12 Reasons to Become an REI Member

Being an REI Member comes with a ton of perks like member-only coupons and used gear trade-in. Learn why I became an REI Member and about all the benefits you get when you join!

Being an REI Member comes with perks like REI coupons and discounts on gear rental. Learn all the benefits you get when you join the program.

I became an REI member 18 years ago right when I finished college and decided I wanted to get more into camping. I remember being in the Seattle store buying my first Gregory pack while the guy in the green vest helped me stuff the pack full of sandbags. Then I walked around the store for a bit before I decided to take the plunge.

Two weeks later, I returned home from my first backpacking trip and, as it turns out, I didn’t like the pack all that much. Luckily I bought it at REI and they have the best no-questions-asked return policy, so I was able to exchange it for something I found to be more comfortable.

Since joining, my Lifetime REI Membership has saved me well over $3000. The Member Rewards, their 100% satisfaction guarantee, member-only sales and coupons, free shipping, used gear trade-in program, and their outdoor skill workshops are just a few of the reasons I shop there and chose to become an REI Member.

I even decided to get a part-time gig at REI in 2014 when I was first starting Bearfoot Theory, and I couldn’t believe they gave me three weeks off to go hike the John Muir Trail – proof that the company practices what it preaches.

REI is a 100% member-owned co-op (meaning you get a share of REI’s annual profit) and in this post, I share all of the perks you get as a lifetime REI Member and the benefits that keep me coming back after all of these years.

Sponsored by REI Co-op

REI Co-op is our favorite outdoor gear retailer and a long-time supporter of our work here at Bearfoot Theory. We appreciate their 1-year return policy, their Member-only coupons, and the fact that REI Members receive 10% back on their purchases every year. We only recommend products we truly love and think you will love too.

How much is an REI Membership?

A lifetime REI Membership costs $30. It’s a one-time fee and once you’re in, you’re in forever. There are no annual dues, fees, or hidden charges. You can purchase a membership online or at any REI store. As soon as you sign up, you get immediate access to all of the REI Member benefits that I outline below.

How does the REI Membership work?

When you are shopping in the store, you don’t need to bring a Member card with you. They can easily look up your purchase history by your phone number, which means you also don’t need to save your receipts for returns. You also use your phone number when you are checking out, so you get credit for your purchases (which you get 10% back on in March of the following year).

If you prefer to shop online (which comes with free shipping for Members), your online account is connected to your Membership number. This means you can instantly see all of your past purchases online and instantly apply your annual Member Rewards to future purchases.

A woman smiles at the camera next to her REI Quarter Dome 2 backpacking tent. She's wearing a blue Arcteryx Atom jacket. She is next to the ocean on the Trans Catalina Trail
Througout the year, REI provides Member-only coupons that you can use to save on big ticket items

Is an REI Membership Worth it?

This lifetime membership fee quickly pays for itself, so even if you’re only an occasional REI shopper, becoming a Member will save you money. The benefits easily outweigh the one-time fee.

To sweeten the deal, from now until March 14, 2024, when you sign up for a $30 REI Membership and spend $50 on gear or clothing in the same order, you’ll automatically get a $30 bonus card that you can apply to your next purchase.

Why Shop at REI?

REI is an industry leader when it comes to top-quality, name-brand, and eco-friendly outdoor gear. They also have a huge and ever-growing product selection, so you don’t have to limit your choices.

Their customer service is unparalleled, their return policy is amazing, and they they offer employees a range of benefits, from medical coverage to “paid days off to spend time outside to rest and recharge.”

For these reasons and more, REI is exactly the kind of company I love to support – one that supports getting all people outside and teaching them how to do it responsibly.

REI is built on membership, and back in 2022 they did the biggest revamp of their Membership program yet adding 5 new perks for Members (on top of the existing perks). I can’t stress enough how much it’s worth it to become an REI Member.

12 Great REI Member Benefits

1) Get 10% Back on Your Purchases With Your Member Rewards

Every year in March, REI Members get 10% back on everything they’ve purchased over the past year, excluding sale items and REI travel, classes, and adventures.

Formally referred to as your annual dividend, Member Rewards can be redeemed at an REI store, REI.com, REI Outlet, for an REI adventure travel trip, or via the REI app.

How REI Member Rewards Work

With the 10% Member Rewards, it’s like getting a sale price on every purchase you make from REI!

My REI Member Total Rewards amounted to $137 last year. Every year I look forward to this, especially as we head into summer because there is usually some new piece of gear I’ve been eyeing.

This year, I’m in the market for some new outdoor baby gear and a new car camping tent that can fit my whole family. I’m excited to be able to use my rewards to save a bit when making these purchases.

2) REI Member-Only Coupons

Throughout the year, REI has a number of sales, and during those sales, they offer additional discounts to Members.

