6 Secret Costco Perks That Only Superfans Know About
Costco is known for low prices, abundant samples, and merchandise that goes far beyond super-sized groceries. The big-box store is a no-brainer for stocking a pantry, grabbing grub for your next cookout, and of course filling up on gas. But did you know the wholesale giant also dabbles in vacation planning, printing, and optometry? And just like in their grocery aisles, the prices on these offerings are hard to beat. If you're not a member already, these perks may just convert you.
Big on Vacation Savings
Ready to sate–and save on–your wanderlust? Costco members get steep discounts on flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals, all-inclusive packages, and theme park tickets through Costco Travel, which also offers access to a team of travel experts who can help plan your getaway.
We compared travel packages at Costco and Expedia and found significant savings with Costco: all-inclusive vacations to Cancun and Hawaii were cheaper by hundreds of dollars for a package that included flights, car rental, and hotels.
If you're an executive member, you can expect even bigger benefits, like room upgrades and food, beverage, and spa credits. To save even more, sign up for and use the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi credit card, which gives 3% cash back on eligible travel purchases.
An Eye for Deals
Inside most stores you'll find Costco Optical, an eyecare provider and eyewear outfitter that offers exams, contact lenses, frames, and sunglasses at competitive prices. The centers are staffed by trained opticians and often offer hefty rebates on top of their already-low prices.
"I purchased a year's supply of contact lenses for my daughter for about $120, and there was a $50 rebate program at the time, making the total price about $70," personal finance expert Gina Zakaria told Money.com. "Did I mention there was also a free $25 Costco Card for lens purchases? That brought our price down to $45 for an entire year's supply of prescription lenses."
Costco carries over a dozen brands of contacts, which can be bought online. Costco members can even purchase contacts for non-Costco members. Shipping is free for optical purchases and Costco accepts most vision insurance plans.
Price Savings at the Pump
Costco's low gas prices may not be a secret, as evidenced by the cars queued up at the pump. But don't let the demand discourage you. "While the lines may look long, we've timed our wait time and it averages about five to seven minutes to get a spot and fill up on a busy day," Zakaria says. "The time spent is definitely worth the money we save."
With national gas prices at an average of $4.12 according to AAA, a trip to Costco is even more worth it. We looked at gas prices in multiple metro areas on Gasbuddy.com, and Costco boasted some of the lowest prices per gallon again and again.
Steals on Wheels
Yep, Costco sells cars. You won't find shiny new sedans and SUVs ready to test drive in their parking lots, but you can score a deal online or over the phone via the Costco Auto Program, which partners with select dealerships across the country to negotiate preferred pricing for members.
To take advantage of the program, visit costcoauto.com or call an expert in their call center, select your preferred vehicle and trim, features, and color, and you'll get a local, participating dealership's contact information. From here, you can call or visit the dealership to find out the vehicle's discounted price and decide if you'd like to buy or lease it.
Costco also offers limited-time deals on certain cars. At the time of publish, their incentive was $1,500 off new Cadillac models.
Great on Paper
Though Costco's in-store printing centers closed in early 2021 (RIP!), they offer almost all their formerly-IRL services online for a heck of a deal.
If sending family photo cards is part of your holiday tradition, it's hard to find lower prices than at Costco. We looked at two competitors, Vista Print and Shutterfly, and Costco's price for 25 holiday photo cards was half the price ($16.50 for 25 cards at Costco vs. $33 at competitors). Glad tidings indeed.
The print center sells custom photo gifts, from blankets and calendars to photo mugs, which are only $9 each, nearly half Shutterfly's price and 20 percent less than Vistaprint.
Printing for school and work is also easy and affordable. "We printed an 18x20 poster for my daughter's school project and it cost less than $7," Zakaria says. FedEx's price for printing a similarly sized poster is $17.25, more than double the price of Costco.
Costco offers a basic package of 500 color, laminated business cards for $21.99, while the competition charges $17 for 100 cards, nearly four times Costco's price.
In the market to purchase a home or refinance your mortgage? Costco members have access to loan services with The Mortgage Program for Costco Members, which connects home buyers to an online loan marketplace that compares mortgage rate quotes and facilitates application for a loan with participating mortgage companies.
Lender fees are capped based on Costco membership ($250 for executive members, $550 for non-executive members), and executive members can save an average of $11,319 over the lifespan of a loan, according to Costco.
Loan options typically include conventional mortgages, Federal Housing Administration mortgages (FHA loans), Department of Veterans Affairs mortgages (VA loans), jumbo loans, refinances, and a choice between fixed-rate loans and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), according to Time.com.
Now who's ready for a trip to Costco? We've got our membership cards out and ready.