Monday, 11 January 2016

Is the Costco Executive Membership worth $110?

A lot of us have a Costco Membership.  This membership cost $55 a year for the Gold Star card.  There is no doubt that the Gold Star Membership is well worth the $55 a year for any type of household, family of 4, family of 2 (husband and wife), single household.

But is the upgrade to the Executive Membership for $110 a year, basically doubling the gold star amount, worth it?

First off, we start off by listing the Pros and Cons Costco shopping.  The next section will then discuss what the upgrade can offer and how we can answer if it is worth it?

  • Food quality.  Most of us who have visited Costco have seen the cost of meats at Costco.  The prices are higher than most of your standard grocery store.  Everything is sold in bulk making it more expensive than say if you wanted to buy only 2 steaks or only 1 pound of ground beef.  Once you experience the price and quality of their meats, and then go to your local grocery store, you will feel that you are paying too much there.  A curious thing about their ground beef, if you look at the expiry date, for some reason, it is always the next day.  I've asked a few costco staff about the best before date.  They inform that hey ground their beef every morning and nothing is added, no fillers, no bones, nothing but beef.  I asked but what if you don't sell all of this meat, after all it is a lot.  The staff at the end of the day sells it to other departments, example the prepared Shepard's pie is made using this ground beef.  The meat may be overwhelming to some, but it is very common to buy in bulk and cook what you need today and portion the rest out into freezer bags and put them in the freezer.  Staples like milk, eggs, bananas, coffee are priced well at Costco.  The $1.50 hot dogs at the snack bar is also worth mentioning, this comes with a re-fillable drink.  Great value there.
  • Return Policy.  The Costco return policy is legendary.  Complete satisfaction.  You can even buy the membership, use and shop with for 9 months and then say you are not happy, they will refund your membership.  All food and products are returned with no questions asked.  The beauty of Costco is you do not need a receipt as they look up the product and ask for your membership card and then refund your monies.  To test this policy, we once bought the Kirkland energy drinks pack of 28.  We drank about 7 of them and finally my wife said, something doesn't taste right about it, go return it.  Took the remaining drinks and returned it, simply said it didn't taste what expected.  Most pleasant return on used product I ever experienced.
  • Pharmacy dispensing fees.  Most of us have insurance at work which covers anywhere from 80% to 100% coverage.  Fortune for my family, my work covers 100% of the cost of prescriptions but dispensing fees are only covered up to $7.  Now this situation does not work if we go to our local drug store which is a chain and has a $12 fee.  How many of us have gotten a prescription and had to pay 20% of the cost of drugs but then the dispensing fee made the bill seem too high.  No problem here, Costco charges a fee of $3.89 so I have never had to pay a penny for any prescription.  The best thing about the Pharmacy at Costco, you do not need a membership to use it.  I asked a cashier and she said something along the lines of "not refusing the public access to prescription drugs".  So if you are bummed about the cost of dispensing fees for drugs, try the Costco Pharmacy, you don't even need a membership.
  • Products I enjoy.  If you live near a Costco that has a gas bar, you can save almost $0.06 to $0.10 per litre versus the surrounding gas stations.  Amazing value.
  • Another product that I enjoy.  The dress shirts, dress pants both brand name and the Kirkland brand.  A lot of us work in an office, the work clothes you can get from Costco will save you quite a bit versus other retailers.
  • Samples.  No explanation needed here.
  • Lineups to pay.  On busy weekends, the lineups stretch as far as the eye can see sometimes.  The gas bar is no different.  Generally the lines move well but if you have kids that are restless with you, you will need to pack your patience.
  • Some prices are not that great, they make it hard to calculate if you are getting a good deal or not as unit prices are changed a lot.  One item you can calculate is a can of soda.  The quality does not change, and the unit price is set once you divide the price of the case by the number of cans.  Try the calculation next time, and you will understand why you don't see cases of coke cola in shopping carts at Costco.
  • It is hard to leave Costco without spending a minimum $100 (unless you are disciplined)
  • Impulse buys.  There are lot of impulse buys at the end of isles.  Again discipline is needed here.
  • Bulk can be bad.  Even with a family to feed, some items can go bad due to there being too much.  
Executive Membership

You get all of the above plus 2% on almost all your purchases as cash back.  So there is a possibility of getting a free membership or even a heavily discounted membership.

To receive $55 in cash back, you would need to spend $2750 a year or $229.17 a month

To receive $110 in cash back, you would need to spend $5,500 a year or $458.33 a month

You get the Costco Magazine mailed to you.

You get Executive only discounts mailed to you.

Now we all know what we spend on gas for the car, staples like milk and eggs, we buy work clothes, we buy meat, etc.  Everyone's situation is different but you can use these calculations to justify upgrading or even purchasing the gold star membership.  For us, it's a no brainer, the Executive membership is worth it.

If there are any other items that I have not mentioned, feel free to comment.

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