A Costco membership can do a lot more than help you stretch your grocery budget. A membership at Costco comes with many perks, some of which you might not even be aware of. Take a look around a Costco outlet and you’ll see that deals and discounts can be found everywhere. If you’re trying to do more with less and maximize your household budget, Costco offers a number of solutions. From cheaper beer to more affordable car tires, Costco has it all. Here are a number of hidden benefits of a Costco membership that everyone should take advantage of.
Propane Tank Refills
Many Costco outlets have a service to refill barbeque propane tanks. The cost to refill a propane tank at Costco is, on average, half of what it costs at a regular gas station or other location. Costco typically charges $10 to $12 to refill a propane tank, compared to $20-$25 for a refill at a gas station.
Another benefit of Costco’s propane tank refill service is that you’re not required to buy a new tank or to swap your empty propane tank for another one that is full. Swapping tanks or having to buy a new one every time you need more propane drives to cost up. At Costco, you simply present your empty propane tank and your membership card and a technician will fill it for you for about $10.
Wine and Beer
Not every Costco outlet sells alcohol. It depends on where you live and the local or state laws. However, at the Costco outlets that do sell alcohol, they tend to sell wine and beer for half the price at other retailers. Beer tends to cost around $1 a bottle at Costco, compared to $25 for 12 beers at liquor stores.
Bottles of wine can be purchased from Costco for about $5 each, making them extremely affordable. The available selection of wines and beers is actually pretty impressive. Even the most snobbish of wine connoisseurs can likely find a bottle to enjoy. And, Costco beers and wines can be ordered online from just about any location.
While you might not immediately associate Costco with taking a vacation, the warehouse club does have a service called “Costco Travel.” It offers members the ability to book destinations, hotels, and cruises through the club. More importantly, Costco uses its substantial purchasing power to negotiate beneficial deals for its members.
Destinations all over the world can be booked through Costco travel – from a bus tour through the Australian outback to an Alaskan cruise. The savings provided through Costco can be substantial – $1,000 or more for a European destination, for example. The customer service provided through Costco Travel has also received rave reviews from people who’ve used it.
Need a new set of tires? Or need to have your winter tires swapped out for your summer ones? Why not get it done at Costco and save some money? Most Costco outlets have a full-service tire shop where people can purchase new tires, dispose of old ones, and have their tires changed in the autumn and spring as the weather changes.
The tire service at Costco is, on average, about 25% less than at a private garage. That can be significant savings when you consider that the cost for a set of four tires is between $1,000 and $1,500. Some Costco outlets will even store winter tires for people during the spring and summer for a reasonable fee.
Smartphones Without A Contract
Costco sells iPhones and other brand name smartphones. Even better, they don’t require you to sign-up for an expensive multiyear service contract. You can simply buy the phone outright, and find the wireless service provider you want elsewhere. In some cases, Costco might not have the latest new iPhone or Galaxy phone. However, they will still be only a year or two old.
Regardless, the phones are new. They are not refurbished or pre-owned. And they can be purchased for $300 (or less) with no long-term contract required. For parents looking to start their teenage child off with a smartphone who don’t want to break the bank, buying an iPhone or other smartphone at Costco can be an affordable decision.
Ink cartridges for printers are not cheap. Costco lessens the expense by offering a refill service. Costco’s Inkjet refill service starts at under $10 per cartridge. It allows members to bring specific types of empty cartridges to a store where they are cleaned via a high-tech system and then refilled.
Costco members can also buy brand new Inkjet cartridges at the stores. These also tend to be cheaper than at most other retailers (which don’t offer refill services, since they want you to spend more money buying brand new cartridges instead). Not so at Costco, though. They will refill an Inkjet cartridge for a fraction of the cost to buy a brand new one.
Eyeglasses and Hearing Aids
For those who don’t have great healthcare insurance — especially seniors — undergoing vision or hearings exams (and purchasing eyeglasses or hearing aids) can be expensive. Even buying new hearing aid batteries to replace old ones can be costly.
Costco outlets provide both vision and hearing services to members, whether they have insurance or not. While Costco does accept most major insurance coverage, it also fills and sells prescription eyeglasses and hearing aids at a fraction of the cost charged by optometrists and audiologists. The discounts here could easily pay for your membership by themselves.
Discounted Gift Cards
Whether it’s passes to an amusement park like Six Flags or dinner at a local restaurant chain like Olive Garden, Costco has you covered. They often sell discounted gift cards that can dramatically lower the cost of dining out or entertaining your family. Deeper discounts are offered to military members and senior citizens too.
Costco routinely offers deals such as two $50 gift cards for $79.99. Or four $15 gift cards for $44.99. Big savings like that make stocking up on gift cards for Christmas or birthdays affordable and practical. Gift cards for movie theatres, theme parks, concerts, restaurants, and more can all be found at Costco. Have a look the next time you’re at Costco. You could save big on something you do regularly anyway, like buying Starbucks or going to the movies.
Most Costco outlets have a pharmacy. You can find plenty of savings on over-the-counter medications such as Aspirin and Reactine. However, they also will fill prescription medications at a discount, whether you have insurance coverage or not.
A Costco membership can save you 10% or more on name brand prescription drugs. You can save even more if you don’t mind the generic versions. Add it all up and shopping for medications at Costco can lead to big savings compared to pricier pharmacies or grocery stores.
Offered via “CONNECT” from American Family Insurance, Costco members can get car insurance at a discounted rate through the wholesale club. Costco even has a tool that enables members to compare the insurance rates they off to other insurers.
Costco negotiates inexpensive “group rates” from insurance providers. They, they pass those savings along to their members. The result is automotive insurance rates that can be 10% to 20% cheaper, depending on your driving record and finances.
Seeing a lineup of cars waiting to fill up at Costco gas stations is a familiar site. That’s because there are many benefits to buying gas at Costco. In addition to the price discount, you also get gasoline that is of a higher quality and more environmentally friendly than at other gas stations. At least, that’s that the marketing says.
The Kirkland-branded gasoline sold by Costco promises to reduce tailpipe pollution caused by intake valve deposits and plugged fuel injectors. According to the Costco itself, the fuel they sell is not only cheaper than competing gas stations, it’s also higher quality.
The Bottom Line
There’s a lot more to Costco than cheap bulk groceries. Being a member of the warehouse club comes with many extra benefits. You should take the time to explore all the things that come with the annual Costco membership fee. From gasoline to hearing aids, cell phones to car insurance, many items can be purchased with hefty discounts. So do yourself a favor and explore all that Costco has to offer its members.