Costco Computers: Pros & Cons of Buying PCs From Costco

Should you buy a computer from the warehouse retailer?

While Costco is best known for selling bulk food items, the company also boasts of a large electronics department. The Costco Concierge Program even offers extended warranties and technical support for Costco members. If you're looking to buy a new laptop or desktop PC, consider the pro and cons or computer shopping at Costco.

Costco Membership Required

Illustration of a person leaving a store with a computer in their cart
Lifewire / Miguel Co

You must purchase a membership with a yearly fee before you can buy from Costco. This approach helps the company offset some of the discounts it offers and manage the number of people who shop at the store. The basic membership is affordable at $60 per year.

If you shop regularly at Costco, you quickly recoup the membership cost through savings on purchases. However, if you only intend to purchase a computer through them, there's a chance the membership cost may exceed the savings on the price of the computer. When comparing prices between Costco and other retailers, be sure to factor in that membership cost.

Non-members can purchase some computers from Costco's website, but most listings require you to log in with your membership to view the price and purchase the item.

Limited Selection of Costco Computers

One of the primary ways that Costco keeps costs down is by restricting the number of items the company sells. By offering a limited selection, Costco earns a larger bulk discount from manufacturers. This includes the computers the company offers.

The online store offers roughly five times as many products as the physical stores, but some items that are available in Costco stores cannot be purchased online. It is best to check both the physical stores and online before selecting a computer. The computer, laptop, and tablet brands available may change from time to time, so don't expect to see the same offerings every time you visit the store or the website.

Costco's Pricing May Not Always Be the Best

Consumers often assume that Costco computers will be less expensive than the same machines at other retailers, but that isn't always true. For example, an entry-level tablet may have an identical or similar price compared to competitors, and some desktop models available online are no different in price than ordering them directly from the manufacturers. Many budget-oriented, items like low-cost laptops, have such thin profit margins that the manufacturers are unable to offer much of a discount to Costco.

Costco-Only Products and Bundles

Some products and product bundles can only be found at Costco. For example, Google Wi-Fi mesh networking products generally sell as single units or in sets of three units in most stores, but Costco offers a four-unit pack at a price slightly more than the three-pack.

For computers, check Costco for bundles that include accessories. Also look at the specifications on computers, such as storage space, memory, and CPU speed to see if there might be variations between Costco-only models and the models found at other retailers.

Costco Electronics Return Policy

Costco has always been known for its incredibly lenient return policy. Until a few years ago, members were able to return products years after their purchase if they were unhappy with the product for almost any reason.

Costco's current return policy allows for the return of electronics within 90 days for a full refund, including shipping for online orders returned to retail stores. Even though this standard is far more restrictive than the company's original policy, it is still extremely favorable in the electronics market.

In addition to its return policy, Costco also offers to extend the warranty for most electronics beyond the basic manufacturer warranties. This benefit is part of the Costco Concierge Program provided to members. It includes the extension of warranties to a full two years from the date of purchase and a special tech support service that members can call for assistance with setup and troubleshooting.

Final Verdict

Costco doesn't always have the best prices for computers, but the company is competitive, and you can sometimes find an amazing deal. What really sets Costco apart from other places that advertise incredibly low prices is the confidence you'll have knowing Costco will stand by the products it sells through its return policy, extended warranties, and free tech support.

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