Is a Costco membership worth it? Review

Costco is the paradise of bargain hunters − where you can shop bulk household staples, fill your car up on cheap petrol, and stock up on your favourite wine, all in one place and at significantly discounted prices.

But, like all good things, Costco’s thrifty paradise comes at a cost of a $60 annual membership. So, is Costco really the best place to do your everyday shopping, and is the Costco membership worth it? Here’s our expert review.

What’s Costco?

Hailing from the U.S, Costco is a membership-only wholesale warehouse that sells most of its products in bulk and at discount prices (like a wholesaler). This includes groceries (hello giant tub of Nutella), brand-name and private-label merchandise, plus tons of other products. There is a catch though − you need to be a member to shop at Costco, and an individual membership costs $60 per year. A business membership costs $55 per year. There are currently 13 Costco stores in Australia, across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and the ACT. Costco is also set to launch online.

What to buy at Costco

What can you buy at Costco?

Everything. And we literally mean everything − groceries, fresh food (including its famous roast chickens), homewares, outdoor equipment, electronics, clothing, cleaning supplies, and even alcohol (in NSW, WA, the ACT, and Victoria). There’s also a section to buy jewellery and coffins (yes, you read that right).

Most Costco stores (known as warehouses) also have a food court and specialty departments like an optical centre, a hearing aid centre, a tyre shop, and a petrol station.

How much does a Costco membership cost?

Here are the specs and costs for Costco memberships. Each membership comes with a membership card or you can choose to register your membership online.

Membership Gold Star Membership (for individual use) Business Membership (for business & enterprise use)
Specs ·         Valid at all Costco locations worldwide

·         Free Household Card available

·         Valid at all Costco locations worldwide

·         Your Costco membership card can be used at any Costco Warehouse worldwide.

·         Free Household Card available

·         Business registration required

·         Resale options available

Cost $60 per year $55 per year

Costco trolley

Is a Costco membership worth it?

The answer is – it depends. The Costco $60 annual membership cost may be worth it if you’ve got a large family to feed and can manage to shop at Costco several times per year, in which case you’ll recoup the membership cost in savings on groceries and other items pretty quickly. A Costco membership may also be worth it for smaller households that entertain a lot or if you’re catering for big events (camping trips, barbecues, birthday parties, etc.).

Just be sure to consider if you’ll use the bulk-sized items before their expiration date or you’ll just be wasting money and creating more food waste. A good way to avoid this is to buy foods with a longer shelf life like pasta, rice, long-life milk, and canned foods. You can also buy cleaning products in bulk which is much cheaper.

Saving tip: Not everything you buy in bulk is a good deal. Make sure to check the unit pricing of any product you want to buy. This displays the price of a grocery item as a standard unit of measurement alongside its selling price. For example, the label for Costco’s 1kg Nutella tub would show the unit price per 100g, in addition to the selling price.

Costco gold membership card

Another great way to make the most of a Costco membership is to take advantage of discounts on fuel or big-ticket purchases like a new TV or washing machine.

It’s also worth factoring in the distance you’ll have to drive to get to your nearest store, how much storage space you have at home, and if you really need to buy certain items in bulk.

Expert tip: Canstar Blue’s Home & Lifestyle Editor, Megan Birot, says: “If you’re still on the fence about becoming a Costco member, you could try visiting a store with someone who already has a membership to suss out what’s on offer and whether you’d shop there for the potential savings or just for the novelty.”

Is everything sold in bulk at Costco?

Yes, almost everything at Costco is sold in bulk or larger quantities than you’d find in a regular supermarket like Coles or Woolworths. The Costco concept is based on offering bulk goods at wholesale prices. Its membership model allows the retailer to undersell the competition and pass on the savings to its customers.

Should you do your everyday shopping at Costco?

Not if you’re a weekly shopper buying less than 20-30 items, and not based on price alone. You can get great specials on groceries and everyday items from most supermarkets (which you could buy in bulk when on sale) without driving too far or battling through crowds of bulk shoppers. Where Costco does offer value for money is on the cost-per-unit of bulk items, so it’s only really worth it if you need to do a big shop (50-100 items) less frequently or if you’re looking to stock up on non-perishable items like toilet paper or cleaning supplies.

Costco locations

Here are the current Costco locations in Australia, by state:

  • VIC: Ringwood, Epping, Docklands, Moorabbin Airport (4).
  • NSW: Marsden Park, Crossroads, Lake Macquarie, Auburn (4).
  • QLD: Ipswich, North Lakes (2).
  • ACT: Canberra Airport (1).
  • SA: Kilburn (1).
  • WA: Perth Airport (1).

The final word: In summary, whether a Costco membership is right for you will depend on your household size, your budget, how far you’d need to travel to your nearest store, and how often you intend to shop. If you’re in a single or two-person household, a Costco membership may not be worth it. However, larger families looking for the sheer convenience of getting their shopping done all in one place may find a Costco membership worth it. Be sure to compare supermarket prices before you shop.

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