5 Ways to Get Costco Membership Discounts

April 21, 2012

Costco Membership Discounts 2012

Costco Membership Discount

Costco membership certainly has rewards, such as discounts & deals on your purchases and cashback with the TrueEarnings Card; but access to these benefits does require an annual fee. 

Fortunately there are Costo membership discounts and promotions where you can save money on the fee, with the right offer or coupon code you could even get a free Costco membership. If you’re trying to decide if Costco is worth it to your family, the lower the fee the more likely it is your membership will pay for itself. 

There are five different ways you can find Costco membership deals to lower your fee for Gold Star or Executive members.  Costco has three different types of memberships: Gold Star memberships, Business memberships, and Executive memberships.  We’ve only been Gold Star and Executive members so so I don’t know if any of these Costo membership discounts will apply for the Business card.

Costco Employer Discounts

Costco Membership Discount Card

The company I work for has a relationship with Costco Wholesale; once or twice a year Costco reps setup shop at a table in our lunch room and offer discounted Costco memberships for a few hours. 

You actually pay the full membership fee and then they give you a Costco gift card for $10 or $20 depending on your plan and the company discount.

Be aware you’ll need to pay for the membership with cash or check unless you have an American Express card.  There were a few people who wanted to sign up but couldn’t because all they had with them were Visa or Mastercard.  Of course, I had our Blue Cash card with me so I didn’t have to leave empty handed.

In some cases they’ll raffle off free stuff, everyone who becomes a member is entered into the raffle.  When I signed up I won something; nothing major, just a $10–15 free gift but still a nice little perk.

Costco Association Discounts

When my wife was a full time teacher she was a member of the National Eductation Association.  Because it’s such a large organization, many companies will offer a special discount in order to be promoted to the millions of members.  The NEA offers a Costco discount, if you’re part of any large associations check to see if they have any special Costco coupon codes that will save you money on membership.

Costco Direct Membership Deals 

Free Costco Membership

Periodically you’ll find Costco membership promotions where you can get more membership for your money.  For example, a recent one on their website offered two months of free Costco membership for new members when you signed up online and entered a specific coupon code.

In this case, although the fee you pay isn’t reduced, you’re getting 14 months for the price of 12 so your cost per month is lower. 

Discount & Deal Websites

Rewards sites like MyPoints have been known to offer discounts.  The most recent promotion allowed you to purchase a Costco membership certificate through MyPoints and get a $50 coupon in return; basically the same as a year of free Costco membership. Also, keep an eye on deal sites like FatWallet, new Costco promotions are likely to turn up there.

Costco Amex TrueEarnings Card

TrueEarnings Costco Membership Discounts

If you’re already a Costco member and you sign up for the TrueEarnings card or setup your Costco membership to be automatically renewed each year on your TrueEarnings card you’ll get two free of months Costco membership. There’s no annual fee for the card for Costco members and in a recent survey shoppers at Costco rated their overall satisfaction with the card at 4.5 out of 5 stars, so customers are happy with it.

Once you open the TrueEarnings card it’s both a credit card and your Costco membership card. TrueEarnings is one of the best gas credit cards, earning you 3% cashback on gas plus 2% for restaurants, 2% for travel, 1% everywhere else – More Info.

Costco Memberships

As I mentioned earlier Costco has three different types of memberships:

  • Gold Star Member
  • Business Member
  • Executive Member

We started off with a Costco Gold Star membership but then later upgraded to an Executive membership because we made some big purchases from Costco and Executive members earn cash back on purchases.

The Executive membership has a higher annual fee, which is why I avoided it when we first signed up for Costco.  However, once I saw how we used the card and the money we were saving I ran the numbers for our family and figured out that we would save enough with an Executive Membership to cover the cost of the higher annual fee.

Costco Cashback

One of the main benefits of the Executive membership is that you can earn 2% cash back on your Costco purchases.  If you combine that with the money you earn using the True Earnings card the cash back can add up over the course of a year. 

The only type of credit card that Costco accepts are AmEx cards.  You don’t have to open a new credit card to shop at Costco if you already own an American Express card.  For example, we have a Blue Cash card that we can use as well.

Hopefully some of the tips will save you some money on membership if you decide you want to give Costco a try.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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47 Responses to 5 Ways to Get Costco Membership Discounts

  • StingRay65

    Charlie has rights too. Besides, who here has explained WHY CostCo and Sam’s have a reason to charge a membership just because they want to line their pockets even thicker with YOUR gold. I think you guys are supporting the WRONG side of the argument. I too would be sorely dissatisfied with having to pay an annual fee.
    If you decide to open a store and charge a little LESS than Walmart, fine, do it. But don’t think that you are worthy of some kind of fee for me to drive across town to your place. Get over yourself already.
    In addition, I’m sure you are all smart enough to know that you can still get ripped off on price at Sams or Costco, you still have be careful and know your prices. I’m sure you are not blindingly going there and buying a 70in TV that you could buy on Amazon for $400 less. I mean, you are not are you?…really? you didn’t check Amazon. Well, never mind my whole argument…oh yeah, BTW, Amazon is FREE. oh, and I can also use a Visa, Mcard, anything I want at Amazon. Wow, that’s surprising, I gotta re-evaluate why I hate Amazon too…hmmm

  • JR

    Sam’s Club actually has a much better yearly membership price of $40. Costco has raised their membership price twice in the past 5 years! Pretty soon, the Costco membership won’t pay for itself unless you’re a family of 4. The product selection at Sam’s is almost as good. I don’t buy cheap gas so I don’t miss that.

  • Debra

    I was just in Costco, shopping for my mother who like to shop Costco but unable to because of limited abilities, she has an EBT card, that I was using for her they told me I was unable to buy because she has to be the one who does the purchase, so I was turn away, because her EBT card.

