Update: How Much Cash Back I’ve Earned with Costco Executive

by Travis Pizel · 32 comments

Earlier this year, I renewed my Costco executive membership. On top of the $55 annual cost for basic Costco membership, it cost an extra $55 and offered 2% cash back on all my purchases.

I had the following goals in mind:

  • Go to Costco for products I’d normally buy at the supermarket
  • Don’t spend more just to earn cash back
  • Earn enough cash back to pay for next year’s membership

That was five months ago, so I wanted to see if I was on track to reach my goals.

The Five Month Check-In

I checked Costco’s website to see how much cash back I’d earned, but I couldn’t find any information. After calling the customer service number, I learned you CAN find out how much cash back has been earned — but only by calling or stopping by the service counter. I thought that was a little inconvenient, but at least the information was available somewhere.

Here’s what I found out: I’ve only earned $25.31 in cash back.

At a pace of about $5 a month, I’ll earn $60 in cash back for the year. That’s barely enough to pay for the membership upgrade, and only about half of my ultimate goal: to pay for both the basic membership and the executive upgrade ($110 total).

It was time to reevaluate the list of items I’d planned to purchase at Costco:

  • Toilet paper: Costco doesn’t carry the toilet paper we use. If it were up to me, I’d switch to something comparable — but the rest of my family is very set on using one specific type of bathroom tissue.
  • Cat food: Unfortunately, my Costco has a limited selection of cat food. I’m not picky about brand names, but I do need sensitive stomach formula or my cats will have issues.
  • Laundry detergent: We switched brands to one we can get at Costco.
  • Meat: We buy some of our meat at Costco, but not all.
  • Produce: The story here is the same as our meat. When we get to Costco, we buy produce — but more often than not, we buy it at the supermarket.
  • Snacks: Costco simply doesn’t have the snacks our family enjoys, though we still buy some there.
  • Soda/Water: Costco stocks everything we normally use, but we haven’t purchased water or soda there once.


There are some products I was planning on purchasing at Costco that they don’t carry, and I’m not interested in switching brand names. But the bottom line is: I’m just not putting in the effort to achieve my goal.

I’ve got seven months to turn this thing around. With a little effort, I know I can do it!

Have you ever checked how much cash back you’ve earned with your Costco executive membership, or do you just wait for the check to show up in the mail?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Joe says:

    You considered factoring in using the citibank costco cash reward card which offers another 2% on Costco purchases? My annual costco membership is covered by the rewards and then some.

    • Zee says:

      Why would the Citi card be factored into getting the executive card?
      The Citi card allows you to get 2% back regardless if you’re executive membership or a regular membership, it’s not boosted by the executive (if it was boosted by getting executive over regular, then I’d understand). So you’d get that same cash back anyways by shopping at Costco with the regular membership. If it was talking about getting a Costco membership at all, then I’d factor it in.
      This article was trying to evaluate if the executive was worth the extra cost. Not if Costco membership, in general, was worth it or not.

      • Travis says:

        The difference in cost of the Executive Membership is refunded if it doesn’t save enough to pay for itself. If you’re going to have a Costco membership either way, it’s a no risk benefit.

  • Carol Glenn says:

    I understand that if my rewards check isn’t the price of my annual fee I can ask for the full refund at the store. Is that right?

  • Mary says:

    I realize I’m late to this party but I think three things have helped get about $150 a year for just the executive reward check (we get another bigger check a few months later each year that’s about $500). The three things are fuel, a weekly rotisserie chicken (plus that saves us a ton of money on groceries each week) and toilet paper. The Kirkland brand isn’t that bad – we’ve had guests ask us what we use and where to buy it. If there’s anything we normally buy that we can get at Costco, that’s what we get. We also get great savings on organic extra virgin olive oil, organic butter and clothes. Their clothing is worth checking out. My white jeans from Costco are my favorite and a huge savings from what I used to pay compared to the twenty bucks I spent on them. If they don’t fit, take them right back. Your refund will show up back on your card before you pull in your driveway.

  • Alameda says:

    Got my check March 1. It says it’s capped but both mine and the person in front of e in line we’re over $1000

  • neerdarryl says:

    When can one expect Costco Card Rebate Checks?

  • Lucita valoroso says:

    Whe can i recieve my costco reward.

    • Tianna says:

      I was told you get your rewards when you get your renewal letter. So it just depends on when you signed up.

  • Filic says:

    The gas savings and 3% rebate for gas alone can help you offset the difference to an executive membership.

