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Costco isn't a company known for unnecessarily raising prices on anything. In fact, it famously stopped selling Coca-Cola products back in 2009 when the two companies couldn't agree on a price that was low enough.
So members are no doubt alarmed to hear that back in September, the warehouse club increased its membership fees for the U.K., Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Mexico. Naturally, analysts now expect it to do the same for the U.S. and Canada.
Generally, Costco raises its membership prices every five to six years, so warehouses in the U.S. and Canada are due for one. According to Richard Galanti, the CFO of the warehouse club, this month marks the 5-year anniversary of the last increase. Even so, he can't confirm or deny that an increase is happening this year, or when it will come.
The last time membership fees increased was in 2011, and that was about 10%. Analysts are expecting about the same this time. That would mean that the Gold Star membership, which is the basic tier, could increase about $5, from $55 to $60. The Executive Gold Star membership, which offers an annual membership reward and more services, could jump $10, from $110 to $120.
Costco competitors Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club already have cheaper memberships. Sam's Club charges $100 for its rewards-based membership, and $45 for its basic tier. BJ's is about the same, with $100 for its rewards program, and a basic that's $50. If this increase at Costco goes through in the next couple months, then it'll only be widening that margin even more.
Don't forget that there's even a few ways to take advantage of its services without being a member. If the increase is just too much for you, it's entirely possible to use the pharmacy, and even access the food court at certain clubs without joining. Or you can just tag along with your friend who happens to have a membership.
Readers, does the anticipated increase make you think twice about a Costco membership? Or are the benefits too good to give up? Sound off in the comments below!