I recently became an Executive Member at Costco. Sure, the membership makes me feel obligated to dress business formal when I leave the house, but it is worth it to feel superior to Gold Star Members or *gulp* non-members. This is reason enough to be an Executive Member. However, when it comes to practical reasons, your specific situation will be the best judge of whether you should be a Gold Member or Executive Member.

Should You Do Either?

Listen, I could sit here and list off the prices of every product sold at Costco and compare them to prices WinCo, Amazon, 7-11, or wherever you do most of your shopping, but as an Executive, I have better things to do. Instead, I strongly recommend you visit Costco with a friend who is a member. Or, if you don’t have any friends, I’ll be your friend, and you should keep your eye out for the rare open houses they host.

When you visit, take note of the prices on items you would actually buy and use. How much would you save by shopping at Costco? Does it exceed the cost of membership? Also, keep in mind these tips on smart bulk buying and maybe bring along your grocery journal.

For the most part, families with children will be able to save enough money that their Costco membership will pay for itself. It gets a little trickier for single people who don’t spend much money and subsist solely on ramen noodles. For a much more in-depth cost-benefit analysis, check out this really long article from The Penny Hoarder.

Why Executive Is Superior

Currently, a Costco Gold Star Membership costs $60 per year and the Executive Membership is twice that. I’ll save you the trouble of grabbing a calculator and tell you it’s $120 per year.

If you spend more than $6,000 ($500/month) on qualified purchases (which is most purchases) in a year, your Executive Membership will pay for itself in “Rewards.” If you spend more than $3,000, it is worth the upgrade from the Gold Star Membership just for the Rewards. What are these rewards? Well, they don’t give you a faux gold trophy featuring a statuette of a tiny guy pushing a gigantic flatbed grocery cart. Instead, you get 2% of however much you spend back. The cap on how much they will give you is $1,000 per year, and you must use the rewards in store.

There are also less interesting benefits to being an Executive that will only appeal to approximately 1% of y’all. For instance, you can get bigger discounts on Costco Services, like free roadside assistance for cars covered through their auto insurance program, lower prices on identity protection and check printing, and benefits on Costco Travel products.

Overall, I only recommend going with the Executive Membership if you are committed to joining Costco and plan to spend more than $250 per month there. Otherwise, stick with the Gold Star Member plan.

Am I horribly off base? It’s not the first time. What are your thoughts on Costco? Let us know below!