Join the REI Co-Op for $20, Get Discounts and Perks for Life


Paddlers on the water in Grand Teton National Park

Photo: REI

And if you’re anything like us, you’ll earn your spend back in no time.

$20 doesn’t always get you much nowadays, but if you spend that $20 to join the REI Co-op, you may find you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Join the REI Co-Op for $20!

What is the REI Co-Op?

REI flagship store in Seattle

Photo: REI

Though REI is a huge chain, it’s technically a traditional co-op, just like your local health food store. That means it’s owned by members who get certain benefits not available to the general public. In the case of your local health food co-op, it’s probably arranged so that members volunteer for an hour or two a month and get grocery discounts. At REI, it’s even easier. You just pay $20, and the benefits are yours – oh, and you get them for life. And joining the co-op is also a great way to support a brand that takes a hard stance in favor of environmental protection.

Many outdoor companies talk the talk when it comes to protecting the environment, but it’s just a selling point. REI was started by a group of environmentally and outdoor-conscious friends in 1938 with the purpose of getting better prices on quality climbing gear by buying it in bulk and sharing the discounts with its members. Though membership was just $1 back then, the co-op goals are the same today: get good gear to members, play outside, and keep membership costs low so everyone can participate.

Volunteers on an supported trail project

Photo: REI

Of course, REI has grown greatly since 1938, and the company has taken an active role in supporting projects and people working to create a better world. Some of their recent initiatives include:

What are the Membership Benefits?

Hey, it’s all fine and dandy to support sustainable companies, but at the end of the day, what does your $20 really get you?

Answer: well, quite a lot.

The two most popular benefits are the member dividend and access to the REI garage sales.

Members get a dividend of 10 percent back each year on eligible purchases (which mostly just excludes sale and clearance items.) It gets added to your account every year in March as long as you spent at least $10 during the last year at REI. And you’ll find plenty of forums online discussing the best finds at the REI Garage Sales – the members-only sales where REI offers their best deals. They usually take place twice a year, depending on the store, and once an item is gone, it’s gone. And considering the discounts, you’ll find that people line up early in the morning at some of the more popular stores. It’s like tailgating to get tickets to a concert, except you’ll be surrounded by people more excited by a good trail than a good seat.

Photo: REI

Those two perks alone are enough to earn back your whopping $20, but there are more perks for members to make it easy to get outside. Members get 10 percent off in-store bike and ski services, like waxing and tuning, repairs, derailleur adjustments, base repairs and fills. And while 10 percent is great, the 33 percent members get on gear rentals is even better. Never again will your lack of a warm enough sleeping bag have to keep you away from your next group camping trip.

Photo: REI

REI Co-Op members are also the only ones who can sell their used gear back to REI, and also get discounts on REI Adventures trips ranging from cycling trips through Washington’s San Juan Islands to women’s-only rafting and moonshine-tasting trips through Tennessee.

Join the REI Co-Op for $20!

What Kind of Deals Are Available at the Garage Sales?

Happy employees excited to welcome guests to REI

Photo: REI

If you’re one of those people who loves walking around REI just to see what’s new, you’ll want to make sure to hit at least one of your local REI’s garage sales. They’re basically the same thing as going to a neighborhood garage sale, except the inventory is made up of out-of-season products, returns, overstock items, and other random products that for some reason or other REI needs to get off the shelves. Sometimes there may be a whole rack of T-shirts, and sometimes, there may be just one of each item in the store.

Gear is sold as-is (so inspect it closely before you buy it) and deals are crazy good – up to 90 percent off sometimes. It’s sort of like the in-store version of REI’s Used Gear program, but know that all sales are final.

While the garage sales are hectic, they’re all super fun, and everyone is friendly. Bring a group of friends and it’ll be like a competition to see who can find the best gear at the biggest discount. Remember that everyone at the garage sale will need to be an REI member to get in the store, so make sure they join the REI Co-op in advance. And if you know there’s a particular piece of gear you want, get there early. Big-ticket items like car rooftop tents and mountain bikes go quickly.

How To Join

screenshot of an REI membership button

Photo: REI

Joining the REI Co-op may be the easiest thing you do today. If you’re shopping in store, just ask to join at the register. They’ll add $20 to your total and boom, you’re good to go. When you’re shopping in the future, they’ll look up your membership by phone number, so you don’t have to worry about carrying an extra card.

Want to join online? Even easier – just add a membership to your cart when you check out. REI sometimes even runs promotions where you get a $20 credit when you join, which makes the membership literally free. See you later, excuses!

This post is sponsored by REI.

All images courtesy REI. All Rights Reserved. Affiliate Policy: This guide contains affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

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