10 Things To Know Before Using Costco Optical to Buy Your Next Pair of Glasses

Updated September 10, 2021 by Kyle
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I must have walked past the Costco Optical desk a dozen times before I realized that you can actually get your eyes examined in the warehouse. Once I realized this, I immediately had a bunch of questions. Who does the actual eye exam? What does it cost? Does the Costco eye center carry all the popular brand-name frames? Do they accept vision insurance? I figured I wasn’t the only one with these questions so the idea for this article was born. I hope I answer all of your questions so you can make an informed decision the next time you need new eyeglasses or sunglasses.

10 Things To Know Before Using Costco Optical

1. What Does a Costco Eye Exam Cost?

Costco Storefront

At my local Costco a regular eye exam costs $65 and a contact lenses exam costs $99.

Your $65 gets you an eye exam as well as a copy of your Eye Health Evaluation and Prescription.

You are under NO obligation to buy eyewear from Costco and can take your prescription anywhere you want.

It’s also worth noting that dilation and visual fields may require an additional fee.

 

2. How Do I Schedule an Eye Exam?

While walk-ins are welcomed when available, you’d be smart to call ahead and schedule your next eye exam.

Just call your local Costco and schedule your appointment.

At my Costco, exams are available from 10 am – 7 pm Monday-Friday, 9:45 am – 5 pm on Saturday, and 10 am – 3 pm on Sunday.

3. Do I Need to Be a Costco Member?

NO.

You do NOT need to be a Costco member to get an eye exam, but you DO need to be member to actually purchase eyeglasses or contact lenses.

If you’re getting an eye exam without a Costco membership, just tell the “card checker” at the door and they’ll happily let you in the warehouse and direct you to the optometry center.

See Also: 8 Cool Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership

4. Does Costco Have an Optometrist on Staff?

While Costco has an optometrist on-site, they do NOT work for Costco.

They are considered an Independent Doctor of Optometry.

This means the doctor has completed optometry school and is licensed to perform eye exams.

They basically “rent the space” from Costco and set up their optometry practice.

The name of the doctor is ALWAYS posted in front of the optometry department at Costco.

So the next time you’re shopping, take note of the their name and do a quick Google search and read any reviews about them, especially on Yelp!.

While the majority of them come highly recommended, it’s always smart to do some research before trusting them with your eye balls.

5. Can I Bring a Prescription from Another Optometrist?

YES.

By no means do you have to use Costco’s optometrist to take advantage of their prices on new eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Just bring in your current prescription and a staff member will help you out.

6. What Eyewear Brands Does Costco Sell?

Costco Eyewear Section

Here are some of the more popular eyeglass frame brands that Costco sells…

  • Bebe
  • Bottega
  • Burberry
  • Fendi
  • Kirkland Signature
  • Mikli
  • Tod’s
  • Veneta

Here are the most popular sunglass brands…

  • Balmain
  • Furla
  • Hobie
  • Kate Spade
  • Kirkland Signature
  • Maui Jim
  • Nike
  • Oakley
  • Ray-Ban
  • Serengeti
  • Vera Bradley
  • Vera Wang
  • XOXO

Of these brands, they carry the most frames by Maui Jim and Ray-Ban.

See Also: Walmart Vision Center: 8 Things You GOTTA Know Before You Visit

7. How Do Costco Prices Stack Up?

According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, people who bought eyeglasses at Costco had an average out-of-pocket cost of $184.

In many cases this number was hundreds of dollars less than what respondents paid at stores like Lens Crafters or a boutique eyewear store.

Costco also has an ongoing promotion that gets you $30 off ANY additional pair of eyeglasses when you buy 1 complete pair of prescription eyeglasses.

The $30 savings is a good deal if you want to have a spare pair lying around.

The study also concluded that Walmart and Sam’s Club have very competitive prices as well.

Also, a Costco Optical employee on this Reddit thread said that Costco only marks up frames, contacts, and lenses at 1% over cost.

