A Complete Guide To Buying Gold Bars At Costco

Hot dog specials, bulk toilet paper, and now ... Kirkland gold? Costco is well-known for its good deals and house brands, but one of its newest offerings is surprisingly, and quite literally, solid gold. You read that right: Costco now sells gold in the form of 1-ounce "bars."

The term "bars" conjures up a generous mental image in comparison to the credit-card size gold ingots available through the warehouse club. The bars of 24-karat gold come in two types: a 1-ounce Gold Bar PAMP Suisse Lady Fortuna Veriscan option, or a 100 gram gold bar from South Africa's Rand Refinery. While the price of gold fluctuates, Costco's members-only pricing tends to hover around gold's spot price in the market, around $2,000 per 1 troy ounce.

Costco has been selling gold bars since October 2024, and reports of monthly sales in the $100 to $200 million dollar range for gold bars alone have momentarily stolen the spotlight from Costco's true treasure of a rotisserie chicken. Curious customers and Costco diehards may be wondering why the store is selling gold bars, and just how to get one in their carts. Read on for a complete guide to buying gold bars at Costco, and what investment experts think of the idea.

Why is Costco selling gold bars?

At first glance, it seems like Costco is making millions of dollars a month selling gold. But sales numbers are not the same as profits. Costco is known for low prices and loss-leading tactics to take market share. After all, Costco founder Jim Sinegal once (jokingly?) threatened CEO Craig Jelinek with certain death if Jelinek raised the price of the hot dog-and-drink combo. But Costco isn't offering much of a discount on its gold bars at all, just close to market price.

​​"Pricing at that level and shipping costs suggests it's a very low-profit business at best," Edward Kelly, a Wells Fargo equity analyst, wrote in a research note to clients in April 2024 (via CNBC) about Costco gold sales. So if Costco isn't turning a big profit selling gold, why is it on offer? Kelly elaborated in his note: "The accelerating frequency of Reddit posts, quick online sell-outs of product, and COST's robust monthly eComm sales suggests a sharp uptick in momentum since the launch."

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti referred to gold sales as a "fun, wow" item in a Q1 2024 earnings call. Kelly told The New York Times: "It's not that $100 or $200 million a month is a lot for Costco, but it's new business and they didn't have that business last year." In other words: Costco isn't selling gold to make money off of gold. It's selling gold to gain new members, and to drive e-commerce, which was up 18% in 2024 than the previous year.

Who is buying Costco gold and why?

Millennials and the elder Generation Z crowd disillusioned with financial institutions and nervous about the instability wars, climate disasters, and other cataclysmic events bring, can make up some of the gold-purchasing contingent at Costco. "It's just nice to have options when we don't really know what's going on," 29-year-old Julia Edwards told The Wall Street Journal about her purchase. Joe Roselli, a consumer in his 30s, meanwhile, told the Journal he got a membership in order to get two gold bars, adding, "I want something physical that I can hold ... I'm protecting against a situation where there is hyperinflation."

Longtime gold coin buyer Blaine Silverman bought a gold bar from Costco, and told Fox Business' "The Big Money Show": "I consider this savings. So to me [gold] is money." Though hoarding gold in the event of a financial crisis has a distinct doomsday prepper flair to it, and even sounds like a fantasy dragon guarding its treasure, purchasing physical gold to protect against future financial uncertainty is a fairly traditional practice, if a volatile one.

Why do people want Costco gold?

Historically, gold has, at least culturally, been considered a safe-bet investment in times of turmoil. The precious metal is valuable around the world, and while not entirely recession-proof, it holds its value more consistently than other commodities. Gold's global value generally makes the metal quick to exchange, regardless of the strength of the market. This liquidity has long made gold attractive as an investment, and seen as a hedge against inflation.

In the case of investing in physical gold, the thought of reselling physical coins, bars, and even jewelry may provide a feeling of flexibility and security. Even in terms of pop culture, we might be familiar with the idea of gold bearing long-term value. Ron Swanson, fictional character on sitcom "Parks and Recreation," is notorious for having "heavily invested in gold" and buried it in caches around town. In the classic "Twilight Zone" episode, "The Rip Van Winkle Caper," thieves steal gold bars, then sleep for 100 years, only to wake up in a world where gold is worthless. But an uncertain market and volatility of gold's value within that market don't seem to be of concern with Costco's gold bar buyers.

Zachary Scott, general manager of Santa Monica, California's Wilshire Coin told USA Today that Costco being "a trusted company" is why it's bringing in gold investors who are "less than typical." "I trust Costco," 31-year-old Costco gold-buyer Jared Nagano told The Wall Street Journal. "And it's such a good deal."

What the experts think

Investment experts and gold dealers have a split opinion on Costco's shiniest new offering. Peter Thomas of Ausecure, a Chicago-based precious metals dealer, thinks the proprietary QR code that accompanies the PAMP bars makes them attractive, telling the The Wall Street Journal: "You're guaranteed that it is legitimate gold and I could buy one and put it in the safe at home or in my safety-deposit box. It's a serious investment."

Personal finance expert Suze Orman, though, begs to differ. "It's one thing to buy gold and get a physical bar, and it's another thing to have to sell it," Orman told CNN, adding that buyers are not considering that difficulty, nor the additional considerations of insurance, storage, and surveying. "Listen, if you want to be investing in gold, you can do it through an ETF. You can do it many ways, but to buy the actual commodity, is something I'm not sure that people should be doing." (Here's Money Analysis's ultimate guide to investing in gold.)

Appearing on the Journal's podcast with Ariana Aspurur, meanwhile, Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Hamilton noted that physical gold investment pays off more, over the long-term. "If you ever do decide to sell ... there are going to be a lot of options and you might get some pretty widely varying price offers," she said. "Also there is an increased tax on the gold. Gold is usually considered a collectible, so it's going to be a 28% on any profit that you get from selling it, whereas selling a stock is more of a 20% tax."

How to buy Costco gold bars

While you can still do some shopping at Costco without a membership, Costco gold is a members- only item. You need a membership to the warehouse club to even view the price of your Costco gold bar of choice. Once you've gotten over the sticker shock of that 1 troy ounce of gold, though, you next have a decision to make. Do you hunt for gold you can pick up in-store? Or, do you choose to add to your digital cart, and have it shipped to you via UPS, in approximately three to five business days?

If you choose to look for an in-store option, good luck. Bars tend to sell out within hours, and entire rabid Reddit threads are devoted to sharing chance sightings of physical gold in physical stores. This writer couldn't find a single warehouse in the tri-state area with bars in stock while writing this story. Online shopping may be the best bet for Costco gold, but please note, terms apply to purchases of Costco gold made in-store or online.

The Costco website states that gold purchased is nonrefundable, nor returnable, and there's a limit: one transaction per membership, and customers can only buy up to five bars of Costco gold. Upon delivery, customers must sign for their order. Reviews on delivery of the gold are mixed, as well as when it comes to attempts to immediately resell the product, proving there might be gold in those Costco hills — but there are still a few golden strings attached.