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Jan 15, 2008 10:14 PM

Can I really save money by joining Costco?

I'm a single man with a good appetite and I visited Costco recently to consider a membership and to view the operation first hand. Having spent some time there viewing the products, _quantities_ and comparing prices, I'm now at a crossroads as to whether or not either the $55.00 basic membership or the $100.00 Executive (2% rebate on all purchases) would really be a smart investment.

What do you think

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  1. It's pretty simple to decide on the basic or executive level... if you plan on spending at least 2500 dollars in a year there, then go with the Executive and the extra cost of the Executive membership will be subsidized by the 2 percent back. Keep in mind if you don't use it enough to reach the equal point, they'll refund the difference between the Executive membership and how much you got back from the 2 percent. Since you're a single man, unless you do all of your shopping at Costco you likely won't hit it unless you're planning to buy something like a big-screen TV or computer, which is exactly what I did.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      If you want to be anal retentive, the breakeven point is $2250.00 ($45/0.02).

      That being said, I'm not frugalfilth. I have a Costo card because I love their meats, some of their baked goods, OTC meds, books, DVDs, occasionally electronics, and cheap hot dogs.

      1. re: filth

        I forgot to mention the Pharmacy......all the prescription drugs are cheaper as well.

        While I am at it, the Optical Center as well......I purchase all my sunglasses know the ones you sit on when you get in the car.

        1. re: fourunder

          to be picky - you can use the optical and the pharmacy without membership.

          1. re: jeanmarieok


            25-25/50 on your info... here in NJ specific, you do not have to be a member to use the pharmacy,,,,,but at the Optical center, you do not need membership to use the doctor's services as he/she are independents.....however, you need to be a member to purchase the eyewear.

    2. It depends on how much you would shop there. I'm also single, and joined Costco because I thought I'd buy supplies for dinner parties, etc., there. I found out that unless you're having a group of 8 or more, you aren't saving all that much over what you would spend at a local market. Instead of the upgraded membership, I got the basic and got the Costco American Express card, which also gives you a rebate on purchases. I'm not trying to advertise the card, but I got a double use out of it rather than just spend more on a Costco membership.

      1 Reply
      1. re: brendastarlet

        I got this card too and the rebate turns out to be one of the only times we shop at Costco. We live in a small apartment and just don't have storage room for a case of paper towels or a case of pita chips or whatever. The other problem is the food there is really not what we would buy. There are very few low fat or reduced fat versions of things (for example, cheese) and it's all very commercial stuff. If we buy eggs at the grocery, we buy Eggland's for example, but they don't sell Egglands. And though we use a lot of lemons, you can't buy just a few, you have to buy a whole BAG and they rot before you can use them. The prices on wine are nearly EXACTLY the same as at the grocery store. The only things we use them for is if we have a non-covered prescription as they are usually lower than anyone, the eye care center and we usually make one big purchase with the rebate each year; last year we bought a digital camera.

      2. I was skeptical when we joined. It's just my wife and I so I wasn't sure is we were going to save or over purchase with the larger packaging. I bought the executive membership. Costco garuntees to refund the price difference if you don't use your membership enough to justify the price difference between the executive and basic membership. With the executive they also give you a free American Express card so you get 3% back on all of your purchases. If you travel or use some of the other services they offer there are extra perks for executive members only that can nearly pay for your membership in one transaction. We easilly save 4-6k a year. Tires here include free rotation and balancing and they will special order what you want. I saved $275 over my best price last year!
        Regular food items I like;
        Olive Oil, Estate Olive Oil, Shimp (U-15 $9.99#), King crab at an average of $12 a pound, Farm raised salmon $6 #. I'm not a big fan of their beef because the cuts are so big and on the whole tenderloins or strips for home I often get a better price when they are on sale at a local grocery. I find the chicken and pork to be good buys especially with the rebates. We also save big on TP, paper towels, laundry soap etc.
        I hope this helps but for me it's a no brainer to get the Executive as you have absolutly nothing to loose. Enjoy! :)

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. I think the savings are debateable for smaller families. The main reason I have a Costco card is because of their prices on the tires I was looking for for my truck. The money I saved over their nearest competition payed for the membership, and then some. Some of the packaging sizes are too big for smaller families. With the above said, I do like going to Costco, and always end up spending around $100 on each visit. I do not buy their beef, or pork products, I have a local butcher who is superior in quality and service so no need to change. King Crab legs & dungeness crabs are a good deal, also whole chickens, and chicken breasts, as well as diapers, and a few other items.