You have many options for getting eye care today, both in person and online. You’re probably already familiar with Costco for bulk shopping, but you may not know they also offer comprehensive eye care services.
Read on to find out if Costco Optical is right for you and your eyes.
Costco Wholesale is a membership-based retail store that’s been around since 1976, when it was known by the name Price Club.
Costco offers about 4,000 products, compared with the 30,000 products most grocery stores have on hand. Their stock varies and is sold in bulk, generally at cheaper prices than standard grocery stores. In addition to groceries, Costco also sells clothes, electronics, home furnishings, and more.
Many Costco locations also have a Costco Optical inside, where you can get an eye exam and pick out eyeglasses. Costco Opticals are staffed by trained opticians who can help you pick out your glasses and answer questions about insurance, returns, and orders.
Each Costco Optical has an independent doctor of optometry who can give you a standard eye exam, just like at any eye doctor’s office.
Costco Optical pros
- There are more than 500 Costco Opticals nationwide.
- No Costco membership is needed for an eye appointment.
- Costco Optical accepts most vision insurance plans.
Costco Optical cons
- Costco Optical’s website is fairly vague. For instance, the website states they accept most insurance plans, but you have to call or go in person to find out which plans they accept.
- No warranty information is available on Costco’s website.
- A Costco membership is needed to purchases glasses or contacts.
- Costco’s app is just a glorified version of their website, with no unique app-based features.
Costco Optical offers in-person eye exams from independent doctors of optometry. If you’re a Costco member, you can select from a wide range of contact lenses, brand-name designer eyeglass frames, and sunglasses. They also sell name-brand contact lenses, as well as eye care products like contact lens solutions.
As a Costco member, you can order glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, and eye care products online.
Costco Optical offers a wide range of lenses, including HD progressive, polarized, Transitions photochromic, anti-blue-light, anti-reflective, and multifunctional lenses, as well as contact lenses and sunglasses.
A closer look at the Costco app
Costco does have an app, which I downloaded and perused. The app has an average of 2.4 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store, based on more than 4,500 ratings. On the Google Play store, the app averages about 3 stars, based on more than 32,000 ratings.
The app’s Costco Optical info is identical to the information available on the website. Since the interface is identical to the website, there’s no real benefit of using one over the other.
To purchase lenses or eye care products through Costco Optical, you must be a Costco member. The annual fee for a personal membership is $60. The Gold Star Executive Membership for businesses is twice as much, at $120.
If you’re not already a Costco member, visit the Costco website for info on memberships.
The Costco Optical website doesn’t list the cost for an eye exam, but my research tells me it averages about $75 to $80. Be sure to call your local store for pricing options.
Since I’m not a Costco member, I couldn’t view the exact prices of their eyewear and eye care products. Based on my research, the average cost for a pair of frames and lenses is $184.
Much of Costco Optical’s website is frustratingly opaque if you’re not a member. To find out exact prices, sign in to their website with your Costco membership info, or visit a Costco Optical to check out products and prices in person.
Does Costco Optical take insurance?
Costco Optical’s website says they now take most vision insurance plans, but notes that discount plans are not eligible. To find out if your insurance is accepted, call or visit your local Costco Optical.
Does Costco Optical take VSP insurance?
Yes, according to VSP’s website. However, the VSP website notes that your allowance may differ. For more details, call the number listed on your VSP card or check with your local Costco Optical.
Does Costco Optical take Medicare?
Costco may accept some Medicare plans, but it depends on your specific plan. Costco’s website doesn’t explicitly state whether they accept Medicare. To find out if your Medicare plan is accepted at Costco, call the Medicare number listed on your insurance card and call your local Costco Optical.
To place a Costco Optical order online or in person, you must be a Costco member. If you’re not already a member, you’ll need to join.
If you’re ordering prescription contact lenses, you’ll need your prescription handy. You can place an order through the website or the app.
Products eligible for flexible spending account (FSA) payments are noted on the website.
To place an order on the website, take the following steps:
- Sign in to your Costco account.
- Select the contacts you wish to purchase.
- Enter your prescription, if applicable.
- Enter your shipping info.
- Enter your payment info.
- Place your order.
If you prefer to order in person, you’ll need to visit your local Costco Optical during store hours. There are more than 500 Costco Opticals in the United States, as well as several locations in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Mexico, Iceland, and Spain.
If you order glasses for in-person pickup, Costco states they will take about 7 days to process. If you order glasses delivered to your home, it’ll also take 7 days to process plus an additional 7 to 14 days to ship.
When checking review websites, I found mixed reactions to the shipping time. Many of the negative reviews mention that the glasses took longer than stated to arrive.
Costco Optical’s return policy is a little more complicated than that of similar retailers. There’s no standard satisfaction guarantee, but you can get lenses replaced if there’s an issue with your prescription. The time frame for replacing your eyeglass lenses is 60 to 90 days, depending on your Costco Optical location.
Make sure to ask your local Costco optician for details before ordering. If you need to change your lenses, you must schedule an appointment with the eye doctor on-site.
The return policy for contact lenses is more straightforward. As long as the package isn’t opened or damaged, you can return your contacts at any time for a full refund. Keep any paperwork that comes with your contacts order, and follow the included instructions to make a return.
First and foremost, Costco is a wholesale club that lets customers buy all sorts of groceries and home goods. Customer ratings at places like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot reflect a wide variety of customer experiences, not just with Costco Optical.
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): Costco’s BBB page shows that the company has an A+ rating and an average of 1.48 out of 5 stars with more than 210 customer reviews. BBB doesn’t appear to rate Costco and Costco Optical separately.
- Trustpilot: Review aggregator website Trustpilot shows similar Costco reviews — an average of 1.5 out of 5 stars and more than 1,400 reviews. Like the BBB, Trustpilot doesn’t have a separate page for Costco Optical, so keep in mind that these ratings are based on Costco as a whole.
- Reddit and Google: Find the name of your local Costco’s doctor of optometry and then search their name in your city’s subreddit or in Google reviews. This should give you an idea of the doctor’s reputation. You can also post on Reddit asking for the experiences of your neighbors at Costco Optical.
In 2013, a man in California filed a class action lawsuit against Costco. He believed he was sold glasses at a higher cost due to Costco Optical functioning as a “joint operation.” The lawsuit was initially dismissed, but that dismissal was reversed in 2018, meaning the plaintiff could reopen his case.
In 2021, Costco agreed to pay $525,000 to settle a suit that claimed the company failed to refund consumers for the costs of cancelled Costco executive memberships. Terms of the settlement state the eligible consumers can recover a free year of a Costco membership or a cash payment of up to $15.
You have many options for in-person and online eye care. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
- Target Optical: Like Costco Optical, Target offers in-person eye exams and a wide range of name-brand eyeglasses, sunglasses, and contacts. Learn more about Target Optical.
- Local independent retailers: Take to Google, Reddit, and Facebook, or crowdsource your friends to find local shops that sell eyeglasses, contacts, and sunglasses.
- Online retailers: Check out this Healthline article that covers the top eight places to buy glasses online.
- Local eye doctors: Get your eyes examined the old-fashioned way by going to an optometrist in your area. You can find the best local eye doctor by searching Reddit or Google, or asking your friends. Find an eye doctor near you.
Costco Optical appears to be a decent option for affordable and quick in-person eye exams, especially if you have a Costco membership. If you opt to go elsewhere, note that you have a plethora of options available to you.
Ash Fisher is a writer and comedian living with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. When she’s not having a wobbly-baby-deer day, she’s hiking with her corgi, Vincent. Learn more about her on her website.