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(sort of a crosspost from a recent Costco coupon thread in Hot Deals)

This is the last year I'm paying for a Costco membership. I love the company (and that amazing return policy!) but lately I've not been buying deals there often and the annual fee no longer justifies any potential savings for me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I spend more there than I should on impulse buys and "perceived good deals" that I failed to research.

So here's what I'm doing:
I plan to let my membership lapse or perhaps go in and get a refund for this year's fees by invoking the "100% satisfaction guarantee".
On my last trip there, I purchased a dozen $10 Costco Cash gift cards. There was no issue with this and no questions asked.
Whenever I want to go back now, I can use one $10 Cash Card each time to get into the store and check-out.
If we run out and want more cards, I could ask a friend or family member that has an active membership to buy some for me.

Some information on Costco Cash Cards features:
  • Members and non-members can use them to shop Costco location in the US, Puerto Rico or on costco.com.
  • No fees, never diminish in value, and never expire.
  • Can be purchased in stores for any value ($10, maybe less), or online for $25 and up.
  • Can be used for gas purchases.
  • You DO NOT need any type of card to visit the optometrist or pharmacy, or to purchase alcohol.

More info from some sites that helped inform me of this option:
5 Ways To Shop At Costco With No Membership
How to Shop at Costco and Sams Club Without a Membership (lifehacker.com)

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Costco Cash
Thanks netoholic
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Definitely a fail on my part - but extraneous purchases I made were in my mind an attempt to justify or recoup the cost ... (more)

netoholic (Apr. 05, 2012 @ 10:11p) |

My mom's friend tried that with a cash card and they shot her down, so no.

calwatch (Apr. 11, 2012 @ 2:55a) |

I had my co-worker get me a $50 gift card and I used it whenever I needed it. As I went over the amount, I just paid cas... (more)

vloglady (Apr. 13, 2012 @ 1:56p) |

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Welcome to the club. Well, not to the Costco club, but I've been doing this for a couple years now to have my photos printed using Costco photo printers. The nice thing about the gift cards is that you can Have someone buy you the lowest denomination ($10), and anything over that amount you can pay using cash, debit, or AMEX.

About the only issue is that at checkout, a clerk will have to key you in as a special member (at my store, member 99), and if the lines are long this could cause a holdup.

The biggest advantage of Costco for me is the return of products without receipt even after a year. I just returned two unopened microfiber towels this weekend, and if I am not mistaken, I purchased them in 2009. This alone is worthy of paying membership fee for me.

Seems like the nice thing to do would be to split the cost of membership with that friend or relative. You're not really saving money as much as taking advantage of someone else's generosity.

It's almost the equivalent of posting "Get 100% off an Ipad - Have Grandma buy it for you for Christmas!!"

Also if you take this route, you may want to purchase Costco gift card online for any amount say $500, I don't think it is feasible to pay your $200 purchase with 20 separate $10 cash cards.

BobM73 said:   Seems like the nice thing to do would be to split the cost of membership with that friend or relative. You're not really saving money as much as taking advantage of someone else's generosity.

It's almost the equivalent of posting "Get 100% off an Ipad - Have Grandma buy it for you for Christmas!!"
Well if that's a concern, just ask them to buy 10 $10 gift cards and give them one as a "thank you".



turkey79 said:   Also if you take this route, you may want to purchase Costco gift card online for any amount say $500, I don't think it is feasible to pay your $200 purchase with 20 separate $10 cash cards.No, actually what you do is pay using one $10 gift card, and the rest of the amount using cash/credit/debit as normal. That way you use one $10 gift card per trip to get in.

Couldn't you just get in with one $10 gift card and add a new cash card to your cart to purchase on that trip to be used for the next trip?

netoholic said:   BobM73 said:   Seems like the nice thing to do would be to split the cost of membership with that friend or relative. You're not really saving money as much as taking advantage of someone else's generosity.

It's almost the equivalent of posting "Get 100% off an Ipad - Have Grandma buy it for you for Christmas!!"
Well if that's a concern, just ask them to buy 10 $10 gift cards and give them one as a "thank you".



It would be cheaper to purchase gift cards online ("Non-members will be charged a 5% surcharge over the member's posted product prices (except for prescription drugs)." than it would be to have family purchase 11x$10 cards, and give 1 ($10) to them (9.09%).

When you use one of these costco gift cards to make a purchase at costco B&M, do they charge you a non-member surcharge?
When they ask for your costco membership card, do you just show them the costco gift card and tell them you are not a member?

sloppy1 said:   When you use one of these costco gift cards to make a purchase at costco B&M, do they charge you a non-member surcharge?


