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How Many Times a Month Should You Go to Costco? Here's How to Decide

If you join Costco, you should know that you’ll likely want to visit the warehouse club regularly.

Going in person makes good sense to get the best deals, especially since items bought from tend to cost more than those purchased in-store. But, you also don’t want to visit too often, because every trip creates new temptations to spend — which could lead to big credit card bills.

So, how often should you go to Costco? Here are three possible scenarios to help decide which option (or combination of options) works best for you.

Go when you need gas

One good rule of thumb is to time your Costco visits when you need to fill up your gas tank.

Costco gas tends to cost around $0.20 less per gallon than competing brands in most parts of the country. If you need a tank refill, it can pay to do it at Costco and also take care of your shopping at the same time. With the average family spending about 2.24% of their monthly income on gas, the savings on fuel alone could be well worth the visit.

Studies have shown the typical driver fills up their tank around once a week. If you refuel this often, you may not need to buy tons of bulk items on every Costco trip. But, the store also offers good deals on smaller items, like its $4.99 rotisserie chicken, as well as other perishable items.

If you make it a point to visit the warehouse club regularly for gas refills, you can pop in a few times a month and pick up these items each time to help make the most of your membership.

Go often enough to make back your membership fee

Another good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re going often enough to make back your membership fee, which starts at $60 a year. However, how often you actually need to visit your store to do that depends on how much you save when you go.

In some cases, if you buy a big-ticket item, you can visit once a year and still justify the cost of being a member. For example, Costco is selling the Eureka OmniVerse Multi-Function Upright Vacuum for $134.99 as of mid-April. The same vacuum is $219.99 at Walmart. So purchasing that item alone would justify your Costco membership and it wouldn’t really matter if you never visited again for the entire year.

If you aren’t buying big-ticket items, make sure you’re going often enough to save $60 a year or more. Typically, Costco saves you about 10% on groceries compared to your local supermarket. So, if you’d normally spend $100 at your local market but you spend $90 at Costco, you’d need to make at least six Costco grocery runs a year for your $10 in savings each trip to cover the membership cost

Of course, you’ll want to keep track of your own savings since you might save more or less than the typical shopper. If you find you’re only saving $5 on each Costco visit compared to buying groceries at the market, then unless you’re going to Costco at least 12 times a year, it may not be worth maintaining your membership.

Go based on the store’s markdown schedule

Costco typically offers deals that run for around a month at a time. For example, the current in-warehouse and online savings offers run from April 10 to May 5, 2024. If you want to make sure you aren’t missing a deal, it often pays to check out the sales soon after they come out so you can snag the items before they’re gone.

Costco also tends to put holiday items on sale soon after the end of the festive event, and puts seasonal items, like patio furniture, on sale midway through the season (think early July for summer gear). If you want to take advantage of these deals, you’d want to visit at least once during the months when an inventory changeover is likely to occur.

Each of these approaches to deciding how often to visit Costco can make sense. The bottom line is, if you go often enough to justify the $60 membership fee and you aren’t overspending on your visits or finding yourself with a bunch of wasted groceries each time, then the details of exactly how often you visit don’t matter much in the end.

And remember, if you aren’t able to maximize your Costco visits to at least recoup what you’re paying to be a member, Costco offers a refund for membership fees if you’re dissatisfied.

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