Have you ever received a Costco annual rebate check, not sure if you broke even on the upgraded Executive membership fee, and wondered what to do next (including asking for a membership fee refund)? Then you are in the right place.
Last year, I asked and examined the question of: “Is the Costco membership fee worth it?“. In my case, the standard Costco membership is worth every penny. Between the savings from notably discounted Costco gasoline, bulk volume consumer staples, and high-quality house brand products like Costco’s Kirkland alcohol offerings and Kirkland dog food & cat food – I’m saving hundreds of dollars in comparison to similar purchases at other grocery stores and gas stations.
I even decided to upgrade from the standard Costco “Gold Star” to the “Executive” membership, based on the risk-free promise from a cashier of getting a membership fee refund if my Executive bonus 2% cash back annual rebate check did not surpass the added $60 fee for Executive membership.
With that in mind, let’s first do a quick recap of the Costco membership levels and associated fees.
Costco Membership Fee Review
Costco has 2 membership levels:
1. Costco Gold Star Membership (the standard membership level):
- $60 membership fee per year
- No cash back rewards
2. Costco Executive Membership (the upgraded membership level):
- $120 membership fee per year
- 2% cash back rewards, up to $1,000 cash back per year (note that some items, e.g. alcohol in some states, tobacco, membership fees, food court, and gasoline are not eligible for the 2% reward)
- “Extra benefits” – includes discounts on insurance, etc.
There are also business versions of these two, but the cost is the same, and the only difference from the non-business versions is the ability to add more people to the account.
What is the Costco Executive Membership Break Even Point?
With the Executive membership at $120, $60 more than the cost of the Standard membership, here is how the break-even math works out:
|Monthly Purchases:||Annual Purchases:||"Gold Star" Annual Reward:||"Executive" Annual Reward||Executive "Benefit" (Reward - Cost):|
|$250||$3,000||$0||$60||$0 (break even)|
- If you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases, you break even on the added $60 upgraded Executive membership cost, with a $60 rebate check.
- If you spend more than $3,000, your rebate is more than $60, and you make money on the added Executive membership cost. You should maintain the Executive membership.
- If you spend less than $3,000, your rebate is less than $60, and you lose money on the added Executive membership cost. You should downgrade from Executive to the Gold Star membership.
When is the Costco Annual Rebate Check Sent Out?
When you receive your annual rebate check from Costco, you can make the determination on whether a membership fee refund is warranted. So when does Costco send the annual rebate check? According to Costco:
The Reward will be mailed to you approximately 2 months before your renewal date in a Renewal Statement. This will reflect rewards earned up until the issue date. Once your Reward is issued, your Costco.com account will show the estimate of your next Reward.
Getting a Costco Membership Fee Refund
The Costco membership refund policy states:
Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
On Membership: We will cancel and refund your membership fee at any time if you are dissatisfied.
My first year of Executive membership, I received a $60.58 annual rebate check, coming out just $0.58 ahead of the added $60 fee. That was aided by the big purchase of a new dishwasher (the 2-year Costco appliance warranty is fantastic).
This year, there were no big ticket purchases, and I ended up with a check totaling $48.82, which is $11.18 less than the increased $60 membership fee. I didn’t want to cancel and get a full membership fee refund. I just wanted a refund on the difference.
So, it was time to take up the cashier on her “no risk” guarantee. We decided to ask for a refund on the amount that we lost. The steps were as simple as this:
- Approach the membership services counter with the rebate check and ask for the difference between the rebate check and the added $60 Executive membership fee.
- Get told that “you should spend more!” (with literature on how to do so).
- Turn in the rebate check and get $60 in cash.
Costco also says that you can call their Member Services Center at 1-800-774-2678, if you’d like to cancel.
That’s it. We did not cancel our membership, and will repeat this process each year until we are told that we no longer can. This way, we get the potential upsides of Executive membership, without the downsides.
If you’ve never shopped at Costco, and made it this far, there are a number of ways to shop at Costco without a membership, to get a lay of the land. And I’ve done an extensive Costco versus Sam’s Club comparison.