Gold Star Membership vs Executive Gold Star Membership
Costco offers two personal-use memberships. The Gold Star Membership costs $60 annually and allows access to any Costco worldwide and online at costco.ca. It also includes in a Spouse Card for a spouse or family member residing at the same address over the age of 18.
The Executive Gold Star Membership costs $120 annually. With this membership, you get the same benefits as the basic membership as well as deals on member services like travel and dental insurance, home telecommunications, and credit card processing. Executive Memberships also include a subscription to Costco’s Connection magazine and Costco.ca inserts by mail.
The biggest draw of the Executive Membership is that it offers a 2% reward (up to $1,000) on most Costco purchases. To cover the $60 extra dollars of this membership over the basic membership, you would need to spend $3000 annually, or $250 a month.
And, like the rest of their legendary accommodating exchange policy, Costco will refund your membership if you’re dissatisfied.
Here are some things to consider if you’re on the fence about getting a membership, and tips on how to make the most of it.
1. Brand awareness
Costco tends towards stocking higher-end brands with a good reputation. If you like buying organic, Costco has a pretty good selection, but they might not have your preferred brands. And if you’re more about quantity over quality, you may find better deals buying generic brands from other grocery stores.
For many shoppers, Costco’s own brand, Kirkland, is enough to justify the membership. For instance, Kirkland’s affordable vodka has been compared to Grey Goose. Kirkland products often can’t be beaten, but not every Kirkland product is made equal, so you’ll have to figure out which ones are worth it.
2. Be wary of buying products you’ve never tried
Likewise, the stock often varies at Costco, so you can’t always find the same deal twice. This can lead to substituting your purchases or just trying new ones. You then run the risk of buying a large quantity of something that you may discover you don’t like. Maybe 12-pack of veggie chips at Costco had a cheaper per unit price, but if you ended up hating the taste of them, you’ve spent more overall than if you had bought a single pack to test.
3. Think about how much space you have
On a purely practical level, you can only buy as much as your house will hold. If you have a pantry or extra closet space in your house, then a jumbo-sized box of paper towels is super handy. If you have a small condo or apartment-sized fridge, you’ll quickly run out of room.
4. Share Costco memberships
One way for couples or singles to get the most out of a Costco membership is to share one. The cost of the membership is then halved, and purchases can be likewise be split. Just remember the cardholder has to be there, meaning you have to coordinate shopping trips.
5. Consider the shelf-life of products
If you’re shopping for a family, then buying perishable goods at Costco might be just fine, but if you don’t cook regularly or you live alone, it might be a waste of money.
You may be able to individually freeze the family pack of chicken breasts, but there isn’t much you can do to extend the life span of a bag of bananas. Buying perishable goods in bulk can lead to a huge amount of food waste on top of wasting your money.
6. Resist impulse purchases
You also need to be honest with yourself about the type of shopper you are. If you can make a list and stick to it, then Costco might not present a challenge. However, if you’re prone to impulse buying or have a hard time passing up a bargain, then Costco can be a dangerous place.
This is where the Costco Connection Magazine could help you out; with it, you can plan your trip ahead and scope out the best deals.
7. Know a good deal from a “just okay” deal
Just because some things are cheaper at Costco, doesn’t mean everything is. This Ethical Bean coffee is $39.99 at Costco for 2lb., but London Drugs sells the same coffee at $21.99 per lb, and at the time of writing this article, it was on sale for $19.99. In this case, buying bulk doesn’t save you anything.
Outside of grocery items, Costco does have great deals on electronics, small appliances, and furniture. For instance, this Foodsaver system is $69.99 at Costco, but is $144.99 at The Bay. However, you might see this Canon camera and memory card bundle for $399.99 and want to snap it up, but you can get a similar deal for the same camera with a camera bag at Best Buy.
For big-ticket items you want to looking for and to know how to spot a good deal, rather than letting the excitement of a potential deal win you over.
8. Costco gift cards and tickets
Costco’s discounted tickets, passes, and gift cards are an offering that can get overlooked. You can save money buying gift cards, memberships, and passes to spas, restaurants, museums, gyms, sports games, movies, and more. If you regularly go to the movies or certain restaurants, then a Costco membership may well be worth it for you.
Costco: the final decision
Whether you should get a membership comes down to your lifestyle and your shopping habits.
If you have a large family and the space to store extra goods, buying in bulk can save you time and money. For families, the executive membership may be the best option with its 2% Rewards program.
For a couple or single, a Costco membership might be less useful, especially if you’re living in an apartment. But, you could try sharing a membership and avoiding perishable goods.
It also has to be said that you don’t like crowds and hate line ups, Costco might not be the place for you. At the very least, you might have to skip shopping on the weekends and find a quieter weeknight.
The bottom line is that like any money-saving venture, you need to plan ahead. If you know what you need, how to spot a good deal, and can stick to your shopping list, then Costco can be a boon to your bank account.
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