GNC Review: Is GNC a good source for quality supplements?

We thoroughly explored GNC to give you the pros, cons and all details

by
Last updated: Mar 28th, 2022
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In this review

Our Findings
How we evaluated GNC
Why you can trust us
What is GNC?
Who should use GNC?
Supplements
Additional catalog
GNC4U
GNC Learning Center
The GNC blog
Sound science?
High-quality tablets?
Pricing
Customer support
The competition
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Our Findings

Editor's Rating4.25

GNC has a massive catalog of high-quality products online and in thousands of retail stores across the country. They set the standard for supplement marketplaces, but setting the standards means that we found little that makes them shine above and beyond their competitors.

Pros

  • More than 4,400 in-person stores mean you have plenty of methods of finding their products in-store or online, same-day or scheduled in advance.

  • Price match opportunities ensure you always get the lowest price.

  • Broad product catalog encompasses not only vitamins and supplements but workout equipment, diet plans, and snack food.

  • Tablets disintegrate quickly, meaning they are very likely to be adequately absorbed by your body.

  • Get 10% off and free shipping with Auto-Deliver

Cons

  • Recent acquisition by an international company means quality may change.

  • Membership rewards aren’t as generous as competitors.

  • Several non-product pages of the website are broken.

Our body’s capacity and strength can vary with time. That doesn’t make it any less disappointing and frustrating when things start to hurt, your brain becomes foggy, or you’ve recovered from an injury and find your muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. No matter how far you think you’ve slipped, there are simple ways to brush yourself back up into shape.

When it comes to getting yourself into shape, GNC could be your one-stop shop. They are no stranger to resilience – the company started a mere two years after the end of the Great Depression – and they want to help you find your sense of strength. This could be either literally or metaphorically, as they sell athletic equipment, supplements, and protein powders, as well as vitamins, skincare, and general wellness products.

We tested GNC’s products to see if they still hold up over 85 years later and to help you decide if they’re right for you.

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GREAT PICKS FROM GNC

How we evaluated GNC

In order to best break down GNC’s products and experience for you, we focused on a few fundamental qualities. Specifically, we tested the supplements to find out what you might get for your money. And we tested how easy the GNC website is to use, both in front-end website navigation and back-end customer service.

9.0 / 10

It helps to know what you’re looking for when you go to GNC’s website, but you don’t have to know precisely what you want. The hardest part of navigating the site is figuring out where the product or effect you want fits in the catalog. Once you know where to look, GNC makes reading about and purchasing products a breeze.

Supplement variety

9.3 / 10

If you’ve ever wanted to try a vitamin, supplement, or herb that has some sort of health value, GNC probably has it. Protein powder flavored like Girl Scout Cookies? Got it. Medicated swabs to clean your cat’s wounds? Got it. They also carry most of their products in more than one form, so if you know you don’t like tablets, you might find it as a softgel, capsule, gummy, soft chew, powder, liquid, lozenge, or something else entirely.

Supplement quality

9.0 / 10

GNC is quiet about the high quality of their supplements. They’ve been partnered with NSF International since 2003 to verify and certify all of their own-label products. Everything we tested – even tablets that didn’t seem like they’d work – disintegrated at lightning speed, meaning they will most likely be absorbed by your body correctly. Most products are free from food coloring or unnecessary additives, though they have many supplements sold in a less-than-optimal gummy form. However, not every product they sell comes from their GNC line, so keep an eye on the brand before you purchase if you want to guarantee high quality.

Cost

8.5 / 10

While there are less expensive options out there, the combination of GNC’s quality and relatively low cost is hard to beat. Most vitamins start in the $5 to $10 range, and the company holds small sales and buy-one-get-one deals regularly. If you know you’ll be buying a product consistently, you can set up an autoship subscription to get 10% off with free shipping (which is usually on the expensive side). Their rewards program is a little lacking compared to the high quality of the rest of the site, but it seems like they’re trying to bulk it out with a paid membership subscription to get you more deals.

Customer service

8.5 / 10

With three methods of communication staffed for up to twelve hours a day, including weekends, GNC makes their customer service experience open and available for customers across the country. We found the support to be not bad but nothing exceptional; we’ve heard from others who have had both very positive and very negative experiences with customer service, so your personal experience may vary even between calls on the same day.

Why you can trust us

Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers like you make more informed decisions to live healthier lives. We extensively test each health service we review.

