All the Costco membership secrets you need to know! Which membership is worth the cost and how to get the most out of your Costco membership. If you love Costco as much as I do, you'll want to tune in for these fun, cheap and free tips!

Everything you need to know about shopping at Costco - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

Alright! We all know that I'm a BIG fan of Costco… as long as you shop Costco wisely, that is! If you're smart you can buy bulk and stock up on quality items that are good to keep on-hand so that you can shelf cook like a #BossBabe! However, there is an art (if you will) to shopping at Costco!

I have become somewhat of a Costco pro over the years (if you haven't noticed by my Costco page!). I thought I'd share 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!

I'm about to give you the 411. You on the edge of your seats, yet?

WHICH COSTCO MEMBERSHIP IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Choose your membership! Did you know that depending on your membership, you can get cash back for shopping at Costco? That's right folks, real-deal-moola. There are basically two options. Let's break it down real quick!

  • Gold Star Costco Membership – This is your basic membership for $60 buckeroos! It doesn't really have any additional benefits besides the ability to shop at the greatest store on earth…
  • Gold Star Executive Costco Membership – Here is where the benefits kick in! This membership costs $120, but there are some serious benefits. With the Executive Membership you get 2% cash-back on most purchases made at Costco. So you can pretty much earn the membership cost back by the end of the year! #Winning Your rebate comes back to you in the form of a rebate check.
  • Business Costco Membership – Just a heads up, there is also a business membership option that allows you to add additional people for $60 each! Most families won't need this option!

My hubby and I have opted for the Executive Costco Membership vs the Gold Star membership. Yes, it costs more ($120 per year vs $60), but with the cash-back option… it's a no-brainer! We stock up on more than just food here and we save a lot of money doing it.

IS THE EXECUTIVE COSTCO MEMBERSHIP WORTH IT?

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…

COSTCO MEMBERSHIP HACKS

After you choose your membership, make sure you're aware of what you're spending and when you're rewards are due! Here are the best ways to get the most out of your Costco membership:

PLAN FOR YOUR REWARD

Anticipate that the reward is coming, and make a plan for it in advance so you're not tempted to sprint to the electronics isle and spend your hard-earned rewards on an impulse-buy! Of course, I recommend putting the cash toward debt or savings, but more on that in a minute. 🙂

CASH YOUR REWARD

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.

I highly suggest you cash your reward in full at the membership desk. Did you know you DON'T have to spend your Costco reward at Costco? They would like you to, of course, but you don't have to! Take your reward straight to the membership desk and they'll give you cash for it.

Use the cash wisely. The ideal situation would be to cash out your reward and stick it directly toward debt, or put it into savings (or your Slush Fund). If you need to use the reward, try to use only part. See how we organize our money into our bank accounts HERE.

STOCK UP WITH YOUR REWARD

If you really need to stock up on a few things, this is a great time to do it! Anticipate your needs and only make purchases on things you know you will use. This may help if you have a need in your budget!

Try not to use all of your reward on stocking up! Budget your reward money… but then use your credit card to make the purchases so you get still get 2% cash-back! Take all the cash, put it toward your credit card bill or some other debt or savings! Now all of a sudden you're ahead of the game in more than one way. Thank you Costco!

STACK YOUR REWARDS

As you know, I believe in using credit cards. 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 awesome kickbacks that allow you to stack your rewards like never before.

  • 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

So when I shop at Costco, I get cash from Costco, AND rewards from my Visa card, too. Pretty slick, eh? Click HERE to find the right card for you.

IS THE COSTCO VISA WORTH IT?

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. You gotta know what you're doing!

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 for our own family, the cash back through Costco and Visa really add up. Just make an educated decision about what's best for your family!

RETURN YOUR COSTCO MEMBERSHIP

If you aren't satisfied with the membership…return it! Hands-down one of the best things about Costco (aside from the $1.50 hot dog and drink combo…) is the incredible return policy. You can return just about anything, at any time, including your membership. You can use it for 364 days and if on the last day of the year you decide you didn't get your money's worth, they will give you a full refund.

Please do NOT abuse their return policy (because it only increases prices for the rest of us), but don't feel guilty using it legitimately!

TIPS FOR BUYING BULK AT COSTCO

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. But here are a few super quick tips to get your started!

  • Make a Plan – If you work buying bulk into your budget. See how I make a budget for Costco so I never go overboard!
  • Learn what to buy from Costco that will actually save you money (yes, you can LOSE more money than you save if you're not careful!). See how I do all of my grocery shopping HERE.
  • Learn the smartest ways to shop at Costco. Come shop with me and get an insider view on a real-life Costco shopping trip!
  • LEARN YOUR PRICES! Hands-down, this is the best way to save you money – in anything you do – always. I carry a Price Notebook around with me to help with this, read about it HERE.

COSTCO MEMBERSHIP TIPS

Heads up! These tips are ones that will save you a lot of money at Costco. You are SO welcome, my friend!

HOW TO SPOT A KILLER DEAL AT COSTCO

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!

COSTCO HONORS SALE PRICES WITHIN 30 DAYS

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!

So there you go! Those are the ways that we really stretch our membership dollars. How do YOU stretch your dollar at Costco? I'd love to hear all about it!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free