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Costco Is Making This Major Change for Shoppers

Be prepared to pay more at Costco and Amazon this year.

Anyone can shop for groceries at popular supermarket chains like Walmart, Trader Joe's, Kroger, and ALDI. In contrast, if you want to take advantage of Costco's cheap bulk buys or Amazon Prime's discounts at Whole Foods, you have to ante up the cost of a membership.

Clearly, that hasn't deterred too many folks—more than 220 million people are members of one or both of these companies. However, Amazon just confirmed it is raising membership fees, and experts predict that Costco is bracing to do the same. (For more, here are the 6 Things You'll See at Costco This Year.)

Costco's membership typically increases every five and a half years.

costco wholesale membership card

There are two types of Costco memberships for individuals: the Gold Star membership and the Executive membership. The Gold Star, which is the basic option, costs $60 a year. At this level, members can shop inside warehouses and online, get two membership cards per household, and enjoy a lengthy list of perks (like access to the food court, the pharmacy and eye center, the tire center, travel deals, and more).

At $120 a year, the Executive membership costs twice the price. However, it comes with a 2 percent annual reward, a free subscription to Costco Connection magazine, and all the benefits of the Gold Star option.

The price of both memberships hasn't changed since June 2017, which is almost five years. Typically, the warehouse chain ups membership rates every 5.5 years, according to analysts.

How much are Costco's membership prices going up?

A view of the membership counter at a local Costco store.

Based on history, it's about time for membership rates to increase, but the timing is unfortunate. Inflation and grocery bills are skyrocketing as the pandemic stretches into two years. According to predictions, members should expect to pay $5 more for the Gold Star membership and $10 more for the Executive membership beginning sometime this year.

Membership costs aren't only increasing at Costco, but also at another top retailer in the grocery space.

Amazon is raising its Prime membership fee for the first time in nearly four years.

woman ordering from amazon

Members of Amazon Prime have access to Amazon Fresh stores, grocery savings at Whole Foods, and more perks. They've paid the same membership fee since 2018, following the last price hike in 2014. However, Amazon just announced that its annual fee will increase from $119 to $139, and its monthly fee will rise from $12.99 to $14.99 by the end of the month.

This will impact grocery shoppers at Whole Foods, Amazon Go, and Amazon Fresh.

amazon go grocery store exterior
Shutterstock / VDB Photos

Amazon Prime members used to get free deliveries from Whole Foods, but a $10 fee was tacked on to all orders in the fall of 2021. Add the increased price of a membership, and it will become even more expensive to get groceries delivered to your door. The increase is due to "the continued expansion of Prime member benefits, as well as the rise in wages and transportation costs," the company said in a statement to USA Today.

A membership also gets shoppers an extra 10 percent off sale items, exclusive grocery delivery, the ability to pay at Whole Foods with the Amazon app, and access to Amazon package pickups and returns.

This isn't the only thing different at Costco—here are 5 Changes Members Need to Know About Right Now.

This story has been reprinted with permission from Eat This, Not That! 

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