Costco doesn’t offer free or discounted memberships, but they do offer a gift of sorts for those in the military who purchase a membership, and it’s valued at $60. Do you like buying your groceries and other items in bulk? 15 toothbrush heads? Costco’s got you. A 50 lb bag of rice? They’re on it. Costco is a great option for those who seek to purchase in bulk and save prices on products ranging from electronics to home goods to groceries.
Does Costco offer a discount for those in the military? Yes, they do! Let’s take a look at the history of Costco, and ways to save even more when purchasing at big box stores like Costco.
For the unfamiliar, Costco describes itself as, “A membership warehouse club, dedicated to bringing our members the best possible prices on quality brand-name merchandise. With hundreds of locations worldwide, Costco provides a wide selection of merchandise, plus the convenience of specialty departments and exclusive member services, all designed to make your shopping experience a pleasurable one.”
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Costco began as Price Club on July 12, 1976, in San Diego, California. The first Price Club was built inside some old airplane hangars previously owned by Howard Hughes. This original Price Club is still in operation today as Costco #401. Costco opened its first warehouse in Seattle in 1983, followed by a second and third one in Portland and Spokane, also in 1983. In 1993, Price Club and Costco decided to join forces, merging after Price Club owner declined to merge with Sam’s Club, which was another warehouse retail store owned by Wal-Mart and Sam Walton. Costco and Price Club had a similar business model and size which made the decision more organic.
Costco doesn’t buy advertising and has no public relations department. Despite this, Costco ranked #14 on the Fortune 500 list in 2019. Costco works to keep costs low, as well as prices low, by turning down the lights using an electronic system that measures how much sunlight is coming in through the skylights and adjusting the lighting to reduce output. Although they reduce costs in as many ways as possible, it’s expensive to build and operate a Costco. Much of Costco’s income comes from membership fees.
Military Discounts for Those Shopping at Costco
To shop at Costco, you have to purchase a membership (or at least know someone who has one who will let you go shopping with them). Once inside, it’s literally a giant warehouse full of items. It’s easy to spend a lot of money here so knowing what you’re after, the things that you use most frequently, as well as doing some price comparison shopping with where you normally shop to make sure you’re actually getting the best deal. Let’s take a look at what Costco offers in regards to a military discount. While they don’t offer discounted products or even a discounted membership, they offer $60 in savings offers and coupons once you sign up using their military membership link.
To be eligible for the Costco military perks, you have to be active duty military, a Veteran, or a retired military member, their spouse, or their dependent. You have to verify your military status through the id.me website. Once you verify your military status, you are then redirected to the Costco promotion where you can purchase your Costco Membership Activation Certificates that you then have to take into Costco to be redeemed for your membership.
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The “fine print” and restrictions are as follows:
“To activate your Costco membership you must bring your Costco Membership Activation Certificate to any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco membership counter. Coupons will be mailed after you have joined Costco as a new member. Coupons are not generated by purchasing a Costco Membership Activation Certificate. Visit Costco.com to find a location near you.
Valid for new memberships only. Not valid for renewal of an existing Costco membership. Costco Membership Activation Certificates have no cash value. Costco Membership Activation Certificates are not replaceable if lost, stolen or destroyed. Costco Membership Activation Certificates are valid at any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco location. Not valid on www.costco.com.
Costco Membership Activation Certificate must be purchased online through this promotion. Limit one coupon per household. May not be combined with any other promotion or coupons. To be eligible for the coupon promotion, you must join as a new Costco member. Not valid for a renewal or an existing or expired Costco membership.”
How To Save Money When Shopping at Costco
Unless you have an unlimited budget, shopping at Costco requires some strategy to come out of it with the best deals, and still within budget. When bulk shopping, you’re shopping for the long-game. You might be purchasing 12 cans of coconut milk in one go, so that might throw your budget off if you’re only calculating weekly. When shopping bulk, you need to calculate for monthly, or even longer if the product will last longer than that. Let’s look at some tips to save you the most money when shopping at Costco.
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- Watch for membership deals. Sometimes Groupon and other places online will offer a promotional code for either a discounted membership or a great deal that gives you lots of freebies with the membership. This isn’t always possible though. The cheapest way to shop at Costco overall is to go with someone who already has a membership.
- Price comparison shopping is where it’s at. Next time you go buy groceries, write down the prices of the staple items you get, as well as how much you’re getting for that price. Maybe even take note of how often you’re buying something. Do you make a trip to the store more than once a week for vegetable broth, spaghetti noodles, flour, rice, drinks, etc? If so, keep an eye on those prices. When you go into Costco, check how much they’re selling things for and see if it’s the better deal. Sometimes Costco doesn’t have a better price, so it’s good to be aware, especially if you’re price shopping.
- Have you ever gone shopping for food on an empty stomach? Those snack aisle sure draws you in when you’re hungry. Thankfully Costco offers samples on food if you’re there at the right time, but this can be a sneaky way to get you to buy things too (food just tastes better when you’re hungry).
- Go in with a list of exactly what you need and try really hard to only buy those things. This holds true for any type of grocery shopping. It’s easy to grab random things when you don’t have a plan, so go in with a plan if your goal is to stay within budget. If you enjoy browsing, go in with a budget at a minimum and keep track of your expenses so you aren’t caught off guard at the checkout with hundreds of more dollars in your cart than you though (which is very easy to do at a big box store).
Although Costco doesn’t offer much in the way of military discounts, or discounts at all beyond what they already offer, they do seem truly committed to keeping prices low. They’ve communicated that they won’t take on a product if the product company won’t offer deep enough wholesale discounts. They want higher value for the customer in most cases. We can encourage this practice even more by being conscious consumers and doing our research to ensure that we are only buying products that offer a better deal than buying individual pieces at retail.