Our team has spent over 147 hours testing and researching GNC and its close competitors in order to give you an unbiased exploration of your health supplement options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. Through a thorough and deliberate approach to every product we encounter, we evaluate services based on adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, this review of GNC, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

What is GNC?

GNC is a behemoth of an organization. Founded in 1935 and based out of Pittsburgh, the company is one of the largest nutritional product retailers in the world. Originally founded as a health food store by David Shakarian, whose father introduced yogurt to the United States, they took on their current name, General Nutrition Centers, in the late 1950s. GNC quickly bloomed into a well-known vitamin and mineral supplement supplier alongside food, beverages, and cosmetics. Despite its size, GNC’s headquarters are still only a few blocks away from the original location.

Currently, the company sells:

  • Vitamin, mineral, and other specialty supplements
  • Protein and mass gainers
  • Performance and endurance supplements
  • Herbs and natural solutions
  • Digestion aids
  • Superfoods and green foods
  • Weight management solutions
  • Beauty and skin care products
  • Food and drinks
  • Workout equipment and accessories

GNC’s site carries a wide variety of products with differing forms, price points, and qualities within each product category. The wide array stems at least partly from the fact that GNC sells 378 outside brands, including everything from collaborations to simply carrying competitor’s formulations. However, GNC owns several of their own separate brands, including:

  • GNC
  • GNC AMP
  • GNC Total Lean
  • BodyDynamix
  • Beyond Raw
  • Nugenix
  • Ghost
  • Alani Nu
  • Optimum Nutrition
  • Girl Scouts (as a flavoring for protein shakes and meal replacements)

They have also partnered with companies like Dunkin’ Donuts for other fun, creative flavors. GNC tends toward interesting and unique formulations rather than doubling down on showing scientific accuracy or the most natural possible supplements. While the supplements are well-constructed and conceived from the latest science, this focus on bringing gratification to health supplements is a welcome departure from the norm.

GNC Live Well Foundation

GNC’s mission is succinct: to motivate and support the desire to live well. They have become so successful over the century that they were able to open a nonprofit foundation, the GNC Live Well Foundation, in 2004. For the most part, the GNC Live Well foundation raises money for other charities and worthy causes, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Operation Homefront, FitOPs Foundation, Feeding America, and the American Red Cross.

The Live Well Foundation also takes requests for grants or donations from smaller 501(c)(3) charities at certain times of the year. If your organization is not politically or religiously affiliated and works to support their mission, you can request funds from them. When the grant application isn’t open, you can still get on their email list to be notified when they reopen.

The website, while active, has two blog posts and several broken images without much information available. It appears to have been last updated in early 2018, so check with your local GNC or customer service representative if you’re looking for ways to get involved.

Who could benefit from using GNC?

Few people wouldn’t find anything they need at GNC. No matter what your health needs are – from supplementing missing nutrients from a vegan diet to starting your first couch-to-5K – GNC has something in stock that could help.

GNC does have a little more in stock for athletes than the average person. About half of the website’s catalog is dedicated to athletic goods, including:

  • Protein powders, bars, and mass gainers
  • Pre-workout supplements, muscle builders, and thermogenic supplements
  • Probiotics and appetite control products
  • Meal replacements and ketogenic diet-friendly snacks

While you’ll be able to find any supplement you’re looking for, GNC does not focus on organic products or holistic health like other vitamin retailers. That said, anyone who wants or needs a supplement or some additional help bolstering their workout routine or diet will find everything they need at GNC.

Downsides

Because GNC is a giant international company with a long history of helping people fill nutritional gaps, there are very few instances where it wouldn’t be great to use their products. One exception is if you have any current medical concerns or are taking medication. If you are, be sure to double-check with your doctor before starting any new vitamins or supplements. There are many drug interactions that can happen between different medications and supplements, such as vitamin C interfering with certain types of chemotherapy. They can also worsen your condition, such as alpha-lipoic acid decreasing average blood sugar (a bad thing for type 1 diabetics).

Most products have no limitations on where they can ship. A few products cannot ship everywhere due to international legislation and specific national regulations, but those are made evident in product labels and descriptions.

GNC’s supplements

Products

GNC is best known for their brands of vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. As such, they carry over 1,600 different types of supplements. These products come in all kinds of dosages and in every form, with little discretion other than the mode of delivery. Some supplements are water-soluble, which dissolve best in water, and some are fat-soluble, which absorb best in fat. The solubility of the vitamin often – but not always – determines the form it can take.

