8 Ways to Make Your Costco Membership Pay for Itself

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Costco store
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Everything requires a membership fee these days, it seems, from warehouse stores to video games to gyms to streaming TV and music services. But if the membership pays for itself, then you’re in good shape.

A Costco membership currently begins at $60 a year, and depending on what you buy, you can save enough money to cover that cost before that year is up.

Do note that regional variations in pricing are to be expected, so the savings may be more or less depending on where you normally shop. Sales can affect prices too. And while we’re citing online prices here, Costco often charges more for the same item when purchased online versus in a warehouse. So shopping in person could save you even more.

Here are ways that you can save at least enough money at Costco to cover the cost of a membership.

1. Gift cards

Discounted gift cards on display at a Costco
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Costco doesn’t sell as many gift cards as your local grocery store, but it tends to offer the ones it does sell at discounted prices.

You’ll pay just $450 for a $500 Southwest Airlines gift card. Buy two, and you’ve saved $100 and recovered your membership fee and then some.

Restaurant gift cards are discounted at Costco, too.

If you’re a fan of the Landry’s restaurant chains — which include Landry’s Seafood House, Morton’s, Rainforest Cafe and Bubba Gump, among others — you can buy $300 in gift card for $240, which covers a Costco membership fee and delivers some tasty meals and memories.

2. Diapers

Diapers at Costco
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Is there a baby in your life? Costco sells a pack of 148 Huggies Plus diapers for $40. My Target wants $46 for the same amount and brand.

Yes, you’d have to buy multiple packages for the savings to equal your membership fee, but parents of babies can never have too many diapers.

3. Air fryers

Air fryer at Costco
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Air fryers remain a popular way to simulate deep-frying without submerging your food in oil. (Here are some surprising things you can make in an air fryer.)

Costco sells the Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Smart XL Air Fry Oven for $250. You’d pay $330 for a Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 at Best Buy, so buying it at Costco saves you $80. This Reddit discussion can’t find much difference between the two models.

4. Refrigerators

LG kitchen appliances at Costco
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You may not think of large appliances when you think of Costco, but if you’re in need of one, price out the Costco offerings. Costco sells this fancy bespoke Samsung 29 cubic feet fridge for $2,500, while it’s priced on Samsung’s own site for $2,900.

That may be an extreme example — not everyone needs a “bespoke” refrigerator — but less-expensive appliances are also priced competitively.

Plus, Costco includes a two-year warranty and other perks with the purchase of certain types of appliances, saving you even more. See “8 Reasons to Buy Major Appliances at Costco.”

5. Tire services

Costco tire center
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The tires on your vehicle need to be regularly rotated and balanced to ensure even wear. But you could pay anywhere from $35 to $45 to have your tires rotated and from $27 and $34 for balancing.

Buy your tires at Costco, and you’ll get those services free for the life of the tires, plus Costco’s tire center will check and adjust tire pressure and fix flats, when possible, also for free. These tire services are just one of the things Costco members can get for free.

6. Disney vacation

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Want to take the family to Disneyland? Check out Costco’s prices before you pack the Mickey Mouse ears.

In one example, a weekday getaway saves you 15% on a Disneyland resort hotel, plus gives you a Disney gift card worth up to $260 when you buy a multi-day package.

The card can be used toward Disney shopping and dining outlets, and your vacation deal also includes early theme-park entry, so you can nab a ride on your favorite attraction before the crowds hit.

7. Allergy medicine

Kirkland Signature Aller-Tec allergy medication at Costco
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Allergies don’t have to ruin an otherwise wonderful spring or summer day.

One bottle of 365 10-mg tablets of Costco’s Kirkland Signature Aller-Tec (a generic version of Zyrtec) is regularly priced at $15. The equivalent product from CVS Health’s house brand retails for $59.

While that savings of $44 won’t cover the whole cost of a membership, it can add up if you take more than one tablet per day, or if more than one person in your household uses the medication.

8. Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract at Costco
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When exactly did vanilla extract get so expensive? You’d think it’s liquid gold you’re pouring into those cookie recipes.

Two 16-ounce bottles of pure vanilla extract cost $34 at Costco, while the equivalent amount from the McCormick brand would cost a whopping $88 on Amazon.

This savings of $54 is not quite enough for a membership, but frequent bakers might go through enough vanilla in a year to cover the membership cost.

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