Costco's Not Just for Bulk Buying Anymore: Save on Services, Too

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I have a confession: My family loves shopping at Costco (COST). I know that not everyone shares our affinity, though most people know you can save money shopping at the warehouse giant. What some see as excess, like a 1-gallon drum of pickles, others see as a way to save money at home through strategic purchasing. Of course, this must be done wisely so as to avoid running into issues of waste or buying too much just to get a deal.

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.

Insurance

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.

Banking

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. You get a quarterly 10 percent rebate on transaction charges and an account opening bonus of $55. Executive members get additional 25 percent quarterly rebate on transaction charges.

Event Tickets

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.

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Ben Paris

Learn from the biggest mistake I've ever made and DO NOT BUY HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE from this company. We had a house fire caused by a laptop (Sony) and the expectation that they would take care of us just didn't happen. The total structural loss was almost $150k and their estmate was for $65k.....missed the boat there. It has been a constant battle to get them to pay and although I keep fighting, they keep trying to find ways to short change us. They tried to replace our King Mattress with a King Mattress Topper (an "error" that only benefited them by $1000) - or they tried to claim a Dremel could be replaced by a Dremel Battery Charger. They don't call you back and it has been an absolute nightmare. I'm currently trying to track down a senior Costco VP to review this horror story (the fire happened in Dec. 2012 and I'm still dealing with Ameriprise today) - but nobody is willing to call me back. Whatever you do, stay away from Ameriprise!

August 14 2014 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
COMMON SENSE

Why would a company like Costco even think about making donations to the Democrats that are against Capatalism and free enterprise.? Doesn't mske sense

August 12 2014 at 7:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to COMMON SENSE's comment
Erudite Male

Costco obviously has more brains than the Obama hating crown who destroy the country because they want to destroy the legacy of one man. These are the fools who talk about patriotism and all the rest of the crap they dont believe in. If you are patriotic support the country. Not your party.

Captialism isnt the problem. Greedy self serving capitalists are and they are aided and abetted by the congress who pass laws in their favor. So more donations can be forthcoming. It does take common sense to analyze facts. Do you even know the meaning of Capitalism and how it is defined? Do you know what patriotism is?

So I say to Costco, "BRAVO". Put our country first so we can all win.

August 12 2014 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Erudite Male's comment
gee.effwye

Capitalism is simply voluntary exhcanges between private citizens and/or corporations. Patriotism is loving America enough to block the fundamental transformation by obama and the left.

Why do you people.give a pass to big business buying dem polticians? You only whine if they give to Repubs.

August 12 2014 at 3:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
cvanac8550

I love their Filet Mignon..and chopped meat...but I hardly ever go there..but It's great for parties. I can get certain items cheaper at the local Shoprite when I time the sales...like boneless Chicken breast for 1.99 to 2.49..every 3 weeks like clockwork....

August 12 2014 at 4:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSE--USMC--0311

COSTCO---SAM----YOU BUY WAY TOO MUCH, MORE THAN YOU NEED.... BABY-BACK RIBS IF YOU ONLY NEED ONE ?? YOU HAVE TO BUY 3 ---THE SAME WITH EVERYTHING ELSE...

August 12 2014 at 3:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSE--USMC--0311

LOL, MOST OF COSTCO CUSTOMERS ARE REPUBLICANS, BUT COSTCO MAKES HUGE CONTRIBUTIONS TO DEMOCRATS..

SHOULD REPUBLICANS SAY NO TO COSTCO ??

August 12 2014 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike Donaldson

It is amazing to see the comments on here. As someone who knows Costco better than anyone on here I can tell you we have one of the most ethical companies in the Country that can save you the cost on a membership with a couple of purchases. Grocery stores will offer you a few good deals. but rip you off on 90% of items. Costco's average mark up is less than 14%, the next closes is in the 20% and up. This information is available on the internet. I also saved $550 on car insurance after being with AAA 17 years. One last comment. Costco does not donate money to anyone with political affiliations. Individuals might, but I'm not sure why that is a problem in our democracy.

August 11 2014 at 11:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
kcampo6453

It's possible Costco makes large donations to Democrats. Back to Sam's.

August 11 2014 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bernard

Do Not use the car buying service. I used the recommended Dealer from Costco it it was the worst new price in the Kansas City area. HENDRICK NISSAN.

August 11 2014 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KEN PETO

Hi I'm Looking for Life Ins do's Castco handel it?

August 11 2014 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Priness

We shop at Costco even though it's just my husband and I because we have a deep freeze and buying in large quantities at Costco is so much cheaper in the long run for us. Naturally we buy things like milk and fresh produce at the local supermarket or farmer's market because we can't eat or drink it all up before it goes bad. So what if we have to buy 12 cans of green beans at a time; I have a pantry and that way we only have to go there once every 4 months.

August 11 2014 at 3:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply