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6 Secret Costco Perks That Only True Fans Know About

Look beyond the free samples.

© Michele Westmorland—Getty Images Cabo San Lucas, Land's End, near El Arco, Baja Mexico

By Gina Zakaria, Money

Most Costco shoppers love eating at the food courts, the store’s discounted warehouse prices and, of course, the plentiful samples. 

But Costco has some hidden benefits for members that you might not know about, and they span far beyond low prices.

Here’s how Costco wants to make itself a one-stop shop for members.


1. You can (finally) update your old glasses.

Did you know Costco has an optometry center in most of their locations? In addition to steep discounts on prescription glasses and lenses, members can use their vision insurance to supplement the already low cost. You can schedule an eye exam appointment easily over the phone, online, or in-store, and while you’re waiting, finish your regular Costco shopping.

As The Frugal Convert, I aim to find the best deals for my family’s vision care and during one recent Costco visit, I purchased a year’s supply of contact lenses for my daughter for about $120, and there was a $50 rebate program at the time, making the total price about $70. Did I mention there was also a free $25 Costco Card for lense purchases? That brought our price down to $45 for an entire year’s supply of prescription lenses.

And even if you don’t purchase your glasses from Costco, you might be able to get repairs on frames bought elsewhere. My sunglasses frame lost a screw, and even though I didn’t buy my glasses from Costco, I was able to get my sunglasses repaired for free at my local location. The entire process only took five minutes. (Repair coverage may vary by location.)


2. Brush up your business cards—and take a new passport photo.

Costco’s Printing Center doesn’t only handle printing. Traveling soon? You can take your passport photo for about $5—and the process takes around 20 to 25 minutes from start to finish.

Printing posters was surprisingly easy and cheaper than going to Kinkos or a FedEx service. We printed an 18×20 poster for my daughter’s school project and it cost less than $7. FedEx prices for printing a 16×20 or 18×24 poster costs $21.75 each—that’s triple the price of Costco.

They also do photo restoration and photo printing as well, and their business printing is very affordable. A basic package of 500 laminated and colored business cards costs $21.99. You design them online and pick up your package in the store. The turnaround time is about 7 business days and you receive a professional-looking end product.


3. Fill up your tank for cheap.

Costco won’t be undercut on their gas prices: at my local Costco in Los Angeles, fueling up at the warehouse is much cheaper than at the surrounding gas stations.

While the lines may look long, we’ve timed our wait time and it averages about 5 to 7 minutes to get a spot and fill up on a busy day. The time spent is definitely worth the money we save.

Currently, in Los Angeles, the price of a gallon of regular 87-octane gasoline is $4.04. Costco has it priced at $3.89. That’s a 15-cent difference per gallon. For a 13-gallon fuel tank, you’re saving $1.95 for every fill-up. While this might not sound like a lot, the savings add up over time, especially when gas prices continue to climb as the summer months approach.


4. They can plan every detail of your vacation.

If booking a vacation stresses you out, Costco can save you time and money. Members get discounts on airfare, lodging, all-inclusive travel packages, car rentals, and cruises through the Costco Travel portal.

I compared the price of a six-night trip to Baja, Mexico in June for a family of two adults and two children (including airfare, shuttle, and hotel) between Costco and Expedia—and Costco’s option was cheaper by $3,945.44. And it included a complimentary daily breakfast for the family.

And that price doesn’t include the cash back savings you can receive if you have an executive membership or Costco credit card. If you do, you’ll receive an additional 2-3% cash back on your travel purchases.


5. Need a mortgage? You’ve come to the right place.

Costco offers mortgage purchasing and refinancing services to its members through First Choice Loan Services. Their rates are competitive, and their fees are low. In addition to traditional mortgage programs, Costco offers members the option of FHA and Veteran loan programs, and discounts vary based on membership level.


6. You can even buy a car through Costco. (Seriously.)

If bargaining with a car salesman is your worst nightmare, you can treat buying a car just like buying a package of frozen Chicken Bakes. That’s right: Costco sells cars. They have discounted prices for both new and used cars, available to search online and they even direct you to your nearest Costco-approved dealer location and provides the agent’s contact information.

Prices may vary based on the exact specifications of the car you choose, and you can lease or purchase your vehicle using Costco’s Auto Program. They also take trade-ins.

One great perk about the Costco program (besides the discounted prices), is that you have Costco industry professionals on your side. Costco has strict pricing guidelines and only enters into agreements with dealerships that meet Costco’s high standards of price and quality.

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Finance Magazine: 6 Secret Costco Perks That Only True Fans Know About
6 Secret Costco Perks That Only True Fans Know About
Look beyond the free samples.
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