    Assuming one fill up of 10 gallons every 2 weeks, and prices at least $0.05-0.10 cheaper than any gas station around + another $0.075 (3% discount on $2.50 gallon), you can estimate saving around $1.50 every 2 weeks or about $40 annually.

    Another huge cost savings is in organic products. Their cost/gallon of milk is $2 cheaper ($4.99 vs. $6.99) than any supermarket or trader joe’s. We drink at least 1 gallon every week for our family, so we’re saving over $100 per year in just milk.

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      I don’t know if things are different in my state, Filic, but purchases of Costco gas do not count towards the 2% cash back for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Jewell says:

      Late to this conversation, but I found that the cost of org milk at costco is the same as the cost for org milk at Target. I save on milk compared to the local supermarket, but not if I make a weekly Target trip.

    • USA_BraT says:

      Except that gas purchases at Costco do not actually require a membership (just any VISA card to pay with), at least in my state. Some policy where they do not turn away someone who needs gas…

  • Henry says:

    Just to make the difference on the additional $55 upgrade from the regular membership with the 2% cash back check (only good at Costco, mind you, you can’t cash it in for actual money), you need to spend $55 / 0.02 = $2750 / year there to just break-even on the upgrade – pre tax (as the membership terms clearly state, some exclusions like food court, cigarettes, etc. also apply). The first $55 on the base membership would be covered by the savings you get buying in bulk (and don’t figure into the comp for the upgrade as a basic membership would get you the same).

    Given that, figure out how much you actually spend there in a year (I just tallied up the Amex credit card bill from last year since I use it there exclusively) and see if it makes sense – good thing is, anytime you’re not satisfied, they will refund your membership (or just make-whole on the $55 upgrade if your check is less than that – ask at the customer service membership counter).

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      I disagree with your statement that the cash back is only usable at costco…..our cash back came in the form of a check that I cashed at my bank…..

    • Maui Mom says:

      So the check that comes in the mail can ONLY be cashed at Costco. HOWEVER, I always cash it there and then stop at my bank and deposit the cash. It’s a bit inconvenient, but it is REAL cash not merely “Costco cash”

  • Kez says:

    Divorced mom of 7. Costco is life! 😛

  • Brenda says:

    I am single. I easily hit $90-110 on my Costco rebate. My Costco American Express rebate is over $200. I stock once or twice a month with the coupon book. I only shop Costco, Trader Joe & Winco (an employee owned, bag your own chain on the west coast).
    Are you looking…
    Rotisserie chickens ($4.99 + free homemade chicken stock), canned beans/tomatoes/soups, breads, cereals, milk, cheeses, personal care items, medications (OTC & prescription), cleaning supplies, paper products (Ziplocs, anyone?), batteries, gasoline. Those are staples.
    That doesn’t include pesto, sausages, hummus, frozen foods, treats, bakery, deli, treats. The entire first side of office/electronics/home goods, auto, booze. The middle of store for clothing, books, seasonals.
    Think out of the box for more than ordinary. Expand your palates. Try new snacks. Use your freezer. Run the numbers. Better meat for less per pound. Six large hearts of romaine for $2.99 beats three small hearts for $2. Even if I throw out half.
    Yes. You may spend $300 every few months. If it keeps you out of the weekly grocery store you will save.

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      These are all great suggestions, Brenda….I the message is that while I may have to switch brand names on some things (laundry detergent, different snacks,etc), the opportunity is definitely there – thanks for the kick in the pants!

  • David @ MoneyNing.com says:

    Is the executive membership actually worth it then Travis? If you factor in the fact that you can get a higher cash back amount on your credit card (> 1% vs 1% with an AMEX at costco) by shopping at a different store, that might tip the scale away from paying a $55 fee for that extra 2% back.

    • Travis Pizel says:

      With how we’re shopping, no, right now it’s not worth it. But the point is, I don’t think I’m utilizing the membership to it’s fullest – and that’s on me. I’m going to try to change my shopping habits to get the things we can at Costco and see if I can make up the difference yet this year. BTW, I could use my AMEX with which I get cash back at Costco, where I also get the 2% back from my membership. double dipping can work….if I do it right!!!

  • Kate @ Money Propeller says:

    How I wish we also have Costco here, I’m sure I will save a lot! But I’m watching over my loyalty points, I’m planning to redeem it this Christmas!

  • debs (@debtdebs) says:

    Costco has good TP! Tell your family to suck it up for the cause. 😀

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