Costco Hearing Aids
Reviews, prices, pros & cons
In the hearing aid industry, there may not be another 3 words as polarizing as "Costco hearing aids."
If you’re considering buying hearing aids from Costco we strongly recommend reading this post.
Before you take the advice of either a happy Costco hearing aid wearer, or of an independent hearing care provider competing with Costco, review the facts for yourself.
We’ll lay out the pros and cons of buying Costco hearing aids, review some of their models and prices, and reveal why Costco has become such a polarizing topic in the hearing aid industry.
Wait...Costco sells hearing aids?
Costco has been selling hearing aids for over 25 years and along with the VA, is one of the largest buyers of hearing aids in the United States.
Costco’s growth in the hearing aid industry has been tremendous. It is estimated that Costco now makes up about 12% of the total US market.
Although some people might find it odd that Costco sells hearing aids- it’s not. Retail-based healthcare has grown as consumers look for less expensive, more convenient alternatives to traditional medical settings.
In addition to its hearing aid department, Costco has an optical center and a pharmacy. The pharmacy offers low-cost immunizations as well as screenings for heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Are costco hearing aids good?
Costco has high standards for any products they retail, and hearing aids are no different.
Costco sells name-brand, quality hearing aids. Just because Costco hearing aid prices are less than most places doesn’t mean they are inferior products.
Costco hearing aids are sourced from several well-known manufacturers, as shown below.
What hearing aid brands does Costco sell?
As of December 2022, Costco offers the following hearing aid brands:
- Kirkland Signature
Jabra is a sister brand of GN ReSound, which is a highly respected manufacturer in the industry.
Rexton is a brand manufactured by WS Audiology, a company that also produces the major brand names Widex and Signia.
Philips is a brand manufactured by Demant, which also manufacturers Oticon hearing aids- one of the oldest and most respected brands in the industry.
Kirkland Signature is Costco’s private labeled hearing aid brand and their best-selling hearing aid brand. You have probably encountered private-labeled products elsewhere at Costco, such as the Kirkland Signature paper towels. Because the Kirkland Signature model sells so well, hearing aid manufacturers compete aggressively to win the contract to offer their devices under the Kirkland Signature name.
Jabra and Rexton are rarely (but sometimes) found in neighborhood dispensing clinics, whereas Kirkland Signature and Philips are found only in Costco.
Costco hearing aid prices
The most compelling reason to buy hearing aids from Costco is their low prices.
The low prices stem from less reliance on advertising, a reduced variety of products, smaller product mark-ups, and lower overhead costs. Costco also gains revenue through the sale of yearly memberships.
As of November 2020, Costco hearing aid prices are as follows:
- Kirkland Signature 10.0: Discontinued as of October 2022
- Rexton BiCore C R-Li: $1599 a pair
- Philips HearLink: $1599 a pair
- Jabra Enhance Pro: $1699 a pair
* custom earmolds, if needed for RIC or BTE styles, cost extra.
Costco hearing aid reviews
As is usually the case for a retailer- how they are reviewed depends in large part on the individuals staffing the location.
We know Costco hearing aids are good. What is up for debate, and reflected in the reviews found on Costco online, is how good the staff is at each individual Costco hearing center.
Consumer Affairs raters averaged 3 out of 5 stars for Costco (as of November, 2020). They praise the low prices and thorough hearing testing protocols. However, many reviewers note that the quality of the fitting and service can vary dramatically between Costco locations.
Consumer Reports ranked Costco highly (as of January, 2019) for value in their review of hearing aids. However, note as well that in their survey, many consumers want features such as tinnitus management that would not be available at Costco.
Retirement Living readers gave Costco 4.25 out of 5 stars (as of May 2020) for value and quality. They praise the free clean and checks of hearing aids. However, they note that the stores carry a limited selection of hearing aid models.
Pros and Cons of Buying Hearing Aids at Costco
So- should you buy hearing aids from Costco?
Depending on who you ask, you may get a very different answer.
If you ask most independent hearing care providers, their answer is probably going to be “no”, with a little truth and a few common misconceptions about Costco hearing aids mixed in.
If you ask a Costco loyalist their opinion, you’ll likely get a resounding “yes.”
However, taking either at face value would be a mistake- there's a lot to consider.
Pros for buying hearing aids from Costco
- Amazing prices: Costco can provide hearing aids at lower prices than independent clinics for comparable models because they receive low, volume-based pricing for their products from manufacturers. This should come as no surprise. Costco’s strength lies in the enormous volume of business it does and the purchasing power that affords it.
