When it comes to deals, Costco is hands down at the top of every bargain hunter’s list. This is because the retailer is a one-stop shop for discounts. Whether it’s lower prices on vacation packages, gas or your weekly grocery trip, there are so many ways to put money back in your pocket.
As you’ll see ahead, these money saving tips and tricks go way beyond just browsing the aisles or site to see what’s on sale. Make note of the following strategies, apply them on your next shopping trip and watch the magic happen. Your Costco experience will never be the same.
1. You don’t need to pay the membership fee.
One of the biggest myths about Costco is that you need a membership to shop there. Fun fact: You can use a Costco Shop Card (a.k.a. Costco gift card) to purchase anything you want online or in-stores. The only thing is, you will need a member to buy the card for you. Hitting up a friend or family member for the exact amount you need is a great way to avoid that up to $120 annual membership fee, especially if you’re just looking for a specific item.
Slick Tip: Costco is also known to have competitive prices on medication, so consider making the switch. Luckily, you don’t have to be a member to enjoy the extra affordable prices. “You don’t need to be a Costco member to purchase Costco Pharmacy prescriptions online or at our warehouses,” the site’s FAQ page confirmed. “Our Pharmacy counter will accept several different forms of payment, including cash, debit/ATM cards, Costco Shop Cards, and Visa.”
2. Executive members earn cash back.
Whether you’re new to Costco or just looking to expand on your savings, you’ll want to take a closer look at all of the membership options. That’s because cash back is a huge bonus of Costco’s Gold Star Executive and Business Executive Memberships, which both cost $120 per year. Basic memberships are half the price at $60 annually, but the upgrade is likely worth it if you shop at Costco a lot. Customers can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases, and if you spend a minimum of $250 a month, you’ll earn back that difference of $60 in cash rewards. Tally up your spending and make the upgrade if it’s right for you.
3. Get more with the Citi card.
Ready for more cash back at Costco? Consider opening a Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. Cardholders can take advantage of the following cash back benefits.
- 4% on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
- 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide
- 2% on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
- 1% on all other purchases
Cash back aside, a major incentive is the card’s extended warranties. In addition to Costco’s generous two-year warranty on select items, the card tacks on two more years, which could be valuable if you’re buying electronics and appliances. “This is a great reason to buy electronics at Costco vs. places like Sam’s, BJ’s, etc,” Slickdealer xcopy previously pointed out.
4. Know the meaning behind each price tag.
Don’t sleep on the price tags. There’s a meaning behind them and being aware of this information will help you navigate what the best deals are. Prices ending in .49, .79 or .89 are wholesale prices, and while that implies a certain cost efficiency on its own, those items are currently not on sale. However, depending on the store, sometimes those items may get a price break from the vendor.
The .97 price tag is the main one to keep an eye out for, as it indicates items on sale. Another category to have on your radar are manager specials with .88 or .00 price tags. These often indicate items in good condition that have been returned. They’re similar to open-box deals that are basically new and have a discount tied to them.
5. Keep the coupons coming.
This may be an obvious piece of advice, but take advantage of Costco’s coupon book. While members typically receive coupons in the mail, the book is accessible online. Remember to take the coupons with you on any shopping trip, as they could save you up to hundreds of dollars.
6. Eat before you shop.
While it’s common knowledge that you should never shop when you’re hungry, it’s especially true at Costco. The store’s famous samples may seem like a gift, but they’ll get you to spend money on things you don’t need, especially if you’re running on an empty stomach. On top of that, you’ll be able to skip the churros, pizza, hotdogs and more at the store’s mini food court, resulting in more savings.
7. Then, fuel up.
On the flip side, you will want to bring your car to Costco with an empty tank. Costco’s gas is reportedly .21 cents cheaper than its competitors, and that small amount adds up. Go ahead, time your fueling with your next Costco run.
8. Grab some gift cards.
Buying gift cards at Costco is guaranteed savings. From gaming and movie theaters to spa and restaurant gift cards, there’s plenty to choose from. But the best part is that you can often find them for up to 25% off.
9. Skip the brand names.
Forget the brands you’re familiar with and stick to Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand. Whether it’s coffee, dog food or trail mix, it’s worth turning to Costco’s generic alternative to save on common household essentials. Plus, the products often come from the same name-brand factories as their competitors. That means you’re getting quality items at a fraction of the cost.
10. The rotisserie chicken is a steal.
Speaking of staples, Costco’s Kirkland Signature rotisserie chicken is only $4.99 in-stores, and it goes a long way. Costco hasn’t raised the price of the bird since 2009, proving it’s a total steal. And even with its consistently low price tag, it’s still a bigger bird than the options at most other supermarkets. In short, don’t hesitate to add it to your shopping list.
11. Head straight to the back.
If you’re shopping in the store, you’re going to have to walk a bit to find the best deals at Costco. Don’t waste time checking out regular priced candies and electronics at the front of the store, walk all the way to the back and work your way up. Similar to the way most stores tuck sale items away in the back while full-priced stuff gets priority, Costco follows this same layout.
12. Buy all the meat.
Frozen meat at Costco locations is the ultimate money saver. The prices per pound are significantly less than other grocers and the bulk options are way more convenient than constantly having to buy more every time you need it. All in all, you’ll be able to save lots of time, effort and, most importantly, money.
Slick Tip: Don’t want to lug all that frozen meat back to your house? Shop online and you can get free shipping if you spend at least $100 on cold and frozen products with no separate delivery fees.
13. Download the Costco app.
Keep all of those Costco deals in your pocket by downloading the retailer’s official app. It’s a solid choice to find all of the sale prices in one place. Next time, check out all the offers in the app before you head out. Additionally, you can use the app to directly order prints from a Costco photo center. You can’t go wrong when you have the app handy.
14. Asterisks are everything.
If you spot an asterisk in the upper right-hand corner of a Costco price tag, it means the item isn’t going to be restocked, and at times, this leads to markdowns. You should also look out for the stars after major holidays and during season changes, as prices for all associated goods are usually slashed.
15. Remember your receipts and use Ibotta.
Ibotta is another app made for Costco shoppers. If you’ve never used it before, you’ll get up to $20 in welcome bonuses. All you have to do is take a photo of your receipt, upload it in Ibotta and boom, you’ll get cash back on exclusive offers within the app. Yup, it’s that easy.
16. Save time and get your groceries delivered.
You know what they say, time is money, and Costco wants to give you some of your day back by providing a grocery delivery service. Forego waiting in line or wasting time looking for what you need within the store aisles, and just have your groceries conveniently delivered to your doorstep. Costco has partnered with Instacart for this service, getting you your order in as quickly as one hour. And don’t worry, delivery fees are waived for all orders of $35 or more.
17. Plan your vacation with Costco.
Last, but certainly not the least, Costco’s vacation packages are a simple way to secure travel deals. The retailer has a variety of travel partners that deliver member-only prices and discounts the Costco community should know about. Make sure to browse the Costco Travel site prior to finalizing your next getaway.
One of the best ways to ensure you never miss out on a Costco deal is by setting a Deal Alert. We’ll let you know whenever a new sale or discount drops so you can jump on it before it sells out. And be sure to visit our Costco Promo Codes and Coupons page to browse through current deals.
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