Wondering if the Costco Membership Fee is Worth the Cost?
This morning I was standing in the cafeteria waiting for my pancakes to cook when two rather cranky women walked by complaining about the weather, their husbands, their jobs, and just about everything else you could imagine.
After a minute or two the conversation turned to Costco. One woman mentioned she had to run to Costco at lunch and the other verbally attacked her and claimed the Costco membership fee is a scam and only idiots shop there.
As I walked to the cash register with my pancakes in hand, I realized two things.
First, life is too short to walk around being as miserable as these two women.
Second, I have an idea for a new blog post!
Let’s look at some of the common complaints people have about Costco and then I’ll offer my take…
- The standard Costco membership fee is $50 a year, double that if you want to be an Executive member.
- Not a lot of employees on the floor. Good luck finding help if you need it.
- Lines can be long and scary.
- Prices are not always better than the supermarket.
- If you’re not careful you can overspend.
- Buying in bulk doesn’t help you save money if you end up throwing half away.
Now my take…
- Yea, I wish I didn’t have to pay the Costco membership fee but when I add up my annual savings I still come out ahead. Plus, if you use a Costco American Express credit card, you can earn cash back rewards.
- True. Employees can be hard to find but that’s one way they keep prices down. I don’t like being bugged while I’m shopping so this one doesn’t bother me.
- Yes if you go shopping on a Saturday afternoon you’re screwed and the lines will be ridiculously long. But I avoid all that madness by either going as soon as they open on the weekend and beating everyone else to the registers, or by stopping in directly after work and again beating the crowds.
- It all comes down to the per unit price. Bring a calculator to verify if you are really getting the best deal possible.
- You can overspend anywhere.
- Don’t buy in bulk unless you are sure you will use it all. If you’re not, go in with a roommate or neighbor so you each pay half price and then split the product up when you get home.
I guess I’m a bit biased because I’ve been a happy Costco customer for about 9 years now. There are certain items where Costco can’t be beat (paper plates and cups for parties, Premio sausage links, grated cheese, Christmas cards, Costco eyeglasses) and that includes some high-priced items. When I was shopping for a TV last year I compared prices and the Vizio HDTV we ended up with was $100 cheaper at Costco than anywhere else. That savings pays for 2 whole years of Costco membership fees!
Perhaps the reason I like Costco so much is that it fits my shopping style. I don’t want to spend hours walking up and down every aisle and I don’t want to be bugged every 12 seconds by someone asking if I need help. I just want to get in, grab what I need, and get the hell out as fast as possible.
But what’s your opinion? Are you a Costco member? Do you think the Costco Membership fee is worth it?