14 Game-Changing Tips To Save Money At Costco

The products and services mentioned below were selected independent of sales and advertising. However, Simplemost may receive a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

Attention Costco shoppers.

Who doesn’t love getting a deal? With bulk discount stores, online and in-store outlets, it seems more and more ways to save are popping up.  Perhaps one of the best kept secrets – ways to save even more at Costco.   The big box discount store is famously known to sell everything from food to electronics, gas to tires, and yes, even the kitchen sink at great prices.

So if you are a Costco newbie or a loyal shopper, try out these 14 tip to help save even more money.

1. The * On Signs Is Important

If you see an asterisk (*) on a sign, it means the product on the shelf is not going to be replenished when the supply you see runs out. So if it’s a discounted item that you frequently use, it may be wise to stock up.

Hub Pages

2. Prices Ending In .00, .88 and .97 Mean You Can Snatch A Deal

Len Rapoport from HubPages writes that item prices ending with .00 or .88 are local level, manager mark-downs. Items priced at .97 are national-level mark-downs.

Items ending in .99, .79, .49 and .89 are usually regular priced items. This is different than the Target markdown rules.

3. The Quality Of Costco’s Kirkland Brand Is On Par To Large Brand-Name Products

I’ll let you in on a little secret – for the money you save on Kirkland Signature brands at Costco, the products are just as good as more expensive brands. Why? They don’t spend money on advertising – and sometimes, they buy similar product from the big brand (think Bounty & Charmin), and slap a different label on them.

4. You Don’t Need To Be A Costco Member To Get Their Products

I’ve experienced this first hand. I buy the Kirkland over-the-counter allergy medicine, AllerClear, on Amazon. It’s the equivalent of Claritin (active ingredient is Loratadine), just a generic brand.

For a single 365 (10mg) pill bottle on Amazon, it’s $13.73 – that’s only $0.04 per pill. Before the Holidays, I forgot to stock up and had to buy generic Loratadine at a local drugstore – it was $12.49 for 20 pills – that’s $0.62 per pill! I about fell over in the store. Lesson learned.


5. Costco Members Can Give Non-Members A Costco Cash Card To Shop

Yes, this is legit. While a member needs to actually purchase the Costco Cash Card and load it with money, it can be given to anyone and used to purchase things online or in-store in the US, no membership required. According to Costco’s site,

  • The Cash Cards have no expiration date
  • They are available in denominations from $25-$1,000
  • Can be used as a means to provide students with money for food, gas, or school and dormitory necessities, while being able to limit their spending
  • The funds on the card may be applied and used toward a Costco membership too.

What a perfect gift idea for friends that like to save, or family members that don’t have a membership themselves, right?

6. You Can Get Discounts On Movie Tickets

Go Banking Rates reports that Costco, “sells bulk discount movie tickets (typically in four-packs), which allow shoppers to enjoy a couple bucks off the price of each entry.” Now, all you have to do is stash some popcorn, candy, and soda in your oversized bag and you’re good to go.

7. Take Advantage Of The Coupon Book & Specials

This includes instant rebates as well. Members get a monthly packet that has coupons for everyday necessities. Be sure to go through it before you make your shopping trip.

costco coupons photo
Photo by m01229

8. For The Best Deals, Shop “Action Alley”

Ever notice how the pallets in the middle of the aisles have bright signs and are piled high? It’s because they want you to buy those products. Paco Underhill, author of, “Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping” says retailers pay a premium to be in high traffic areas, and often will price their product aggressively so it gets purchased.

But just remember, if you technically don’t need it, you’re not saving yourself any money.

9. A Costco Membership Can Save You On Travel Expenses

Again, I’ve taken advantage of this benefit. My husband and I booked a leg of our Hawaiian honeymoon through Costco Travel. Because Costco has partnerships with travel agencies and airlines, we got a significant discount on the hotel, airfare, and a rental car. Additional perks can include a room upgrade, shipboard credit, spa credit and more.

10. In Some States, Non-Members Can Purchase Alcohol At Costco

If you live in one of these 12 states, you can legally purchase alcohol from Costco. Why? Because in these states, SavingAdvice reports that it’s been established by law that “any establishment selling alcohol must make the sale of the alcohol available to the public.” Don’t live in one of the states below? Get a Costco Cash Card from a friend for the ability to stock the bar.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Vermont

So when you visit Costco, simply tell the greeter at the door you’re there to buy alcohol. If they are unfamiliar with the law, SavingAdvice recommends to politely ask for the store manager.

11. They Have a 30-Day Price Protection Policy

A great reason to pay attention to prices and shop without fear of missing out on the best deal – if a price goes lower than what you paid within the last 30 days, they’ll give you a price adjustment. Just bring in your receipt and get the credit. Yet another good reason to keep your receipts!

12. Costco Has A Great Return Policy

It’s a well known fact that Costco has a pretty good return policy. They’re big on customer satisfaction, so they’ll refund the purchase price on any item if you’re not happy with it. Just remember to keep your receipt so you can get the full credit of the price you paid (if you don’t have the receipt, they’ll give you the lowest price it was sold for).

Of course, some restrictions do apply. They’re listed here:

  • Electronics will be accepted for return within 90 days. This includes:
    • Cameras
    • Camcorders
    • Cellular Phones
    • Computers
    • Major Appliances
    • MP3 players
    • Televisions
    • Touchscreen Tablets
  • Diamonds 1 carat or larger have to undergo a special inspection from their Gemologist before being accepted for return. Make sure you bring all your purchase documentation or it will not be accepted.
  • Cigarettes & alcohol cannot be returned.
  • Custom products cannot be returned, unless they don’t meet warranty specifications or are damaged.
  • Products with a limited life expectancy may not be able to be returned (i.e. tires, batteries, etc).

13. Buy Meat In Bulk For A Great Deal

Yes, you can buy everything in bulk at Costco, but per pound, buying meat in bulk is one of the best deals in the store. When you bring it home, be sure to use our tip for dividing and storing it the best way possible for easy portions.

14. You Can Eat Lunch There For Under $2.00!

Yep, MSN reports a hot dog and pop still cost $1.50 at the Costco food court. Let’s not forget all the wonderful staff that give our FREE samples throughout the store.

costco hot dog photo
Photo by elsie.hui

Photo by JeepersMedia