I don't think so. However, I just read that if you use a costco cashcard, you have to either pay with cash or debit. Apparently they don't let non-members use credit card (AMEX), which, if true, effectively would mean you're paying a 2% (Assuming use of Fidelity 2% AMEX) surcharge by way of lost rewards.

interesting.

is this something new?

mine wouldnt even literally let me in the door let alone buy something without a membership card...i have no idea HOW they sold memberships without allowing people to figure out what they sell, but hey, thats just me. it was up there with the dumbest marketing plans ever.

kac425 said:   interesting.

is this something new?

mine wouldnt even literally let me in the door let alone buy something without a membership card...i have no idea HOW they sold memberships without allowing people to figure out what they sell, but hey, thats just me. it was up there with the dumbest marketing plans ever.


Lol, when I don't have a membership, I just tell the front door guy that I'm going over to the mmebership desk. Then I go over and buy a hot dog for lunch, then I walk through the registers to go look at what's in the store.

FYI, a loophole is to say that you want to go get something from the pharmacy (assuming it's inside the store like it is at mine), it's illegal for them to prevent you access to the pharmacy (or the liquor stores, which are usually detached). pharmacies are not permitted to discriminate who they dispense drugs to based on whether or not a patient is a member.

kac425 said:   interesting.

is this something new?

mine wouldnt even literally let me in the door let alone buy something without a membership card...i have no idea HOW they sold memberships without allowing people to figure out what they sell, but hey, thats just me. it was up there with the dumbest marketing plans ever.


It seems to be working out pretty well for Costco.

Since I went with the executive membership that gives back 2% each year, I have no problem lending my card out to friends and family. The more they spend, the happier I am.

My wife lends her card out so much, that she knows the drill for how to get a temporary card printed because she doesn't have the actual card on her so often.

You can buy a membership and get a full refund when you cancel before 1 year.

Do they allow some one else to shop with your card (having your pic on it)? Unfortunately it's not happening in our NoVa costcos.

i think you can cancel after any # of years, and get that full year membership amount back

jayaramu said:   i think you can cancel after any # of years, and get that full year membership amount back

You can get a refund for any year before that year's membership expires. So if you're in year 4, you can cancel and get year 4's fee back.

bobfather said:   Welcome to the club. Well, not to the Costco club, but I've been doing this for a couple years now to have my photos printed using Costco photo printers. The nice thing about the gift cards is that you can Have someone buy you the lowest denomination ($10), and anything over that amount you can pay using cash, debit, or AMEX.

About the only issue is that at checkout, a clerk will have to key you in as a special member (at my store, member 99), and if the lines are long this could cause a holdup.


wow, i should do that too. now have your photo printed on where? the cash card? please elaborate

I have no Costco closer than 30 minutes, although one is being built that will be 15 minutes. I joined last year in May to buy eyeglasses, and got an Executive Membership.

When I got my renewal notice, I had earned just over $20 in 2% credits, no where near the $50 I paid (last year) for the privilege. Apparently they don't count the $60 I got from Capital One for opening a savings account (non-executive members only get $20). I went to the Costco desk and got a refund of the $50 I paid for Executive, which they then applied to my next year's membership, so I paid $60 (it's currently $110). As long as I go to the desk before May 1, 2013, if I don't use $55 worth of 2% of my purchases (breakeven $2,750), I'll get that back to.

The reason to pay for Executive is that IF you make some large purchases (home generator, furniture, tires, etc.), it's possible the 2% back will be worthwhile. And, during the year, there are benefits that don't count towards the 2% that only Executive members get.

On the overall is it worth it for a regular membership, that's tough to answer. I justified last year on the eyeglass purchase ($130 for lenses, $18 to use my old frames). We've saved on gas, but of course have to be near a Costco that has a gas station, since not all do and the closest one doesn't. We're going to keep the membership for the next year as the new store is opening, then evaluate how we use it. We'll also have another family member on the membership (with them paying their $50 fee), so the 2% may be earned more easily.

I thik you can get the differences of extra amount paid for executive membership (50 or 55 minus Cash Back) only for first year of your executive membership. If you want to get the differences for the second year also, you have to close or downgrade your executive membership to gold.

tartar said:   bobfather said:   Welcome to the club. Well, not to the Costco club, but I've been doing this for a couple years now to have my photos printed using Costco photo printers. The nice thing about the gift cards is that you can Have someone buy you the lowest denomination ($10), and anything over that amount you can pay using cash, debit, or AMEX.

About the only issue is that at checkout, a clerk will have to key you in as a special member (at my store, member 99), and if the lines are long this could cause a holdup.


wow, i should do that too. now have your photo printed on where? the cash card? please elaborate


He has his photos printed on photo paper. He uses Costco for photo printing. You can't get your photo printed on a cash card.

