Is The Costco Executive Membership Worth Buying?

If you love shopping at Costco as much as I do, chances are you’ve been asked to upgrade to the Costco Executive Membership.

I never thought we spent enough money at Costco to justify paying the additional membership fee.  However, with a growing family to support, lately we’ve been spending a lot more money there.

Related: How To Save Money On Groceries

I checked our recent American Express statements and our average Costco bill is $350 per month, about half our monthly grocery budget.  After our last trip to Costco, I took the Executive Membership brochure home to see if upgrading was worth the extra cost.

Costco Executive Membership

Executive Members receive a 2% reward on most of their annual Costco purchases, up to a maximum of $750 per year.  Here’s how the rewards are calculated based on spending:

Monthly spending Annual spending Annual reward
$200 $2,400 $48
$400 $4,800 $96
$600 $7,200 $144
$800 $9,600 $192
$1,000 $12,000 $240
$2,100 $25,200 $504
$3,125 $37,500 $750 (maximum)

You’ll earn rewards with most purchases at Costco, however there are a few exceptions including gas, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and membership fees.

Your reward coupons are mailed to you along with your annual renewal notice.  You can redeem the coupons toward most Costco products, except for the ones mentioned above.

Executive Membership Fee

The Executive Membership upgrade fee is an additional $55 for Business or Gold Star Members.  This amount is pro-rated based on the number of months remaining on your current membership.  At your next renewal, you’re billed a total of $110 plus taxes for the Executive Membership.

You can upgrade to the Executive Membership by stopping by the membership counter at Costco, or by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-463-3783.

Additional Benefits

New Costco members can earn 1,500 Aeroplan miles when they sign-up for the Executive Membership.  You can also take advantage of the following membership perks:

  • Low rates on residential long distance, home phone and internet through Primus Canada
  • Save up to 25% on car rentals with AVIS or Budget
  • Emergency Roadside assistance
  • Real Estate program – cash rebates and savings for every purchase, sale, legal closing and home inspection
  • Competitive mortgage rates
  • Preferred rates on home and auto insurance
  • Preferred rates on life and health insurance plans

Final Thoughts

After crunching the numbers, if we upgrade to the Executive Membership we should be able to get an annual rebate of $84 based on our annual spending at Costco.  Since the Executive Membership costs $110 a year, our total membership fee would be about $26 once we cash in the rebate.  That’s less than half the cost of the regular membership.

Saving $30 a year isn’t anything to get excited about, but some of the additional benefits might be worthwhile.  Plus, if we don’t earn enough of a rebate to cover the cost of the upgrade ($55), Costco will refund us the difference.

It seems like a no-brainer for us to upgrade to the Executive Membership the next time we go to Costco.  Of course, it’s important that we don’t use the rebate as an excuse to waste money buying things we don’t need.

Do you shop at Costco?  Is the Executive Membership worth buying?


36 Responses to Is The Costco Executive Membership Worth Buying?

  1. Rudy Ratlos says:

    I do not have a costco membership,they have nothing that I need and can not buy at Superstore,Real Canadian Whole saler or Walmart, The prices are just as good. I use my No Fee MBNA Master Card and have received a cash back of $800.00 since Aug 2011. MBNA gives you 5% on gas and groceries, yes it is limited for up to $600.00/Month spend but this is why my wife has a card as well.That allowes us to get the benefit for up to $1200.00 spend /month on Groceries and Gas.beside that the MBNA gives me 1% an everything else. I got $90 back for paying my dentist bill with my MBNA.If I take your chard monthly spending 1200 = annualy 14400 x 5% = 720.00 Maximum on gas and Groceries with costco it is only $288. for everything over my MBNA’s I use my scotia Momentum with a 4% cash back and no limit.
    When I fill at superstore Gas bar I also get the 3.5 cent /liter I basicaly get about $8.50 per 100 liter fill.BTW. the best Travel Card is the RBC Prefered Gold, not because of the points they actually do much but rather it coveres the most Insurances for traveling including Cancelation Insurance the $110 fee pays for it self fast if one does not need to buy any insurance.

    • Echo says:

      @Rudy – thanks for your comments. Yes, there are many people who feel that shopping at Costco in general isn’t worthwhile, let alone getting an executive membership there.

      I also use the MBNA Smart Cash card, so it’s unfortunate that you can only use AMEX at Costco. Note that you get 5% cash back on groceries and gas for the first 6 months; after that it drops to 3% cash back.

