Hearing Aids at Costco: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

opinion of costco hearing aid experience
Hearing Health & Technology Matters
January 23, 2019

by Cliff Olson, AuD

Multiple times a week I am asked, “are Costco hearing aids any good?”.  After all, it is natural to question whether or not buying a medical device at a big box store it a smart idea.  Depending on who you ask, it seems as though individuals who purchased their hearing aids at Costco either LOVE them or HATE them.

How is this possible?  

The hearing aid technology offered at Costco, including ReSound, Rexton, Phonak and Philips hearing aids, are similar to what you might find in private audiology clinic and they are even required to use Real Ear Measurement when programming the devices inside of a Costco Hearing Center.  

Are People Satisfied with the Hearing Aids They Receive at Costco?

Why do some people love their hearing aid purchasing experience while others do not? How could there be so much variability in the level of satisfaction by Costco hearing aid wearers?

[Read on or check out the video below where I discuss in detail..]

We explore the importance of correct programming by examining three different patient cases and their experiences with Costco hearing aids.

Through subjective questionnaires and real ear measurements, we assess the benefits and limitations of these devices, highlighting the crucial role of a knowledgeable hearing care provider in maximizing hearing aid effectiveness.

The Significance of Correct Programming

We emphasize that the quality of hearing aids hinges on their proper programming to the individual’s specific hearing loss prescription. Real ear measurement, a vital tool, ensures accurate amplification across different frequencies.

While Costco mandates the use of real ear measurement, it is crucial for providers to execute this process effectively to optimize hearing aid performance.

Evaluating Patient Experiences

Through subjective questionnaires, such as the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA), we evaluate the perceived benefit of hearing aids in our patient cases. Scores on the IOI-HA provide valuable insights into the overall performance of the Costco hearing aids. Additionally, real ear measurements help us objectively assess whether the devices align with the individual’s hearing loss prescription.

a. Case 1: A Promising Outcome: We analyze a patient with a normal sloping to moderately severe high-frequency sensory neural hearing loss. Both subjective evaluation and real ear measurements indicate favorable results, suggesting a well-programmed fitting by the Costco provider. However, we showcase how further adjustments can be made to optimize performance, leading to even better outcomes.

b. Case 2: Programming Challenges: We examine a patient with a mild sloping to moderately severe high-frequency sensory neural hearing loss. The patient reports poor perceived benefit with their Costco hearing aids. Real ear measurements reveal significant deviations from the hearing loss prescription, indicating suboptimal programming. By making adjustments, we demonstrate the potential for improved outcomes and increased patient satisfaction.

c. Case 3: Inadequate Programming: We present a patient with a flat, moderate conductive hearing loss. Their experience with Costco hearing aids yields a distressingly low score on the IOI-HA questionnaire, reflecting inadequate perceived benefit. Real ear measurements highlight one of the worst-fitting instances encountered, emphasizing the importance of skilled programming. We share the challenges faced when locked Costco hearing aids restrict adjustment options, and the subsequent success achieved by fitting the patient with properly programmed devices.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Our analysis underscores that the effectiveness of Costco hearing aids depends on the expertise of the hearing care provider and their ability to tailor the devices to the individual’s hearing loss. While not specific to Costco, this discussion emphasizes the need to seek out proficient providers who can accurately address your hearing needs. If a hearing care provider is unable to deliver the desired benefit, it is crucial to explore alternative options. By sharing these patient cases, we highlight the impact of proper programming on hearing aid performance and stress the importance of finding a provider who can optimize your hearing experience.

In summary, Costco hearing aids have the potential to be effective solutions for hearing loss when appropriately programmed. The key lies in finding a skilled provider who can utilize real ear measurement and tailor the devices to match your specific hearing loss prescription.


Clifford Olson is a Doctor of Audiology and Founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem, Arizona.  He served as a Marine Corps Scout Sniper during his time in the military which introduced him to the profession of Audiology.  He also posts informational videos on his YouTube Channel – DrCliffAuD – to educate consumers on hearing healthcare.


  1. Nice work, Cliff. It’s particularly nice to see that you are “not” using the REUG in your REM hearing aid assessments. The REUG, after all, is not a part of the original hearing assessment (unless soundfield thresholds are used) nor part of the aided sound that reaches the eardrum. Even with open fittings, the effect of the REUG is automatically contained within the REAG. I’m hoping that the above consideration has actually become part of the “best practice” procedures, as the concept’s introduction (such as by this writer) was certainly controversial.*

    *Early REM theoretical considerations (e.g., https://www.etymotic.com/media/publications/erl-0091-1993.pdf.) recommended inclusion of the REUG in REM assessment. But later thinking showed that the individual REUG was contraindicated for REMs in hearing aid assessment (see, for example, the Appendix, “Rationale for Pseudo-REIG: Using the Average-Ear REUG in Insertion-Gain Applications” – p. 120, in https://www.thieme.com/media/samples/pubid1013629716/pdf/chapter03.pdf).

    Good to see, at least, that Costco is mandating REMs, even if a subsequent visit to a clinic for re-programming may be required.

    It was fun reading and viewing your post.

    (PS – As an aside, what caught me eye about the title of your post is that I have long argued against using the term “the hearing impaired” – which is still often used – instead of “people with impaired hearing”, or some such. I used to quip, “The good, the bad, the ugly, and the hearing impaired….” I mean, one never encounters “the normal hearing”…!)

  2. really nice job; thanks for the captions!
    I have a question:
    what do you think of the “simulated” RE measurements? My Audiologist did them today, and made some tweaks to my aids. But how does that technique compare to the in-the-canal RE measurements?

    Oh, and one more:
    Can a customer insist that Costco not lock the aids? Is the locking fully disclosed (like, not in tiny print at the bottom of a “Terms and Conditions” document? That really bugs me, like the MFi aids. DGMS (Don’t Get Me Started)

  3. The main problem is that the NAL-NL2 prescriptive formula sets up excessive hi frequency gain settings that create more cognitive distress, and accelerated decline in cognition due to neurotransmitter leaks through the axons in the hippocampus due to mylination caused by t excessive ionic pressures. I have advised COSTCO HAD’s to first find targets and then drop them by 3-4db SPL, and also do the same for MPO’s. It provides easier hearing which is the key to improved cognition, and faster brain responses. Easier hearing leads to better localization, and better focus into language. Clifford needs to understand much more about what settings are good and what are not so good. Excessive amplification causes interference in inhibitive and excitation actions at the inferior colliculus. Learn !

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