Have you wondered if a Costco Executive membership is worth it? As a Canadian, I love Costco. While the bulk discount aspect of a Costco membership is definitely a perk, especially for families, there are other benefits to being a Costco member as well. You’ll have cheaper rates for pharmacy-related purchases including prescriptions, access to lower gas prices, and some pretty decent discounts on designer brand items when it comes to shoes, clothing, and toys.
Many people agree that the regular Costco membership, the Gold Star membership is worth the annual membership fee. The real question is: is the Costco Executive Membership worth it? Well, that decision needs to be made on an individual basis, however, in this article, I’m going to help you decide if the Costco Executive Membership is right for you.
Why you should get a Costco membership
Before you figure out if the Costco Executive membership is worth it, you may be wondering if a Costco membership is worth it. After all, unlike a traditional grocery store, Costco is a club warehouse and you do need to pay for a membership to shop here.
As mentioned above, Costco is best known for its bulk groceries and supplies. You’ll find everything from packages of chicken breasts to cartons of orange juice to large packages of toilet paper. On top of groceries and household supplies, Costco also carries electronics such as TVs and cellphones, brand name clothing, and kitchen items such as coffee makers and mixers.
Costco stores also offer several services that members can take advantage of. These additional Costco services include:
- Costco Gas
- Costco Travel
- Costco Pharmacy
- Costco Optical Centre
- Costco Photo Services
- Costco Tire Centre
- Costco Credit Cards
Thanks to being a club warehouse, Costco can offer all these items and services at a discounted cost to members, allowing you to save on your shopping needs. Whether it’s for everyday essentials or larger one-time or occasional purchases, Costco has a lot to offer its customers. Plus, of the best things about being a Costco member is the generous refund policy since they have a satisfaction guarantee.
Costco membership prices and levels
If you are planning on becoming a Costco member, you’ll have two membership levels to choose from: Gold Star Executive Membership or Executive Membership. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two options in Canada.
Gold Star Membership
The Costco Gold Star Membership is their basic membership. It costs $60 per year and can include up to two cards within the membership. The second card can be given to a spouse or another family member as long as they are 18 or older and have the same place of residence.
The Costco Executive Membership is a step up from the Gold Star Membership. It comes with several additional perks, however, the annual fee is $120 per year. Like the Gold Star Membership, you can get a second card for free for a spouse or family member (as long as they live at the same address).
It should also be noted that Costco also offers business memberships. This is meant for people with their own business (you need an HST number to apply) and allows individuals to purchase items for resale. Just like with the personal membership options, the business membership has the regular option as well as an executive option.
Costco Executive Membership Benefits
So, what makes the Costco Executive membership worth twice as much as the Gold Star membership? Well, there are several perks and benefits that come with the executive membership. Again, this is for Costco in Canada.
2% cash back on purchases
The biggest draw for most consumers to get the Costco Executive Membership is the cash back aspect. All executive members will receive 2% cash back on the majority of their purchases (some items, such as alcohol, are not included in this). While the cash back is a big draw, you’ll want to make sure that, at the very minimum, you make back that $60 extra that you paid for this membership. To do that, you’ll have to spend at least $3,000 per year which is $250 per month.
Granted, this is a normal, if not low, amount for a family to spend on groceries and home supplies. However, if you live alone or if there are just two of you, it might be a stretch. You want to make sure that you are buying what you need and making up that money, not buying on a whim to make up the difference.
Exclusive offers and discounts
Having the Costco executive membership also comes with a few extra offers and discounts. These are usually for services such as insurance, real estate and mortgage programs, and business services such as cheque printing. Of course, these all still come at a cost but there are special discounts for executive members.
Costco Connection Magazine & Costco.ca inserts by mail
This may seem like a silly perk, however, it’s an easy way to keep on top of what Costco is bringing in and has available. Plus, if you know what’s coming then you can make sure that you are one of the first to get it. There’s nothing worse than hearing about a great Costco deal from a friend then going yourself only to realize that you missed it. Getting the Costco Connection Magazine allows you to stay on top of the newest and best deals and offers both in-store and online.
Shopping Online at Costco
Like most retailers nowadays, Costco also offers online shopping. You will need to take a few minutes to create an account with your membership number, but once you are set up you can shop online. You’ll find plenty of different and new products online that aren’t available in-store plus you’ll also be able to take advantage of some of your favourite Costco services such as the photo centre which will let you create custom photobooks or photo gifts from the comfort of your home. Shipping is available to most Canadian residences.
So, is the Costco Executive Membership Worth It?
If you think that you will be a frequent shopper at Costco, then the Costco Executive membership is likely worth it. However, remember that while the intent of Costco is to save money, you shouldn’t be spending money on random unneeded items just to validate getting the more expensive card. If that’s the case, then the regular Gold Star Membership will do just fine.
More importantly, if you haven’t earned enough cash back by the end of the year to make up the difference from the Gold Star Membership, Costco will rebate you the difference. That means there is no downside to getting an Executive Membership.
It’s also worth mentioning that when items go on sale at Costco’s competitors such as Walmart, or No Frills, the prices are typically cheaper. Costco just usually has the cheapest everyday prices. Don’t forget, Costco also has an optical center and pharmacy where prices tend to be much lower.
CIBC Costco Mastercard
- No annual fee
- 3% cash back on restaurant purchases
- 3% cash back at Costco Gas, 2% at non-Costco gas stations on the first $5,000 (1% after)
- 2% cash back on Costco.ca purchases up to $8,000 (1% after)
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Mobile device insurance
CIBC now provides the Costco Credit Card. You get increased cash back on restaurants, costco.ca, and Costco Gas. Additional benefits that come with the card include purchase protection, extended warranty, and mobile device insurance.
It’s worth noting that even though your CIBC Costcom Mastercard doubles as your Costco membership, so there’s no need to show your membership card. That said, you still need to pay the annual fee for your membership. It should also be pointed out that you don’t get any additional cash back at Costco stores. You’d earn the base earn rate of 1% there.
One alternative credit card to consider using at Costco is the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard since you’ll earn 1.5% in WestJet Dollars on all purchases. This card is obviously useful to people who fly WestJet a lot. The card also gives you an annual companion voucher, free checked baggage and a sign up bonus of $250 after your first purchase so it’s a great credit card.
Alternatively, some people will use their American Express Cobalt Card since you’ll get 5 points per dollar spent at grocery stores. Since Costco warehouses don’t accept American Express, the trick is to buy Costco gift cards at the grocery store and then redeem when you’re at a Costco warehouse.
WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard
- $119 annual fee
- $250 WestJet Dollars sign up bonus after your first purchase
- $200 Additional WestJet Dollars when you charge $5,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn 2% back in WestJet dollars on WestJet flights or WestJet Vacations packages
- Earn 1.5% back on all other purchases
- Annual companion voucher and free checked bags
Another card to consider is the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. You’ll earn 10 PC Optimum points per dollar spent so that works out to a 1% return which is nothing special but you can take advantage of PC Optimum has bonus events where you can redeem your points for extra value. E.g. claim 250,000 points for $400 in value when the normal value is $250.
If you want cash back, consider the BMO Cashback World Elite Mastercard or the Rogers World Elite Mastercard which both earn you 1.5%. Both of those cards are on my list of the best cash back credit cards in Canada so either is a great choice.
Here’s a full list of the best Costco credit cards in Canada.