      I agree that the prices for some items at Superstore are just as good, however I find the quality is better at Costco (for the items we buy).

      • Connor P says:

        After working for General Mills Canada in finance I can say that costco prices are generally always cheaper on a per 100gm basis compared to any other store and they offer unique products that are not available in other Canadian retailers.

    • Revol K. says:

      Hi there,

      So you’d rather pay $100+ for a VISA credit car, yet won’t pay $55 for regular membership at Costco?

  2. Rudy Ratlos says:

    In regards of the other Benefits.
    Buy a magig jack $29/year instead of using Primus
    Go to http://www.arguscarrentals.com/ to get the best prices in Car rentals, better than geting 25% through costco at avis. Competitive rates and Prefered rates does not mean you can not get it cheaper else where.One should still shop around.
    Sorry I just can’t get sold on the costo Idea at all.
    I do check it out once in a while to see if it is worthwhile but it never is.

  3. Marianne says:

    I’ve never considered getting a costco membership but will be looking into it now that they are building one a few blocks from our home.
    Do you have to use a Costco credit card to pay for your costco purchases or would I be able to use my own rewards card and reap the benefits of both rewards programs?

    • Echo says:

      @Marianne – you can use cash, debit or American Express as a method of payment at Costco. The credit card does not have to be a Costco AMEX; I use an Air Miles AMEX.

  4. Shawna says:

    One extra thing to consider is the Costco branded Amex Card, as it offers cash back rewards as well. Between the executive membership and the Amex rewards, we got over $200 back lasts year.

  5. We’ve been shopping at Costco for a number of years now. We use to spend a lot of money there but we have cut back some in the last year. We typically buy paper products and sometimes fresh meat and produce. We also shop on their online store. We actually bought both of our office desks and chairs from costco. I like their furniture and their delivery service is quick.

  6. I love shopping at Costco! You do have to watch your prices just like any time you shop but we mostly buy our meat and produce there every week.

    I’m not 100% sold on the executive membership because we don’t spend enough to cover the extra $55 we would have to pay. If you do shop at Costco, the free rebate Amex card is an excellent addition to anyone’s wallet.

  7. SE Book says:

    I love costco and Sams, I do think the executive membership is worth it especially after you number crunched, it makes sense to get it if you are only paying 26 yearly.

  8. Sheryl (Gdn Gwen) says:

    I have had a Costco membership for as long as I can remember. I let it lapse once, thinking I wouldn’t miss it, but I was wrong. I’m very careful about what I spend there as some things are not worth buying, but there are other staples I consistently save money on. I also upgraded to the Executive membership as I know that between myself, my mother (who is also on my account) and my daughter (she has 3 large dogs and goes through a lot of food), we will spend at least $200 monthly.
    I also use their Costco Amex card and get the additional rebate from that.
    I feel Costco is worth it, but you have to know your prices elsewhere to ensure you don’t pay more overall than you need to.

    • SE Book says:

      I know what you mean about some things are not worth buying, I really have to watch when i go there. Its easy to go over budget.

  9. JEF says:

    I know the discussion is in regards to a Costco membership but I have a comment on a Sam’s Club membership. We upgraded to what would be comparable to the Costco executive membership at a similar cost of $100 a year at Sam’s. The big draw for us was that we could save 40% off of generic prescriptions at the pharmacy. My son has a prescription that cost $145 generic and so we get it for $87 a month. We recouped the cost of the upgraded membership in one month,and trust me I called all the pharmacies around town first in regards to price. Those without prescription coverage like us may find this beneficial.

  10. tim says:

    I just laugh at people who PAY for a membership to shop. Imagine if walmart said…okay if yu want to shop here yu now have to buy a 75 buck membership.Target says ” its 75 hert too.”
    What saving??? There isnt one. You just pay yourself with the membership. hahaha
    ” hey look, i save 10 cents on milk here”

    Its a scam to extract money to decrease overhead and ultimatly increase profits. You get a card to make you feel good, thast you belong top an exclusive club hahahaha

    People, you get better savings at stores when sales are on.HAHAHA Pay to have priviledge to walk into a store hahaha TOO RICH.

    • Tim,
      If you do the math it does save you money. I budget everything in our household and I do all the grocery shopping. Even if I just buy milk and meat and produce at Costco, the savings I get more then pays for the membership fee. It is that much cheaper than Walmart or Target or Publix or Winn Dixie, even their sale items. Not to mention any larger item purchases. The key, just like ANY store is to only buy what you need, what is within your budget AND to shop sales.

