Costco is a warehouse wholesale retailer which means they sell a lot of things, in bulk, for discounted prices. Over the years, Costco began selling hearing aids and including “hearing aid centers” in most of their warehouses. They sell their own brand of hearing aid, called Kirkland Signature, which has grown in popularity over the years and been rated “best value hearing aid” by different magazines including Consumer Reports. Other than the Kirkland Signature hearing aids, you can also find Rexton, Jabra, Phonak, and Philips hearing aids at most Costco hearing aid centers. Hearing aid sales for the warehouse have increased by about 20% each year since 2011 and Costco is currently the largest hearing aid retailer in America.
When you are purchasing office supplies, meat, fruit, or other miscellaneous items, the price savings and selection that you can find at Costco are very valuable. You do not need an expert to tell you what you need when it comes to groceries and you are generally not purchasing a life-changing item from a huge warehouse store.
When it comes to purchasing hearing aids, however, the opposite is true. Hearing issues are life-changing, and having a hearing healthcare professional to walk you through the process of choosing, fitting, and adjusting hearing aids is a vital part of the process.
A local audiologist can do all of those things and more, including ensuring you have the correct device for your needs. Most Costco stores will have a hearing aid specialist on site, but not a licensed audiologist, and the service you will receive will be at the level you would expect from a large warehouse retailer.
You have to decide what is more important for you as you purchase hearing aids, price or service. Costco has a great selection, a well-known store brand, and professionals on staff to help you pick out your product. However, your local audiologist will offer you more personal service, a custom-fit selection that will be designed specifically for you, and top of the line after-care for your product.
The following is an in-depth review of Costco’s hearing aids along with a description of what it is like to buy a hearing aid from a big retailer.
What Hearing Aids Are Available at Costco?
As mentioned above, Costco carries more than just their Kirkland Signature brand. The following is a brief description of the other options you will find at a Costco Hearing Center. Every brand has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to note that you can find virtually any strength and style of hearing aid at Costco.
The Kirkland Signature 10.0 is only available for purchase at Costco, and this brand is one of the reasons Costco remains the No. 1 hearing aid retailer in America. Here are some of the features you will find in the Kirkland Signature hearing aids:
- Stereo-quality sound.
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Custom earmolds available separately
- Automatically adjusts to your environment
- An effective app that controls your hearing aids
- Water and dust resistant
- Made by Sonova
You can find the BiCore C R-Li and the M-Core series of Rexton hearing aids at Costco. The BiCore is Rixton’s newest rechargeable hearing aid and has some great recharging features. Rexton is known for its sound quality and streaming abilities and each of these models perform well in both areas. The following are some of the strengths of the Costco Rexton models:
- Great charging options with BiCore technology
- Remote services offered to update your device
- Good directionality features
- Numerous custom-fit options
- A good app for iPhone or Android
The Jabra Enhance Pro became available at Costco in 2021, and it immediately became one of the most technologically advanced hearing aids in the store. The Jabra Enhance Pro is one of the few Microphone and Receiver In-the-Ear (M&RIE) hearing aids on the market. When Costco began selling them, it was a big win for the store. Here are some of the strengths of the Jabra hearing aid models at Costco:
- M&RIE technology is the only of its kind at Costco
- A more personalized listening experience than other brands offered
- The app has a lot of extra features and is easy to use
- Easy to use, clean, and charge
- Made to increase conversational ability
The Phonak Brio is the model offered at Costco, and it is made specifically for people with severe or profound hearing loss. The Phonak Brio still has many of the same features that some of the other brands have, but because of their power they mainly cater to people with severe hearing difficulties. Here are some features of the Phonak models offered at Costco:
- Custom and standard fit options
- Very powerful hearing aid benefiting people with profound hearing loss
- Cater towards very high frequency hearing loss
- BlueTooth connectivity comes standard
- The Easy Line app is feature-rich and easy to use
The Philips HearLink line of hearing aids are sold at Costco, and the feature that sets these hearing aids apart is their Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. These hearing aids actually learn from your preferences and get better at helping you hear as they learn. The HearLink 9030 is one of their best offerings and you can find these at Costco for a low price. Here are some other features of the Philips HearLink devices at Costco:
- AI hearing aids that learn to perform better for you
- Rechargeable options available
- The HearLink app allows you to control your hearing aids and is easy to use
- Multiple style and color options available
Is Costco A Good Place To Get A Hearing Aid?
Costco is America’s top retailer of hearing aids for a reason; it is inexpensive and easy to purchase hearing aids there. However, when it comes to hearing health and choosing the right hearing aid for your situation, there is a lot more to it than ease and cost. A Costco hearing aid center is a great place to get a free hearing test, see different hearing aid options, and even to compare different types and brands of hearing aids. It is not, however, the place to find an audiologist who is personally invested in leading you from start to finish.
