9 Items That Will Single-handedly Pay for Your Costco Membership

Riding a Cart through CostcoDo you have a Costco membership? If not…WHY!?

At this point, the only two good excuses for not being a Costco member are living too far away from one OR living alone and therefore not deriving enough benefit from a having a membership.

So, if you aren’t a member of the best warehouse club on earth, here’s a list of items that will single-handedly pay for your Costco membership – hopefully this will entice you to check it out. Each one of these items will, by itself, pay for the $55 a year membership fee. And even if you are a member, here’s some items to take advantage of on your next visit to the value-laden warehouse giant.

These Items Will Pay for your Costco Membership

Tires – Where’s the last place you got new tires? If it wasn’t a warehouse club you probably paid too much. The service and price offered at Costco for tire purchases are unparalleled. The only other legitimate consideration would be an online purchase through TireRack. The great thing about buying through Costco are the free tire balancing and rotation (plus free flat repairs) that you’ll get. That’s not normally something we factor in when making a tire purchase, but it keeps those rubber fellas alive for a lot longer which saves you money. Pay attention because Costco often offers $70-80 off certain brand of tires at different times of year. Just one set of tires will more than pay your Costco membership fee.

Lunch at Costco is cheapLunch – Do you like to eat out? Well Costco is a fantastic place for a date. My friend Wiley takes his wife Jenny there pretty often and it’s incredibly romantic. First, they take a stroll around and collect some free samples. Then, they head over to the lunch counter for a hot dog and some frozen yogurt. You’ll spend just over $2 and you’ll actually get filled up (those hot dogs are ¼ lb!). Costco’s lunch lineup isn’t super diverse, but it is tasty AND filling. If you save a few bucks on lunch just twice a month it will pay for your membership.

Movie Tickets – I don’t often go to the theater for a movie. It’s just too dang expensive. We’ve all got our favorite ways to blow a few dollars though and if going out to the movies is one of yours it’ll more than pay for your glorious Costco membership. The regular price for a movie where I live can be anywhere from $11 to $13. Costco will sell you two tickets for $17 (sometimes even cheaper). So if seeing the newest flick on the big screen is important to you, Costco’s discount on movie tickets will be well worth the cost of membership. By the way, Godzilla looks amazing!

Thanks to Costco membership I can actually afford baby formula

Kirkland Signature Baby Formula – If you have kids and don’t have a Costco membership I just feel sorry for you. You could be saving a lot more money. Baby formula is probably the sickest value proposition Costco offers. It is seriously less than half the price of formula you might purchase at your local grocery store. As you can tell from the picture above, even with the discount at Costco, you’ll still pay double for name brand formula. Kirkland signature brand formula is 46 cents an ounce and the name brand, Enfamil, is 89 cents and ounce. You’ll pay for your membership quickly with purchase of just this singular item.

My wife and I are using cloth diapers, but if you are going the disposable diaper route, Costco offers the best value in that arena too.

Luggage – I just purchased a new set of luggage, and the value that Costco provided was incredible. The actual cost of the luggage is super competitive, but on top of that, Costco offers the best guarantee in the land. I wouldn’t buy luggage anywhere else. My final cost was $100 for two fantastic pieces of luggage and I’ll never have to come out of pocket for new ones again. That’s unreal.

Guarantees – Speaking of the luggage guarantee. Costco’s overall guarantee system is a great reason to shop there, and will single-handedly pay for that Costco membership. In fact, if you’re ever dissatisfied, at any point, you can get a free refund for the full cost of the membership itself. That means that if you test out my Costco membership theory and find it lacking, it won’t cost you a dime. You can read more about the epic Costco guarantee system – it won’t let you down.

Wine – If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I’m not a wine guy. Craft beer is my thing. But if you are a wine connoisseur, Costco is the place for you. That sounds odd, but from everything I’ve read about Costco wine, the stuff is supposedly really good. And your average savings will be around $5 a bottle. There’s a great blog detailing all the great Costco wines. The author even has a “value section.” That’s where I would be looking…if I drank wine of course. :)

Awesome rotissere chickens are benefit of Costco membership

Mmmm. Costco Rotissere chicken.