8. Does Costco Sell Contact Lenses Too?

YES.

Not only does Costco perform “contact lens” eye exams, but they also sell them along with contact accessories.

Top brands they sell include CooperVision, Bausch + Lomb, Kirkland Signature, and Alcon.

The Kirkland Signature contact lenses are by far the best value, with savings up to 50% off.

9. Do They Accept ALL Vision Insurance?

Costco accepts “most” vision insurance plans.

Their website says to “ask your local Costco Optical department for details.”

I decided to dig a little deeper and discovered that Costco accepts the following insurance plans:

  • VSP
  • EyeMed
  • Davis Vision
  • VBA Vision
  • FEP BlueVision
  • MES Vision
  • United Healthcare
  • Spectera

Most Costco locations will also accept regional vision insurance plans.

Unfortunately “Discount Plans” are not accepted.

I found it interesting that a comment in this Reddit thread made the point that even without insurance, Costco Optical is often cheaper.

10. What About Costco Customer Service?

I initially thought that the customer service at the Costco Optical counter must not be very good since they’re a big warehouse and are selling $1.50 hot dog meals a few yards away.

But according to Consumer Reports and this Reddit thread, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are a few examples of great customer service at Costco.

From RicksterA2: “They’re very open to fixing any issues (including changing a lens or both if they don’t work right for you) LensCrafters used to get very annoyed with something like that.”

From JJB723: “One of the little nose rests broke on one of my pairs of glasses. They replaced both nose rests on the same visit for free.”

From Deleted: “I scratched my lens and asked if they could fix them, they couldn’t but the lady was having a good day and just replaced them for me.”

So…What Are the Cons of Using Costco Optical?

It’s not all rose colored glasses when considering Costco for your next pair of frames.

Here are some of the negatives that many people pointed out.

1. Limited Selection – Most locations have about 2.5 cases of men’s frames and 3 cases for women’s frames. While it’s a lot to pick from, it’s significantly less than places (and websites) that sell only frames.

2. Two Week Wait – Once you pick out your frames, expect to wait up to 2 weeks for them to be ready.

3. Not Enough Help – This complaint came from a user who noted there was not enough employees during busy times of the day.

4. Some Websites are Cheaper – I noticed during my research that more than one person recommended Zenni Optical.com as the single cheapest REPUTABLE option for buying frames and contacts.

Ask the Reader: Have you used your local Costco for eye exams or new glasses? What’s been your experience?


By Kyle James

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Mary Glasco

Can I take my favorite frame and have my new prescription filled there?

Cathy

I was told the reason Costco can offer such good prices is because they use old technology lenses. Do you have any idea if this is accurate?

Alli

I took my new prescription to my local Costco and ordered lenses. When I picked them up they used the cheapest progressive lens on the market that gave me a very narrow field of correction. I ended up returning the lens. You cannot order the higher quality (industry standard) lens from Costco.

Lawrence Reuben

I do not believe this to be true. Costco progressive lenses include 1.67 HD technology as well as anti glare, anti scratch and 1 year warranty on the lenses included in the basic price. There are no nonsense mark ups for coatings, etc.

Pam

Costco had HD lenses… that’s new technology and it’s at an affordable price. They’re the only type I buy. Example: I’m 71 years old, and I can thread a needle. I can’t do that with regular glasses. My gram would be so proud since she always had to ask me to thread hers for her. Buy the HD..you’ll be happy you did.

Jean kraft

How much are transitional lens for a pair of women’s plastic rectangle framed

Amy

The price is great! I bought progressive lenses and although their website says thot they offer a wide vision space, the vision space on my glasses is minuscule. I have had progressive glasses before and asked about this before buying as I could purchase a pair from another dealer that would have a larger vision space, but I chose the cheaper option at Costco because of cost, people raving about the glasses. My bifocals are fine but the trifocals are terrible. I am now having problems with my neck from having to put my head in so many strange angles to see. I have to look out of the very top edge of my glasses to see at a distance and the very bottom edge of my glasses to see close up. The middle is so narrow that I have to move my head from side to side to see much at the midrange in focus. It took a while to get used to my first pair of trifocals so I took three months to give these a good try. No better then or now and too late to return. Stuck with them for a year and a half more. Disappointing purchase.