    • jamie says:

      Really shows how you don’t understand how costco works at all. Oh yeah they’ve been growing worldwide for over 30 years. High quality goods, wholesale cost, and a no hassle always returnable for any reason, policy. You cannot beat it. Period.

    • Pat says:

      I agree with you Tim all the way. I also say that Costco and the likes should PAY me to go shopping at their stores. Most likely when when you enter a store to buy some specific item or items, you always end up spending a bit more or buying additional items. Many time I paid for a jug of milk or a carton of eggs $80 or a $100 dollars and that’s because I entered the store and found some good deals on some other items and I say to self I’ll buy them now and save $$ as well as another trip to the store, waiting at the cash register etc….

      Yes I may agree to some previous comments that Costco may have some unique items and perhaps better quality on some BUT so do other stores too. Quality on fresh products, like produce, meat and fish can varies from day to day, week to week and the season, as well as handling and storage. Canned goods, processed goods etc… quality is not an issue. You may visit a Safeway or Co-Op, Sobeys that have real nice produce, fish or meat and then visit another store of the same establishment and the quality sucks, hence handling is a big factor in freshness and quality.

      I find most of what I need and great deals at the SuperStore. Some specialty items, I get them at the specially stores, like Italian, Greek, Asian, Caribbean etc… If the item/product does not look fresh or poor quality, then I do without it OR go elsewhere. Invariably you can not get most of you need at one store, quite often I find my self I need to go a couple of places to get everything that I need.

      My son is a Costco shopper and I see him at the SuperStore loading/buying other stuff, other times at the Safeway and ….

      Paying for a membership is a waste of money

    • Inder paul says:

      Yes I do agree to you bro. This is how the big stores are making money. You spend $110 + tax on costco membership and then you get back your money what you have paid for membership if you spend for groceries.What did you get in refund, nothing just your annual fees that too after buying. What did you get, where and what did you earn.Did you really get extra money back. Nothing, only ur annual fees that too after spending lot.

  11. Veronica says:

    Would you say the price of membership card is worth the savings for 2 people who spend on average $400-500/mo in groceries? We’ve been thinking about getting a Costco card recently but can’t decide whether the few trips we’d take there (for bulk toiletries and such) would be worth the cost of the card.

    • jamie says:

      Saving $55 annually is just about the easiest thing in the world to do there, even if you only buy certain things monthly, its simple. And of course like with anything there if somehow you’re not convinced get your $55 bucks back, anytime. Costco is beyond confident in their product so they do that.

  12. Sarah says:

    My husband and I just bought our first Costco membership (Executive) last week. We did so after getting a guest pass and spending over an hour collecting prices on everything we would buy. Then I compared the unit pricing from Costco to our regular grocery stores (Food Basics, Loblaws, Metro).

    Our results – Costco beats regular pricing at the grocery stores every time; grocery store sales beat Costco pricing about 50% of the time. When we added up the savings from buying the cheaper items at Costco, it paid for the $110 membership (and we didn’t even include the 2% rebate) and then some. So we figure that any other deals we get along the way are just extra savings.

  13. Joe Farquhar says:

    I love Costco! I was a little skeptical of the Executive membership before I got it. I have now had it for almost 3 years and I will never go back to the Gold membership. I do not take advantage of any of the other offers (long distance, car rental etc…), because like someone said, you can get a much better deal if you just do a little Googleing. But I sure do love getting that rebate that pays for the membership renewal. I am a very thrifty shopper. I always go for the est price. With 2 teenage boys in the house, it makes it much easier on the pocket book when you pay half price for juice boxes (compared to the grocery store). Other items we see a huge savings on are pork loin, hummus, feta cheese, cookies, crackers, cereal, rice, dried beans, printer ink…. and the list goes on. Some things at Costco can be more expensive then at other places. I got a better deal on TV’s at Future Shop then at Costco. You just have to shop around. But my all time favorite reason for shopping at Costco is that they carry different items then Zellers, Walmart and Target. I can buy unique gifts for xmas and birthdays. Plus, the place can be absolutely PACKED, lined right up 10 deep in every lane and I still get through the line faster then I do with 2-3 people in front of me at Sobeys or Superstore.