Rotisserie Chickens & Pizza – I’m had to add these items to my list. Mostly because I love them and they make dinner really easy sometimes. I’m pretty sure Costco loses money on the rotisserie chickens too, cause $5 is just insane. Fair warning, if you get addicted to their delicious and gargantuan pepperoni pizza, it wasn’t my fault. :)

Gas - I personally don’t use this one much. The line to fill up at the Costco gas station just wastes too much time. But if you get lucky and the line is lacking, make sure to fill up. In some areas of the country you can save almost 30 cents a gallon just by filling up at Costco instead of your local gas station. That means that one or two tanks of gas a month could single-handedly pay for that $55 Costco membership.

I’m a big fan of Costco. And if any of these 9 items are something you buy regularly elsewhere, you should definitely start considering a Costco membership. Because just buying one or two of these things at Costco instead of the retailer you are currently using will save you big money – and you’ll find big value throughout the store in other areas. Costco membership is amazing and there’s no going back once you’ve crossed that glorious money-saving threshold.

[photos courtesy of ThomasQuazie, and Kazuhiko]

69 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    May 20, 2014

    All great deals! Just to make it clear (since I also made this mistake), if you have the Executive Membership that pays you back 2% on every purchase, gasoline is NOT included in that, among many other things. Still, as Joel noted, in my area the price difference between Costco and all other stations is around $0.30/gallon, and with my driving habit that saves me $200 a year!

    I’ll throw in one more big one, prescription and over-the-counter drugs! Even with just the most common OTC drugs can net you at least $50 a year. Also, MILK! In my area, Kirkland Signature brand milk is $1.20/gallon cheaper than Kroger, Walmart and Meijer store-brand milks. Buy just a gallon a week nets you $62.40 in savings!
    Kevin Fields recently posted…The SmackDown RunDown for May 18, 2014My Profile

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  2. Avatar
    May 20, 2014

    Thanks for the shout out buddy! We love that place! Besides our hotdog purchases, we have recently purchased a king size mattress as well as several pieces of furniture. The return policy is amazing and makes dropping the $$$ for a piece of furniture a lot easier. We also love the Executive Membership, it is an extra $55 but comes with a 2% annual cash reward that can easily pay for the added cost. If for some reason you don’t make back the extra $55, they cut you a check to make up the difference!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      May 20, 2014

      You are the Costco master sir. I had to include you! Their return policy really is second to none. That’s one of my favorite things about the glory that is Costco membership.
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…The Art of Asking for a DiscountMy Profile

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  3. Avatar
    May 20, 2014

    5 bucks for a chicken? That is a great price! I have lunch there several times, but it has been a while. If we have a kid, then maybe we will get a membership again as baby formula seems like a steal at Costco.
    Deacon recently posted…Credit Karma Review: Free Credit Score Reporting – No, ReallyMy Profile

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  4. Avatar

    I’m not sure how gallon jugs of mayonnaise didn’t make this list…. Otherwise, this sounds like it’s working out real well for you — particularly with that baby formula.
    Mario Adventuresinfrugal recently posted…What’s your favorite gift to start college graduates thinking about personal finance? (Mine involves Roth IRAs)My Profile

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    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      It would have made the cut if mayo wasn’t nasty, hah! We DID, however, buy the biggest bag of baking soda you’ve ever seen. Well worth it cause it keeps those diapers nice and white.
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…8 Strategies to Save Money Eating OutMy Profile

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  5. Avatar
    May 20, 2014

    We got a membership as a one year expiriment, then did the math. And even though it’s just the two of us, we made our money back in 3 months just on paper towels, kitty litter alone! (We only have 2 cats, promise ;) And then there’s the Aidells’ chicken Meatballs, which are a steal there. Totally addicted to those. (I throw them in baked ziti, or serve them with brown rice and a veg for a quick meal on a work night. Heck, I’ll pop a few in the microwave for breakfast before work. Always a treat.) Verdict, Costco is a keeper. Going to have check on those tires, thanks for the tip.