In order to sort through the thousands of different products, you can search the catalog either by diving right into the “vitamins and supplements” or “herbs and natural solutions” departments, or searching by goal, which includes:

  • Men’s health
  • Women’s health
  • Weight management
  • Brain and memory support
  • Hair, skin, and nails
  • Immune support
  • Energy support
  • Mental focus
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Bone support

Once you have found a way into the catalog, you can refine further by brand, purpose, dosage, form, price, flavor, intended gender, life stage, and more. At times, the seemingly endless nature of GNC is overwhelming, so it helps to have some idea of what you’re looking for first. The first page of “vitamins and supplements” has everything from multivitamins to arousal gels to pet hairball controlling wipes, so we highly recommend filtering the catalog to find what you’re looking for more specifically.

Dosing and cost

Some of the products GNC sells have more than the recommended daily dose for the vitamin or supplement. Zinc, for example, is sold in 50 mg tablets. The recommended daily dose from both diet and supplements for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Since zinc is a fat-soluble vitamin, you won’t expel that extra zinc. It’ll sit in your fat stores instead, and if you continue to take the vitamin for an extended period of time, that buildup may start to cause problems like stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea.

Long-term use is less of an issue for water-soluble vitamins like vitamin B, where excess amounts are excreted through your urine. However, you’d still be paying for vitamins that you aren’t absorbing or using.

Most vitamins start in the $5 to $10 range, and the company holds small sales and buy-one-get-one deals regularly. The lowest-cost supplements begin around $4.99, though there are few at that low cost, and we start to see more between $7 and $10. On the other hand, most supplements max out at $49.99, though some can reach as high as $189.99 for non-GNC brand fat burners and athletic packs.

GNC’s additional catalog

GNC has a large sway in the workout, weight, and diet world. Half of their best-sellers are workout-related, including energy drinks, lean shakes, and pre-workout powders. This leaves only half of their best-sellers as vitamins and supplements, the products associated with GNC in the popular imagination.

Starter Packs

If you know you’re having difficulty in a specific area but don’t know what to do about it, have no fear: GNC offers eight different starter packs for everyday concerns. These include weight loss, brain fog, and mood, with half of the packs related to weight and half related to cognitive functioning. These packs cost between $79.97 and $149.97, which is a little hefty but is less than the price of purchasing each product individually.

Athletics

GNC has more support for athletes than we could have dreamed. No matter where you could improve your athletic capacity, GNC has something for you. Their athletic catalog includes protein supplements (powders, bars, smoothies, and more), performance supplements, thermogenics, workout equipment, energy drinks, pre-workout formula, and more. Many of these also come in a wide array of flavors from both GNC and other brands so that you can personalize your pre-workout rituals to best suit who you are.

Diet and digestion

Much of GNC’s athletic support is aimed at men with hypermasculine packaging and naming devices. While there are some protein powders and thermogenics aimed at women, their diet and digestion products are essentially the feminine equivalent to athletic support.

GNC offers probiotics of all types (refrigerated and not), weight management supplements such as raspberry ketones and apple cider vinegar, protein bars, and a grocery store’s worth of food products. All of the food products keep proper digestion and healthy ingredients in mind, so despite having snack-worthy flavors, protein shakes, sweets, and chips are all going to be better for you than the alternatives you find at your local grocery store. The prices of these products vary but are typically a little more expensive than their non-health food equivalents.

Beauty and skincare

While GNC’s beauty and skincare section is relatively small, they still offer products specifically to help you look as good as your insides will feel. This includes collagen and biotin supplements, wrinkle removers, CBD oil, and vitamin blends specifically formulated for caring for hair and nails. There are hair products as well, but most of the products branded as hair care are carrier oils like coconut oil that aren’t always great for your hair. The few actual hair care products are slightly more expensive than something you might find in a local grocery store but have higher-quality natural ingredients.

If you’re looking for cosmetics, there are very few options available through GNC. They sell a handful of name brands, such as Thayers witch hazel and Eos chapstick, but tend to stay away from many big-name products.

GNC4U

GNC4U is a fascinating partnership between GNC and Vitagene, a DNA testing company. This program is completely free and aims to use your health information, collected through self-reported surveys, to pick a personalized vitamin, diet, and exercise regimen for you.