  14. Gary says:

    I took out the executive membership along with their american express card and it seems to be working ok. our first year rebate totalled $58. so we more or less broke even. you can’t use your rebate in the usa but we will use it when we get home. i think i’ll use the amex card a little more to get more rebate cash for next time.

    • Echo says:

      We’re coming up on one year with the membership this month and so I’m curious to see how we made out. Good call on using the Costco Amex to supplement your purchases.

  15. Joe Farquhar says:

    Echo, they give the rebate out a couple months before your membership renewal date. If you don’t already have it, you may want to check on that.

    • Echo says:

      @Joe – You’re right. I found out about a big screw up when I went into Costco on the weekend.

      I had signed up for the TrueEarnings Card at the same time as I got the Costco Executive Membership. I put my new address on the form, but Costco still had my old address on file. Needless to say, they sent the card to my old address and I never received it.

      I forgot all about it until this weekend when I went to the membership desk to renew. They said the membership automatically renewed and was charged to my TrueEarnings card.

      I got a phone call today from Amex saying I had a past due balance for the last 2 months!

      I managed to get the late fees waived and they’ll send me the TrueEarnings card next week, along with my rebate cheque that went to my old address a few months ago.

      What an ordeal!

  16. marlene says:

    we just bought executive. I make my own wine. The wine kits are at least $25.00 cheaper than any “make your own” wine store in the area I live…2 kits pays the extra fee. their kirkland toilet tissue is MUCH better than any you can buy on sale elsewhere. they have the best quality meat. Care is required not to spend too much! Their quality & selection is matchless for many items. Have used Costco for years…So we are anxious to see how much we gain using Executive. Gas is ALWAYS less expensive at Costco pumps.

  17. fraser says:

    We like Costco. We purchase as much as possible there with the exception of ‘loss leaders’ that are sometimes offered at other stores.

    The tires on our cars have all come from Costco. They have an excellent road hazard and tire rotation plan. We replaced our two furnaces a few years ago through Costco. Their price was $1000. less that the best price we could find on the same product from other suppliers…including the one from the local supplier who Costco contracted to do the work.

    Our Executive membership more than pays for itself. The savings that the realize on our Primus long distance plan(we were on Primus but switched to the Costco Executive plan) just about pay for the card.

    Last time my spouse purchased glasses at Costco the gentleman who served her had recently retired from his optical store. His comment was that that glasses/lens that she purchased from Costco would have cost 40 to 50 percent more from his optical store six months ago.

    Not everything is a good buy at Costco. But if you know your prices you can save money. The trick is to avoid the middle aisles…..you know, spur of the moment purchases of things that you probably do not need.

  18. Andy says:

    Great article.

    I’ve been a Gold Star Member for a couple of years and I’m happy with it so far because my Amex rebate covers the membership cost. I buy most of my dairy and produce from Costco simply because of their quality and price. Meat price is not as good but I guess I need to take the quality into account. I used to shop elsewhere but Costco’s pre-washed vegetable such as spinach, beans, broccoli are bargains (and a huge time-saver for my lifestyle; ) and their fruits are almost always of top quality (very sweet and thin rinds), most berries are relatively cheap, their bread is also well-priced. However, Costco is a place where you can easily overspend if you can’t resist their bargains.

    Anyways, I might give their Executive Membership a try because Costco will pay any difference if my rebate from the Executive Membership is less than $55.

  19. fraser says:

    YES…and it is more than just the rebates.

    We travel frequently. We often use the Costco Budget car rental discount. It often provides the most competitive rate.

    You can also log onto the Costco US site, go to travel, and search for discounts. Their car rental page allows you to key in your dates and get quotes from several providers. We used this in Feb. Booked a car in Orlando for three weeks, with a Miami dropoff. The total cost, all taxes in (but no additional insurance) was $368 (toyota corolla). We did not have to use our Costco card. We simply provided our Visa card (which covers insurance) when we picked up the car. This was the very first time renting a car when they have actually asked for proof of discount code, ie they wanted to see our Costco Exec. membership card.

  20. ML says:

    One thing to be aware of: the rebate is calculated TWO months before membership renewal time. Anything you accumulate in the next two months will apply to next year’s rebate, but of course, you still have to be an executive member the following year to get it. If you have no difficulties spending enough to get the $55 difference back by month ten, then this isn’t an issue at all. It’s the borderline spenders who need to consider their spending and whether or not it’s worth another year of executive membership fees.

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