Costco's Membership Requirements Used To Be A Lot Different

Even if you've never been to a Costco before, you probably know that you need a membership to shop there. After all, Costco's membership system is almost as famous as their $1.50 hot dogs. Today, according to the company's website, pretty much anyone with a photo ID can get a membership for $60 per year and shop all of Costco's bulk deals, but that wasn't always the case.

As reported by Business Insider, the first Costco store opened in Seattle in 1983, but it wasn't the first store to introduce the concept of warehouse-style shopping. Price Club, founded by Sol Price, first opened its doors in San Diego in 1976, and, according to, it was the first warehouse discount store to require memberships in order to shop there. However, unlike today's Costcos, not just anyone could get a membership. Initially, Price Club was only open to small business owners, and while they could buy personal items like toothpaste, it was meant to be an easy, affordable way to stock up on office supplies like stationary at a discount.

Per Costco's website, the first Price Club locations soon realized that they could grow sales even more by allowing non-business owners to also purchase memberships. When the first official Costco store opened in 1983, it offered slightly different membership options than its then-competitor Price Club.

How Costco's first memberships were different

According to Reader's Digest, photos of the very first Costco store in Seattle in 1983 show two different membership options: A $25 annual membership fee for business owners to shop the store's bulk goods and a $30 annual membership for non-business-owning group members. Back then, you'd have to pay an extra $15 for another card for your spouse, whereas today's $60 Costco membership includes two cards for one household.

Ten years after the first Costco store opened, Price Club and Costco merged to become PriceCostco, before all of the stores eventually rebranded to become Costcos, according to Business Insider. Today's Costco memberships look a little different from when they were first introduced – not only has the price gone up but according to the company's website, there's no longer a membership option for business owners. Instead, you can pay $120 per year for a Gold Star Executive card, which includes a few more benefits than a regular membership, like annual 2 percent rewards on some purchases. Plus, today's Costco membership program offers discounts for medical professionals, students, members of the military, and veterans. It looks a little different from when it was first introduced in the 1980s, but Costco's memberships are just as popular as ever.