- 6 month trial: A 6 month trial is laughably good. With most states setting hearing aid trial periods at between 30-60 days, Costco’s trial period goes well above and beyond what the entire hearing aid industry considers a reasonable trial period.
- Real ear measurement as a standard practice: Costco mandates that hearing care professionals in their centers perform real ear measurements with every fitting. Research has demonstrated that conducting real ear measurement improves speech understanding in noise and patient satisfaction. Surveys indicate that fewer than half of hearing aid providers routinely obtain real ear measurements.
- Free loss and damage coverage with no deductible: Most hearing aids purchased through an independent office will have manufacturer-provided loss and damage coverage for a period of time with a deductible of a few hundred dollars, whereas Costco offers this with no deductible.
- Nationwide support: Traveling and need service on your hearing aids? As long as the local Costco has service appointments open, they can service you, and at no charge.
Cons of buying hearing aids from Costco
- Limited selection: Costco offers a limited selection of hearing aid models and brands, compared to an independent hearing aid clinic. At independent clinics, you have access to every make and model available on the market.
- Not always the newest technology available: When the hearing aid manufacturers come out with new models or features, it takes a few months and sometimes years for that technology to arrive at Costco.
- Hearing aids are sometimes defeatured: Some manufacturers remove features from their Costco models, such as tinnitus management, rechargeability, and remote programming.
- Hearing aids are sometimes locked: A “locked” hearing aid is a hearing aid that can only be programmed by one clinic. This limits your options if you are not happy with the provider or need faster service in a location with long wait times.
- Usually not suited for complex cases: For example, if you have assymetrical or unilateral hearing loss, Costco does not offer BiCROS and CROS hearing aids.
- Lack of tools to diagnose hearing loss: While Costco does have a detailed hearing test protocol, Costco does not perform special testing that independent providers can offer to help diagnose the cause of hearing loss. Independent providers are able to more precisely diagnose the cause of hearing loss with tests such as tympanometry, otoacoustic emissions, acoustic reflexes, and auditory processing evaluations.
- Costco will not file insurance claims for you: This helps Costco keep the costs down because they do not have to pay staff to perform the time-consuming task of filing claims and appeals. If you ask, the hearing care professional may provide you with a letter with your diagnosis code and the right codes for your hearing aid device. This letter may be submitted with your claim for reimbursement from your insurer if you have out-of-network benefits.
- There have been reports of long wait times for appointments at some Costco locations: When you need service on your Costco hearing aids, you may wait a while.
Why Costco is Controversial
It should come as no surprise that Costco’s entrance into the hearing aid industry has been met with criticism from the majority of independent hearing care providers, for primarily two reasons.
It’s hard for an independent hearing care provider to compete with Costco based on price alone. Because of the tremendous buying power that Costco has, they are able to negotiate low wholesale prices with manufacturers, which enables Costco to retail some models at a price lower than an independent provider’s wholesale cost.
Independent hearing care providers feel manufacturers have turned their backs on them. Hearing aid manufacturers which have built their businesses on the backs of the independent hearing care provider have been perceived as turning their backs on that core support by selling to Costco, at much lower prices. This has led many independent providers to completely cut ties with hearing aid manufacturers who sell products in Costco.
From an industry perspective, It’s been interesting watching sentiment towards Costco hearing aid centers shift over the years.
In 2014 during a training seminar with several independent hearing care providers, I recall speaking up to “squash” the Costco-bashing that was happening in the room. Few hearing care providers were receptive to my message.
Interestingly, after the session I was approached by hearing aid manufacturer representatives in the room who acknowledged that they understood what I was saying to be correct- that Costco was not the evil monolith that many were making it out to be.
It’s been my observation that independent hearing providers who are “in the know” are coming around to respect Costco as a viable and respectable competitor. I just think consumers and hearing aid manufacturers understood this much sooner than most independent hearing care providers did, or sooner than they were willing to admit.
Is a Costco hearing aid center right for everyone? Of course not- no retailer is.
But so far, my impression has been that Costco makes a tremendously competitive offer and is a great choice for many consumers.
If Costco is able to motivate someone struggling with hearing loss to come off the sidelines and enter the world of better hearing, that is something I can get behind.
Have you bought hearing aids from Costco?
What has been your experience?
We're particularly interested in hearing from individuals who have purchased hearing aids both via Costco and an independent hearing care provider.
Please leave a comment below!