Is It Worth Paying $100 for ‘Premium’ Membership at Warehouse Clubs?

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The answer depends on how much you shop at warehouse clubs like Sam’s and Costco. But just how much do you have to spend to justify the extra cost of a premium membership?

$210 a month, at least at Costco, according to Star-Tribune columnist John Ewoldt. A standard member pays $50 less annually, but a premium member gets 2% cash back on all purchases (max of $500 back per year), and additional cash-back bonuses are available via store credit cards. By Ewoldt’s math:

Members who spend about $2,500 a year at Costco will be able to recoup the additional $50 fee.

Not all purchases are eligible for cash back—gas, gift cards, postage stamps, and cigarettes are all on the excluded list. But a family that shops at a warehouse club regularly for staples and groceries will probably hit the tipping point for justifying the added cost of premium membership. And what if you wind up shopping elsewhere and don’t end up with much cash back? You have recourse:

Those who join but don’t spend enough to get the cash refund of $50 at Costco or $60 at Sam’s Club can get it returned at renewal.

Of course, you have to keep tabs on this yourself and ask for a partial refund on your membership. Costco and Sam’s Club aren’t going to track this for you.

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