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Can You Save Money with Petco's "Vital Care" Pet Savings Plan

How to Save Money with Petco

by Michelle Jones, Founder of BetterBudgeting.org

A Frugal Mom's Review of Petco's Vital Care Program: Costs vs. Savings

We are a dog family. Between us and our grown children we collectively have 5 dogs. Our dogs range in age from 2-13, and weigh anywhere from 25 pounds to 80. And, like most dog/cat families, WE LUV OUR PETS! We may have saved them, but really they saved us.

If you have pets then you also know how their cost of care can be expensive. Depending on the breed and type of pet, you will pay more or less for pet food, nutrition, cleaning/grooming, annual vaccinations, vet bills, and most of importantly, very cute squeaky toys. These costs can really add up, especially when you have more than one pet.

Everyone loves to save money and most of us are surely looking for ways to save more on our beloved pets, while still keeping them healthy and happy. Any type of pet savings plan may sound good, but will it really save us money? Or, could it possibly end up costing us even more?

In comes Petco, one of favorite local pet stores. They, along with other local pet stores, have been super great over the years for last minute supplies such as pet food, collars, leashes, toys, and such. But, our daughter has also been taking her two dogs to Petco every few months for baths, nail clipping and buffing their very sharp nails (impossible to do them at home). She's been going there for a couple of years now.

Petco currently charges her $43.00 for each dog, each visit. We are working on ways to help her save money; other than buying the Petco Vital Care program. Every time she picks up her dogs (the girls) from their baths at Petco, store associates try to sell her this savings plan. They point to their printed brochure and show her that she could save $397.00 a year, per dog! Wow, that sounds great! But, wait, maybe we should think about this. Yes, ALWAYS think about it and do the math. NEVER sign up for a monthly or annual plan of any type that costs money without doing the math first.

If it's easy math you can do it in a few minutes and easily know on the spot if you will save money or not. If it has multiple variables like this plan at Petco does then just WAIT, take the information home, and figure it out. Then, every time they offer you their "great deal" you will know exactly whether it's right for you or not.

And, for some pet owners (anyone taking their pets in for grooming every month... 12 months a year?), the Vital Care plan CAN actually save you money! You'll just need to figure out your own costs vs. savings.

UGH, the thought of anyone just signing up for things like this and ending up paying MORE money... I just had to sit down and share how this Vital Care plan would actually work out for us. While some families may be able to save money on their pet care, my daughter would actually be spending even more money for the same services.

First, the current plan costs $19 a month per pet ($228 per year). I had to go to their website to find the statement "12-month commitment for $19/month" and "Your membership will automatically renew unless canceled." Just some important information for those of you who may want to sign up. Details that should be clearly visible to customers but are NOT currently listed in their 6-page brochure for the Vital Care plan.

Is this reminding anyone of those gym memberships that can be so difficult to cancel? Yes, you will keep paying those $19 monthly fees whether you go or not.

Here are the current 2021 Petco Vital Care savings:

* 30% off all grooming (her 43.00 bath/nails would cost 30.10)

* $35 (credit) in Pals Rewards per vet exam, up to twice a year per pet (their vet exams cost more than our regular vet who we wouldn't leave anyway, so no savings for us here - but if you're already using them as a your vet then you could potentially have more savings here)

* $10 (credit) in Pals Rewards each month (that's helpful, gotta factor that in)

Plus, a Free Welcome Gift for signing up:

A free 6 lb bag of dog food, or, $25 off Vetco Vaccines (may or may not help us, it depends on what type of dog food they want to give us; our choice or theirs?) For now, I'm not factoring this small freebie into our detailed costs vs. savings, as follows...

Our COSTS vs. SAVINGS with Vital Care, Per Pet

4 Baths with Plan

Extra cost for annual plan = $228
plus, 4 baths per year at 30% off (4 x $30.10) = $120.40
$228 + $120.40 = $348.40
minus, 12 months of $10 Pals Rewards (credit) = $120.00
$348.40 - $120 (credit) = $228
Total cost: $228

Makes you feel it's an okay deal. But...

4 Baths without Plan

No extra cost for annual plan =  $0
4 baths per year at full price (4 x $43.00) = $172
Total cost: $172

Without the plan, she will spend $56 less than just the initial cost of the plan!

Finally, we'll look at what her costs would be with and without the Vital Care plan, for 6 baths per year, the most she could probably do. (Note: The more you use the plan the more money you will potentially SPEND AND SAVE.)

6  Baths with Plan

Extra cost for annual plan = $228
plus, 6 baths per year at 30% off (6 x $30.10) = $180.60
$228 + $180.60 = $408.60
minus, 12 months of $10 Pals Rewards (credit) = $120.00
$408.60 - $120 (credit) = $288.60
Total cost:  $288.60

6 Baths without Plan

No extra cost for annual plan = $0
6 baths per year at full price (6 x $43.00) = $258
Total cost: $258

That's still $30 less than what it would cost with the Vital Care plan ($288.60 as show above), and that's IF she is even able to schedule 6 baths every 12 months, which is difficult to do with her current work schedule.

Companies create loyalty programs like this to increase their sales and repeat buying customers. Period. Some people may save money, most will not.

If you want to be sure that you can or will actually save money...


The good news is, like most pet stores, Petco also offers a Pets Rewards Plan (5% reward credit for every purchase) that we still love and will continue to save money with. But you have to sign up for it. And, unlike the Vital Care Plan, it is FREE to Join! :o)


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