GNC4U Dashboard

First, you’ll need to sign up for GNC4U’s program. The program opens with a survey that asks for:

  • Health goals (up to two)
  • Gender
  • Birthday
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Personal and family history of any medical issues

The remaining questions in the survey provide more information for the health goals you’ve chosen. Our testers wanted to know about improving diet and focus, so we were asked about:

  • Dietary breakdown (food allergies, special diet, number of servings of different food groups eaten per day)
  • Type and frequency of exercise
  • Smoking status
  • Concerns about cognitive health or focus

Once you have completed the survey, you will be prompted to create an account, asking for your name and email address. After you set a password with Vitagene, you’ll unlock a new dashboard that allows you to purchase and activate a DNA kit or order your supplement plan.

GNC4U combs through a research database of over 6,000 scientific studies to provide the best possible combination of supplements, foods, and exercises for you and your lifestyle to improve your overall health. These recommendations take anywhere from one to twenty minutes to populate; our testers found this relatively fast, with three minutes between acknowledgment and recommendations available.

Diet, supplement, and exercise plans are all available in separate tabs.

Diet and exercise plans

Your diet plan breaks down the ideal number of calories for you to eat per day, a closer breakdown of carbs to fat to protein eaten per day, and five sample menus. They calculate the ideal number of calories based on your basal metabolic rate and the number of calories burned per day from your recommended exercise plan.

Your exercise plan depends on your reported favorite ways to work out. Based on the exercise you report doing per week, GNC4U will tell you how many calories you should be burning, what you currently are, and a plan for how many minutes and how many times per week you should perform that exercise to reach your calorie burn goal.

Exercise Plan

Personalized supplement plan

Finally, GNC4U puts together a personalized supplement list based on your goals and reported behaviors. This list was composed of a Mega Men One Daily multivitamin, B-complex + Energy, and a GABA supplement for increased focus for our testers. Each recommended supplement has small icons in the bottom left-hand corner of its picture, noting the vitamin’s purpose in your plan.

The B-Complex + Energy supplement, for example, is for increasing energy, shown with a lightning bolt. If you disagree with one of their choices, you can remove the pill from your pack; if you feel it’s missing a key component or if you already take a supplement you’d like to add to the monthly order, you can add it as well.

You can purchase your overall supplement pack and begin an autoship service that sends you all the bottles once a month. The cost of the package depends on the specific recommended supplements but always adds a $9.00 personalization and packing fee; ours was $35.00 per month.

DNA Kit

You can also add a DNA kit to your GNC4U recommendation. If you’ve already had your DNA tested through 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or MyHeritage, you can upload those results for faster analysis. Otherwise, Vitagene will ship you a DNA testing kit. This is a simple cheek swab test that you will be able to do yourself at home with a prepaid return envelope. From there, Vitagene’s lab will break down your sample and analyze your DNA like it would with a previous DNA test. Once your DNA has been analyzed, you’ll get three reports:

Diet

Customized meal plans, caffeine metabolism, fat metabolism, MTHFR genetic variations, omega-3 fatty acid levels, polyunsaturated fat levels.

Exercise

Muscle recovery, interactive workout planner, power vs. endurance body type, frequency and intensity of workouts.

Supplements

Top recommended supplements and reasons for recommendation, essential vitamin and mineral levels (A, B6, B12, D, and E), SNPs and genotypes, scientific research, and personalized plans.

Adding DNA to your GNC4U report costs $29.99, but frequent sales can lower the price as low as $4.99.

COVID-19 testing

GNC4U also offers FDA-approved COVID-19 saliva testing through 1health. These saliva tests get you accurate PCR results in 72 hours from the time the lab receives them with prepaid overnight shipping.

This COVID-19 test costs $117, and HSA and FSA cards are accepted for payment, though they won’t file claims with insurance. GNC promises that if at-home COVID-19 tests are ever covered federally, they will update all customers to let you know.

GNC Learning Center

Beyond the storefront, there is a portion of GNC’s website called the GNC Learning Center. Here, you’ll find several pages and quizzes dedicated to providing helpful information about all things health. There are two parts to the GNC Learning Center: quizzes and a curated blog.

Quizzes

The Learning Center contains three different quizzes to help you find the right products in case you aren’t coming with a doctor’s recommendation. The first and most comprehensive quiz is the Solution Finder. It is similar to the GNC4U assessment, as it asks a series of questions about your health and lifestyle, including exercise and diet, and suggests both lifestyle changes and supplements (up to five) that you might take to improve your goals.