Lawrence Reuben

Amy, they may of miscalculated your P.D. when they manufactured your lenses. Have them remeasure and check to see if the optician marked the correct alignment of your eyes to the lenses.

Anita

I have purchased my glasses at Costco the last two times I needed glasses. I got great frames and great prices on both the frames and HD progressive lenses. No problems. They made adjustments as needed, free of charge, and they fixed them when the earpiece came off and the lens popped out. No problems ever. I highly recommend them if you want great glasses at a great price. I get 2 pairs for less than one pair at Lenscrafters.

Last edited 4 months ago by Anita
diana fiorini

love costco–never thought of using them for glasses–only $80 for the exam–glasses are very reasonable–very happy with the result–really like the finished product….

Anita

I have used Costco Optical for my last two pairs of glasses and am quite pleased. Got designer frames for a lot less than I would have paid anywhere else, and they have always taken care of adjustments and minor repairs on the spot and free of charge. A great option for people with no vision coverage and those who just don’t want to overpay for glasses.

Julie Meier

My local Costco, Colorado Springs area, does not accept EyeMed insurance as stated in above article.

Marcia Sommerfeld

My local Costco in the Chicago area, does not accept EyeMed insurance as stated in above article, also.

Kate

I recently took my prescription to Costco to be filled. I bought one frame there and took my sunglasses frame to use for a second set. Both came back with the line at the wrong level (by almost an inch). I returned both frames for correction. They were cheerfully accepted and sent for correction. The frames purchased at Costco were corrected and returned within 10 days. Then I received a phone call from Costco notifying me that my sunglasses frames would not be worked on because I had not purchased the frames from them. I informed the caller that Costco had already accepted the frames and filled the prescription. Costco filled the prescription incorrectly and the frames were back in their shop so they could correct their error. I have now been waiting for those frames for a month. I just today received another phone call from Costco informing me that there is now a “worldwide bifocal lens shortage; that they have no idea when they will receive a shipment; that they can put a single vision lens in the frames, a progressive lens, or return my money.” I can find nothing on a worldwide manufacturing shortage for bifocal lenses anywhere. I cannot wear a single or progressive lens. I just want Costco to correct their error and fix my glasses. I don’t believe there is a worldwide lens shortage. I believe Costco simply doesn’t want to fix the glasses because I didn’t purchase the frames from them. This is so inappropriate and just wrong.

Rob

I was also informed about the bifocal lens shortage this weekend from a very helpful vision center worker while I was purchasing their (Costco) sunglass frames. I ended up settling for single lens on my sunglasses. Henderson, NV

Steve

Costco Santa Cruz does not submit to VSP. You have to pay Costco for full exam price then submit the receipt, etc. to VSP. Contact lens and glass exam is included in same price (about $135). I wish they would submit to insurance companies.

Mary

I have used VSP vision insurance for years, like maybe 6-7 years at Costco to purchase contacts and glasses. I think they just look at my VSP card, verify the coverage and sell me contact lenses or glasses at the discounted rate. Maybe the optometrist offering the eye exams is different.

Tremper Family

I have been going to my local Costco store’s Optical department for years now. They are very nice, the exam is thorough and they make sure to look for signs of medical issues often detected in the eyes. Getting the frames is both easier and harder than other stores, both because of the more limited options as mentioned in the article. Two years later, I still regret not getting both the frames I like because Costco hasn’t had anything like them since. The service is great and yes, it does pay to not go when it is super busy. Even with 4 people behind that little counter, the wait can be long, especially because they are careful to answer all your questions and address your concerns without making you feel you should just hurry up so they can get to the next customer. Some people have A LOT of questions!!! I’ll be going back this month for this year’s exam.

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