Costco Membership Program: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023

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Costco Wholesale Corporation, often referred to simply as Costco, has established itself as a dominant player in the retail industry. Its unique business model, offering a wide range of products at wholesale prices to its members, has attracted millions of shoppers worldwide. In this article, we will delve into the Costco membership program, exploring its cost, benefits, and availability in different countries, as well as related topics such as digital membership cards, Black Friday deals, and gift cards.

Costco reward programs


Costco Membership

Costco operates on a membership-based model, meaning you must be a member to take full advantage of its offerings. This exclusivity allows the company to offer substantial discounts on products and services, creating a loyal customer base. There are two primary types of Costco memberships: Gold Star and Executive.

  • Gold Star Membership: This is the standard membership level available to all customers. It provides access to Costco warehouses and allows members to shop for a wide range of products at discounted prices.
  • Executive Membership: For those seeking even more benefits, the Executive Membership offers additional perks, such as earning cashback on purchases and access to exclusive travel deals.

Costco Membership Cost in 2023

As of 2023, the cost of a Costco membership in the United States is as follows:

  • Gold Star Membership: $60 per year
  • Executive Membership: $120 per year

It's important to note that Executive Membership includes all the benefits of a Gold Star Membership but comes with the added advantage of earning a 2% cashback reward on eligible purchases. This cashback can be significant for frequent Costco shoppers.

Costco membership


How Much is a Costco Membership in Canada and the UK?

In Canada, the membership fees for 2023 are comparable to those in the United States:

  • Gold Star Membership: $60 CAD per year
  • Executive Membership: $120 CAD per year

In the United Kingdom, the membership fees differ slightly due to currency conversion and local market factors:

  • Gold Star Membership: £33.60 per year
  • Executive Membership: £67.20 per year

The benefits of each membership tier remain consistent across these regions, with Executive Membership offering cashback rewards in both Canada and the UK as well.

Can You Enter Costco Without a Membership?

Access to Costco warehouses generally requires a valid membership card. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Costco Guest Pass: Some locations may offer guest passes, allowing non-members to shop at Costco. These passes are usually given to new members to introduce friends or family to the store.
  • Pharmacy, Optical, and Alcohol Purchases: In some jurisdictions, regulations require that certain areas of Costco, such as the pharmacy, optical department, and alcohol section, must be accessible to non-members. However, this access may be limited, and the selection of products may not be as extensive.

It's essential to check with your local Costco store for specific policies regarding non-member access, as they may vary by location.

Costco Membership Card

Upon enrolling in a Costco membership, you will receive a physical membership card. This card serves as your key to accessing Costco warehouses and enjoying the benefits of your chosen membership tier.

  • Gold Star Membership Card: This card grants you access to shop at Costco warehouses and take advantage of the various discounts and offers available.
  • Executive Membership Card: If you opt for the Executive Membership, your card will include your name and membership number. This card also serves as your identification within the Costco system.

Costco Digital Membership Card

In addition to the traditional physical membership card, Costco offers a digital membership card option. This digital card is accessible through the official Costco app, available for both iOS and Android devices. To use the digital membership card, follow these steps:

  • Download the Costco app from your device's app store.
  • Sign in with your account information.
  • Navigate to the "Membership" section within the app.
  • Tap on "View Membership Card" to access your digital card.

The digital membership card offers convenience as it eliminates the need to carry a physical card. It also allows you to easily track your membership status and benefits.

Costco Digital Shop Card

Costco provides its members with an additional digital benefit known as the Costco Digital Shop Card. This feature is available to Executive Members and offers exclusive savings on select items within the Costco app. Here's how it works:

  • Executive Members receive an annual 2% reward, up to $1,000, on eligible Costco and Costco Travel purchases. This reward is distributed as a Costco Digital Shop Card.
  • The Digital Shop Card can be used for future purchases at Costco warehouses, on, or through the Costco app.
  • To access and use your Digital Shop Card, simply log in to your Costco account through the app or website, where your available balance will be displayed.

The Costco Digital Shop Card provides an extra incentive for Executive Members, effectively reducing the cost of their membership.

Costco Membership Black Friday

Costco's Black Friday sales are highly anticipated by shoppers looking for exceptional deals on a wide range of products. While the specific offers may vary each year, Costco typically offers exclusive discounts to its members during the Black Friday event. Some common categories for Black Friday deals at Costco include electronics, appliances, clothing, and more.

Costco's Black Friday deals are typically available both in-store and online. It's worth noting that some of these deals may be limited-time offers, so members are encouraged to check the Costco website and app for the latest information on Black Friday deals and store hours during this event.

Costco Gift Card

Costco offers gift cards that can be purchased by both members and non-members. These gift cards, often referred to as Costco Cash Cards, can be a convenient way to shop at Costco, especially if you don't have a membership.

  • Costco Cash Cards: These gift cards can be loaded with a specific amount of money and used to make purchases at Costco warehouses, on, or through the Costco app. Non-members can also purchase and use Costco Cash Cards, making them a versatile option for anyone looking to shop at Costco without a membership.
  • Membership Activation Certificates: Costco also offers Membership Activation Certificates, which can be purchased by non-members. These certificates allow non-members to sign up for a Costco membership and gain access to the warehouse and its benefits.

Costco Gift Card Without Membership

One of the advantages of the Costco Cash Card is that it can be used by non-members to shop at Costco warehouses. Here are some key details about using a Costco gift card without a membership:

  • Non-members can purchase and reload Costco Cash Cards online or at Costco warehouse locations.
  • The amount loaded onto the Costco Cash Card can be used for purchases, and any remaining balance can be used for future shopping trips.

Costco Cash Cards have no expiration date, making them a flexible option for occasional Costco shoppers or those who want to explore the store without committing to a membership.

Costco's membership program is at the core of its business model, providing exclusive access to its warehouses and a multitude of benefits to its members. While the membership cost may vary slightly by region, the savings and perks associated with Costco memberships make them a compelling choice for frequent shoppers. Whether you prefer a physical or digital membership card, or even if you're a non-member looking to explore Costco, the options are designed to cater to a wide range of customers.

Georgetta F. Palsen

Georgetta F. Palsen

About the author

Georgetta F. Palsen spearheads the Loyalty Programs Project, aiming to unravel the global impact of loyalty programs. Leading a dedicated team, she adopts an interdisciplinary approach to explore these programs' influence on consumer behavior and capitalism, offering critical insights for academics and businesses navigating the complexities of today's societal dynamics. More info