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  6. Avatar
    May 20, 2014

    Thanks, Joel! I also found a Costco membership saves big bucks on car rentals. In fact, their prices were unbeatable on a recent rental I just enjoyed taking to Atlanta.

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  7. Avatar
    May 22, 2014

    Thanks for the tips. I’ll be checking out the gas and movie ticket deals.

    Reply

  8. Avatar
    May 22, 2014

    Glasses. I had gone to a regular ophthalmologist and got my prescription. when I priced out glasses and frames there, it came to just shy of $500. I went to costco and got frames and lenses with all the goodies (transitions, progressive bifocals) for just under $100.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      That’s awesome! You know, the only reason I didn’t put prescription glasses on my list is because of super cheap sites like Zenni Optical . Check that out and let me know if that could save you even MORE money!
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…DIY Pest Control Saves Hundreds Every YearMy Profile

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    • Avatar
      June 05, 2014

      The savings on glasses are staggering, especially so if you need graduated bifocal or trifocal and want to add the sunlight graying feature, and also take advantage of a second pair, such as prescription sunglasses. Kind, expert service and adjustments for perfect fit, as well as cleaning, are free anytime. I saved way over half price and would NEVER go back to a glasses chain or optician ever again. On the cheeselover side, the feta and blue cheese containers for your salads are unbeatable, too.

      Reply

  9. Avatar
    May 23, 2014

    We don’t have a Costco but we do have Sam’s. We paid for our membership with wedding tablecloths. They were dirt cheap at Costco and we got to keep them when we were done! It’s insane it cost more to rent them then it does to buy them.
    Lance Cothern recently posted…Can’t Save Money? 5 Ways You’re Wasting Money Without ThinkingMy Profile

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  10. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    Also prescription eyeglasses and checkups. My whole family wears glasses, and we have no eye care insurance, and again, you don’t have to have a membership to get this great deal.

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    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      Great call Beejay. Vision insurance (for most people) is a waste of money. With places like Costco offering $60 vision exams and cheap prescription glasses it might be time for a lot of others to assess whether they need it or not too. It wasn’t very expensive under our insurance plan and we still kicked it to the curb.
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…8 Strategies to Save Money Eating OutMy Profile

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  11. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    We have the executive membership, got tires last year and got a check back for $82. All I had to add was the difference to renew this year. Can’t beat CostCo for my Meds either. I have no insurance and they are the cheapest and service is great!

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  12. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    I’ve always maintained that an extended family (aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and their children) shopping TOGETHER at Costco could save the entire family money. And it only takes one person to have a membership.

    Here’s what I mean, if everyone agrees to pay into and help share out things like that HUGE brick of American cheese, spices, coffee, rice, flour, potatoes, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry and kitchen soaps, some fresh produce, etc., well they could save from 30-70%.

    Even grass-fed butter is relatively inexpensive. Grocery store charges $4.99-6.99 for a half-pound brick of KerryGold. Costco packages 3 one-half bricks together and charges only $7.49 (my price).

    Like ALL stores you have to know the local rate at the typical grocer to know where you’re getting a deal, but it’s well worth the work.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      Good point Namma. I’m all for pooling resources! By the way, the best prices I’ve seen on Kerrygold (which is awesome) are at Aldi. If you have one near you you’ll actually save even more buying in smaller quantities on that one item. Aldi has a lot of other cheap awesome stuff as well.

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  13. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    One thing that was not mentioned about tires is that Costco has a 5 year replacement warranty. This is an amazing deal for those of us who live in the pot-hole state (aka Michigan). We will never get tires from anywhere else.

    Reply

  14. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    How about coffee, half and half, canned tomatoes, the BEST maranara (no sugar), batteries and jeans?

