When Costco first opened in 1976 it leveraged its buying power by selling in bulk to businesses and select groups of non-business customers. Now, the Costco wholesale model has an expansive, loyal customer base that anyone can join by purchasing one of its several membership options.
Although there is an upfront Costco membership fee, Costco has always vowed that the fees will pay for themselves, thanks to the Costco membership discount and Costco coupons. With the right planning, you can even shop at Costco for one.
Costco Membership Benefits and Rules
Costco memberships are valid at any Costco warehouse, and members have access to exclusive deals and discounts, as well as to Kirkland Signature items — Costco’s private product label.
Memberships must be renewed annually, with options to extend cards to other household members. The cardholder’s name and face must match the information on the membership card, which must be displayed in order to shop at the store. Costco guarantees a refund to customers who are unhappy with their membership plans.
It is important to note that a membership card is not the same as a Costco Cash Card or a Costco credit card.
How to Become a Costco Member
You can become a Costco member by signing up and paying the membership fee. The easiest way to sign up is to go to the membership desk at your local Costco. A Costco employee will walk you through the process, take your photo and print your membership card on the spot so you can start shopping that day.
You can also sign up for a membership, or renew a current membership, online at Costco.com for all membership levels. Keep reading to learn about the different membership options as well as the cost for each option.
How Much Is a Costco Membership?
Three different membership levels are available. Review the cost and benefits of each to determine which is right for you based on your shopping needs and frequency.
Gold Star Membership
The standard Costco membership, called the Gold Star Membership, costs $60 a year. The membership comes with a free Costco household card and includes access to most Costco services, including Costco Travel.
The Costco Business Membership also costs $60 a year. With this membership members can purchase items not only for home and personal use but for resale. Resale customers must provide Costco with specific information, including business information, and certain restrictions apply to those buying tobacco products for resale.
Executive Membership is available to both Business and Gold Star members for $120 — $60 for the base membership and $60 for the upgrade. Executive Membership offers everything in the base plans plus 2 percent rewards on all qualified Costco purchases up to $1,000, including online and Costco Travel purchases. Executive members enjoy extra savings on Costco services and extra Costco Travel benefits.
Give the Gift of Membership
For $60 current members can buy one-year subscriptions as gifts for new members. The annual renewal requirement then becomes the responsibility of the new member. Gift membership purchases can be made online or in stores.
If you’re feeling generous, buy two $60 Costco gift memberships for one person, that person can then enjoy all the benefits of Executive Membership.
Shop at Costco
In order to shop at Costco, you must show a membership card. Although subscriptions do come with an annual fee, it’s easy to sign up and the benefits for frequent shoppers often pay for the membership and then some. Make sure you bring your Costco card with you or you might not be able to get into the store or checkout with your chosen items.