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Costco - Should You Join?

Updated on March 24, 2011

Tip: When shopping Costco look for the * on items. This means it is being phased out of stock. It may or may not come back, but this is usually the best price.

Why I Joined Costco Warehouse Club - Should You Join?

Costco – Should You Join?

If you are not a member of Costco you may wonder what all the hubbub is about! Costco after all is just a store right? And why would anyone pay to get access to a store? Sounds crazy to some doesn’t it?

Gasoline – I love the fact that I can purchase gasoline at Costco. I typically save 10-20 cents per gallon over nearby gas stations. To be honest if I shopped really hard and drove around all over I might find a Gas Station that is almost as cheap as Costco. But I don’t have the time to do that! Plus Costco gasoline is always fresh because they sell so much and the tanker trucks are continually restocking. The gasoline is very high quality, the pumps are clean and easy to use. If you fill your car just once per week it could easily pay for the cost of your membership.

Tires – Costco sells BF Goodrich and Michelin Brand Tires for Cars, Trucks, and Some RV’s. In my own experience as a Costco Tire customer I’ve found their service to be excellent. Not only are the prices very competitive their included services package (Rotation, Balancing, Flat Repair, Road Hazard) is included “free” with your purchase. I’ve written an entire Hub about Costco Tires Here.

Pharmacy – It’s not often that I need to use a Pharmacy, but when I do I trust Costco. I filled a prescription at a local grocery store only to later find out had I gone to Costco the price of that prescription would have been about half as much. Since then if I need prescription medication I have my Doctor fax it directly to Costco. You can do your own research… but I think that when you compare the cost of medication with any other Pharmacy Costco comes out near or on Top. Plus as an added advantage they Costco can fill your prescription while you shop!

Produce – High Quality and good prices. For example right now bananas are $1.32 for 3 lbs. That’s 44 cents per lb vs. the local grocery store 59 cents per lb. Organic spring Salad mix is $3.99 vs. $6.99 for the exact same brand and size container at Whole Foods. This summer Costco had fresh Northwest Blueberries $4.99 for 2lbs. Vs the local grocer of $2.99 for only 8 ounces. Fresh Pineapple $2.99 each not per lb! Now there are times when some items are less expensive at the local grocer – tomatoes are a good example. All depends on the time of year… Costco’s price on tomatoes has really been up and down this year. But you can be assured that Costco has top quality and I like the fact they are packaged so they have not been picked over by everyone.

Clothing – Name brands and high quality. Selection can be weak as they are not a clothing store you may not find your size and inventory turns fast so if you find that great pair of jeans this week you probably shouldn’t wait.

Electronics – This is how I was introduced to Costco. I was looking for a DVD player and I decided to stop in to see what they had because I was told they had good prices. I went to the customer service desk and asked for a “guest pass” (More on this below). I found a Toshiba DVD player with all the features I wanted for $59! Even with a little extra mark up from the guest pass it was still far cheaper than anything Best Buy or CircuitCity had at the time (This was over 6 years ago and at that time it was an incredible deal for a DVD Player). And yes the DVD player is still working great!

Return Policy – With the exception of Electronics and Computers you can pretty much return anything to Costco with no hassle at all. In 2007 Costco had to shorten it’s return policy on Electronics because people were working the system. New models come out so frequently they were just returning product to get the newer model. I have maybe returned a half dozen items to Costco in the past 6 years. Always a very smooth transaction in my experience; just don’t try to return things on a busy Saturday or directly after the Holidays… lines tend to be longer then. Costco just refunds the price you paid and they can almost always look up when you bought the item and what you paid for it very quickly even if it’s a couple years old. That’s a huge membership benefit.

Convenience – If you live within 5 miles of a Costco you’ll find having access to so many items so close – gasoline, pharmacy, food, is very convenient because you can get so much of your shopping done at once! I only go to the regular grocery store now about once every 10 days to get the smaller quantity items like Squash, Broccoli, etc. that Costco either doesn’t carry or carries in such a large size that I can not eat it all.

Food Court – While I am not a fast food kind of guy I have on occasion purchased a slice of Pizza or a Turkey Wrap from the Food Court. Prices are usually quite good and the food is good quality for fast food. I do not believe you need to be a member to buy from the food court. My only complaint is at times the lines back up in this area in some stores and it makes it harder to exit the store.

