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Who qualifies for the Costco Executive membership?

What does it take to become a Costco Executive member? To become one and start earning 2% back is not that mysterious


Primary and ‘household’ account holders should accumulate rewards when using the Costco card

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Anyone who has ever set foot inside a Costco warehouse knows it’s a glorious place full of bulk food items, toilet paper and apparel. However, you may not have heard of the Gold Star Executive Membership, also known as the Costco Executive membership. The main benefit is 2% back (you can earn up to $1,000 in rewards) on all qualified Costco purchases but there’s a caveat: You must pay for the privilege.

How to qualify for the Costco Executive membership

Perhaps due to the name and the way the Costco website frames it, the Costco Executive membership seems elusive and difficult to attain. However, it’s really not that mysterious. For existing Costco Gold Star members, you may upgrade with an additional $60 fee, which will be prorated between the months left in your membership. When your renewal, you’ll be charged $120 for your Executive membership. Those new to Costco entirely will simply be charged $120 right off the bat.

The rewards themselves are quite generous, actually, but Costco them at $1,000. Note: You must spend $50,000 on Costco purchases (including Costco Travel) before reaching $1,000 in rewards. Other than that, the Costco Executive membership gives more benefits and discounts on select Costco services.

Terms and conditions

The Costco Executive membership’s 2% cash back is awfully attractive, and you might be considering upgrading just for that. Just keep in mind, however,  that it comes with terms and conditions, just like other credit card rewards.

Do household cardholders also earn 2% back on purchases?

Costco says on its website that “only purchases made by the primary and active primary Household Cardholder on the account will apply toward the Reward.” That language is a little confusing, as it suggests that not all cards affiliated with the account earn rewards.

However, a Costco PR employee confirmed a “household cardholder” is anybody living in the same house as the person with the account. The extra reward applies only to one household, and to a maximum of two cards. The Costco representative did say, though, that if the Executive Member is a business member and has “add-on” members (usually employees), the add-on members’ purchases would not apply to the rewards.

When do I get my 2% back?

Keep in mind that Costco cards are different from credit cards. Costco cards are membership cards that allow you to shop at Costco. The rewards don’t come at the end of each billing cycle like a rewards credit card. They come as a Reward certificate alongside your Executive membership renewal in the mail, sent to the primary member’s address.

Do all authorized users also earn rewards on other cards?

Credit cards are similar in that they typically allow you to apply for an additional card linked to the primary account. The person with that additional card is known as an authorized user. Adding an authorized user to your account can help that person build credit, but you must be careful because if you are the primary cardholder, you’re ultimately responsible for all the charges.

When it comes to rewards, however, the main cardholder earns them on all of the authorized user’s purchases. If you look through the terms and conditions on major credit card reward programs, they tend to say that authorized users’ cards are eligible for rewards.

That’s certainly true for most Chase, American Express and Citi cards. Citi even tells prospective applicants that they can add authorized users “at no additional cost and earn points faster.” Sometimes, just adding an authorized user to a credit card account can earn you extra points.

In case you were wondering, Costco’s co-branded card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi states in its terms and conditions that charges by authorized users count toward the accumulation of cash rewards.

Bottom line

Whether you’re a current Costco member or someone who’s never walked into a Costco warehouse, you may find the Costco Executive membership and its 2% cash back rewards appealing. It costs $120 a year to become an Executive member, and you can earn that rate on your purchases for up to $1,000 per year. If you want to earn even more rewards on your Costco purchases, make sure you check out the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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