Is a Costco Executive Membership Worth It?

If you love shopping at Costco warehouse clubs as much as money expert Clark Howard does, you may have considered upgrading your Gold Star membership.

We’ve explored the benefits of the Costco Gold Star Executive Membership and have run the numbers on it versus the standard Gold Star Membership.

In this article, we’ll talk about who would — and who wouldn’t — benefit from upgrading to a Gold Star Executive Membership.

Costco Gold Star Executive Membership: Can You Save Money by Upgrading?

Costco tempts shoppers to upgrade their memberships by offering a number of perks, but an upgrade comes at a cost.

Let’s break it down to see if spending that extra $60 a year would be worth it for you.

How Much Does a Costco Gold Star Executive Membership Cost?

A basic Costco Gold Star Membership, which is required to shop in the warehouse store in most — but not all — cases costs $60 a year.

A Costco Gold Star Executive Membership costs double that: $120 a year. However, Costco will prorate that amount based on the number of months remaining on your current membership. That means that if you are six months into your basic membership, upgrading to Executive for the remainder of the year will cost you only $30.

Costco says its 100% Satisfaction Guarantee applies to memberships and that it will refund your membership fee at any time if you are not completely satisfied.

What Are the Advantages of Having an Executive Membership?

The biggest advantage of upgrading to a Gold Star Executive Membership is that you get an annual 2% reward — up to $1,000 — on almost everything you buy from Costco.

You get this 2% back in the form of a certificate Costco will mail to you with your annual renewal notice. You can use the certificate to pay for most items you buy at the register in a Costco warehouse.

Purchases that do not qualify for the 2% reward include:

  • Cigarettes and other tobacco-related products
  • Gasoline
  • Costco Shop Cards (gift cards)
  • Postage stamps
  • Alcohol (in certain states)
  • Food court purchases
  • Membership fees

Note that, while travel purchased through Costco does qualify for the 2% reward, some other costs related to that travel do not. This includes things like surcharges, gratuities, trip protection, and resort charges.

Costco also says that an Executive Membership qualifies you for discounts on Costco services such as check printing and identity protection.

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How Do I Know if an Executive Membership Makes Sense for Me?

Obviously, the biggest advantage to upgrading to an Executive Membership is the 2% reward. It basically amounts to an additional 2% discount on almost everything you buy at Costco’s already-low prices. But paying more for the Executive Membership makes sense only if you’re going to spend enough at Costco to justify the additional $60 a year.

Here’s how to figure out if it’s worth it for you:

Costco Spend Per MonthCostco Spend Per YearAnnual Reward

As you can see from the chart, spending $250 a month is the break-even point for whether an Executive Membership is worth it.

Look back at your Costco expenses from the past year. Did you spend more than that? If so, you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not an Executive Member.

Of course, if you plan to take advantage of other Costco services, your break-even point could be even lower when you factor in the discounts.

And if you’re planning to book a big vacation through Costco, that trip alone could be enough to pay for your membership upgrade.

Final Thought

If you’re a frequent Costco shopper., it might be time to crunch some numbers. Check your spending patterns and see if the 2% reward justifies the expense. You might be surprised to learn that you’re missing out on some real savings opportunities — and that’s something Team Clark never likes to see.

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— Update: 06-01-2023 — found an additional article Is Costco's Executive Membership Worth It? from the website for the keyword benefits of executive costco membership.

Costco is a shopping safe haven for many families all across the world because of its incredible deals and no-frills warehouse environment. Many Costco shoppers spend tons of money buying bulk products through the standard Costco Gold Star Membership card, but not many know the true value of potentially upgrading to the Executive Membership and whether they’ll save money with it in the long run.

That’s why Slickdeals is breaking down exactly what perks come with the Executive status and if it’s worth it for you to shell out the extra cash.

How much does the Costco Executive Membership cost?

Benefits of executive costco membership
Credit: Slickdeals/Costco

First, let’s compare the Gold Star and Executive costs in order to see what it’ll cost you if you do decide to upgrade or flat-out get a Costco card as a non-member.

Standard Gold Star membership is priced at $60 per year. You will need to be a Costco member in order to shop inside the warehouse, but there are ways to circumvent that and shop as a non-member if you’re going to the pharmacy, buying alcohol, grabbing a pizza or a hot dog at the food court. We have a handy guide on how to shop at Costco without a membership.

A Costco Executive membership is double the standard Gold Star price at $120 per year. But there are multiple ways to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

  • Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re unhappy or not taking enough advantage of the benefits, there is a “risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee” so that you can get a refund on your membership fee at any time. Simply go to the membership counter or call 1-800-774-2678. However, any rewards you’ve accumulated will be subtracted from the refund.
  • Prorated Price for Upgrades: If you’re already a Gold Star member and you upgrade to Executive, the price of the upgrade will be prorated based on how many months you have left in your current membership, so you may end up paying less than the extra 60 bucks to upgrade.

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Are there deals or discounts on the Costco Executive Membership?

Costco will occasionally offer enticing deals to get new members to sign up for a Costco Executive Membership.
The current deals include:

Costco shop cards can be used in-stores and online for Costco merchandise, and essentially brings your Executive membership fee for the first year down to $100. It’s a sweet deal if you are a regular shopper at the warehouse.

