My parents are members of Costco so whenever I want to partake in purchasing more goods (like buying coffee in bulk) than I need, I plan a day trip with my family and get ready to buy 9,000 plates. Before my family became members though, they asked me to look into the finances of becoming a Costco owner and if there was any cheap ways to avoid paying the annual fee.
Annual Fee for Costco
For those unaware, Costco has a few membership plans. There is a regular membership plan that costs ~$50 a year, and a higher end membership plan that costs ~$100. From what I have read, the higher end membership plan only comes with the added benefit that you can shop their at earlier times with less people. If you don’t mind other human beings while standing in line to purchase your goods, your baseline price for joining Costco is $50.
Joining with a Friend
If you are looking to join and are willing to pony up the $50, then you may want to consider joining with a friend. The reason is when you join with the basic membership, Costco provides you with 2 membership cards. Holders of the cards do not need to be related by any means, in fact, Costco would rather 2 non-related people join under the same membership plan because it means they are going to get multiple families to come and shop. Bottom line, your annual costs for membership by this plan would be cut down to $25. This is relatively cheap but still not free.
Joining for Free
for those unaware, American Express offers a Costco membership that is likely the best deal available on the market. Essentially, this credit card has an annual membership fee of $50 that includes a membership fee to Costco. The reason why this is a good deal is because one of the perks this card offers is 3% cash back on all gas sold in the United States. If you are a single driver, and fill your tank up at least once a week, you are paying ~$45 a week for gas. $45 multiples by 50 weeks a year comes out to $2250. If you take 3% off $2250 a year, you receive ~$68 a year back from AMEX. Essentially, you would be getting paid a solid $18 to go to Costco.