Kirkland Brand – Kirkland is a city in Washington on the East Side of Lake Washington which is basically Seattle. Costco’s main headquarters are located nearby so they chose the name Kirkland for their house brand. Kirkland items are generally high quality and priced well.

Guest Card – Any person wanting to try out Costco for themselves without a membership can go to the customer service desk and ask for a guest card. With a guest card/pass you can buy anything the members can buy but you will pay a 10% markup because you are not a member.

Costco Jobs – Most of the employees I’ve spoken with who work at Costco are happy with their jobs. Costco pays competitive wages for the markets they serve. The workers are not getting rich but base rate seems to be $10-$12 an hour and that beats the heck out of minimum wages.

I found this information online about Costco Employment:

But there’s another company that is breaking the Wal-Mart mold: Costco Wholesale Corp., now the fifth-largest retailer in the U.S. While Wal-Mart pays an average of $9.68 an hour, the average hourly wage of employees of the Issaquah, Washington based Costco Warehouse Club operator is $16. After three years a typical full-time Costco worker makes about $42,000, and the company foots 92% of its workers’ health insurance tab.

Costco CEO Jim Senegal has said: “We pay much better than Wal-Mart. That’s not altruism. It’s good business.”

Treating employees fairly, paying for medical coverage, and providing an environment people want to work in (Turn over is 1/3rd of the industry average) is one more reason I am a member and why I support Costco! Paying employees more actually increases productivity and increases profits. This is proven time and again. Is anyone at Walmart listening?

For example, while CEOs at other major corporations average 531 times the pay of their lowest-paid employees, Sinegal (Costco’s CEO) takes only10 times the pay of his typical employee. His annual salary is $350,000, compared to about $5.3 million awarded to Wal-Mart’s Lee Scott.

At the time of this writing Costco has just under 350 Warehouse locations in the United States.

I do not work for Costco. I can’t say that everyone will benefit from membership, but if you have not been to a Costco you should at least go and get a guest pass and see for yourself. And yes I’ve been to Sam’s Club and while similar I find the experience of Costco to be more enjoyable, and the brands and selection to be generally higher.

Buy Quality Kirkland (Costco Brand) Products at Amazon

Costco Warehouse Club

The entrance to a Typical Costco Wholesale Warehouse Club
The entrance to a Typical Costco Wholesale Warehouse Club


Submit a Comment
  • MikeNV profile imageAUTHOR


    8 years ago from Henderson, NV

    Judy I'm not sure what you are talking about. Costco has a very consumer friendly return policy. Electronics have a 90 day return policy to Costco... most everything else is basically we want you to be satisfied policy. I have personally returned an item that I had for more than a year, but only used a few times when it broke.

    Remember that Costco is a Membership Club so they can easily track what you buy and look up what you have purchased on their system for years back. Costco really does sell good quality.

    I don't read Womans Day so I'm not sure I can help with what you are asking... other than to say my own personal experience with Costco over the years has been excellent.

    Non members can get a guest pass and purchase items at 10% above marked prices to try it out. This is actually how I got started years ago when they had a DVD Player I wanted for more than $30 cheaper than anywhere else.

  • profile image

    Judy Martin 

    8 years ago

    I read in Womans day magazine that you are willing to let people try your product absolutly free for three month's. If it isn't want to need or want then they can send it back free of charge in the same package. But i can't find that site anywhere on here. Is that false advertisement or just a gimmick to get someone to buy from this site. Please do let me know. I would like to know if i need to contact the magazine and tell them not to run this ad for it is fraudulent. Please explain. Love to hear from you. Thank you PS it was about your electronis.

  • MikeNV profile imageAUTHOR


    9 years ago from Henderson, NV

    It's more the person than the policy. I've returned items to Costco never a problem. I watched a guy return plumbing fixtures that were trashed... and years old and they gave him a full refund. I'm amazed at some of the things they do take back... and long after their useful life has expired.

    No company is perfect, but my experience with Costco returns has always been head and shoulders above any other company except for Nordstroms.

  • profile image

    Marc goldstein 

    9 years ago

    I just had a very negative return experience at costco in Atlanta. What's up is the culture changing. I think we may cancel after 15 years.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    10 years ago

    Great Hub. You make me want to check it out and I will.


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