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  15. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    I’m also a huge fan of Costco, but even I didn’t know about a few of these deals. I have to weigh the pros and cons of buying movie tickets at Costco though – I like to avoid crowds, so I usually go to the matinee showings on Saturdays or Sundays, which is already a bit cheaper than paying for prime-time showings. That’s how I avoid an expensive movie night out ;)

    Definitely buying my luggage at Costco though – I never even thought of that! Thanks!

    Reply

    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      You’re welcome Melissa. Let me know where you come down on those movie tickets! Like I said, it’s something we rarely use but I figure a lot of movie buffs would love the idea.
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…8 Strategies to Save Money Eating OutMy Profile

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  16. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    Another item that is much cheaper at Costco (or Sam’s Club for that matter) is the package of furnace filters. They are the 3M allergen blocking type; three in a package. That definitely pays back your membership.

    DVDs, particularly if you buy seasons of different TV shows, can be much, much cheaper at Costco (or again Sam’s Club). Their prices are sometimes even cheaper than Amazon.

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  17. Avatar
    May 31, 2014

    Definitely a fan of the eyeglasses. I have a 7 year-old who got glasses a little over a year ago. The first pair we got at Lenscrafters for $295. When one of the nose pieces broke after 13 months (just outside the 1 year warranty), I decided to check out Costco. They just happened to have a buy one, get $30 off a second pair deal. I got two pairs of glasses – essentially the same polycarbonate, anti-reflective, scratch resistant lenses we had in the other pair – for just over $150. Both pairs have a molded nose piece so they won’t break again. They’re Hello Kitty, came in a special case, and my daughter loves them! I won’t go anywhere else. I’d also recommend the tires and 2-packs of cereal (great deal) as a top grocery item.

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    • Avatar
      June 01, 2014

      Just picked up a 2 pack of Cheerios Shane. Since it was on sale I’m pretty sure it was $3.50 for like 3 months worth! And killer deal on those eyeglasses. I love when they have sales. Makes the prices irresistible.
      JoelLarsgaard recently posted…The Art of Asking for a DiscountMy Profile

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  18. Avatar
    June 01, 2014

    The Kitty Litter is great! Fresh Step Clumping…42 lbs for about $13!! And kitty condos for about $65-70 that would normally be well over $100…about six feet tall.

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  19. Avatar
    June 01, 2014

    Now, if only they could make a Costco for singles or couples. A gallon of mayo is such a deal but it would go bad before i finished even half. And would seem to be difficult to establish a group buying club to divy up the “warehouse” size quantities. Still trying to figure out what to do with all those AAA batteries.

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  20. Avatar
    June 02, 2014

    Costco gas is open an hour past closing, I go usually about 30 minutes or so after and I never have to wait.

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  21. Avatar
    June 03, 2014

    You can get an INCREDIBLE deal on Breathe Right strips. I was paying around $8 for a pack of 10 in my local retail store. Costco has a pack for 40 for around $11!!!!

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    • Avatar
      June 03, 2014

      A pack of 40 not for 40!

      Reply

  22. Avatar
    June 03, 2014

    You don’t need a membership to purchase the food or the wine.

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    • Avatar
      June 03, 2014

      Whether or not you can purchase alcohol without a membership entirely depends on state law. Food you most definitely need a membership.

      Reply

      • Avatar
        June 06, 2014

        Maybe he means the food from the food court? No membership needed to enjoy those polish dogs!

        Reply

  23. Avatar
    June 03, 2014

    I pay for my Costco membership with razor blades
    (Gillete Mach), Kirkland Allergy tabs (EXACTLY the same as Xyrtec, but those are 40 cents a tablet, Costco’s are 4 cents a tablet), and Airborne…cheaper by far than anywhere else!

