In March 2022, REI launched an updated version of its co-op membership program with a small price increase. If you're unfamiliar with REI, it is one of the largest outdoor equipment companies, where you'll find high-quality camping gear, hiking gear like hydration packs or hiking boots, and other outdoor sports gear like kayaks and climbing equipment.
REI is the USA's largest co-op, with almost 22 million members, and the redesigned membership program is part of the company's plan to increase to 50 million members. There are benefits that go along with being a member, especially if you or a loved one are outdoor enthusiasts. In this review, we take a closer look at all of the benefits so you can decide if an REI Co-op Membership is right for you.
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What is the REI Co-op Membership?
The REI Co-op Membership is essentially an ownership stake in the company. Public companies typically determine ownership by who owns the majority of their shares. Those shares can be bought and sold. A co-op like REI has members instead, and it is a democratically owned company because no one person can own more than one membership.
The result is that all members are able to vote for the people that make up the co-op board—the group that makes decisions for the company. Other benefits are more typical of retail memberships.
REI Co-op Membership Cost
The REI Co-op Membership costs $30. It is a one-time fee, and after you pay it, you get a lifetime membership. You do need to make at least one purchase every year to be considered an active member, but that only applies to certain benefits.
You'll never lose access to membership benefits, and even if your membership goes "inactive," you can reactivate it at any time by making a purchase.
Who Should Become an REI Co-op Member?
If you regularly do your outdoor gear shopping at REI, becoming a co-op member is a no-brainer. But you can also benefit from an REI membership if you rent outdoor sports gear, like to go on outdoor adventures while traveling, or even if you make only one large outdoor purchase every couple of years. Let's take a closer look at the benefits.
The Benefits of an REI Co-Op Membership
- Co-op member reward. One of the major benefits of co-op membership is that as an owner, you receive a yearly dividend. For REI members, this dividend comes in the form of 10 percent of all of your purchases for the year. So, if you spend $1,000 at REI this year, your dividend should be around $100 at the end of the year. Of course, this is just one of the benefits, but a 10 percent return on most purchases can quickly cover the cost of the membership many times over. 10 percent is typical but not guaranteed. You can get the full details here.
- Free standard shipping. Members enjoy free standard shipping on online orders with no minimum purchase required.
- Member offers. You have exclusive access to members-only coupons, special offers, discounts, and bonus cards that act as gift cards. And don't forget that both full-price and discount items can contribute to your yearly dividend.
- Buy and trade in used gear. One of the most famous REI membership benefits has always been the garage sale. Part of the relaunch of the co-op membership was rebranding REI Garage Sales as Re/Supply, which you can access year-round online instead of at specific times. Re/Supply lets you trade in your gear at REI stores or through the mail and browse the used equipment. Periodically there will be a special bonus offer on trade-in items like a current offer of an extra 10 percent on trade-ins that ends October 17.
- Member collection. The member collection reward comes in two forms: early access to new gear and access to exclusive, members-only items. Sometimes the member-exclusive collection includes special design patterns on popular products from brands like North Face or Osprey that aren't available anywhere else. Other items just simply aren't available otherwise.
- Bike, snow shop, and rental discounts. There are several layers to this benefit. The first is 20 percent off the Bike and Snow Shop services. So, if you need to get your skis ready for the season or your bike needs a repair, you'll get 20 percent off. You’ll also get free flat-tire repairs on your bikes and waxing services for skis, snowboards, and the like. As a member, you can also access the 33 percent discount on rental equipment at any of the REI locations that offer rental services.
- Member discounts on experiences. REI Adventures are planned outdoor trips. You'll get a full itinerary, a guide, and sometimes free access to the equipment you'll need on a given adventure. Member discounts are usually in the hundreds of dollars on these trips.
- REI Co-op Mastercard. The REI Co-Op Mastercard gives REI members the ability to earn 5 percent benefits on all REI purchases and 1.5 percent on other purchases. These rewards can be redeemed as you earn them. You'll also get a $50 credit toward REI experiences every year and an annual double rewards event at REI stores.
- REI Cooperative Action Fund Donation. REI donates $5 of every new membership to the REI Cooperative Action Fund (CAF). The REI CAF is a charity that supports nonprofits promoting justice, equity, and belonging in the outdoor space.
FAQs About the REI CO-OP Membership
Is the REI co-op legit?
Yes. REI is the largest co-op in the U.S., and every year 22 million members enjoy the benefits of membership.
How do I join the REI co-op?
REI co-op membership costs $30, and once you pay for it, you'll be a lifetime member. You can purchase the membership in stores or online. There is no catch, but you'll need to make at least one qualifying purchase every year to be considered an “active” member.