Typically during these sales, Members get 20% off one full-priced item and an extra 20% off an already discounted item, although this can change based on the sale.

The best part? These special coupons are given to Members all throughout the year, not just once.

If you’ve been saving for a big ticket item, like the REI Magma 15 Degree Sleeping Bag, 20% off saves you $86. That’s gas money for your next weekend road trip!

20% off REI Member Coupon

3) REI’s Return Policy

I already mentioned REI’s awesome return policy. As a Member, you have 1 year from the date of purchase to something if it’s not working out.*

This doesn’t mean you can use and abuse your gear and return it 364 days later, but it does mean that if you take those new hiking boots on the trail and if they are killing your feet, then you can return them for a full refund.

Or that tent that ended up being just a little bit too small for you, your partner, and your dog on your first overnight outing? You can return that too and get something that works for you.

Unlike the 365-day return policy for Members, non-members only get a 90-day return period. The other benefit of being a Member is you don’t have to have a receipt. You can show up with the item and they can look up your purchase history with your phone number – easy peasy and you don’t have to worry about hanging on to your receipts. As a non-Member, if you lose your receipt, you’re out of luck if you need to return something.

*There are a few exclusions to the 1-year return policy. For electronics like activity monitors, GPS devices, and cameras, Members have 90-days to make a return – which is still really generous compared to other retailers.

Man sitting in a camp chair in Yosemite next to a REI tent
REI’s 100% satisfaction guarantee takes a lot of risk out of buying new gear

4) REI Members Get Free Standard Shipping

As of 2022, REI Members get free standard shipping on all REI.com purchases with no minimum purchase required!

This is a huge perk and makes shopping online quick and easy. If you don’t live near an REI, just think about how much money you’ll save on shipping costs – this alone makes the $30 lifetime membership worth it.

5) Member-Only Re/Supply

So what does REI do with all that gently used stuff that gets returned? They used to sell it at in-person “garage sales” that happened throughout the year. If you ever went to a garage sale, you know you could score some amazing deals, but it was a bit stressful. You’d have to get in line early and act quickly once you were in, otherwise all of the good stuff would be snatched up.

Today, REI sells all that gear on their used gear site. The deals are just as good as the garage sales, and you don’t have to plan your weekend around it. It also gives access to people who don’t live by an REI access to all that used gear.

Buying used outdoor gear is also great for our planet considering the impact new gear and apparel have – I love supporting brands that are advocates for secondhand gear!

a man stuffing a sleeping bag into a compression sack next to his tent on a backpacking trip

6) Save on REI Classes & Trips

Did you know REI offers a ton of different classes? From backcountry navigation to bike maintenance, camp cooking, and full-blown Wilderness First Aid courses, REI classes are a great way to improve your outdoor skill set.

Some classes are even free, like the John Muir Trail course I taught a couple of years back at the Henderson store. For the fee-based classes, REI Members save $20-30 off the list price. Boom. REI Membership paid for.

REI also leads amazing trips all over the USA – from their Yellowstone and Grand Teton Hiking and Camping trip to their guided backpacking trip along California’s Lost Coast.

Members get a hefty discount on these trips too and you also get to meet other amazing Co-op members.

a group of hikers smiling on top of a mountain in Washington
The amazing people I met on REI Adventures Olympic National Park trip in 2018

7) In-Store Service Discounts

Beyond helping you purchase the right gear, REI also helps you maintain and tune up your gear in-store.

Did you know most REI stores have full bike and ski shops in-house? Even better: Members get 20% off these services, plus free flat tire repair and machine wax on skis and snowboards.

8) Discounts on Gear Rental

Want to try a new outdoor activity but don’t want to commit to buying all the right gear? Traveling out of state for an adventure and don’t want to fly with all your gear? You can rent gear from REI for all sorts of activities like backpacking, canoeing, climbing, cycling, and snowshoeing.

Don’t have a bike rack or a roof rack? REI rents those too. Although anyone can rent gear from REI, REI Members save up to 33% off all gear rentals.

Zion National Park // Bryce Canyon National Park // Looking to explore the National Parks of Southern Utah? Check out my recap of the Bearfoot Theory 5 day hiking tour with Arizona Outback Adventures.
Renting gear is saves a lot of hassle if you are flying to your destination. It’s also a good way to test gear before you make a purchase

9) Your Membership Gives Back to the Outdoors

In 2022 alone, REI gave $6.9 million to support over 500 non-profit organizations. That means your membership and purchases are worth more than just the gear you buy.

Through your membership and purchases, you’re helping REI provide funding for parks, public lands, sustainable transportation, and efforts to “rewild” our cities with green spaces.

So maybe a simple $30 membership isn’t so simple when you think about it: it’s a contribution towards a healthier, wilder, and better future for everyone.

