Costco's Not Just for Bulk Buying Anymore: Save on Services, Too
What many don't realize is that Costco offers items or access to other vendors that allow you to save money on travel and small business services. I'll only cover nonbusiness offerings here.
Shopping around for cheaper insurance rates is one of the hallmarks of saving money. This is especially the case if you haven't compared rates in several years. Ameriprise offers discounts -- up to $515.16 for auto insurance -- to Costco members. Discounts also apply for home, renters, umbrella and specialty insurance. The executive membership includes roadside and home lockout assistance. Many credit cards offer the former, as does AAA, but few offer the latter. It's not something you'd want to need, but if it's free, then it's better than having to pay extra for it.
Car Rentals and Travel Benefits
My family and I are planning a cross country road trip with our three young children in a few weeks. As we checked around to rent a minivan, the best rates were $1,200 for three weeks -- including a discount for being USAA members.
Then a representative of one rental car company asked if we were Costco members. The rate then fell to $950. Of course, we were quick to jump on the savings.
The Costco rental car program is part of a larger partnership program offering discounts on hotel rooms, travel packages, cruises and other aspects of travel.
Buying a Car
I hate car shopping. It's something about the negotiations and seedy salespeople. When we were looking to buy a new car several years ago, we looked into the Costco car buying program. We eventually went our own route, but if you hate haggling, you might want to check it out.
Costco works with a third-party car buying service that works with dealerships. It is important to point out that the service handles the negotiations, but nothing in regards to financing or trade-ins.
There have not been any reported studies, but in everything I've read from members indicates that they can usually get cars at prices several hundred dollars below Kelley Blue Book value, if not lower. Executive members get 15 percent off parts, service and accessories at participating dealerships, regardless of whether you bought your car through the program or not.
As I mentioned previously, Costco offers a wide array of small-business services, including business and personal banking. Costco offers personal check printing for up to 50 percent off what you'd pay through your bank. Executive members qualify for an additional 20 percent off.
If you're looking to open an online investment account, Costco has a partnership with ShareBuilder that entitles Costco members to various discounts and promotions. For example, Costco members on the Basic pricing plan pay $5.95 for online trades and $2 per trade for Automatic Investing instead of ShareBuilder's standard rates of $6.95 and $3.95, respectively. Costco members may also be eligible for other special pricing and promotions when they open new accounts with ShareBuilder.
(Correction: An earlier version of this article contained out-of-date information regarding Costco's deal with ShareBuilder. DailyFinance regrets the error.)
My family and I have looked into discount tickets from Costco for sporting events, museum admission and concerts. Many of these events tend to be in larger cities.
John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. He is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who's passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality. He also writes about wise ways to manage your money at WiseDollar.org.