5 Lesser Known Perks of Costco Membership

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Costco SignEveryone knows about the cheap Costco gas and the wonderful Costco return policy (though on electronics it has certainly lost some of its teeth), but there are a lot of lesser known perks that members should try to take advantage of. Here are just five of them.

Sharebuilder New Account Promotion

Sharebuilder, recently acquired by ING Direct, is a popular dollar cost averaging brokerage. All members can get a $55 account bonus when they open a new account and make one purchase through a special Costco Sharebuilder landing page. Less valuable is the quarterly rebate on automatic transaction fees – Executive Members are eligible for a 25% quarterly rebate while Goldstar and Business members are eligible for a 10% rebate. There are some other terms and conditions that you’ll need to review if you’re seriously considering signing up for their automatic investing program.

Periodically Costco will spotlight a “Service of the Month” and when they choose Sharebuilder, it often comes with some nice perk like a cash card or something like that.

It’s a nice promotion because the $55 beats the typical $50 Sharebuilder promotions that run all the time.

Capital One Direct Banking Member Bonus

There’s another signup bonus available for members and this time it’s with Capital One Direct Banking. Executive members get $60 and Gold Star/Business members get $20 when they open an account and deposit $5,000 within 30 days. Their online savings account is yielding a solid 3.66% APY on balances over $5,000 too, which is a nice bonus. If you’re looking to lock in a CD, they have an 18 month CD at 4.46% APY and a 7-year CD offering 5.55% APY. The online savings rate is certainly one of the better high yield savings account rates and the CD rate is also among the best CD rates.

The eagle eye’d may notice that Costco members also get higher yields on both products. The standard online savings account rate only gets as high as 3.55% APY (and that’s if you have a daily balance above $10,000) while the standard 18-month CD rate is 4.41% APY. It’s important that you let them know you’re Costco members if you decide to bank with them!

Car-Buying Service

I’ve read stories about people having a good experience using Costco’s car buying service. I don’t know how it differs from ones I’ve seen offered at credit unions though I imagine they are similar. The website claims no haggle pricing with “special manufacturer rebates & incentives.”

I chose a 2009 Honda Civic Sedan and it listed a 5 Speed Manual DX for $15,405. I looked on and the lowest list price they had on that vehicle was $16,825 – a difference of over $1400. I didn’t compare all the features but that’s looking pretty solid just to start. If you’re a Costco member and looking for a car, you definitely want to check out the car buying service.

Bank Checks

Costco also offers check printing services that are pretty competitively priced versus some of those mailers (and you have the confidence you’re working with someone vetted by Costco). 2 boxes (400 checks) of their singles costs $10.59 ($8.47 if you’re an executive member) plus shipping. The same thing costs $13.92 at Wal-Mart, so you save a few dollars.

I personally try to limit the number of personal checks I use because they’re one of the most insecure methods of payment available. All the information someone needs to steal your identity is available on those checks – your name, your address, your bank, your bank’s ABA routing number, your account number, and even your check number (if you ever wondered why sometimes checks start with 1001 or 501 rather than 1, that’s a “security feature”). But, if you like checks, Costco can get them for you cheaper.

Photo Printing

The fact that you can print photos at Costco is nothing special. What’s nice is that you can orders prints and pick up photos up to 12×18 in size within an hour at your local Costco, while paying Costco prices. Their prices won’t knock your socks off when you compare them with online photo printers but they easily beat any other photo printers you know of. Here are their prices as of today:

Size Price (each)
4×6 $0.17
5×7 $0.39
8×10 $1.49
8×12 $1.49
11×14 $2.99
12×18 $2.99
8×8 $1.49
12×12 $2.99
wallets(4) $0.39
16×20* $9.99
20×30* $9.99

* mail order only

What’s your favorite Costco perk?

(Photo: greenwenvy)

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “5 Lesser Known Perks of Costco Membership”

  1. tom says:

    I can’t confirm this perk for sure, but I was told by a friend that if you have an executive memebership and cannot recoup the extra $50 spent with your 2% cash back, Costco will refund you the difference. He said they’ve done it for him.

    I just started my Executive membership this year so I’ll wait to see what happens.

    • Anna says:

      This is true, however there are a couple details you’re leaving out. If 2% of your prior year spending as an Exec member is not greater than $50, then potentially you are not at least breaking even on the Exec membership fee, and paying $50 more for this mbrsp level might not in your best financial interest. I say “might” because there are many other benefits and discounts, etc. associated with an Executive mbrshp which could add up to greater savings beyond the $50 addtl. fee you’re paying for the Exec. mbrship. For the sake of example, say you spent a total of $2,000 last year at Coscto as an Exc member, so your 2% rebate check came to $40. You might be down $10 on this deal, or you might have utilized Costco services as an Exec mbr yielding a >$10 savings. If not, at your request, Costco can refund to you the difference btwn your 2% reward and the $50 “extra” you paid to upgrade to Exec., (in this case, $10.) … AND you will be downgraded to the regular “Gold Star” membership. Thus, going forward, your mbrsp will be only $50/yr BUT you will not be getting a 2% cash rebate on your Costco purchases and you will not be eligible for the added discounts/savings etc. on Costco services that are offered to Executive members. It’s a no-lose proposition which either makes sense or doesn’t, depending primarily on one’s annual spending level.

    • Anonymous says:

      its true ….we do do that

  2. Jessica says:

    A guy in my office books all of his vacations through Costco and always raves about their customer service and pricing. I haven’t looked into it myself but it sounds like a pretty good service.

    I’ve been planning a wedding recently and have found that Costco also has good quality invitations/printing service for low prices and will deliver flowers to your house already arranged into bouquets.

  3. jim says:

    @tom: Yes, that’s true, a Costco rep used that perk as a way to convince people to sign up to the Executive membership.

    @Jessica: I’ve looked at the vacation booklets and the prices never seemed all that awesome, I haven’t done it myself but it’s good to hear others have had good experiences with it.

  4. Sheila says:

    Another perk that you should look into before a vacation is special rental car offers from Costco and BJ’s Warehouse, too. They usually have some of the best rates that you can find, plus sometimes warehouse members can one additional driver on the contract at no extra charge.

    Now if they just had a guarantee that those cars were bug-free, we’d be sitting pretty! 😉

  5. poscogrubb says:

    If you order your Costco photos online, 4×6 prints will ship for FREE via USPS first class mail. Great for sending the photos directly to Grandma. When shipping charges are included, Costco’s prices are very competitive with other online photo printing services.

  6. Miss M says:

    Hey for perk number one there is an even better promotion going on right now, it’s $70 for gold star members and $90 for executive members. Here is my post on the special promo:

    Sharebuilder Promotion for Costco Members

  7. Patrick says:

    Costco is the best store ever. There are a few items that it is not bright to buy there. Jessica, that is great information about wedding invitations that I will tell my fiancee when we start looking into stuff for our wedding. Thanks.

  8. CK says:

    Costco blows. I say so because they haven’t built a store near me.

  9. El Cheapo says:

    Costco travel is awesome. Discounts on car rentals and hotels. Use it once a year and it already pays for the membership fee….

  10. Green_Panda says:

    I really enjoy the substantial savings we got on our car insurance. It cut our bill in half.

  11. NJ man says:

    Just wanted to know if Costco offers any incentive on items it sells in warehouses to it current shareholders across the country.

  12. Kathy Brown says:

    That Capital One Direct Banking info is WRONG!!! The interest rate on online savings with them is .75%, NOT 3.66%. Check your facts!
    Ally pays .84% and you always talk to a human. I love them.

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