Costco Membership Plans

Aug 20, 2009

As you may have noticed by now, I am a big fan of Costco. It may have taken me longer than most to jump on the bandwagon, but I am now firmly seated on it.

When Costco first came to our part of town about three years ago, though, I resisted getting a membership. I generally don’t like having to pay for the privilege to shop at a store. My parents, however, joined the first week and began to their campaign to get me to do the same.

For the first two years, I’d go with them occasionally, or ask them to pick up an item I particularly liked from the store. My mom, though, kept insisting that with my growing family, it would be worth it for me to get my own membership. So, about a year ago, I joined Costco for myself.

And, this is what I learned when I joined: Costco offers two different memberships. The Gold Star Membership is the “regular one.” It costs $50 and allows you to shop in their stores. The Executive Membership, which is the one I ultimately ended up getting, costs $100. The reason I went with the Executive Membership is because you get back 2% on most all of your Costco purchases.

In addition, they guarantee that this monetary amount will at least equal $50. (That is the extra $50 you forked over for this membership.) The customer service representative told me that if the check I receive in the mail at the end of my yearly membership is less than $50, I should bring it to the Customer Service desk and they will make up the difference.

That, right there, is what made my decision. I figured that it was a virtually risk-free investment. Worst case scenario: I would get that $50 back at the end of the year and the membership would have cost me $50 – as if it were the “regular one.”

I realized, though, that depending on how much we spent there (and honestly, I didn’t know how much that would be because I’d never belonged to a wholesale store like this before) I could potentially get back most, if not all, of my $100 membership fee.

I decided to write this post today because my membership is up in about a month and I just got my “rebate” check in the mail today. Guess how much it was for?

Come on . . . guess . . .

$116!

Thus, not only did I make back my entire membership fee, I also made a profit of $16!

That means we spent about $650 there a month – which actually, isn’t technically accurate. I’d say we spent about $400 - $450 or so a month there, but once this year, a friend asked me if I would buy a large item for her from Costco on my card (and she paid me back for it.) That item, of course, pushed up my rebate check a little.

But, even if I hadn’t purchased that item for her, I still would have made back about the cost of my entire membership.

To me, taking the “chance” on the Executive Membership (and, as I said, it wasn’t really much of a “chance”) was worth every penny I had to put out up front.

I just encourage you to think about your membership choices if you are debating joining (or renewing your membership to) Costco – or any other wholesale store that might offer a similar deal. If you can budget the money to pay more up front, it could benefit you in the long run.

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