Is it worth buying car batteries from Costco?

/ / Car Accessories
Installing A Battery

Of all the problems your vehicle can experience, a dead battery is one of the most straightforward to remedy. Although a simpler fix than a multitude of other issues your car could experience under the hood, a battery replacement is still inconvenient and typically costs $100 or more to replace. But keeping your electrical system working or even starting your car will be challenging without a healthy amount of stored energy and steady voltage. Before buying a new battery, one of the first things to check is that the terminals are free from corrosive buildup. If you notice corrosion, you can easily and safely clean a car battery with common household items.

Fortunately, you happen to have a membership to the major discount retail store Costco, they carry automobile batteries. According to Costco, there are 130 million cardholding members from 73.4 million households. The brand Costco offers is Interstate Batteries, and you can replace not only your car battery but also the battery in any number of non-essential vehicles like boats, ATVs, and UTVs. So, is it worthwhile to purchase this product from Costco, or does another store offer a better option? Regarding vehicle batteries, when comparing a late model GMC Sierra 1500, for example, Costco offered some advantages over outlets like AutoZone, Batteries Plus, or O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Why buy car batteries from Costco?

Shopping Cart

Costco uses an interesting business model that enables it to offer savings over the competition, sometimes by a wide margin. The company can afford such discounted products because of shopper membership dues and a non-existent advertising budget. Since customers pay to shop at Costco, they can recoup any losses due to price cuts, and customers will undoubtedly return to utilize their paid membership for repeat business, leaving no need for advertising.

So, what does this have to do with batteries? It turns out that when comparing a similar battery between Costco, AutoZone, Batteries Plus, and O’Reilly Auto Parts, Costco’s battery is significantly cheaper. Using a late model GMC Sierra 1500 as an example, the Interstate Battery product offered at Costco started at $109.99 for this truck. However, AutoZone started at $194, Batteries Plus came in at $179.99, and O’Reilly Auto Parts wanted anywhere from $134 to more than $250.

It wasn’t just the overall price that differentiated Costco from the others. The refundable core charge was $7 cheaper at Costco, and although O’Reilly offered a three-year warranty on some units, they were still $100 more than Costco’s batteries with a 36-month warranty. 

Why you might want to look elsewhere

Auto Parts Store Battery

Even though Costco does offer some great deals on car batteries, it may not be the right store for everyone. Membership dues start at an annual $60, and for more perks like 2% rewards on certain purchases, among other benefits, the Executive membership is $120 a year. If you are planning on regularly shopping at Costco, this membership cost might be worth it. However, if you’re just looking to buy a battery, it may not be worth the trouble. Many have wondered if they should get a Costco membership just to buy a new TV, but it turns out it’s only worth it if the item is above a certain cost.

Another reason you might shop elsewhere is that in terms of selection, stores like O’Reilly Auto Parts and Batteries Plus offer more choices. Costco narrows down the recommended product based on the year, make, model, and engine of your vehicle, and in the case of the older GMC Sierra 1500 example, it only provided two choices. O’Reilly Auto Parts presented twenty-five results ranging from less expensive economy options to more robust products with better warranties. If you decide to shop around, a list of the major car battery brands ranked worst to best can help you decide. 

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