Much like the Solution Finder, two other quizzes give advice on what supplements you should take. GNC offers a quiz for multivitamins (since we all know how difficult it can be to parse through the dozens of types of multivitamins to find the right one for you) that asks simple questions about your demographic information and what your ultimate health goals are. The final quiz, to help you find the best probiotic, is virtually identical to the quiz for multivitamins.

The GNC blog

If you’re just curious and hoping to learn more health tips without a specific product goal in mind, you can turn to the GNC blog. There are four subcategories of blog articles posted:

  • Weight management
  • Sport and performance
  • Health and wellness
  • Healthy recipes

Weight management blog articles include several subcategories based on GNC’s mission:

  • How to live fit
  • How to fuel
  • How to live well

These articles include everything from guides on types of food, such as healthy fat, to investigations on scientific literature, such as a connection between hormones and weight fluctuations. However, a majority of articles focus on the benefits of specific food choices. These articles sound a lot like ours, with an open, approachable style for readers of all types.

Exercise blog articles are broken down by the type of exercise they’re promoting, but not every piece is actually about the workout itself. Instead, there are product breakdowns, suggestions on what to eat before a workout, pages explaining the purposes and uses of various GNC supplements, tips and tricks for training, and more.

Health and wellness articles are closely related to GNC as a company, as many of the articles serve as pseudo-advertisements for their supplements. These explain how and why we need certain vitamins and minerals, the benefits of certain supplements and herbs, and review guides on the “best of” types of supplements. It’s clear here that these articles are designed to help you parse through their catalog and, hopefully, inspire you to make a purchase.

Healthy recipes guide

The healthy recipes guide is one of the more standout pages in the Learning Center. It feels like a legitimate cooking website, with categories to break down meals by the time of day or diet. This includes:

  • Breakfast
  • Smoothies
  • Soups
  • Dips and snacks
  • Desserts
  • Protein
  • Seasonal specialties
  • From our partners

It’s easy enough to eat a salad when you’re on a diet, but when your body demands that it wants a donut, it can be hard to say no. Rather than denying yourself, GNC suggests that perhaps there are alternatives. These recipes do their best to be both delicious and healthy versions of comfort foods. They include ingredients, directions, serving size, and nutrition facts per serving (calories, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, and protein).

Science of GNC’s supplements

GNC isn’t afraid of using science to create their products but obscures their findings from their catalog. It is difficult to find any specific information they use to formulate or recommend supplements and other health products. While there’s a little bit in the item description of each product, it’s often little more than buzzwords, such as “protective antioxidant vitamin provides immune support.” This tells you very little about what the supplement does or how it might interact with other medications or supplements.

Even external guides like GNC4U limit how much they share upfront. If you want to know more, we suggest heading to the Health and Wellness section of the Learning Center blog. Here, there are honest breakdowns with scientific information about different vitamins, minerals, and supplements. The articles include information about:

  • A product’s role in the body
  • What it does for our health
  • Recommended daily allowance and adequate intake levels
  • Foods high in the vitamin or mineral
  • How to tell if you’re getting enough of a substance without lab testing

These articles have their sources clearly laid out through footnotes and citations, and all sources are easy to back up.

However, the ingredients for each product are always listed, and you can use that as a jumping-off point for your own research. We found that the ingredients for many products are free of unnecessary additives like food dyes. Most ingredients seem scientifically necessary and have substantial research to back them up.

Concerns

GNC hides a little bit of a dark side between its focus on exercise and fitness and supplement sales. They have a wide catalog of diet and weight loss products, many of which are not backed by scientific research and may instead hurt users or, at worst, exacerbate eating disorders. These products use coded language, such as “detox,” “cleanse,” and “boost metabolism.”

While there are a few products that genuinely boost metabolism – thermogenics and caffeine in particular – the degree to which they do so is limited. Products that claim to help you detox and cleanse often cause weight loss at first because you decrease the number of calories you intake dramatically, but that weight comes back after resuming a normal diet. Of course, only your liver can truly detox your body. Detox and cleansing programs are really methods of fasting.

GNC also still sells shark cartilage, which has broad ethical and environmental concerns beyond human health. While shark cartilage has been proven to not only have no positive influence on human health, some studies say chemicals found in shark cartilage may play a role in developing Alzheimer's.

Do GNC’s tablets disintegrate?

