How Much Does a Costco Membership Really Save You?

jetcityimage / iStock.com

jetcityimage / iStock.com

It seems like a good idea — getting that membership to Costco so you can save lots of money on groceries and household products. But if you’re on the fence about whether a membership would be right for you, take some time to check out Costco’s online site to see what products it has that you’re interested in, or visit a location in person to look around.

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You can get a Costco membership for as little as $60 per year, which averages out to about $5 per month. If you shop once a month, do you think you can rack up at least $5 in savings during a single trip? To help you gain perspective and see how much you can potentially save with a Costco membership, here’s a look at the price of seven Costco signature products versus the price of 7 similar products at Kroger with the savings calculated for you.

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Olive Oil

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $9.02

Olive oil can be expensive and quality matters. According to the experts, Kirkland’s Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is high-quality olive oil. A two-liter bottle of Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive oil is just $15.99 at Costco.

To compare, a 51-ounce bottle of Simple Truth Organic Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Kroger costs $15.99. In terms of price, the Simple Truth product is the same price as Costco’s brand, but you get 16 ounces less product. The Costco product costs $7.99 per liter or $0.23 per ounce, while the Kroger product costs a more than $0.31 per ounce.

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Paper Towels

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $11.60

You can get a really good deal when you buy Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels with 160 2-ply sheets per roll in a 12-count pack for $22.99. To compare, a pack of six-count Kroger Select-A-Sheet Double Paper Towels with 98 2-ply sheets per roll is $9.99. So, while you could buy two six-packs of the Kroger product for less than Costco’s product, you’d get 62 fewer sheets per Kroger roll, which can really add up. 

Kirkland paper towels cost about $1.91 per roll, and the Kroger paper towels cost $1.61. The difference is you’re losing 744 sheets (62 sheets X 12 rolls) — slightly over 4 1/2 rolls (there are 160 sheets in each roll of the Kirkland product) — if you buy the Kroger product.

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Maple Syrup

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $2.92

There’s nothing like pure maple syrup on your pancakes. You can get Kirkland Signature Organic Pure Maple Syrup for $14.99 for 33.8 ounces or $0.44 per ounce. To compare, Private Selection 100% Pure Grade A Amber Maple Syrup at Kroger is $17.06 for 32 ounces or about $0.53 per ounce.


Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $18.86

At Costco, Kirkland Signature Platinum Performance UltraShine Dishwasher Detergent Pacs, 115-count, are $14.49 or $0.126 each. At Kroger, Finish Powerball Quantum Dishwasher Detergent Tabs, 50-count, are $14.99 or about $0.29 each. This is where you can really rack up the savings and pay for almost one-third of your Costco membership just by the savings you’ll reap from buying this one Costco product.


Animal Crackers

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $10.19

If you have children or if you just like having something simple, yet sweet, to satisfy your sugar craving without going overboard, animal crackers might be on your shopping list. A 4-pound quantity of Kirkland Signature Organic Animal Crackers is $13.49 or around $0.21 per ounce. In comparison, an 8-ounce package of Simple Truth Organic Animal Crackers from Kroger is $2.99 or $0.37 per ounce. If you’re into animal crackers, you can really save at Costco.

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Kitchen Trash Bags

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $28.51

Kirkland Signature Flex-Tech 13-Gallon Scented Kitchen Trash Bags, 200-count are $21.49 or almost $0.11 per bag. Kroger Tall Kitchen Stretch ‘N Hold Custom-Fit Bags, 34-count, are $8.49 or about $0.25 per bag. By buying the Kirkland trash bags, even though you have to buy more up front, you can save almost $30. That’s nearly half the price of the $60 Costco membership.


Weight Control Cat Food

How much you could save by buying the Kirkland product: $11.81

Overweight kitties need a solution, and weight control cat food can help. Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Cat Food is $34.99 for 20 pounds or $1.75 per pound. IAMS ProActive Health Chicken & Turkey Indoor Weight & Hairball Care Adult Dry Cat Food is $17.99 for 7 pounds or $2.57 per pound. Not only is the Kirkland formula cheaper but it also doesn’t contain any corn, wheat or soy.

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Is a Costco Membership Worth It?

If you bought every item on this list instead of buying the similar products from Kroger, you could save $92.91 in just one trip to Costco, which more than makes up for the $60 membership fee. And that’s just one trip. The membership fee is due once every year, so think about how many more opportunities you’ll have to save. Yes, a Costco membership is worth it — as long as you use it.

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Methodology: It’s difficult to find the same size of similar products at Costco and Kroger. In instances where the Costco product contained more ounces, pounds or units than the similar Kroger product, the “how much you could save by buying the Kirkland product” was determined by calculating how much the Costco quantity of the product would cost at the Kroger price and then subtracting the Costco price from the new Kroger price.

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