Costco employee perks you didn't know existed

'I never would have imagined that it would become my career'

Costco has made a name for itself in the food retail industry. Since 1983, the multinational membership club, whose goal is to offer brand name merchandise in bulk at lower prices than its competitors, has grown into one of the largest retail companies in the country and created a loyal following in the process.

And while the large selection of exclusive products draws massive crowds, its reputation for employee care helped it garner a fleet of more than 240,000 employees worldwide.

According to Costco employees around the nation, the job has far more perks than what meets the eye. With lifetime membership opportunities, scholarship programs' and competitive pay, it's no surprise that the club became one of only eight retail companies to make Glassdoor's list of the 100 Best Places to Work in 2020.

An employee disclosed to FOX Business they can make anywhere between $15-$29 per hour depending on their experience.

An employee fills cups with samples of Costco Wholesale Corp. Kirkland Signature brand organic lemonade at a store in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"Costco has been a leader in the warehouse club and retail industry for over three decades," Costco CEO Craig Jelinek wrote in the employee handbook. "There is no question that the most important factor in our success – and our greatest strength – is our people. Very simply, Costco's accomplishments as a company are tied directly to our ability to attract, develop and retain the very best employees in the industry."

With that said, we decided to hear from employees ourselves. Here's what they had to say:

Free Executive Membership 

Employees are entitled to a free Executive Membership, which is normally worth $120 annually. This includes an additional card for an employee's spouse or domestic partner, according to the employee handbook. After a certain amount of time employees are also given two additional non-Executive Membership cards.

Executive Membership benefits include earning two percent on purchases, Nellie, a Costco employee in Pennsylvania, said, adding that it's just another way employees feel they are valued.


They know what the new hot ticket items are and get first dibs

Getting their hands on the newest and hottest items is another perk of the job. Employees are not only the first to hear about the warehouse inventory, but they are often the first to snag it up, according to an employee.

"It’s frequently the case that we're out of stock of something because we've bought them all," a Costco employee in Ohio told FOX Business.

Additionally, if an employee has been there long enough, they become accustomed to the seasonal changes in inventory, which means they know what the Costco "treasure hunt" items are, also known as the "we only got 2 or 3 of these" items.

Employees know about them before you do, and "lots of us buy them before you do," the employee said.

Want a good deal? Odds are they know the deals before the public does 

"We see stuff go on clearance before you do, and if it's a good deal, we'll snatch them up," the Ohio employee said.

When something goes on clearance, employees can post an item tag at the time clock in order to alert fellow coworkers about the deal. "We will often clear out the entire remaining inventory," he added.

During the holidays, however, many employees will use this opportunity to make large quantity purchases of toys and donate them.


The warehouse-style of shopping is shown inside a Costco store in Carlsbad, California on February 28, 2012. (Reuters/ Mike Blake)

Free turkey at Thanksgiving

One thing Costco employees can immediately check off their grocery list come Thanksgiving: a turkey. Roughly three weeks before the big feast, employees receive a ticket to get a free bird from the freezer to take with them, the Ohio employee said.

And for those who choose not to take the free treat, the company donates them to a local food bank, Nellie added.


Free workout 

Walking the confines of the warehouse can be a workout in itself. "I walk 15-40,000 steps per day depending on how long my shift is and what I’m doing," the Ohio worker said.

But walking is the least of it.

"When you see pallets stacked with 50-pound bags of flour or sugar or dog food or cat litter, a lot of that stuff had to be stacked by hand by employees before the store opens," said Rachael, a Costco employee in Colorado told Mental Floss. "Ditto for those giant stacks of shoes and bottles of salsa or five-gallon jugs of cooking oil. It's a lot of hard work."

Shoppers visit a Costco Wholesale in Tigard, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

Shop after hours

Shopping in a packed warehouse is nothing Costco employees have to deal with. According to an employee in Washington state, a perk of the job is that they are privy to a near-empty warehouse after hours.

"You can shop after hours, and a lot of employees do that," says Kathleen, a Costco employee in Washington state told Mental Floss. "You just bring your cart to the front register."

The store will keep the member service counter open so workers can check out after other registers have closed, she told the outlet.

Longtime Costco employee Nellie said she has seen scores of relationships develop, whether it's meeting your future spouse, best friend or a close-knit group of people that become your family. The managers also lend an ear when an employee needs it most, she said.

"Costco is more than a company, it's a family, and family is a blessing no matter where you can get it," said Nellie, who works in Pennsylvania.


Editor's note: The section on free samples has been removed to reflect that the company that offers the samples, Club Demonstration Services, suspended operations in early April.