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3 Tips For Saving Money At Costco

Business3 Tips For Saving Money At Costco

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Following the example Netflix had set cracking down on password sharing, Costco announced it would require identification at all registers — meaning the days of using your friend’s or family member’s card at self-checkout are over.

Now, to enjoy bulk prices, $1.50 hot dog combos and other Costco benefits, you’ll have to shell out for your own membership. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on savings. Below, CNBC Select offers tips on saving money at Costco even if you need to pay for a membership card now.

Use the right credit card

The best thing you can do for your budget when shopping at Costco is to make sure you’re earning rewards for your spending. To do that, you’ll need the right credit card. Costco only accepts Visa cards — but there’s more to choosing a card to help you maximize your membership’s value.

CNBC Select picked the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi as one of the best cards for shopping at Costco. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%), 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel spending, and 2% cash back on all eligible purchases from Costco and Costco.com. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

    $0, Costco membership required

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

While the Costco Anywhere Visa can offer excellent value, it’s somewhat inflexible when it comes to redeeming your cash back. You earn an annual reward certificate once a year, and you can only redeem it at a U.S. Costco Warehouse for purchases at Costco and Costco.com. You also may be able to redeem for cash — at Costco’s discretion.

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If you’d prefer to have more redemption options but still want to earn 2% back at Costco, look into the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card. This card offers unlimited 2% cash rewards back on all purchases and you can redeem as little as $1 for statement credits at any time online. You can also redeem for cash (in $25 increments online or over the phone, or $20 increments at a Wells Fargo ATM). Finally, you can redeem for gift cards (in $25 increments) or use your rewards to shop through PayPal.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

On Wells Fargo’s secure site

  • Rewards

    Unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate

  • Regular APR

    19.99%, 24.99%, or 29.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Introductory fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5% ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Get the right membership for your spending

When it comes to membership types, you can choose from Gold Star, Executive and Business memberships.

The Gold Star Membership is the most affordable option. For $60 per year, you get a free household card and can add an additional household member who is over 16 and lives at the same address.

The Executive Membership is an upgrade from the Gold Star membership. It costs an extra $60 per year (for a total of $120 per year) and allows you to enjoy additional benefits and savings on Costco Services and Costco Travel. Plus, you’ll earn an annual 2% reward on eligible purchases. This membership tier may be worth it if you spend more than $3,000 on qualified purchases per year at Costco, which earns you $60 in rewards and offsets the cost of the upgrade.

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Finally, the Business Membership also costs $60 and comes with a free household card — and you can add more cardholders for $60 each annually. This type of membership allows you to buy items for personal or business use, as well as for resale. To get the Business Membership, you’ll need to provide identification such as a business license, resale certificate or three pieces of business ID.

Look beyond groceries

While many think of Costco as a place to save on groceries, consider taking advantage of many other services and goods the wholesale club offers. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of your membership:

  • Frequent the food court. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a better deal when looking to grab a quick bite.
  • Save money at the pump. Costco gas stations often offer significantly cheaper prices than other gas stations in the same area.
  • Use the travel portal. You might rack up savings whether you’re booking a vacation package or simply looking for a cheap car rental.
  • Furnish your home. Costco often advertises excellent deals on furniture and appliances. When buying appliances online, you’ll also get free delivery and installation.
  • Buy tickets for concerts and sporting events. Costco sells electronic vouchers you can redeem to attend music shows, sporting events and more, so it’s worth a check if you’re planning to go see a game.
  • Stock up on gift cards. You can find discounted gift cards for dining, gaming, streaming, shopping — you name it. That’s a savvy way to get Costco savings even on purchases you make outside of Costco.
  • Use the pharmacy. Costco’s pharmacy prescription drugs are easier on the wallet than many other pharmacies. Note that you can shop at Costco’s pharmacy even if you don’t have a membership.
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Bottom line

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.



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