An audiologist will do more than just a cursory hearing test. They will help you understand the type of hearing loss you are experiencing and what features you will need in a hearing aid. They will then work with you to customize the fit of your hearing aid for optimal comfort and effectiveness. After leading you to the right device, they will help you find the right settings on your device, accessories to accentuate your hearing experience, and anything else that you need after the purchase. Costco can offer you a good, but not great, selection of devices at a low price. They can also offer some level of expertise in their stores, but they cannot offer you the experience of having an audiologist customize the entire experience for you.
Costco In-Store Services
When you go into a Costco hearing aid center, you can expect certain services to be available to you. Many of these services are free and are handled by a licensed hearing aid specialist, but most of the time, not by an audiologist. Here are some of the services offered to you in-store.
- Free Appointment Scheduling for Members
If you are a member of Costco, you can schedule a free appointment with a hearing aid specialist at most Costco stores. They are non-commission based employees so they generally want what is best for the customer. Their expertise is limited, but it is also free.
- Free Hearing Test
There are different types and levels of hearing tests available. The hearing test you get at Costco determines whether or not a hearing device will be helpful to you. It does not help you pinpoint your level of hearing loss and does not amount to a visit to an audiologist. You listen to a series of beeps and the person giving the test can tell you if a hearing aid could help you.
- Product Demonstrations
Hearing aid specialists at Costco give product demonstrations of their hearing aids on a regular basis. You can call your local store for more information about when the next demonstration will be.
- Remote Aftercare
Many of the hearing aid models sold at Costco feature remote aftercare as a possibility. That means that the hearing aid specialist at Costco can adjust the settings of your hearing aid remotely through an app so that you can get follow up care from the comfort of your own home.
- Free Cleaning and Check-ups
If you purchase your device from Costco, you are eligible for free cleanings and checkups as long as you remain a member at Costco.
The bottom line is that if you are a value shopper looking for nationally recognized brands at the lowest cost, Costco is a viable option. If, on the other hand, you want ongoing care with a licensed audiologist who will help you choose, fit, adjust, and set your hearing aids up for you, then it would be better to look elsewhere.
Things To Consider When Purchasing Costco Hearing Aids
When it comes to purchasing hearing aids from Costco, the difference is clear. The prices that Costco offers are lower than most audiology offices, but the caveat is that audiology offices receive the most up-to-date and technologically advanced hearing aids before Costco does. You get a great warranty and a lot of options in terms of accessories and features at Costco, but you get those same things and more at any audiology office in America. Most people today are concerned with Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone apps, and accessories that enhance your hearing experience. Again, all of these are available regardless of where you purchase your device. The differences are the prices offered at Costco compared to the customized service and help you get from teaming up with a local audiologist. Here are some of the pros and cons of purchasing your hearing aid at Costco:
- Pricing. Costco offers better prices than most audiology offices.
- Variety. There are a lot of options to choose from in a Costco hearing aid center, and you can physically see most of them in the store during a visit.
- Free Stuff. Free hearing tests. Free appointments. Free followup services. Free product demonstrations. Free warranty periods. These are just a few of the “Free” things you receive when purchasing a hearing aid at Costco.
- 180-day Refund Policy. Costco offers a 180-day return policy for most of their hearing aids.
- Convenience. There are 500 stores across America, and you can usually get an appointment quickly. On top of that, while you are at the store buying a hearing aid, you can do your grocery shopping for the week as well.
- Kirkland Signature. You will only find the Kirkland Signature brand at Costco.
- Limited Availability. You have to live near a Costco store and pay the money to become a member of that store. There are about 500 stores across America, so there is a large portion of the population that will not be able to use Costco either now or in the future.
- Appointment Required. Costco offers convenience and great value, but you have to set an appointment beforehand to have access to the hearing aid department.
- Payment Plans/Insurance. You cannot set up a payment plan, and in the event that your insurance does cover hearing aids, Costco does not accept any form of insurance.
- Latest and Greatest. Hearing aid technology changes as fast or faster than computer technology, and it is audiology offices who get the best equipment the fastest.
Does Costco Use Audiologists?
The short answer to this question is “no,” most Costco stores do not use audiologists, and even when they do it is not generally their permanent job. For the most part, Costco uses hearing aid specialists in their hearing aid centers, and there is a big difference between the two.
- Audiologists are the experts to go to when you have hearing loss or hearing problems and you need both a long-term and short-term solution. Audiologists are professionals with a master or doctorate degree that can evaluate hearing loss and related conditions. They can treat you for almost any type of hearing loss that you experience and they can also advise you on hearing aids, fit devices to your ears, and offer you support as your hearing changes and your hearing aids need to be adjusted.
- A hearing aid specialist is more limited in their scope. Most audiologists are also hearing aid specialists, at least to a degree. Therefore you will probably only see a hearing aid specialist if you go to an ENT first or are skipping the step of seeing an audiologist prior to receiving a hearing aid. We would greatly advise you against skipping this important step, but a hearing aid specialist is usually easier to see and less expensive. Most hearing aid specialists will advise you on a hearing aid and then give you support after the purchase.