UPDATED: February 3, 2019

I am a proud Costco Executive Member. Sure, the membership makes me feel obligated to dress business formal when I leave the house, but it’s worth it to feel superior to Gold Star Members and *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. Below, we will help you make an informed decision.

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 at Walmart, 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. You might also consider trying a Costco membership since you can get a full refund if you are dissatisfied.

In some states, including Michigan where I live, Costco is required to let you in to buy alcohol. Once you’re in there, there’s nothing stopping you from looking at the prices for non-alcohol items and stuffing your face with samples. Call your closest Costco or chat them up online to find out if they have to let you in to buy alcohol.

From the horse’s mouth…

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, consider these smart bulk buying tips 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 $120 per year.

The biggest benefit of being an Executive Member is the “rewards.” What are these rewards? Well, they don’t give you a special trophy with a gold statuette pushing a flatbed cart. Instead, you get back 2% of however much you spent the previous year on qualified purchases. You must spend this money in store. And, the cap on how much they will give you is $1,000 per year.

If you spend more than $6,000 ($500/month) at Costco in a year, your Executive Membership will pay for itself in “rewards.” If you spend more than $3,000, it’s worth the upgrade from the Gold Star Membership. 

There are also less interesting, more specialized Executive benefits. For instance, you can get 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 on spending more than $250 per month. If you plan on spending less than this, stick with the Gold Star Member plan.

What are your thoughts on Costco membership? Let us know below!