For an oral supplement to be absorbed, it needs to go through two stages in your stomach: disintegration and dissolution. When a supplement disintegrates, it breaks apart into tiny pieces from a solid; when it dissolves, it becomes part of a liquid which can then be processed by the intestines so that the vitamins and minerals are absorbed into the body. If a vitamin doesn’t disintegrate or dissolve properly, you won’t feel the positive effects.

There is no formal federal oversight to verify and quality-check vitamins and supplements. In order to determine whether or not GNC’s vitamins properly absorb into the body, we decided to take matters into our own hands. We analyzed a few of GNC’s most popular own-brand supplements using an artificially-created stomach-like environment. We were able to see if these supplements would properly disintegrate.

Our bottles of supplements arrived in a GNC-labeled plastic bag with no other information inside, not even a packing slip. This made it easy to identify our products and, en masse, means there is little excess waste.

All of the supplements we tested are fat-soluble, meaning that they will not dissolve in water nor will they be excreted from the body if your levels get too high. This helps us to limit our testing to just disintegration. Luckily, all of the tested supplements disintegrated completely within the first five minutes of our test.

We can confidently say that these tablets did exactly what we expected them to do at high speeds. The ferocity with which the tablets disintegrated was promising, implying that GNC’s products likely are absorbed by the body as designed.

GNC's pricing

The average cost of a bottle of vitamins from GNC lies firmly in the middle of the road. Most supplements start at $7.99, though some start as low as $4.99 and can fall into the one to two dollar range during deep sales. The most expensive supplements, primarily non-GNC branded fitness support products, can hit up to $189.99 for a thirty-day supply. That said, a vast majority of vitamins and supplements fall in a range between $9.99 and $49.99, which is on the lower side of average when compared to other vitamin retailers.

Shipping costs are where GNC begins to falter. Standard shipping, which takes three to five days to deliver, costs $9.99 for orders over $49 without autoship. That’s higher than most online retailers, and although we found shipping only took two days, that’s not enough to make up for high costs.

Overnight shipping can hit up to $30. If you want your supplement tomorrow but don’t want to pay that much for your package, you can send your order in for in-store pickup if the product is available. Your nearest GNC location will let you know if this is possible with your order and, since there are thousands of GNC retail locations across the country, you’re bound to find what you need closeby.

If you shop in person but know there’s a better deal out there than what you’re finding on the shelves, there are a few stores that GNC will price match:

  • Bodybuilding.com
  • Drug stores (such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS)
  • Grocery stores (such as Giant Eagle, Kroger, and Safeway)
  • Superstores (such as Walmart and Target)
  • Wholesale warehouses (such as Costco or Sam’s Club)
  • Vitamin Shoppe

In order to price match, the products must be identical considering brand and dosage. Show an associate and they’ll get you the lower price, guaranteed.

GNC also offers flexible 30-day returns. You can return any product in store or through the mail, regardless of whether or not you’ve opened it, as long as you still have the paperwork and any accessories the product came with.

MyGNC Rewards

Creating an account with GNC automatically signs you up for MyGNC Rewards. This rewards program is limited, but there are some add-on programs with promise. You’ll earn points with every purchase based on what you spent: one dollar gets you one point. Save up 150 points and earn $5 in rewards. Essentially, you’ll need to spend $150 in order to get $5 back, which is steep compared to many other rewards programs.

There are a few other surveys and opportunities to earn points, but those are sent monthly via email and can be difficult to get if you miss the email. GNC also offers a few “Bonus Points Events” a year, where every dollar you spend translates into more points.

If the standard MyGNC Rewards program isn’t enough for you, GNC also offers a PRO Access membership for $39.99 a year. This unlocks eight extra “Pro Days” of sales per year, free shipping, increased speed for earning points, and two PRO subscription boxes full of samples a year. These PRO boxes are customizable depending on your gender and whether you’d like to focus more on training and athletics or overall wellness:

  • Men’s Live Well PRO Box
  • Women’s Live Well PRO Box
  • Men’s Train Well PRO Box
  • Women’s Train Well PRO Box

Because of the additional cost for these savings, we recommend considering the membership if you know you’ll be purchasing from GNC multiple times a year or are interested in the PRO boxes, which are worth at least the cost of the membership.

