(Updated 3/03/20) 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 Costco 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.
1. What Does a Costco Eye Exam Cost?
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?
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.
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?
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?
Here are some of the more popular eyeglass frame brands that Costco sells…
- Kirkland Signature
Here are the most popular sunglass brands…
- Kate Spade
- Kirkland Signature
- Maui Jim
- Vera Bradley
- Vera Wang
Of these brands, they carry the most frames by Maui Jim and Ray-Ban.
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?
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:
- Davis Vision
- VBA Vision
- FEP BlueVision
- MES Vision
- United Healthcare
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.
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