Costco is one of America's favorite places to shop, in part, because of the wide variety of goods and services the retailer offers. And by wide variety, we mean that Costco really does stock or ship pretty much everything you could ever need, from basic necessities, such as food and toilet paper, to discount programs for car purchases and vacations.
You typically need to purchase a membership to shop at Costco and take advantage of the wholesale club's offerings, a basic version of which costs $60 a year. More than 94 million members pay the annual fee so they access the chain's best products and services, so Costco must be doing something right.
Here's a look at some of the more surprising items and services Costco offers its members.
The average cost of a funeral in the U.S. is about $7,360, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, and the average cost of a casket alone is between $2,000 and $5,000. But Costco has premium caskets starting at about $900, as well as a selection of inexpensive urns for those who choose cremation.
You can buy or lease your next car through Costco — kind of. The wholesale club currently has a promotion running through January 2, 2020 called the "Season of Values" in which Costco partnered with GM, which includes the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands. Members can select eligible vehicles available at a local dealer and get Costco member pricing. And those who purchase or lease a car can get up to a $700 Costco gift card if they complete a survey about their experience.
In addition to the Season of Values promotion, Costco Auto Program offers "everyday low, prearranged pricing on most makes and models" of cars, trucks, SUVs and even RVs, according to a company spokesman.
For car rentals, Costco really shines. The wholesale club offers one free additional driver at U.S. locations of Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise for any car rental booked through Costco. Plus, if you make your reservation through the Low Price Finder, you can cancel without any penalty fee.
You can buy one-of-a-kind fine jewelry through Costco too. The club offers members a range of expensive rings, necklaces and earrings, many priced well above $50,000.
In fact, Costco sold someone a $400,000 ring earlier this year and specializes in engagement rings. For recently engaged couples, it's worth noting that Costco can provide many of the wedding details as well, including cake, flowers and invitations.
Costco members can get discounts at the pump, as much as 30 cents off prices offered by competitors.
Beyond the savings, Costco's gas stations are pretty cool. Typically you have to know what side of your car the gas tank is on, but Costco has extra-long hoses that allow you to pump from either side. Plus, Costco gas stations have a "safety‐certified attendant" on‐site in case you need help.
If you need contact lenses or glasses, head to Costco, which provides members with discounts on all of the major brands and frames. Plus, you can get an eye exam right in the store. An eye exam at Costco costs about $75, while frames and lenses run about $126, review site Howard Clark found.
Charlene Haugsven, founder of MyFrugalAdventures.com, says that she's saved a lot on contact lens orders in the past. "Just a couple months ago, I ordered four boxes of contacts from my optometrist and it was $220 — and I would have to wait three weeks for them," she tells Make It.
"I wound up going to Costco and I got them the same day and it was $143 with a $25 rebate. I ended up saving over $100."
Costco offers several discounted memberships to gyms and spas around the country, including 24-Hour Fitness, the Spa at Black Rock in Maui and Mountainside Fitness in Arizona. Through Costco, a 2-year membership to all 24-Hour Fitness clubs is about $400, whereas 24-Fitness sells a prepaid, all-access membership for $1,010 per year.
Costco offers a lot of discounted health services to its members. Before you go to your doctor's office or local clinic, check to see if your nearby Costco offers the same service at a better price. A number of Costco locations provide free diabetes, osteoporosis and heart health screenings.
Many Costco locations also have hearing aid services, which can be a great value. The chain offers free hearing tests, according to Consumer Reports, and if you find you do need hearing aids, Costco has competitive prices starting at roughly $1,000 for a set, depending on the brand and specific store. Costco also provides free hearing aid cleanings and checkups, as well as loss and damage coverage, according to the store's website.
Plus, Costco gives a 180-day money-back guarantee, so if you're having trouble with your hearing aids, you can return them.
If you're looking to take on a home renovation project, you should check out the programs and discounts offered by Costco. The retailer has a number of installation services, such as window treatments, flooring, countertops, garage doors and custom closet organization systems.
Costco also sells a variety of name-brand appliances, including refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves and dishwashers. The chain offers a two-year warranty on all of its units, as well delivers, installs and hauls away old appliances for members who purchase from Costco.
If you're worried about your identity in the wake of so many major data breaches, Costco has you covered. The retailer offers members the opportunity to sign up for Complete ID, an identity theft protection and credit monitoring service from Experian.
Gold and business members can pay $13.99 a month per person to receive a host of services, including social security number monitoring and dark web surveillance. Executive members pay $8.99.
Instead of heading to your local Michael Kors or Coach boutique, check out Costco for designer purses. Costco offers members $10 to $50 off bags and wallets from some of the top luxury brands, including Coach, Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff and Hilary Radley.
Costco not only helps with home renovations, the wholesale club also has a mortgage program for members that will help you finance your home purchase. Costco partners with First Choice Loan Services Inc. and other participating lenders to streamline home purchases, as well as refinancing.
Costco's program offers lender fees of $650 or less for gold star members and $350 or less for executive members. Costco also offers veterans loans.
Members can save even more on prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs by enrolling in the Costco Member Prescription Program (CMPP). This program, which is free for members to join, is not insurance, but does provide additional discounts on top of Costco's already low prices.
FAO Schwarz is not the only store selling giant stuffed animals. Costco sells a massive teddy bear for about $290 that stands at 93 inches, or just under 8 feet. The bear weighs a whopping 50 pounds and is made from a synthetic polyester.
The reviews are almost universally positive, with one saying, "He is BIG. Like 'doesn't fit in the car' big."
Costco members in 15 states can get residential solar panel systems installed from the wholesale club. They come with a 10% Costco gift card, which brings down the price, and some programs offer members an extended warranty.
Looking to do something fun this weekend? Or perhaps you're heading to Orlando for your next vacation? Check out Costco before booking tickets elsewhere.
The wholesale club offers discounted tickets to major theme parks such as Legoland and Universal Studios, as well as Broadway tickets and passes to seasonal events, including haunted houses and food and wine experiences.
Costco not only sells and installs tires, but the retailer promises maintenance — including rotation, balancing and flat repairs — over the life of the tire. In addition to car tires, Costco also sells tires for RVs, trailers and ATVs. Right now, Costco is offering $110 off a set of four Michelin tires.
Plus, if you take your vehicle in for work through service centers that participate in Costco's auto program, members save 15% off parts, service and accessories.
Costco has an extensive travel program for its members, focusing heavily on packaged hotels, cruises and rental cars. Before you say that those types of vacations are not for you, consider that they can offer a really good value.
The most valuable part of Costco's packaged vacation deals may be the extra freebies that it throws in, Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommer's Guidebooks, tells CNBC Make It. These perks can include free breakfasts, activities and resort or shipboard credits. An extra like "kids eat free" could be worth several hundred dollars for a family, depending on the duration of the trip and the destination, Frommer says.
If you want to spoil the gardener in your family, look no further than Costco's Royal Victorian Glass Greenhouse. The retailer offers two sizes starting at about $7,000, with the almost 7-foot structure consisting of tempered glass. A potting bench and shelf are included. The greenhouse is shipped in parts and does require assembly.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include additional information about the Costco Auto Program.
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