Only $25 cash gift cards available here online, Harrisburg Pa, and only shipped with 0 balance, requires a current member to reload cash to card


jayaramu said:   I thik you can get the differences of extra amount paid for executive membership (50 or 55 minus Cash Back) only for first year of your executive membership. If you want to get the differences for the second year also, you have to close or downgrade your executive membership to gold.

i was informed every year by Costco cust. service. i've gotten the difference twice now and am still Executive member.

Does anyone know if you can use coupons when paying as a non-member with a gift card? The costco coupons save me over $55 (current cost of membership) yearly and would justify the membership fee.

jayaramu said:   Do they allow some one else to shop with your card (having your pic on it)? Unfortunately it's not happening in our NoVa costcos.

Not true, I'm in NoVA and my card does not have a picture. I lend my card out all the time as I'm also an executive member.

Costco also allows 2 people per membership, so you can split the fee between someone else. I don't know if the other person needs to live with you, but I can't imagine Costco is aggressive about checking that.

markballew said:   Costco also allows 2 people per membership, so you can split the fee between someone else. I don't know if the other person needs to live with you, but I can't imagine Costco is aggressive about checking that.

Unfortunately, yes they are... They demanded a proof of residence before adding the 2nd member. Only way to make this fly is if you are renewing existing membership with 2 ppl. When we tried creating a new account... they did not allow it.

tld120 said:   Only $25 cash gift cards available here online, Harrisburg Pa, and only shipped with 0 balance, requires a current member to reload cash to card
I buy mine off of eBay.

netsurf12 said:   jayaramu said:   Do they allow some one else to shop with your card (having your pic on it)? Unfortunately it's not happening in our NoVa costcos.

Not true, I'm in NoVA and my card does not have a picture. I lend my card out all the time as I'm also an executive member.




I'm in NoVa and am an executive member and my card does not have my picture. Most of the times there is no problem but many times some of the cashiers ask for a photo I'd to match with the name on the card.

You can buy Costco cards online if you have a membership number you can input for your account. Then you can pay by credit card to order the card. Even if you have to pay the rest with debit, you can get the rewards on your card by purchasing the cash cards online.

Blurry photos anyway, so who is to know?

Self Service checkout registers: Do they work for cash cards?

I'll get red for this but I'm ready so bring it on...

I tried this years ago and I hate Costco for this because they treat you like Nazi's when you don't have a membership. They have stupid rules like:

1. Must use entire gift card balance in that visit
2. Must get a one-day pass at the membership desk before shopping
3. Can't use credit cards, only cash and debit if purchase exceeds gift card value (tho I did secretly swipe my credit card after the gift card and they were just annoyed but let it went through)

So after all these hassles, I found an even better solution to having friends and family getting me gift cards. I bought the membership and put my wife on it as secondary. 11 months later, I cancel the membership and get my membership fee refunded. My wife signs up and puts me as secondary and cancels in 11 months. We've done this for two full cycles so far. This is better to have them hold $55 worth of membership fees than over $100s of gift card. Also, I abuse the return policy to no end. Yeah, I do want them to go out of business.

Bring it.

Btw, people who thinks that everything must be cheaper at Costco because you've paid a membership for it is an idiot. Costco makes plenty of money without the bogus fees.

can you use costco gift cards at the costco gas pump for membership information only and then use your own American Express to pay for the gasoline?

I just stock up right before my membership lapses. Then hold out as long as possible and renew and get a fresh year from then.

mrgamers said:   can you use costco gift cards at the costco gas pump for membership information only and then use your own American Express to pay for the gasoline?

You can tell the gas attendant that you forgot your card and they will swipe theirs for you.

The benefits of having a Cost co membership far out way trying to save a couple bucks and going the gift card route.....

planner23899 said:   The benefits of having a Cost co membership far out way trying to save a couple bucks and going the gift card route.....

1. Right now, their gas prices seem to be better than most others. So consider that in the decision making. 2. I like their AMEX card - but they recently devalued that by reducing the restaurant CashBack. So no longer a big plus. And Chase/Discover hitting their in their 5% category covering half a year between the two.

Not sure what other benefits you are talking about - do they supply you with H&B? I personally found that most of their programs like new car purchase, discounted auto insurance are not that great. They are great for people who don't know how to shop around and think that Costco is a company created by god for providing good prices on everything. Yeah right! And morally, I can't return a non-blu-ray DVD player even though they have a lifetime satisfaction guarantee since it is still working - so that avenue of making membership pay for itself doesn't work for me.

But overall, the membership pays for itself - so I leave it alone and keep my life simple.

Skipping 16 Messages...
I had my co-worker get me a $50 gift card and I used it whenever I needed it. As I went over the amount, I just paid cash. No problem at all.



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