Is a REI Membership Worth it for Outdoor Families
As a young mom of twins back in 2008, I had never shopped at REI. I grew up hiking, camping and enjoying the outdoors, but until that year, I had just scrounged up gear at yard sales, local shops, or mail order catalogs.
In 2008 however, I needed a stroller. I needed a do-it-all, indestructible stroller to go on adventures with my twins. So I started shopping. Suddenly, I discovered this store called REI, and they had a great discount on the exact stroller I wanted.
The catch? I had to become a member to get the discount. Joining REI was a no brainer. For an affordable lifetime membership fee I could get a great discount on the stroller and continue to receive discounts for life.
Thirteen years later, and I have become a bit of a REI groupie.
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Benefits of a REI Lifetime Membership for Families
- Free Standard shipping for members
- Exclusive Member Collections and Early Releases
- 20% off Bike and Snow Shop Services
- Member Dividend on non-sale items (usually 10% of purchase total)
- Buy and trade in used gear with Re/Supply
- Special Member prices on trips
- Discounts on rentals
- Special Member Events
- Eligible for the REI Co-op MasterCard with 5% back on all REI purchases
- And more!
Who is a REI Membership For?
I became an REI member as a new twin mom whose idea of an “adventure” was a long walk on a nature path with my twins in their BOB stroller. I was not a mountain biker, alpine skier, trail runner, avid camper or backpacker yet. I was just a mom who enjoyed the outdoors and needed a better stroller.
REI membership is for anyone who enjoys fresh air, long walks on the beach, a simple campfire, or myriad outdoor sports. They truly sell something for everyone.
I originally became a member because the discount on the stroller, but because it was a lifetime membership, I have benefited ever since.
A lifetime membership now costs $30, which is a low price considering it is a lifetime membership. That cost is often paid back on the discounts you benefit from on your first purchase!
Our Favorite Benefits of a REI Membership
Extra Discounts During Sales
Let’s face it–for families, getting outdoors can come with a high price tag. Finding discounts and good sales is essential to finding quality gear that doesn’t break the bank. REI sales are central to my method of getting outdoors without overspending.
REI offers regular sales throughout the year. Usually scheduled to correspond with seasonal changes, their sales offer a variety of great deals on a diversity of items.
During these sale periods, REI often offers extra coupon codes for Co-op Members. Usually one coupon good for 20% off of regularly priced items, but then ADDITIONALLY, another 20% off coupon good on their already reduced Outlet items.
I try to use the 20% off an Outlet item every time it is available. It has allowed our large family to afford items that we needed, but at a price we could manage. Stacking coupons on top of discounts is one of my favorite REI member benefits.
To see more of our tips for outdoorsy deals, check out this post we wrote.
Excellent Return Policy
REI offers their members a fantastic return policy. Members have 365 days to return items after purchase. This includes items that may have been used already! Their return policy for non members is 90 days.
Having a 365 day, no questions asked return policy has been surprisingly valuable to our family. We live in a small corner of Vermont, and until 2020, there wasn’t an REI within three hours of us. Additionally, there weren’t any other comprehensive gear stores in our area.
I could order clothing, shoes, or gear items worry free from the REI website, and let my children try them on, knowing I could return them. Usually we’ve kept what we ordered, but when we didn’t, I would save the items until we were near an REI store so we could return without shipping. The 365 day long return period makes it less stressful to return items on time.
Discounts on Gear Rentals
REI has long offered rentals on items such as backpacks, tents, ski gear, bikes and more. As an REI member, you will receive a discount on the rental cost. I strongly suggest renting or borrowing equipment to families new to any outdoor hobby or adventure.
Not everyone likes camping, so why sink hundreds of dollars into gear when you can rent it to test it out? Having a generous rental program with discounts for members means REI is helping families get outside in a thoughtful way.
Credit Card Rewards
I already use the points from my credit card to “buy” REI gift cards. Being able to buy something from the REI Outlet, and pay with “points” feels so good. It’s like free money, right?
REI Members have exclusive access to the REI Co-op MasterCard, which allows you to earn even more points. It gives card members 5% back on every REI purchase (that is on top of the 10% on regularly priced items). Sale and Outlet items are not excluded from credit card points earning. Non REI purchases earn 1% back.
Additionally, when you sign up for an REI Co-op MasterCard, they give you a substantial gift card to use right at REI. It really is free money! Given how pricy it can be to outfit a family for adventures, the benefits of the credit card and credit card points really add up.
New Benefits of a REI Membership
Last month, REI did a major update of their membership benefits. They considered feedback from their members and consumers and rolled out new benefits that make membership even better!
Free Shipping (no minimum!)
This is huge! This is the new membership benefit that I am most thrilled about. REI is rolling out free shipping, with no minimum to all their members. There are some exclusions, such as oversized items, but guys, this is awesome. There are often times where I place a small order at REI, and it totals up to something close to $50 (their previous shipping minimum) but not quite.
Being able to order a new headlamp when my child breaks theirs, or a pair of socks as needed will definitely help me spend even more of my money at REI, without needing to worry about a shipping minimum.
Exclusive Gear Just for Members
New for members this year, REI is rolling out collections of gear that will go on sale just for members, before they’re available for non members. Additionally, they will have special items that will only ever be on sale for members.
One of REI’s current early access collections are a brand new, thoughtfully designed line of running and trail running gear that they expect to sell quickly once made available to the public.
Another item currently exclusively available to members is REI’s new Wonderland family camping tent. They completely redesigned their tents to be stronger, taller, and more waterproof.
My previous (cheap) family tent fell apart last year, and this new Wonderland tent looks awesome! Members can preorder one and have it delivered in time for camping season without any worries of them selling out.
Buying and Selling Used Gear on Re/Supply
REI launched REI Used a couple years ago, and the platform was a great way to buy and sell used gear. I have gotten several items from there myself. As part of the new membership roll out, REI has reformatted REI Used, and rebranded it as Re/Supply.
Re/Supply is now exclusively available for use by REI Co-op members. Re/Supply is basically an online version of their in-store “Garage Sale”, but with more consistency.
Having Re/Supply available for just members ensures members can find the good deals on used gear that they want!
Special Discounts on REI Experiences
Many don’t know that REI offers guided trips and experiences. The trips range from short weekend getaways not far from your home, to week-long (or more) trips to international and domestic locations.
Their guided adventures are unique, because REI strives to give their participants a unique, off the beaten path experience. Their guides are experts who want to help delight all those who travel with them.
All REI Co-op members receive discounts on REI Experiences. The discount varies depending on the location, and some trips are available exclusively for members. Experiences are a great way to explore a new region, without having to do all the planning yourself.
REI Membership is for Everyone
As a mom and outdoors person, a lot has changed since we first bought our expensive stroller and that REI membership. I have fallen in love with many outdoor sports and hobbies, and I have delighted as my children have discovered their love of the outdoors.
All five kids have outgrown the stroller, but we still use that REI membership on a near-monthly basis.
REI has worked hard over the years to make sure they sell the best quality gear for everything from running shoes to baby carriers, and bikes to rock climbing gear.
The new benefits of free shipping combined with the great sales and used gear make shopping at REI an even bigger bargain than in the past, making it even easier to frugally get outside.
Don’t just take my word for it though! Hop online and head to their website to explore, or drive to your nearest store. A fifteen minute quick browse will likely turn into an hour long affair. Don’t ask me how I know.
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- Here are 6 other outdoor voices who shared why they love REI
Benefits of REI Membership
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