Considering Costco Optical? 10 Must-Knows Before Buying Glasses or Getting an Eye Exam

Updated September 26, 2022 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 and What Are Their Hours?

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

This brings us to the next logical question, what are the Costco Optical hours and are they different that the “regular” warehouse hours?

In many cases, the “exam hours” are different than the warehouse hours but the hours that they are open to actually sell glasses are the same.

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.

Just call your local Costco to schedule your appointment and ask what hours they are open.

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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louis muhaw

who makes this model sunglasses OL 0916503276LDM224JCP

Cindy

I’m in Orlando, FL. My Costco charged $79 for the exam and an additional $20 for dilation/refraction. Appointments are set about every 15 mins. So, don’t expect a really thorough exam. Just enough to check if your prescription has changed and if there are any serious issues with your eyes: like a tear in your lens or macular degeneration, etc. If so, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist or specialist.

Karen Emken

I love La Vista NE Costco (OMAHA) Cliff is the most knowledgeable person there! He is kind, thorough, and quick! HIS IMPUT is very valuable every time I get my glasses and sunglasses. Don’t find people like him everyday!

Marcia B

Can you bring your own frame to costco to fill your prescription?

K Peckham

Yes, my store charged $25.00 to use my frame.

K kent

Certain designer frames no. You would have to check. They used my husbands frames but wouldn’t allow mine.

andpresmama

Our Costco location in Perrysburg OH told me our insurance was accepted but I would have to process the claim myself as they don’t have access to process claims for our insurance company. Then I called my insurance company to double check and they told me Costco is out of network… Unfortunately, I already went through the exam, so I am out $30. Fortunately I didn’t order glasses yet so I can still consider my options there.

Jean

I had new lenses put in my old frames. Within the first week I had them, I dropped them on the driveway and they got scratched. So, one week to the day after I had received them, I returned to have the lenses replaced. Because I had had them so short a time, they were very kind and replaced the damaged lenses for free. Wow!

Ellyn

My local Costco (NYC area) said they don’t accept Davis Vision.

G M

I did not have my vision exam at Costco but they did accept Davis Vision in Michigan toward my purchase of new glasses.

Martin Smith

My CostCo is Herndon, VA. I’ve used their optical department several times contacts and glasses. Service has been very good once your turn comes, but that can be quite a wait. However, the reason I’m posting this comment is to complain a bit about how they organize the customer queue. They use a numbered ticket system, and then call the next number when a technician is free. But you have to be right there or you’ll miss your turn. So you can do the rest of your shopping for fear of losing your place. Seems like a pager system like in many restaurants would be very helpful. Especially since it can be 10 minutes between numbers being called and then the next 5 numbers are called all at once (because people have wandered off and missed their turn.) So you don’t dare leave the area even if your number is still 5 or 10 away!

Ann

Currently at the Costco in Roseville, MI and they do NOT take EyeMed insurance. EyeMed is owned by Lendcrafters/Pearle Vision.

Ali M

I checked and Costco says they use their own progressive lens brand, they do not carry Varilux or Zeiss brand lenses.