Americans are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck, making it important to stretch your dollar whenever possible. So even though it costs more to shop in bulk upfront, Costco's famously low prices can be an excellent tool for maximizing how far your hard-earned money goes. To sweeten the deal, members also get access to a range of discounted services including cheaper tire changes, affordable eye exams, and even comprehensive insurance plans (though offerings vary from location to location). 

However, you'll need to buy an annual membership before you can make any purchases from Costco or access the vast majority of its services. Plus, since the retailer offers two membership tiers (and one comes with rebates), it can be confusing to determine just how much you'll need to spend before joining Costco — and how much you'll save by the end of the year.

How much does a Costco membership cost?

Costco has two membership levels: Executive and Gold Star. In the United States, the former costs $120 per year while its Gold Star counterpart costs $60 annually, per Costco. Although membership prices may vary across different countries, all members are able to shop at any Costco location in the world.

On that note, if you're planning a trip soon and mainly plan on buying Costco's products while abroad (as opposed to accessing their services), you may wish to see if a membership is cheaper at your destination. For example, Canadian Costco memberships cost the same dollar amount as their American counterparts, but the Canadian dollar is valued lower than the American dollar, which can translate into savings. However, it's important to note that although you'll still have access to American warehouses and most services with a Canadian membership (such as tire changes, eye exams, and so on), you may not be able to access Costco USA's insurance offerings or other similar services.

What's the difference between Costco's Executive and Gold Star membership levels?

While both the Gold Star and Executive levels provide two cards that let you and a household member shop at Costco in-stores and online, the Executive membership comes with a wide range of additional perks. For one, Executive members are subscribed to the retailer's monthly "Costco Connection" magazine and receive discounts on many services, as noted by Costco. However, the most notable perk is the Executive level's 2% cash back annually (up to $1,000), which may even wind up paying for your membership and then some.

Bear in mind that some items (e.g. stamps, tobacco, alcohol in certain states, etc.) do not qualify for cash back (via Costco Customer Service). However, the majority of purchases do, allowing your rebates to quickly add up. And if you're still on the fence about getting a Costco membership, it's worth noting that both the Gold Star and Executive plans come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. This allows you to cancel your membership and receive a refund at any time.

Should you buy an Executive or Gold Star Costco membership?

Although Costco's Executive membership is more expensive upfront, it may also be the cheaper option in the long run, according to Costco. If you spend $3,000 per year in the store, for example, you'll earn the $60 difference in membership fees as a cash back rebate. Plus, you will still have access the Executive level's additional perks. While $3,000 per year is a lot of money, it works out to $250 per month or around $58 per week. So if you get the majority of your groceries at Costco, you will likely be able to hit this threshold (especially if you shop for an entire family).

If you plan on spending less than $3,000 per year at Costco, the Executive membership's discounts may still make the higher tier worth it. In particular, the discount on services can save you quite a bit on car repair fees. Since services vary across locations (via Costco Services), consider asking your closest store about the discounts and services that they offer.

What about Costco's Business and Business Executive tiers?

If you are a business owner who is searching for supplies in bulk, you may want to consider Costco's Business and Business Executive levels. At the moment, this membership tier shares the same price structure as an individual membership — the basic level costs $60 (via Costco), while the executive option costs $120 (per Costco). Likewise, the Business Executive tier also provides you with 2% cash back annually. However, the business accounts also come with some extra perks.

While Costco's individual memberships only allow you to purchase goods for personal use, business memberships allow you to buy items that can be used while operating a business (for example, napkins and takeout containers) or resold. Note that if you plan to resell the items, Costco's website states that you must notify the company of your plans.

Business accounts also provide you with more flexibility when adding other people to your profile. Like a personal account, you're entitled to a card that allows anyone who lives with you to shop at a Costco location. However, if you have a business account, you can also purchase additional memberships for employees that are then controlled through your account. The only caveat when dealing with Costco's business accounts? You'll need to provide proof that you own a business or are authorized to open up an account for the company that you work for.