You might know Costco as a membership warehouse club, providing brand-name, quality merchandise at favorable prices. But you might not realize all the specialty departments and exclusive member services, they provide at hundreds of locations worldwide. In this article, we’ll be describing and reviewing Costco’s Optical Department.
While you do not need to be a member to see the in-house optometrist at Costco, you do need to be a member of Costco to purchase glasses and contacts. However, if you are not a member but know someone who is they can purchase contacts for you online as long as you can provide them with a valid prescription.
Many vision insurance plans are accepted at Costco. But you’ll need to check with your location to see if they accept your specific insurance provider. The cost of an eye exam at Costco can vary depending on location or doctor. You’ll likely pay around $70 – 80 for an eyeglasses exam without insurance. An exam for contact lenses may run upwards of $150.
Costco sells a variety of name brand eyeglass frames, sunglasses, and contacts. Manufacturers and name brands include “Kirkland Signature,” Costco’s private label eye care brand, Bausch and Lomb, Acuvue, CooperVision, Kate Spade, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Serengeti, and more.
You can also bring your own frames to Costco or receive a discount on the purchase of multiple frames for the same person when purchasing all on the same day.
They also provide a variety of lenses including – Kirkland Signature™ HD Progressive, Polarized, Transitions®, Anti-Reflective Treatments, and Multi-functional lenses.
A Review of Costco Optical
The Costco Optical review below was completed by Vicki, co-founder of Women Who Money and Women’s Money Talk. She recently used a Costco Vision Center for an eye exam and four new pairs of glasses.
We’ve been members of a few different warehouse clubs over the years, but we usually skipped renewing memberships because of club locations being a bit too far from home for our busy lives and schedules. Early in 2109, we decided to give Costco another try since we are now empty-nesters, in semi-retirement who “snowbird” for most of the winter at our Florida condo.
Even though the Costco in NY is a half-hour drive from home, we decided to purchase a membership in Florida and give it another try. We’re now shopping at Costco a few times each month while in Florida and we’ve gone to the one near us in NY a few times too. Thus far we are happy with our decision to rejoin.
Recently, after tiring of squinting (even with my glasses on), I knew it was time to get an eye exam. I typically use local vision centers but remembered they were available at Costco also.
This is the first time I’ve used the Costco Vision Center, and I wanted to share my experience.
Getting An Eye Exam at Costco’s Vision Center
According to their optical section of the Costco website, an independent Doctor of Optometry is available for eye exams at or next to most Costco locations.
Costco Optical accepts many vision insurance plans. But make sure you contact the independent Doctor of Optometry to see what insurance plans they take for eye exams.
I was able to text the Doctor at my local Costco eye care on a Saturday morning to inquire about the acceptance of our insurance plan. He returned my call with good news and shared that my insurance copay would be $40. He then asked if I wanted to book an appointment or call back. The doctor also mentioned I could book an appointment online at my convenience.
Once I decided to give Costco a try, I logged in and booked the last appointment available for later that Saturday afternoon. I was delighted I wouldn’t have to wait a few weeks for an eye exam. With school starting soon in our area, many vision centers are booked for weeks this time of year.
I arrived at the vision center in Costco for a 4:20 pm appointment and with no wait at all. The doctor reviewed my history, checked my glasses, and completed my eye exam by 4:45.
Rather than having him dilate my eyes, I opted to pay an extra $25 for a digital retinal exam. (As a science teacher, this was a small price to pay to get a cool picture to show my students. The doctor also emailed me the images for future reference.)
Ordering Glasses Through Costco Optical
There was no surprise my prescription changed since my last eye exam two years ago. Which meant it was time for new glasses.
Since I need to wear eyeglasses (with progressive trifocals) all the time, I always purchase a backup pair of glasses and prescription sunglasses. I also decided to buy a pair of office glasses this time because I teach online and have an online business.
Office glasses don’t correct distance vision but have larger intermediate and near vision fields.
Although I like the frames I’ve been wearing for the last two years, one of them had a crack and couldn’t be reused. Costco charges a fee ($20-30) to create a template of your glasses if you do decide to use frames you already own.
Taking the cost of new frames and the condition of my current frames into account, ordering new frames for the four pairs of glasses was the best decision. My Costco’s vision center would reduce the price of their already inexpensive frames if I bought more than one pair. (I share the full cost breakdown below.)
The customer service representatives in the Vision Center were incredibly patient. They assisted me with choosing which frames, lenses, and anti-reflective treatments would be best for each pair of glasses.
In about 75 minutes, my eye exam and order were complete. This was all on the same day as my initial call to learn more about Costco Optical.
Cost Review of the Glasses and Lenses I Ordered at Costco
My eye exam and retinal imagery cost $65, payable directly to the Doctor of Optometry who did my exam.
1st pair of glasses. The frame was $59.99, and the Kirkland Signature HD progressive lenses were $130.01 for a total of $190.00. Since I struggle with glare in addition to working on the computer a great deal, I added an anti-blue light treatment to these lenses.
2nd pair of glasses. The frame was $59.99, and the Kirkland Signature HD progressive lenses were $129.99 for a total of $189.98. I didn’t get an anti-reflective treatment on these glasses.
3rd pair of glasses. The frame for the office glasses was $59.99, and the Kirkland Signature HD progressive lenses were $70.01 for a total of $130.00. This includes the anti-blue light treatment since I’ll be using them for computer work.
4th pair of glasses. The frame for my sunglasses was $49.99, and the Kirkland Signature HD progressive lenses were $159.99 for a total of $209.98.
I was eligible for a $30 discount on pairs 2, 3, and 4 for ordering them all on the same day; a total savings of $90.
The total cost for four pairs of glasses was $629.96, an average of just over $157/pair. (*I didn’t use an insurance benefit for the frames because it was cheaper to buy them outright with the discount.)
It was an expensive afternoon in the end, as I spent just under $700 for the exam and glasses.
How Do Their Prices Compare?
I bought three pairs of glasses (no office glasses) at a local vision center two years ago, for $697.86, an average of just over $232/pair. (The copay for the eye exam was the same. I did have my eyes dilated there instead of paying for a digital retinal exam.)
I saved an average of $75/pair of glasses at Costco Vision.
According to OpticianWorks, consumers can expect to pay between $200 and $600 for a pair of glasses with progressive lenses and frames and an additional $75 to $150 for non-glare coatings.
Premium lenses like Varilux are preferred by many people who wear progressive lenses even though they cost hundreds more than the lenses Costco sells.
Before making your decision on where to buy glasses, research the type of lens you want, the cost, and what your insurance may cover.
Final Thoughts on My Costco Eye Care Review
Vision care is expensive, even when you have insurance. That’s why most people try to do what they can to save money on glasses, contacts, and eye care. Luckily, I was able to wear my previous eyeglasses for just over two years before I needed new ones.
In terms of using Costco, I definitely saved money over the last two vision centers I used. So far, the quality of my glasses seems good. The doctor and staff of the vision center were a pleasure to work with. I’m happy to report, with spending close to $700, I’m satisfied with my decision to use Costco Optical for eye care.
Since I know issues may arise with my lenses and glasses over time, I’ll update this review in a few months.