How to get a Costco Membership

How to join Costco

Costco is one of the largest worldwide retailer clubs.  It is membership based, meaning that you must purchase a membership to shop at Costco.  Today’s Costco Wholesale is a combination of the original Costco and Price Club.  Employees are paid well and open communication is encouraged to keep employees morale high. Everything is bought and sold in bulk in order to keep high quality and low prices.  Although there are not a lot of brand options for each product, the prices are almost always lower than you will find anywhere else. 

There are two ways to purchase a Costco membership.  You can go online to and search “join the club”.  First you pay the membership fee and then fill out the online application.  The membership cards will be mailed to your address if you choose to join online.  The other way to join is by walking in to a warehouse and applying at the membership counter.  This is the method I recommend for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is that you will be issued your membership card within minutes, rather than having to wait for it to be mailed out.   The second reason this method is preferred is that the in-store employees are often able to give incentives for the sign-up such as a free large pizza or Costco Cash Card.

Costco offers two basic types of membership – Gold Star and Business.  To be eligible to purchase a business membership one must be able to furnish proof that he/she is an owner or manager of a business.  The Gold Star membership is the membership available to the general public.  Each of these memberships cost $50 annually (Dec 2009).  Either of these memberships can be upgraded to the executive membership for an additional $50 a year.  All membership cards are non-transferable and therefore can only be used when the member is present at the time of transaction.  The only credit card taken at Costco warehouses is the American Express Card.  The other tenders accepted are cash, debit, personal checks, traveler’s checks, Cash Cards, and EBT cards.

Gold Star Membership

Gold Star memberships have one paid member and an optional free household card.  The household card is for any one other person in the household above the age of 18, this second member receives their own membership card with a different number but on the same account. Gold Star members have to wait until 11AM to shop Monday through Friday instead of when the doors open at 10 AM.

Business Membership

Business memberships have the same free household card available but they also offer the option to add additional households on to the membership each for only $40 more annually.  The Add-on members are not eligible to upgrade to the executive membership, they would have to purchase a separate membership if they wish to upgrade.  Business members are welcome to shop at any time that the doors are open.  A couple of the other benefits included in a business membership are the option of adding a resale license to their cards and being eligible to write business checks.

Executive Membership

Executive Membership is an upgrade to a basic membership, so the accounts will either be Gold Star Executive or Business Executive.  Any executive member can come in at the earlier shopping hours generally reserved for business members.  Executive members are eligible for discounts on a lot of the services through Costco and there are even a couple of services only available to executive members, such as health insurance.  In addition to these perks, executive members receive a check for 2% of their annual spending on qualifying purchases (The only purchases that do not count towards the rewards check are gasoline, stamps, Cash Cards, Tobacco products and Alcohol in AL, GA, KY, OH and MI). Costco guarantees satisfaction with a full refund of the upgrade fee if the cash back is less than the amount paid for the upgrade.

American Express Card

The American Express credit card is included for free with any Costco membership; however, approval for the credit card is based on a credit check.  The American Express card currently offered is the True Earnings Card (Dec 2009).  Gold Star members are able to apply for the consumer credit card and business members are given the option to apply for the consumer or business cards.  The True Earnings card offers cash back issued in the form of a check cashable at Costco.  The amount of cash back earned on a purchase depends on where the card is used.  There is 3% cash back accumulated from purchases at restaurants, 3% (4% with business card) from gasoline, 2% from travel related expenses and 1% on every other purchase.  The business card also offers discounts on business related expenses such as Fed-Ex. 

Good luck, and enjoy joining the millions of Costco members worldwide shopping in bulk and saving!