A Costco membership can help you save money on groceries, household goods, books, and more.
But the cost to be a Costco member could be going up soon, leaving you to decide whether to renew your membership at a higher price or to move on.
So what are the signs that a membership increase could be on the way? Here are a few to watch for.
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Executives drop more hints of a membership hike
The last time Costco raised its rates was in June 2017, when it bumped the cost of both Gold Star and Executive memberships.
But that membership hike was more than six years ago. Costco averages an increase every five-and-a-half years, so waiting more than six years indicates a fee increase is overdue.
On an earnings call in May, Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, said that the company is looking at a potential rate hike.
“At some point, we will,” Galanti said about a possible membership increase. “But our view right now is that we've got enough leverage out there to drive business, and we feel that it's incumbent upon us to be that beacon of light to our members in terms of holding them for right now.”
Inflation continues or gets worse
Inflation continues to affect the cost of just about everything. That includes product ingredients and nonfood costs such as gas for transporting products to stores.
All those increases add up and could impact Costco’s bottom line, increasing pressure to raise membership fees.
On the other hand, inflation has recently slowed. Those slowing costs could help keep membership prices steady.
“We continue to see improvements in many items, notably food items like nuts, eggs, and meat, as well as items that include, as part of their components, commodities like steel and resins on the nonfood side,” Galanti said during an earnings call in May.
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Competitors raise their own fees
Other warehouse retailers have begun to increase their membership fees, which could be one reason why Costco might consider raising its rates as well.
For example, Sam’s Club raised its rates for customers in October 2022. Club members saw a $5 increase in their memberships, from $45 to $50. Plus members received a $10 boost from $100 to $110.
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Other retailers that are not competitors also raise fees
Costco isn’t the only retailer that charges membership fees. And some other retailers that are not direct competitors have recently raised costs.
For example, Amazon Prime now costs $139 per year after Amazon raised its fee by $20 in 2022.
If more retailers hike their membership fees, it will provide some cover for Costco to do the same.
How much could a rate hike cost?
The good news is that if Costco does increase its membership fees, the hike might not be too dramatic. In 2017, the Gold Star membership went up $5, from $55 to $60. Executive memberships increased by $10, from $110 to $120.
Such a modest increase in the past bodes well for any future increase.
Whatever the rate hike turns out to be, it is unlikely that customers will leave Costco in droves. The company reported a recent 92.6% renewal rate in the U.S. and Canada.
Will that loyalty continue in the face of a membership fee increase? Time will tell.
Costco hasn’t reported that it will increase membership fees just yet, but you might want to be prepared.
As much as you would probably prefer to keep more money in your wallet, Costco may be on the verge of making that a little more challenging by raising membership costs.
So, check your budget to see if paying a little extra for a membership at Costco is worth it in light of the money you could save.