What are the benefits of Costco Executive Membership?

Benefits of executive costco membership
Credit: Costco

To start both the Costco Gold Star and Executive Memberships offer:

  • Access to shopping inside Costco’s warehouses
  • Access to buying products through Costco’s website and avoid non-member surcharges
  • Use of Costco’s member services, such as gas stations, auto repairs, travel, insurance and more

Where the Executive really shines is in the rewards you can earn, which we cover below.

1. Earn 2% Rewards on Eligible Purchases

When you upgrade to the Executive membership, the most notable difference is that you can earn a 2% reward annually on qualified purchases you make through its warehouses, online and even the trips and bookings you make via Costco Travel.

Here is a breakdown of the rewards you can earn based on your spending:

  • Spend $3,000 a year and get $60 in rewards
  • Spend $6,000 a year and get $120 in rewards
  • Spend $9,000 a year and get $180 in rewards
  • Spend $15,000 a year and get $300 in rewards
  • Spend $50,040 a year and get $1,000 in rewards (the maximum)

Note that there is a cap of a $1,000 that you can get back annually, so once you hit that limit you can no longer earn additional rewards on purchases.

2. Access to Additional Executive Member Savings

Also, in addition to the 2% reward back, the Executive membership gives you more savings on Costco services such as “check printing, identity protection and free roadside assistance for vehicles covered through the auto insurance program.” Plus, you get other perks like glass repair reimbursement and home lockout assistance.

Little-known tip: On top of the 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, either Costco memberships will qualify you for an additional 1-year warranty extension on TVs, computers, major appliances or water heaters. So, that’s 2 years you’re covered for any potential mishaps on electronics and appliances!

3. Earn Rewards from Costco Travel

If you and your family make a yearly vacation getaway, Costco Travel is even more perfect to qualify for the 2% reward on everything you book from flights to hotels and complete packages. I routinely reserve my vehicles through Costco Travel to compare multiple businesses and get the cheapest prices. Keep in mind that surcharges, resort charges, trip protection and gratuities don’t count toward the reward.

What purchases do not count towards the 2% reward?

Benefits of executive costco membership
Credit: Pixabay

And just so you’re not surprised while checking out your items, you don’t earn 2% rewards on these purchases:

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  • Alcohol (in various states)
  • Membership fees
  • Costco gift cards
  • Gasoline
  • Food court
  • Postage stamps
  • Cigarettes/Tobacco-related products
  • Eye exams
  • Tire balance and installation fees

When will I receive my 2% reward?

Your 2% rewards will be automatically mailed to you in the form of a certificate around two months prior to your member renewal date. If you’re not sure when your renewal date is, inquire at your local Costco warehouse or check your account through or using the Costco app.

How do I use my 2% rewards?

Benefits of executive costco membership
Credit: Slickdeals
  • In-store: To use your rewards, simply hand the certificate to the cashier when checking out at your local warehouse.
  • Online: If you want to use your rewards when shopping at, you must first redeem it for a Costco Shop Card at a warehouse, which can then be used to shop online.

What can I redeem my 2% reward on?

You can spend your rewards on most items when shopping at Costco warehouses.

Do Executive Members have special warehouse hours?

Not anymore. Some of you savvy shoppers might have taken advantage of the special warehouse hours back in the days for Executive members, but sadly, that unique access is no longer available. There are still special operating hours for elderly members over the age of 60, the disabled and immunocompromised.

Can I add a second household member to my Costco Executive Membership?

Both the Executive and Gold Star Memberships come with one free card for a member of your household over the age of 18, and all cardholders can earn the 2% annual reward when making eligible purchases. The additional cardholder must have the same residential address as the primary cardholder.

Is the Costco Executive Membership worth it for me?

Benefits of executive costco membership
Credit: Twenty20

We’ll make it very clear and simple for you: the $120 annual fee for the Executive card is worth it if you spend more than $500 a month or $6,000 a year total at Costco on eligible purchases. Those are the exact numbers needed to get $120 in rewards and break even on the extra yearly cost in the membership fees.
The Costco Executive Membership is absolutely worth it if you have a big family to feed and care for. If you make several big grocery purchases a month, $500 is relatively easy to meet just from buying food alone. You can stock up on food, toilet paper, skincare products, and bath and body items to make the most of your membership. Plus, it’s also worth it if you or your loved ones travel frequently through Costco or are looking to make some purchases on large appliances like TVs, fridges, dishwashers, washer/dryers and more.

Final Thoughts on Costco’s Executive Membership

Now, after learning more about the differences and perks, gather those past Costco receipts and plan your big purchases and vacation trips accordingly to see if you can easily match that $500 monthly or $6,000 yearly amount. If so, then it doesn’t hurt to go to the membership counter and ask about the Executive upgrade.
If you’re on the fence about it, remember that earlier we stated Costco will refund that extra cost in case you’re unsatisfied or not fully taking advantage of everything Executive has to offer.

Check out:

  • 37 best things to buy at Costco
  • Coolest Costco Finds As Seen on Tiktok and Instagram
  • This Month’s Costco Coupon Book
  • Costco Travel Deals & Vacation Packages
  • Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Which Is Better?


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About the Author: Tung Chi