It's no secret that I love Costco, and have become somewhat of a Costco pro over the years (if you haven't noticed by my Costco page!). They have great prices on quality items and it can really save your family a lot of money…IF you do it right! I recently did a TV segment for Studio 5 all about Costco, so I thought I'd share the video PLUS my inside scoop on how to save money at Costco, what to buy and what to avoid, what membership is worth the money, and inside details about the new Costco + Visa relationship!
Watch the TV segment online or click and watch below (then get all my other tips farther down in the post):
So there you have it! Here's a breakdown of tips, tricks, and info to help even more:
Did you know that depending on your membership, you can get cash back for shopping at Costco? That's right folks, real-deal-moola. With the Executive Membership you get 2% cash back on your purchases, and that comes back to you in the form of a rebate check. You can use the rebate you get right at Costco or, even better, you can go to the customer service desk and redeem that for cold, hard CASH! For a family like mine who only shops at Walmart and Costco, this is a huge benefit that really pays off.
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Let's start with the basics.
The Executive Membership will cost you $110, whereas the Standard Membership is $55 range. That's quite a price difference, I know. But the main difference is that the Executive Membership is what grants you the ability to get that glorious cash-back rebate (mentioned above). Again, for a family who shops at Costco regularly (like we do) this is worth the money because the cash back earned exceeds the cost of the membership.
Not sure if you should jump for the Executive Membership?
Have no fear. You actually have nothing to lose by upgrading to the Executive Membership! At the end of the year if you haven't earned at least the money you spent on the Executive Membership, they will refund you the difference between the Executive and Standard memberships (about $60), and downgrade you to the Standard Membership retroactively. Just another reason I love me some Costco…
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The rumors are true! Amex and Costco are divorcing for good. For better or for worse, as of June 19th, 2016 Costco will no longer accept American Express. I know change is hard, and I really really love my Amex (they have the BEST customer service, in my opinion.) But in this case, change can be a good thing!
After June 19th, you can use ANY Visa card at Costco, not just the Costco branded one. Since many of us have Visa cards in our wallet already, this is fabulous news. Even better news? In the kingdom of retail, Costco is KING; and with that kind of power they have the ability to pull off some incredible deals. This new Visa + Costco relationship is no exception. Costco has negotiated even better kickbacks and perks than they had with Amex! Including:
- 4% on Gas (Amex was only 3%)
- 3% on Travel & Restaurants (Amex was 2%)
- 2% on ANYTHING at Costco (Amex was 1%)
- 1% on anything else, ANYWHERE
Should I get the Costco Visa?
That's a tough question. I'm not one to endorse running out and applying for credit cards, because it dings your credit when you do, and credit cards aren't for the faint of heart. However, I know for us, having the Costco Amex was a huge money-saver for our family. We haven't decided fully yet, but we will most likely get the Costco Visa card. Our credit scores are in the high 800's so we don't feel like it's a huge risk for our family. And since Costco is the only place we shop for all of our businesses AND one of 2 places we shop at for our own family, the cash back through Costco and Visa would really add up. Again, we haven't decided yet for sure. In the meantime we will just use our existing Visa cards until we decide. Just make an educated decision about what's best for your family!
Should I close down my Amex card?
If you have the Costco Amex, you could certainly continue to use it for purchases outside of Costco if you feel the perks outweigh the perks of other cards you have. Whatever you do, just don't cancel the card. That's actually a red flag for creditors. It's better to have a credit card account open and unused, than it is to cancel one.
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A common misconception is that everything at Costco is a fantastic deal. While yes, they do have fantastic deals, not everything will save you money. Head to THIS POST to get my big list of what to buy and what to avoid at Costco, and see THIS PAGE for lots more tips as well.
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Quick Costco tip: If you see an asterisk (you know, one of these *) on a price tag at Costco, take note! It means they will NOT be restocking that item and when it's gone, it's gone. If the price tag ends ends in .97, that product's price has been marked down. If you find a golden goose with BOTH an asterisk and a price ending in .97, might just be a killer deal you should take advantage of!
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This is one of my best-kept secrets. If you buy something at Costco and you see it go on sale within the next 30 days, you can go to the customer service desk and they will refund you the difference! Rumor has it some stores require you to have your receipt, so hold onto those just in case. I've never had that issue, they have always been able to look up my purchases in their computer. Either way, that's pretty dang sweet and something you should know for sure!
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So there you go! Hopefully that helps you navigate the Costco Visa changes, and save you a few bucks in the process.