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  24. Avatar
    June 03, 2014

    Joel, Costco is the way to go and we are now there for the 30th year! Some other examples…
    Pharmacy–it is lower priced for meds. and OTCs than most other places. You can save money by doing price checks (ours near San Francisco will do it either on the phone or in person) and compare before having your Dr. make out the Rx (prescription). We save even more money more times than not by having the Dr. write a year’s quantity of maintenance drugs to be dispensed at once, vs. 12, 30-day prescriptions and store them in a Tupperware-like container in the frig. and take them out to come to room temperature, as needed. Costco’s cash pricing w/o insurance submission is usually lower than the yearly co-pay for 12, 30-day Rxs or 4, 90-day Rxs. One Rx has a $40 (4 x $10) co-pay yet we get a year’s supply for only $12. The Costco main pharmacist turned our family and extended family onto this saver!
    Movie tickets–you can now purchase immediately online as e-tickets sent to our computer and print for the same price ($15.99/2 tixs.) as in the warehouses.
    Electronics and accessories, TVS, etc. Usually 1 year addl. free manufacturers warranty and several more if SquareTrade purchased if you want an extended warranty coverage plus free extended years.
    Travel and Entertainment–We’ve travelled to other countries (Cancun.MX) and states/attractions (Disneyland) with lodging, flights, and trip cancellation insurance via Costco Travel services. Lowest prices for lodging, trip insurance, flights, etc. with so many free perks or addl. reduced priced resorts/hotels packages, even for Executive Members, and sometimes even pre-paid Costco Gift Card (our was $150). In MX, we rcd. addl. ground transportation, hotel guest travel packages and daily perks at the hotel resort than other guests, at no addl. cost!
    Checks printing and other services–very low prices, even more discounts for Exec Members.
    Bakery–save on regular and special occasion cakes (1/2 sheet cake about $16), fancy cakes and pies, breads, muffins, etc.
    American Express and Exec. Membership–collect twice on total purchases with two rebates each year!
    That’s all the comes to mind for now.

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  25. Avatar
    June 03, 2014

    Flu shots are cheaper too! $14.95.

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  26. Avatar
    June 04, 2014

    Passport photos are only $5 at my Costco, much cheaper than $10 at Walmart and $15 at the post office.

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  27. Avatar
    June 06, 2014

    If only they had more organic products, especially produce…

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    • Avatar
      August 05, 2014

      That must be a regional thing, as our Costco has a ton of organics. Try asking a manager.

      Reply

  28. Avatar
    June 06, 2014

    I became a Costco member for their vacation packages and car rentals! Just one vacation to Hawaii paid for the membership several times over!

    Reply

  29. Avatar
    June 10, 2014

    We have used the auto buying program twice now. Last year we saved 4 grand off the price of the car. I agree with all the comments above. Great company!

    Reply

  30. Avatar
    June 17, 2014

    Car insurance available at Costco through Ameriprise/American Express! We insured 3 vehicles through Nationwide … shopped around and found a $400 cheaper rate at Geico. THEN I checked out the Costco/ Ameriprise. Seriously… the annual rate for the same vehicles with the same coverage was a savings of over $800!! Your car insurance needs and history may be different from my own but it will cost you nothing to check it out except a few minutes on the phone.

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  31. Avatar
    June 21, 2014

    My wife has worked at Costco for over 20 years and it seems like we’ve tried about everything but it still surprises us. The have the best selection of quality frozen foods. Things that taste good and saves you time. One great area where you save 30-50% and more, is in the gourmet cheese section. Take some time to compare to any other store and you’ll be amazed. Love the Dubliner and the Parmesano Regelano at huge savings. Very good cell phone plans too.

    Reply

  32. Avatar
    September 29, 2014

    Costco photo hasn’t been mentioned yet. 4X6 prints are $.13 compared with Walgreens at $.29. 8X8, 8X10 and 8X12′s at Costco are all $1.49 each. 11×14 and 12×18 are $2.99. Walgreens cost 8X10 is $3.99 and their 12×18 is $12.99!!!

    Costco’s Kirkland brand of Toilet Paper is worth the price of admission alone. Larger rolls last longer and therefore need to be changed less frequently.
    Mrs. 1500 recently posted…Ask the Readers: Do you believe in buying a house?My Profile

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