Costco is a name you’ve probably heard before. You may even pay to be a member at the big box store. Costco sells everything – frozen hamburgers to charcoal grills and everything in between – including hearing aids. While they are known for their traditionally low prices and good deals, are their hearing aids really the best deal on the market?
Purchasing Hearing Aids from Costco: Buying Process and Overview
Even if you have heard of Costco, you may not have heard about their hearing aids. Here are the steps for purchasing at Costco:
- Make an appointment at a Hearing Aid Center. Sometimes appointments book out months in advance.
- Complete a member intake form.
- Take a hearing test in the store.
- Receive suggestions of what hearing aids to purchase from a hearing specialist.
- Pay for hearing aids that will then be ordered for you.
- Return to the store to pick up hearing aids in a few weeks.
This process is an easy one to follow, so let’s stack it up against the process of purchasing from another retailer, Audicus.
Purchasing Hearing Aids from Audicus: An Inexpensive, High-Quality Alternative to Costco Hearing Aids
Though Audicus does have a few in-person stores similar to Costco, the company started as a direct-to-consumer brand. This means they sell the majority of their hearing aids online, and the devices come right to your door. Here is what it might look like to purchase from Audicus:
- Submit an audiogram hearing test OR take a free online hearing test from the comfort of your home.
- Determine which model is right for you with the help of Audicus’ expert audiology team.
- Receive your custom-programmed hearing aids in the mail.
Now that you have an idea of how the buying process works, let’s put Costco’s hearing aids up against Audicus’s options.
Costco Kirkland Brand Hearing Aids: An Overview
Costco offers a selection of different brands of hearing aids, but their store brand is Kirkland. These hearing aids come in just one model version. Here is a breakdown of the important details about Costco’s newest model, the Kirkland 10.0 hearing aids.
- Price: $1399 for a pair
- Serves mild to moderate hearing loss
- No ability to adjust with remote (may be available soon!)
- Manufactured by Sonova
- Comes in multiple colors
- Fits behind the ear
Audicus Hearing Aids: An Overview
In a direct comparison, here are the details about Audicus’s hearing aid options. Their top 3 hearing aid models are the Clara, Wave, and Spirit. For simplicity of this list, an asterisk is used when features vary by model, but most information applies to all models.
- Price: range of $1398 to $2798 for a pair
- Serves mild to severe hearing loss
- Rechargeable, battery-operated, or both*
- Remote operated, Bluetooth connectivity, and/or app-controlled*
- Manufactured by Sonova
- Comes in multiple colors
- Fits behind the ear
While these details seem simple to digest (and remarkably similar!), it’s important to dig a little deeper into not just the hearing aids, but also the process of buying them, the customer support available, and the companies themselves.
Comparing Costco Hearing Aids: Overview of Benefits and Alternatives
Starting on a positive note, there are lots of reasons to consider Costco for your hearing aid purchase.
- You may already be a member! This may be a store you already shop at, so there is a convenience factor to one-stop shopping.
- Free hearing screenings are available to all members. If your family members have bugged you about getting your hearing checked, the testing completed on-site at Costco is free, easy, and remarkably accurate.
- After purchase, follow-up appointments are free. Mastering hearing aid fit and programming can be a challenge for some buyers, so it is nice to be able to meet with a trained professional for free to gain additional guidance.
- If the Kirkland brand isn’t right for you, they have options. Phonak and ReSound are just two of the additional brands that Costco carries.
Comparing Costco Hearing Aids: Overview of Disadvantages
Moving along, there are some hidden cons to purchasing from Costco that you may want to consider.
- You need to be a member. This may sound obvious, but in order to purchase from Costco, you need to be able to go into the store. Memberships cost about $60 a year.
- You need to live near a Costco. Again, this may sound obvious, but not all towns across America have a Costco. Purchasing from their store means driving to a location that is a reasonable distance, and this is not always feasible. Not every Costco has a hearing aid center either, so this is something to double-check before making the drive.
