I’m a huge Costco fan and always on the lookout for great new products there. But until recently, I didn’t have the company app downloaded to my phone. I’m not alone: Costco’s chief financial officer, Richard Galanti, recently acknowledged that the company’s app-store rating was a “dismal” 2.3 stars until a series of upgrades drove it higher.
By late 2023, the app was at 4.7 stars and for good reason: It’s improved immensely. The app became much more useful to me once I went to a Costco store membership counter, and an employee loaded my membership card into the app.
Here’s my gripe: When I tried at home, the app kept insisting I could enter my card details online by myself, but no matter how many times I dutifully followed instructions, it rejected my information. The employee I spoke with told me that customers do have to go into a store to load the card since the store needs to check your identification — which was not stated on the app itself. But now I know, and now you know. Once my membership card was loaded, I’ve been enjoying exploring the app’s various elements.
Here are some of my favorite things you can do with the Costco app.
1. Try on eyeglasses
I love trying on new eyeglasses at optical stores, but they’ve gotten so expensive that I was hunting for cheaper options. Costco optical has great prices, and now has a try-on feature on the app.
Use your phone camera to quickly make a scan of your face, and then use that to see how glasses of all prices, styles and colors look on you. I was braced for the face scan to either be complicated or fail completely, but it worked better than those I’ve tried on fancy eyeglasses-store sites.
2. Check gas prices
I live on the West Coast, where gasoline is often shockingly expensive. Costco is known for its cheap gas prices, but the only Costco gas station near me isn’t close. The Costco app has a feature that finds Costco gas stations near any location and reports on their prices for both regular and premium gas so I can decide if it’s worth the trip.
3. Monitor and save deals
I tend to just wander around Costco assuming everything is cheaper than I would pay in another store. The Costco shopping app, though, helps me find sales of all kinds, including new items, a while-supplies-last category, and a treasure-hunt section which highlights fancy items that are on sale.
4. Show proof of membership
When I wrote “10 Things a New Costco Member Should Know,” readers suggested I add one more item — the fact that you can now use the Costco app to show your membership card in the store, meaning you don’t have to carry the plastic card around. But at the time I wrote the story, I had tried multiple times to load my membership card in the app, and it wasn’t allowing me to do so.
As I mentioned above, I had to go into a Costco store to do this, but it was worth it. So if you’d like to ditch the plastic card, take a few minutes at the beginning of your next shopping trip and visit the membership desk. I’d have preferred if I could just set this up online, but now that it’s done, I’m happy to be able to just hold up my phone when I enter or check out.
5. Pay with the Costco credit card
Costco has its own credit card, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. It has no annual fee for Costco members, and users earn Costco cashback rewards on every purchase. Now, shoppers can pay with the Costco Visa card via the app. Card holders add the Visa card to their digital membership card and no longer have to bring the physical card with them to warehouses.
6. Review your receipts
This is really a neat feature: Costco’s app saves your receipts from both online and in-store purchases and presents them to you in a clear and easy-to-read format. I can see what I paid for each item and track my shopping and any price changes. Plus, it helps me notice my own shopping habits and trends. I’ve learned from reviewing my recipes that I still can’t leave the store without buying the $4.99 rotisserie chicken.
7. Build custom shopping lists
Summer 2023 was the year I finally decided we needed to upgrade our patio furniture. I hunted for outdoor sectionals everywhere from Big Lots to Home Depot to fancy, pricey patio stores. But I ended up settling on Costco, and I was able to use the app to make a personalized list of the different furniture sets I was considering. It helped me to pit the different sizes and elements against each other — I fussed for days over whether it was better to buy a set including a fire table or to buy one separately.
(Spoiler: I bought this set, which comes with a fire table, and we love it.)
8. Order prescriptions
If you use the Costco pharmacy, the app is your friend. You can check the status of your prescriptions and refill them easily and quickly. You can manage your own prescriptions plus those of family members, including children — and even manage prescriptions for your pets.
9. Check your cash-back rewards (for Executive members)
Executive memberships cost more than a regular Costco membership, but those members then earn an annual 2% reward on qualifying purchases at Costco, Costco.com and Costco Travel. Those members can now easily see their yearly earnings in the program by using the Costco app.
10. Upcoming features
Costco has big plans to keep improving the app. Galanti said in September 2023 that the company plans to add features for checking store inventory and scanning barcodes directly from the app. He also said at that time that Costco app installs were up 46% year-over-year, which seems to show that customers are responding to the improvements.