Is Costco really the best place to get deals on TVs and laptops?
You can get some great deals as a member—but what about tech?
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There's a lot of advantages to having a Costco membership. Not only does the brand claim a considerable amount of quality as its goods go, but every item has a full return policy, making it a fairly safe way to shop for bigger purchases like TVs or laptops without sweating it too much.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean you should always buy your bigger tech items at Costco. While you can occasionally find Costco-exclusive TVs in the store, for example, that doesn't mean that they're your best choice. There's also some things to know about Costco's policies as TVs are concerned.
1. What is Costco's return policy?
This one is worth talking about up front. While Costco's normal return policy is quite generous—you can return anything at basically any time—where TVs go you only get 90 days (this is true for appliances), too.
These are the deets:
Electronics: Costco will accept returns within 90 days (from the date the member received the merchandise) for Televisions, Tuner-Free Displays, Projectors, Major Appliances (refrigerators above 10 cu. ft., freezers, ranges, cooktops, over-the-range microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers), Computers, Touchscreen Tablets, Smart Watches, Cameras, Aerial Cameras (drones), Camcorders, MP3 players and Cellular Phones (return details will vary by carrier service contract).
It's safe to assume that "Computers" means laptops, so if you're planning to buy a TV or a laptop at Costco, just make sure you definitely wanna keep it within 90 days—and hang onto your receipt.
2. What TVs and laptops can I buy at Costco?
You can find a lot of the same TVs at Costco that you'll find at other brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy and Walmart, including brands like Samsung, LG, Vizio, Sony, and TCL. Sometimes Costco also has Cosco-specific TV models, variants of more universal models with one or two features changed.
At a glance, the prices on TVs (online at Costco.com anyway) are about the same as they are elsewhere online. You'll find savings on some brands like Element, but in our labs we've found that brand is pretty cheap for a reason. Likewise, laptops are split into the usual selections like Apple, Dell, and so on.
However, in both situations Costco has a number of "members only" items that members should probably pay extra attention to. Generally, it can be safe to assume you're getting a better price on these items than you would by buying them elsewhere, likely because Costco has worked out a deal with the manufacturer or supplier.
You should still be sure to read reviews and check out the specs on members only items, however. Specifically, often a "main" series in a TV series will have a Costco variant that is slightly different—for example, the Costco version of a TV might have a 60 Hz refresh rate instead of a 120 Hz refresh rate.
3. What is Costco's warranty for electronics?
Costco's warranty program is one of the better advantages to buying a TV or laptop there. Called "Concierge" services, here's the details on that:
Costco extends the manufacturer's warranty on Televisions, Tuner-Free Displays, Projectors, Computers and Major Appliances to 2 years from the date of purchase.
Keep in mind that this isn't the same as the return policy, which is 90 days. The warranty covers things like malfunctioning parts, defects, and basic repairs, like a normal warranty.
It's also worth noting that the Costco warranty is not an additional two years on top of the standard one-year warranty from a manufacturer: it's two years total.
4. How does Costco compare to other options?
Now that you know about Costco's return policy, warranty, and a little about membership advantages, let's take a look at how shopping at Costco compares to other options.
Our top-rated TV of 2019 is the LG C9 OLED. You can get the 65-inch C9 for $2,049 at Costco right now, which is about $50 cheaper than the same make and model TV at Amazon. Considering the Costco option also includes a 3-year-warranty, essentially free when you bundle it with the TV, in this case buying from Costco is a much better option.
What about one of our favorite value picks from last year, the 2018 TCL 6-Series? You can get the 55-inch version on Amazon for $494 right now, but the same TV is available at Costco for $499. Considering you're getting a longer warranty with Costco, it also seems like a better deal, when the difference is only $5.
Where Costco does seem to have a disadvantage is overall product selection, especially where laptops are concerned. While looking for our favorite laptops, I was able to find the top-rated model (the Dell XPS 13 9380) on Amazon, but not on Costco, though there are similar models available.
Likewise, while our favorite gaming laptop—the Alienware M15—is available at Costco, it's $1,400, whereas you can find it for a little over $1,000 on Amazon. In cases like this, it makes more sense not to shop at Costco.
The takeaway is that while you can get a good deal and find better prices at Costco, your choices may be limited, especially if you're shopping in a physical store. As always, the best option is to shop around and compare prices once you've decided on which product you want, rather than simply picking between what seems to be on sale in the store itself.
Basically, Costco's return and warranty options often give it a leg up over other, non-membership-based options, but those things aren't always worth it if what you want is a lot cheaper at another store.