- You will need to visit Costco multiple times. When purchasing from Costco, you will need multiple appointments in order to take your hearing test, pick up your hearing aids, and also for follow-up support. Keep in mind the distance you will have to travel and the time you will require for each appointment.
- Support varies from location to location. Not every Costco keeps an audiologist on the payroll at their store. Often, the person helping you with a hearing aid purchase is simply a distributor or hearing specialist.
- Appointment slots fill quickly and can be backlogged for up to 2 months. Having the ability to schedule follow-up appointments is nice. It’s not so nice to have to wait a long amount of time to get your hearing aid support.
- When you make appointments, they need to be at the same location every time. If you happen to move, your support does not travel with you, meaning you will be out of luck if you require repairs or an adjustment. All appointments need to be made at the location where you purchase the hearing aids.
- There are limited options for those with severe hearing loss. Everyone’s hearing is different. If your hearing loss leans past moderate into severe, Costco’s most popular hearing aids may not fit the bill.
- Payment in full is expected at the point of purchase. You will need to have enough money on hand to pay for hearing aids outright. Generally, insurance is not accepted, and there are no payment plans.
Comparing Audicus Hearing Aids: Overview of Benefits and Alternatives
Costco has a lot to offer, and so does Audicus! Let’s check out the benefits of shopping through their website or over the phone.
- Shopping is completed all from the comfort of your own home. There is no need to drive to a store, wait in lines, and drive back to the store for all appointments. Everything can be done with a computer or over the phone, and you have a dedicated hearing specialist there to assist you every step of the way
- Audicus specializes in just one product – hearing aids! Their focus is not on stocking thousands of products for consumers. Instead, they stick to what they know, which is hearing aids.
- They’ve been in the game for over 10 years and have thousands of 5-star reviews. If you’re looking for a company with experience, look no further.
- Every customer receives their own support representative. The representative reaches out often during the trial period and remains available throughout the entire lifetime of your hearing aids. Individualized care is incredibly helpful, especially for first-time buyers.
- Trained audiologists work at Audicus. Not only is the focus of Audicus hearing aids, but their dedication to hearing support means keeping educated audiologists on staff.
- Audicus products come directly from Unitron, a North American-based company. Enjoy fast shipping and repairs!
- Monthly membership plans are available. If you would like guaranteed support and an all-inclusive experience for your hearing aids, Audicus offers membership plans that are paid on a monthly basis. Costs start at as low as $39 a month.
- Financing options are available. Let’s say you’d like to split the cost over a longer period or you need help with financing, there’s an option for you. Audicus partners with Affirm, Care Credit and Allegro to help every customer finance their hearing aids.
Comparing Audicus Hearing Aids: Overview of Disadvantages
Just like with Costco, there are potentially negative sides to purchasing from Audicus.
- Purchasing online may not be appealing. Since there are few stores stocking Audicus hearing aids, you do need to feel comfortable purchasing hearing aids over the Internet.
- Insurance is not accepted in most cases. Welcome to the club. For most individuals, hearing aids are not covered by insurance which is why Audicus works to provide other financing options.
- You have to choose which hearing aid to purchase. This is less of a con once you chat with an Audicus representative. However, since there are multiple hearing aid models at Audicus, you will need to determine which fits your needs best.
- You may be wary of a brand you’ve never heard of. Costco is a familiar name, while Audicus may be new. Luckily there are thousands of 5-star reviews available for you to read.
Comparing Audicus and Costco: Which is the Best Option for Buying Hearing Aids?
The verdict will have to remain completely up to you, the buyer. The buying processes for these two companies couldn’t be more different.
- One happens entirely face to face, while the other can be completed from the comfort of your own home.
- One company sells thousands of items across every different industry, while the other specializes in hearing aids and care.
- One offers support when staffing is available, while the other provides dedicated support staff for every single customer.
- One requires payment upfront, while the other provides payment plan options.
The products are comparable in pricing, manufacturing, and some specs. The differences enter with customer service and convenience. So what matters to you? Where will you purchase your next pair of hearing aids?