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Costco – the big warehouse store where dreams come true. OK, so not really, but the way Sarah and I talk about Costco, you’d think they had something like that going on. Today, I’m going to walk through the process we use to get membership cards on the cheap from Costco and Sam’s Club.
We are big fans of Costco and weekly trips there are kind of the norm. Not only do we get sweet prices on gas, but we have a blast navigating through the different sales and of course, SAMPLES. I’ll be honest, sometimes we got there just for a meal, via samples of course. When Sarah was a wee lass, her dream job was… drumroll… Costco Cashier! Ya know, pretty standard dream job and all. So taking her on a weekly date to Costco checks all the boxes and is basically the way to her heart. 🙂
But first, what exactly makes Costco so great? For one, gas prices there are as much as $.25 cents cheaper per gallon – heck, we could pay for our membership easily just with those savings! But also, we get great prices on a lot of household commodities, as well as a number of the other random things that Costco stocks. For example, we got our nifty dual-flush toilets from there (see bathroom reno) for a solid $100 cheaper than comparable ones.
It should be noted though – we aren’t doing our weekly shopping at these places. Sarah and I are just two people and don’t need everything in bulk. But we have
Costco is notoriously picky about its sourcing and many of the items under it’s Kirkland store brand umbrella are an par with or ahead of leading brands. Heck, some leading brands even make the Kirkland version of the product. This leads to some major savings – in fact, Costco, as a rule, does not markup items more than 15% and on average the markup is closer to 11%. This is a stark contrast to the average 30% markup at grocery stores.
Costco has two membership levels – Gold Star and Gold Star Executive. Gold Star puts a $60 dent in a wallet and the Executive will set you back $120. If you can afford it, the Executive membership is the better deal because you get 2% of your overall purchases back at the end of the year. And if that 2% check doesn’t make up the $60 difference, they will refund you the difference! So it almost makes too much sense to not go Executive.
Finding a deal on a Costco membership is relatively easy to do. A couple times a year, Groupon will have a pretty nice Costco deal. This is what our most recent deal came with:
These tend to be pretty good deals because not only do you get a Costco Cash Card, you get a decent number of free stuff that helps to offset the $60 purchase. And, after you get this deal and you go in to sign up, you can always upgrade to the Executive membership right then and there to capture that 2% savings.
That deal works great for the first year. After that, it gets a little bit trickier. I mean, sure, you could just fork over the $60 and call it a day. I know that is what Sarah wishes we would do. And maybe someday we will. But for now, the system that I’m about to explain works pretty well for us.
The Groupon Costco deal is not eligible for members (or spouses!) who have had a Costco membership in the prior 6 months. Fortunately for us, every year our Costco membership is about to expire, a similar Groupon deal for Sam’s Club pops up on that looks like this:
So for the past several years, we have jumped in between Costco and Sam’s Club. Every time our membership is about to run out, we snag another one of these deals and voila! We get to keep the cheap gas and shopping prices, while also scoring some nice benefits on the membership. Fortunately for us, Costco and Sam’s Club are basically right next to us, so switching memberships out doesn’t really change too much for us, except we get all of our stuff from Sam’s.
I know I just
Odds and Ends
We hang on to our Costco cards and use them to sometimes head back there to roam around and get free samples – we just can’t buy anything. 🙂 Also, don’t forget that if you are buying a deal on Groupon or
For now, wait on that next Costco deal to or head on over to Groupon if you want to get in on this Sam’s Club savings in time for the holidays!
The Simple Summary
I realize this is basically a post saying “I love Costco but half the time I hang out at Sam’s Club instead”. The reality is though *looking around for Sarah* both of these warehouse chains are on par for gas and commodities. There are definitely a number of the items that I would prefer Costco’s Kirkland brand, but we just bought what we wanted and needed before our membership ended… and the beauty of it is, we might not need to buy it again until our Costco membership is active again 😉