There are few gear companies that have as quite a cult-classic reputation as the REI Co-Op. It’s been around since 1938, and was started by 23 climbing buddies who had a vision for how awesome life is when lived outdoors.
The company has long put their motto of purpose over profits to their approach in business, and it’s resounded with nature and outdoors enthusiasts for decades.
REI also offers a unique annual dividend program that is virtually unheard of in other comparable companies, which draws more and more members to it’s co-op every year!
What is REI, exactly?
REI, or Recreational Equipment Inc. is a co-op that specializes in providing high quality hiking and camping gear both online and retail stores.
Because it’s a co-op, members of REI actually get a dividend back on their spends for the year as well as a bunch of other cool perks.
The awesome thing about this company doesn’t stop there. Every year, REI donates millions of dollars to conservation efforts as well as sending countless volunteers and employees to participate in real on-the-ground conservation efforts like beach clean-ups and trail maintenance.
REI gives back nearly 70% of their profits to conservation efforts every year.
What is the REI dividend?
Because REI is a co-op, there are no formal shareholders and stakeholders. Members of the co-op who invest with their membership fee and dollars spent become owners in the company and have a voice in what the company does, which is incredible!
Members will receive a dividend of approximately 10% each spring for every eligible dollar they put into gear sourced through REI the previous year.
If you want to see the official REI page with info on the dividend you can click here.
Pros and Cons of the Dividend Program
If we’re honest, there aren’t too many cons to joining REI Co-Op and partaking of the program, but there are things to know about how membership and the dividend work.
For starters, the membership is one lifetime payment of $20. That’s it, and you’re in! The dividends are what make the membership totally worth it, although it may not be the best option if you don’t make any purchases for the year.
In order to be considered an active member and therefore eligible for an annual dividend, you need to make a purchase (net merchandise or shipping) of at least $10 a year unless it’s the year you joined.
Purchases that are eligible to go towards your dividend are full-price items and assorted merchandise posted between January 1 and December 31st of that year.
Purchases that are not eligible are REI Garage items, sale and clearance, discounted items, gift cards, REI Adventures trips, REI Outdoor School classes and outings, service fees, membership fee, postage, event tickets, passes or registrations, government agencies and sales tax.
HOWEVER, a ton of these items like sale items, Garage items, etc. can earn you 5% back if you use the REI Co-Op Mastercard to purchase them. The REI Co-Op Mastercard also gets you a separate annual dividend return on top of your regular 10% which is totally cool!
You can redeem your dividend as soon as you receive it by shopping in-store, online or through the app. You can also take the dividend notice to any store and request cash for it, or request a check through the website.
These steps are a little more time consuming however, and the easiest way to use your dividend is to keep it in the family and spend it on new REI gear.
Other Cool Benefits of Joining REI Co-Op
As with other memberships, members get some cool benefits for joining.
The main highlights include special offers and discounts for members, huge savings with access to the in-store REI Garage Sales (you can save about half on gently used and returned items at the semi-annual sales, which is awesome!) and special pricing on REI Adventures, classes and outings.
For just $20 the benefits you get are pretty amazing. By spending $200 on eligible purchases in the course of a year, your membership pays for itself in annual dividends!