In total, since 1976 REI has donated nearly 70% of its profits to its non-profit partners for outdoor stewardship projects going right back into the outdoor community. And as REI grows, their contributions do too.

By being an REI Member, you are giving back and having a direct positive impact on the trails and parks in your community. As a Member, you also get to vote in their annual Board elections, having a direct impact on the decisions made by the coop.

REI also donates $5 to the REI Cooperative Action Fund for every new Member. This fund helps offer grants to nonprofits that promote justice, equity, and belonging in the outdoors.

You can see a full list of partners and REI’s 2022 Impact report here. Take a look, and there’s a good chance you might recognize an organization or two in your town.

Some statistics from the REI 2022 Impact Report

10) You Can Trade-In Your Used Gear

REI Co-op Members can trade in gently used outdoor gear in exchange for REI gift cards through their Re/Supply program – what an amazing perk! REI accepts gently used gear found in their trade-in catalog. They accept most brands and items that REI carries, including most men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing and shoes, as well as gear like sleeping bags, backpacks, and tents – you could receive up to 50% of the retail value.

The best part? You can trade in gear that you didn’t even buy from REI (as long as REI also carries that product, of course).

This is not only a great way to offload your used gear, but also reduce the amount of used clothing that prematurely ends up in landfills – a win for our planet!

11) You Get Early Access to New Gear + Exclusive Gear

Co-op members receive early access, limited editions, special offers, one-of-a-kind collaborations, and more awesome deals on gear. You can find these deals on their Members Collection page.

For example, right now Members can get early access to the Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket – an impermeable rain jacket that features the brand new GORE-TEX ePE waterproof membrane that is PFC-free.

12) You Will Be Part of an Inclusive Outdoor Community

This REI membership benefit doesn’t have a price tag on it. REI advocates for people just as much as they do the outdoor spaces that we all enjoy.

Plus, they have a strong focus on enhancing and uplifting their fellow outdoor enthusiasts by staying committed to keeping the outdoors a diverse and level playing field that welcomes everyone just as they are.

And they put their money where their mouth is. For example, in 2020 REI donated $100,000 each to the National Urban League and to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, historic civil rights and advocacy organizations that work to fight injustice and inequality. As we know, people of color have different experiences in the outdoors and it is our job to be allies to all who wish to enjoy the outdoors.

More recently, REI and Outdoor Afro Inc. launched a hiking collection to “celebrate Black joy in nature” and “help solve unmet needs in outdoor apparel.” 

Additionally, REI announced its decision to ban hazardous chemicals from all clothing and cookware (including PFAS) by fall of 2024 to reduce emissions and advance sustainability and equity in the outdoors. Hear hear! 

A group of hikers jumping in the air wearing yellow, blue, and red jackets with a low hanging cloud in the background

REI Membership FAQ

Do you need a Membership to shop at REI?

No. Anyone can buy things at REI in-store and online without a membership. You just miss out on all the benefits I mentioned above.

Can I use someone else’s REI Membership?

REI Memberships are non-transferrable to family and friends. Meaning, it’s yours and yours only. However, in my experience, I haven’t had an issue with my partner Ryan using my membership when making a purchase — but only the Member can redeem REI Rewards (not a spouse, family member, or friend) and utilize the other benefits. 

Do REI Memberships expire?

No. Unlike many memberships that you need to renew year after year, REI Memberships are for life. So, it’s a one-time fee for a lifetime membership. 

Do REI Rewards expire?

Yes. The date will be listed on your Rewards notification. Generally, they expire about in early January, a little less than two years after you earned them. 

Are you an REI member? If so, let us know in the comments what your favorite member benefit is! If you have any questions about REI’s membership program let us know below!

Discover the top 12 reasons why you should become an REI Co-op member! From exclusive member perks and discounts to access to exclusive gear and events, the benefits of membership are endless. Learn how you can support sustainable outdoor practices, connect with like-minded individuals, and enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest. Don't miss out on the opportunity to join one of the largest outdoor communities and become a part of the REI Co-op movement. Read our latest blog post now!

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  1. Yes, last few years I just bought few hiking shoes and some apparels.. Last week I was contemplating to buy a $160 hiking pole, turned out I got %55 dividend in my account and all of sudden the hiking pole appeared to be cheaper than the cheapest one in the store :), I also signed up for few classes in preparation for the upcoming Alaska hike..

  2. Hey there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually
    code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.

    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

    1. The REI.com homepage has a store finder in the top right corner. You can search by city or zip code

  3. I JOINED SEVERAL YEARS AGO IN Seattle I moved away and kind of forgot about my membership…my name is Gary J. Pannell …am l still in your system?

    1. Hi Gary, we’re not affiliated with REI directly so I’d recommend calling your local store to check 🙂