Auto-delivery

If you know you’ll be taking your supplements for a while, or if you’re switching to GNC for a supplement you’ve taken for years, you can save time and money by setting up an autoship subscription. In order to do so, you’ll first need to make a myGNC Rewards account. From there, when you place an order, you can select “autoship” for the products you’d like to see again. Autoship boxes are delivered at your leisure – you can choose how frequently you’d like shipments, between:

  • 30 days
  • 45 days
  • 60 days
  • 90 days
  • 120 days
  • 180 days

No matter how frequently you have your products delivered, you’ll always save 10% on the total purchase when you auto-deliver and save. Plus, every autoship package ships for free. Since GNC’s shipping costs are hefty compared to their competitors for orders under $50, this is a solid deal.

Customer support

As a giant company, there are many ways to get in contact with a representative from GNC. There are three distinct methods: email, phone, and in-browser chat.

GNC does its best to answer emails in 48 hours; we found that they responded to our questions via email anywhere between six and 24 hours later.

If you’re in front of your computer and have a few minutes to spare, it takes no longer than 10 minutes to connect with a customer service representative in chat. Both email and chat request similar information, including:

  • First and last name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • General inquiry description from a drop-down list (website, products, stores, auto-delivery, or myGNC Rewards)
  • Details of inquiry (up to 1,000 characters)

Customer service representatives staff both email and chat from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM ET on weekdays and 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM ET on weekends, which is a much longer timeframe than other supplement marketplaces.

Phone calls to GNC’s customer support line were relatively fast, without a long wait time to get a real person on the phone. The call line is open for just one hour less per day than email and chat (until 8:00 PM ET on weekdays and 7:00 PM ET on weekends), and we found little comparable difference in time or level of knowledge between calls and in-browser chats.

Our experience with GNC customer service representatives was generally positive but nothing spectacular. The representatives we spoke with were kind and typically knowledgeable, but we could find more information by doing our own research. The downside of GNC being such a large company is that there’s a broad range of experiences with customer service. We’ve heard of many who have had very positive experiences, as well as those who have had very negative experiences. Keep this range of experience in mind when you reach out, as your experience may vary from call to call.

How GNC stacks up to the alternatives

Nature Made

Nature Made is one of the most decorated brands of supplements out there. With approval and certifications on every part of their process from their ingredient sourcing to bioavailability, Nature Made knocks the ball out of the park in terms of quality. Much like GNC, Nature Made has a broad catalog and focuses on helping you become the best version of yourself. The only downside is that they have a lot of products in gummy form, which is less than ideal because vitamins and minerals decay at faster rates in gummies than other forms, so you’re getting less vitamin than the box says.

Puritan’s Pride

Puritan's Pride is perfect for the knowledgeable, budget-conscious person. They have a smaller catalog of extra goodies but funnel their energy into building a scientific consensus on their products. There is both an overview and in-depth vitamin guide available through their website, where you can read through information about the 50 most common ingredients they use. Puritan’s Pride also runs outrageous sales and constant deals, where it’s common to see buy-one-get-two-free on all bottles of supplements. If you’re looking for a product in bulk, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for with Puritan’s Pride.

Life Extension

As a heavily science-focused brand with a sleek aesthetic and a focus on supplement minimalism, Life Extension serves the opposite side of the coin from GNC. Their catalog is much more limited than GNC’s, containing only vitamins and supplements from their brand and a few others, but their focus is quality. When tested for disintegration, however, Life Extension’s tablets did not perform as well as GNC’s.

The Vitamin Shoppe

The Vitamin Shoppe is a brand so similar that GNC price matches against them. They carry a wide variety of vitamins and supplement brands, but their focus mostly lies in fitness and athletic products despite having vitamin in their name. If you’re looking for a few small items, Vitamin Shoppe’s convenience might win over GNC: though they have autoship with 10% off and in-store pickup from any of their thousand brick-and-mortar stores, Vitamin Shoppe’s free shipping kicks in at $25, half of GNC’s $50-and-over free shipping.

Kirkland Signature

Fan-favorite Kirkland Signature brand supplements, exclusive to Costco, are fully USP certified and hold up to all testing. Their bottles are large – containing more than 600 pills – and inexpensive, true to Costco’s nature. They come in various forms, including softgels, gummies, and tablets. You’ll need to have a Costco membership in order to access these products, so they are much more exclusive and elusive than widely available GNC. That said, Kirkland Signature only has 25 different dietary supplements for sale, and several of these are the same vitamin at different doses. If you’re looking for a supplement that isn’t too common, it’s unlikely that you’ll find it from Kirkland Signature.