I recently renewed my Costco membership a few months ago and admittedly, I have yet to go to to Costco and take that picture that gets forever emblazoned onto the Costco membership card. I'm not sure what's stopping me. Maybe it's because I don't need 5kg of ground beef anymore now that I'm not cooking for a high-metabolic needs guy anymore. Maybe I can't bother with the line ups. Maybe I can't fathom spending $75+ every time I go to Costco. Or maybe I just don't have enough will power to just hit up the sample ladies at Costco to try the food samples but NOT buy the food.
Whatever it is, this got me to ponder whether a Costco gold star membership for $55 is worth it.
To figure out whether a Costco membership can really pull its weight, I am going to list the pros and cons of shopping at Costco.
- The quality of food is really high. I find their meats really nice and of good quality, the prewashed salads seem to last forever (much longer than Loblaw's Superstore), and they have a great variety of different foods
- The free sample tasting kiosks. 'nuff said.
- You can buy in bulk and separate them into individual portions and freeze them in your chest freezer. And voila, you have your own grocery store whenever you need frozen meats
- Their return policy is ridiculously amazing (especially for big purchases like electronics)
- Delicious cheap hot dogs!
- You get to feel elitist when you walk through the the doors and they check for your membership card (hey, if you're into feeling like a VIP, Costco is where it's at! At least for the first 10 seconds when you walk through their doors)
- They have good prices on a lot of things that are delicious and super expensive elsewhere. Some examples are cheeses (Balderson cheddar, asiago cheese) and Mary's organic crackers (that stuff is like crack for me, so expensive elsewhere but you can get a large box for the same price as a small box elsewhere)
- Their pharmacy usually have lower dispensing fees than other pharmacies
- Their photo prints are of high quality and are consistently economically priced
- Lots of good “pot luck” type foods/ platters that you can easily grab (for a reasonable price) to bring to your gatherings
- The line ups. Sometimes the line ups (especially on the weekends) at Costco are long enough to drive me to want to put a gun to my head.
- They only accept American Express or Cash or Debit (which will- if you're a credit card points addict like me- make you sign up for an American Express card that you will seldom use)
- You really can't walk out of there without spending at least $75 to $100 (unless you are really disciplined)
- Annual membership fee of $55 (usually there are perks like a $10 gift card or free Cineplex movie tickets when you first sign up, but these wonderful perks don't exist when you renew your membership in subsequent years)
- Sometimes the prices aren't really THAT great. For example, buying Costco toilet paper can cost more than buying toilet paper that is on sale at the local grocery store chain.
- Food wastage! I admittedly still have a tub of hummus that has been sitting in my freezer for about 11 months. I hope it's still good. I think this is probably the biggest deterrent of going to Costco, especially if you live alone or if you don't typically eat like a horse.
At the end of the day, if I had a family to feed I think a Costco membership will be a no brainer. But if you live alone or you don't consume very much, or if you live a ways away from a Costco, it might be a more difficult choice. It all boils down to if you value high quality foods (because Costco is hands down super high quality) and a good return policy on big ticket purchases.
I still have yet to get to a Costco, but I'm pretty confident that I will be able to visit Costco before my membership ends to stock up on meat and cheese and Mary's organic gluten-free crackers.
Readers, do you think Costco is worth it or not?