Why Costco’s Executive Membership Is Worth The Fee

More than six million Canadians fork over $55 per year for the privilege to shop at Costco, the popular wholesale club, and take advantage of bulk pricing and several products unique to the store. Is it worth the money? The company says nearly 90 percent of its members renew each year.

Related: A sneak peek at the new Costco Capital One Platinum MasterCard

My family has done the majority of our grocery shopping at Costco for nearly a decade. We’ve found the savings on items we buy regularly, like meat, dairy, bread, coffee, laundry soap, toilet paper, and paper towels – more than offset the $55 annual membership fee.

Is Costco's Executive Membership Worth The Fee?

Costco Executive Membership fee

On average, we spent between $300 and $400 per month at Costco. That level of spending meant Costco employees often asked us to upgrade to the Executive Membership, which costs $110 per year and pays a 2 percent reward on most items in-store.

Two years ago we took the bait and upgraded to the Costco Executive Membership. My wife now shops at Costco weekly for better deals on fruits and vegetables, in addition to the other grocery items mentioned above.

Shopping at Costco has become even more convenient now that we can use our main rewards credit card, the Capital One Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard, for our grocery purchases. That gives us another 2 percent return on our spending.

Related: It’s official – Costco and American Express part ways

Last week we received our annual rebate – a coupon for $113.26! That means we basically get a free membership, but even if the rebate was less than the cost of a regular membership, the wholesale giant says it’ll refund you the difference.

Of course, that size of rebate also means we’re spending a lot more on groceries – our monthly average crept up to $471. Luckily that increase has been offset by less spending at other grocery stores like Safeway and Superstore.

How much can you earn with the Costco Executive Membership?

Executive Members get 2 percent back on most Costco purchases, up to a maximum of $750 per year. Here’s how much you can earn based on your monthly spending:

Monthly spend Annual reward
$200 $48
$400 $96
$600 $144
$800 $192
$1000 $240
$2100 $504
$3125 $750 (maximum)

You’ll earn rewards on most purchases at Costco, however there are a few exceptions including gas, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and membership fees.

Your reward coupon is sent in the mail along with your annual renewal notice. You can redeem the coupons toward most Costco products, except for the ones mentioned above.

Final thoughts

Costco isn’t for everyone. The stores are insanely busy, they don’t always have the best prices or selection, and many of their products are big enough to feed an army, not a family of four. But for certain items, the prices and quality at Costco can’t be beat.

Related: Here’s how the Costco effect changes your rewards calculation

Upgrading to the Costco Executive Membership was a no-brainer for us because we spend enough money there to completely offset the $110 annual fee. We avoid the aisles full of electronics, clothes, and small appliances and stick to the food and grocery items that give us the best value.


  1. Robin Young on December 5, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Why do you avoid the Clothes? When you compare the price of men’s brand name (Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Dockers etc.) dress shirts and pants you are saving $20-$50 per item over stores like the Bay and Sears. Certainly way better than Tip Top or that ilk. They often beat out Winners too. True the selection ain’t great and if you have an odd size requirement you better pick over the goods when they first show up, but otherwise the value is excellent. Same for socks and underwear.

    • Robb Engen on December 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Hi Robin, that’s true about the clothes – I guess I just don’t buy a lot of clothes for myself and we get most of our kids clothes at Superstore and Old Navy. We’ve bought the odd clothing item at Costco but don’t make a habit of it. Especially when my wife makes a weekly trip to buy fruit and veggies.

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