Did you know you can make money while shopping at REI?
If you regularly shop at REI, a membership is the way to go
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If you’ve ever shopped at REI before, chances are the cashier asked if you have an REI Membership, and if not, whether you wanted to sign up. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably tired of being offered store-specific memberships, credit cards, and rewards programs with every purchase, so you just say, “No thanks,” without thinking and continue on with your life.
However, several months ago, my boyfriend caved and signed up for an REI Membership—he was buying a pricey new snowboard and was enticed by the promise of 10% back on his purchase. Since then, he’s gotten quite a bit of use out of his membership, and I’ve been educated on why this particular program is actually worth your time.
What is an REI Co-op Membership?
REI’s Co-op Membership is a lifetime membership that can be yours for the low price of $20—that’s right, you get lifetime access to all the benefits for just $20. The only real caveat is that you have to spend at least $10 annually to be considered an “active” member and reap the rewards.
In addition to some sweet perks that we’ll get into below, the appeal of an REI Membership is that you get access to a welcoming community of outdoor enthusiasts, making it a great way to connect with like-minded individuals in your area.
What are the benefits of an REI Membership?
You probably want to know what an REI Membership entails, right? Well, the $20 price tag gets you access to a number of unique features and services tailored toward outdoorsmen and women.
The Annual Dividend
Arguably the most compelling and unique aspect of an REI Membership is what the brand calls its “Annual Dividend.” Basically, you earn 10% back on all your REI purchases throughout the year, including most full-price items. Some things that don’t count toward your dividend include sale items, REI Adventures trips, REI Outdoor School classes, and sales tax.
The store tallies up your dividend between January and December, and you’ll receive 10% of your total spend back the following March. You can choose to either redeem your rewards in the form of cash or a check or use it toward future REI purchases. Don’t worry about rushing out to make a purchase, though, as your dividend doesn’t expire for two years.
The appeal here is if you make a large purchase—such as my boyfriend’s $400 snowboard—you’ll end up getting 10% back on it. In his case, he earned $40, so he basically recouped his membership fee and then some.
Discounted equipment rentals
Sweet cash money is always a big incentive, but an REI Membership gets you access to more perks, as well. For instance, did you know that REI lets you rent all sorts of sporting and adventuring equipment? You can rent hiking, camping, cycling, paddling, and snow gear, as well as car racks from select REI stores—ideal if you just want to try out a certain sport without committing to full-price equipment.
Anyone can rent gear from REI, but with a membership, you get special discounted pricing and they waive the rental deposit. We’re not talking $5 discounts, either—a membership can save you hundreds on larger equipment rentals.
Special pricing on REI Adventures
Did someone say adventure? REI Adventures are unique trips around the world curated by the brand. So whether you want to cycle through Croatia for eight days or backpack the Grand Canyon, REI will plan out the fine details of the trip for you.
These trips are a great way to explore the world with knowledgeable guides and like-minded companions, and when you’re an REI member, you get discounted pricing on Adventures. When you click on a specific trip, you can see both member and non-member costs, and member prices are often several hundred dollars lower. The downside is that these (often expensive) trips don’t count toward your Annual Dividend.
Discounts on lift tickets
This benefit is especially appealing to skiers and snowboarders. With your REI Membership, you can save 25% or more on lift tickets at mountains all around the country. My boyfriend frequents Killington and Mount Snow, and he loves that he can get discounted lift passes through REI to save some money.
Access to all sorts of events
If you’re looking to meet new people or learn new skills, REI classes and events are a great way to do it! They offer everything from wilderness safety training to courses that teach you how to ride a bike, and your membership lets you attend these events for discounted prices.
Additionally, there are exclusive member-only events such as garage sales, hiking excursions, climbing events, and more that you’ll be able to attend for free.
Is an REI Membership worth signing up for?
As you can see, there are quite a few benefits that come along with a REI Membership, and if you shop at the store frequently, rent REI gear, or take classes through them, you’ll quickly recoup your initial investment. So for regular REI shoppers, a membership is totally worth it—seriously, it's only $20 and it lasts your whole life!
However, if you only shop at REI once in a blue moon and don’t attend their events, you probably won’t get as much value from the membership.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.