  • ruby

    One or two great things about Costco! Even if you are single or a small family that will not benefit from buying bulk sized food or Baby Diapers, their policies are very consumer generous, the first being if you did not enjoy being a member they will refund the fee in full at any time,but they do ask why, it is not “no q’s asked” and they keep that in your file should you re-join later. But the best is if you buy electronics of any kind you have a whopping 90 days/3 months! to play with them to see if you like and then return if not, this beats Tget,Wmrt and Bbuy with their “14 day and give you a hard time” policy (Tget wont even let you open the darn item packaging for a return, anymore!) Which I think is worth the entrance fee. Also, if you have a friend with a Costco mmbrship have them buy you a Costco cash card with which you can shop sans membership to check it out, then go sign up, 3 big reasons to ‘Heart’ Costco, no?

    • JR

      They keep records of how much you’ve been returning. When they swipe your membership card in the returns dept, a list comes up. They WILL flag you if they notice a pattern and a manager will be called over to talk to you.

      • Anonymous

        Why would you return items frequently enough as to be targeted and require management intervention?

  • Cristian

    Yes, what Charlie suggests sure sounds dishonest and it’s the reason why companies change generous policies to less generous ones.

  • melanie

    I dont believe in paying for membership just to go inside and shop. Is there an amusement park in there too?

  • melanie

    I dont believe in paying for membership just to shop thete. Why? Why cant I just shop there? is there an amusement park in there?

  • Ron Power

    You really need to consider how often you will go to COSTCO and how much you will spend there.
    Sometimes it is just not worth it.

  • Anonymous

    This is like the funniest thread I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

  • Dan

    Charlie when you do the same thing over and over again with the same result it is the definition of “insanity”. Have you thought about getting yourself some help?

  • Sandy

    Charlie, it is because of people like you who are constantly looking for ways to steal legally that we ALL end up paying more for our purchases!! These companies have to recoup those costs in some way and that is by passing the cost on to their PAYING, HONEST customers. Shame on you!!!!

  • Charlie

    The best way to get a 100% discount on a Costco membership (i.e. – absolutely free) year after year is simply to cancel your membership at the mbrsp counter just before your year is about to run out. Tell Costco you were not satisfied with the membership and you want a full refund of your money (either $50 or $100, i.e., depending on your mbrsp level.) Trust me, they will happily do it with no questions asked…and if they don’t just ask for the manager and complain. Then…next time you need to shop there, just re-sign up for a new membership, pay your $50 or whatever… shop for a year, and repeat the same cancellation / 100% refund process next year to get every penny of your money back. Believe me, this works, and Costco policy explicitly allows members to do this yr after yr without any repercussions. It is the company’s policy! It is a huge loophole in their “100% member satisfaction” policy, and as long as this company’s management is stupid enough to allow members to do it, everyone should!

    • Jim

      That’s sleezy and dishonest. It’s not stupid to offer 100% member satisfaction, it’s slimy to lie, cheat, and steal just because it’s legal.

      • mildred smith

        I totally agree. That is sleezy and dishonest. The company is trying to be fair and you are taking advantage of it. You probably are one of those customers that buy an item and when done, take it back for a refund, just because you can.

      • Noel

        It may be sleezy, but it is not dishonest. Obviously Charlie is not satisfied with the membership fee and is willing to chip away at the veneer of his soul.

        • E.

          It is dishonest, because he knows he will sign back up at the time of cancelling his membership, so ‘honestly’, he must not have been unhappy enough if he is planning on doing the same thing.

        • rich

          Of COURSE it’s dishonest: he LIED to them.

          “The greatest truth is honesty, and the greatest falsehood is dishonesty.”
          – Abu Bakr

        • LB

          Well said Noel

    • Anonymous

      WOW you are just like all the other member’s I deal with who have no moral values and take advantage of Costco’s generosity! What is the world coming to!

    • Stella

      Charlie, that’s just wrong; taking advantage of the system. Is that what we’re teaching the next generation? What happen to morals and ethics!?!

      Costco used to allow people to return electronic item within a year of their purchase (regardless if it’s opened or used). However, I’ve noticed people returned TVs, camera, printer, etc. after it’s used (and abused) for almost a year. That’s how they scamed the system and able to always have the latest technologies in their home. If you don’t like something, you should be able to tell within the 1st couple of weeks of using it, not months. I am glad Costco finally changed their policy on electronic returns.

      Just remember: Do unto other as you would have them do unto you.

    • Anonymous

      You are a theif Charlie! Because of people like you policy’s change. How do you sleep at night.

    • rich

      The real loophole, Charlie, is in your ethics. Costo management created a hugely successful business with ethical business practices. You prefer lying & cheating. You demean yourself each year, waiting in line to lie to someone to take other people’s money. That’s a confidence game, but without the intelligence, skill, planning, and personality needed by a con artist who has to convince his “mark.” Why do you brag about taking candy from a baby? Perhaps in the vain hope of convincing yourself that you’re not stupid?

      As for the intelligence of the company’s management, let’s just say that from under your intellectual rock you can’t see high enough to assess it.

    • bobbidi bobbida

      How come paying to go and shop there for an year is not wrong?

      If i am not satisfied (including not liking to pay that entrance fees) i ask for a refund of that money is DISHONEST and UNETHICAL and IMMORAL.. man you all sound as if Charlie raped someone… lmfao…

    • wess

      I tried that. Didn’t work. Just got an apology.

  • Janet

    I just joined Costco, too! I have yet to be wowed, but I’m sure I’ll recoup the cost of joining very soon. … I went to a party recently where the house had amazing chandeliers, and they got them at Costco! I’m on the hunt for them. 🙂


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