In a Nutshell
- 2-hour window for delivery
- Rewards program for members
- Can shop as a member or non-member
- Checkout is confusing if you want same-day (diff site)
- Free delivery threshold is high and not available everywhere
- Non-members are charged a 5% fee
Costco at a Glance
Services offered: Online grocery shopping and delivery
Price per delivery: 2-day free shipping above $75-$100 depending on items, $9 otherwise
Delivery options: Same-day, 2-day
Subscription options: Membership (standard and premium)
What’s Unique About Costco?
Costco boasts some 2,000+ products, though not every item is available in all areas. With household essentials like laundry and cleaning supplies, paper goods, pantry favorites, and bakery goods, Costco has a great variety of brands you probably already love. There’s also an entire section of Kirkland Signature groceries for those staples you can’t live without. Costco also has perishable items, including meats, dairy products, and seafood.
Another thing that is special about Costco is that it offers a rewards program for its members. You can shop as a non-member if you want, but you’ll save 5% if you sign up for membership. There are two membership options, and the Citi Visa card gives you rewards points for every purchase you make. Here’s how that works:
- 4% on gas purchases up to $7000 annually
- 3% on restaurants and travel purchases when eligible
- 2% on eligible Costco purchases
- 1% on all other purchases
So, if you shop frequently, the card may be a useful way to save.
Costco also lets you make shopping lists to keep your shopping experience more organized, and there’s the ever-convenient reorder feature.
How It Works
Shopping with Costco is much like any other online shopping experience. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Create an account or log in
Before getting started, you’ll need to create an account if you don't have one already. This is just a quick step (choose a password, enter your email address). If you have a Costco membership or Citi Visa card, you can enter your membership information or purchase one on the spot. You can also shop as a non-member, but you’ll be charged a 5% surcharge (bummer).
- Shop away
Now you can start the shopping process. Costco grocery is broken up into intuitive aisles like paper and plastic products, snacks, pantry and dry goods, beverages, and meat, poultry, and seafood. So you can quickly jump to the section you are looking for. Costco also has good filters, including price range, brand, dietary feature, and delivery options. As you go down your list, put the items you want into your cart.
- Check out
When you’re finished shopping, go to your cart to check out. Side note: Costco has a convenient “Add to List” button next to each item in your cart, so you can start creating your own shopping list of items that you know you’re going to order repeatedly. Then, when you’re ready for a new purchase, you can just go to your list, press add to cart, and quickly have those items already on their way without having to search for them again. You can even specify amounts.
If you haven’t reached the free delivery threshold, you’ll see the total that includes the shipping fee. Enter your delivery details and payment method to continue. Finally, you can choose your delivery option. You can choose the day and time slot that is available. One thing I really love is that Costco gives you a two-hour window for delivery. So you only have to be around during that two-hour window.
By the way, if fast delivery is important to you, you can even filter by Same Day Items to see a list of which items are available with that service. This ensures that you are only shopping for items that you know can be delivered on the same day. There is a minimum order of $35 on certain categories like fresh foods and frozen products.
Costco is a wholesale warehouse. So you know you are getting some good discounts when you enter the store. The same isn’t always true of the online grocery service, though. That’s because the online service often tacks on additional fees for the delivery service itself. So you might not be saving as much as you would if you walked into the store and bought things directly.
That being said, Costco is still a wholesale warehouse and does have competitive prices on its products, even the online ones. Additionally, you’re paying for the convenience and time saved by not having to go into the store and wait in a line to checkout.
In terms of membership fees, Costco doesn’t require you to be a member to shop online as some grocery deliveries do. As mentioned, you will be charged a service fee if you aren’t a member, though. Alternatively, you can sign up for a membership plan. There are two options:
These are the two for-pay membership options. The standard membership costs $60 a year, and the Gold Star membership is double that. With the latter, you’ll get 2% rewards points and additional discounts and benefits like 3% on all restaurant and travel purchases and 4% back on gas purchases with the Citi Visa card.
Costco offers free delivery, but it is only available starting from $75, and for cold and frozen items from $100. You also can’t get 2-day delivery everywhere in the country (mainly Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico).
Help & Support
Costco has a somewhat confusing FAQ section about all the various delivery options and what you can get from each of the different grocery categories. If you have a specific question, you’re better off discussing it with a customer support rep who can answer you directly. Costco has live chat support if you prefer to chat.
Monday - Friday, 5 am to 8 pm PT
Saturday - Sunday, 5 am to 7 pm PT
Costco has a great range of products, including plenty of brands that you probably buy all the time and discounts to make these purchases easier on the purse strings. I like the categorization on the website; it makes the whole shopping experience a lot smoother. Some of the Costco policies are confusing, like which various delivery options are available on which products. And the 5% surcharge for non-members is a drag. But when it comes to variety, quality service, and membership perks, Costco really piles them on, making it a good choice for online grocery delivery services.