As a trained journalist and bargain shopper, Marcelle writes articles to help consumers navigate smart deals.
What Are the Best Deals at Costco?
Costco’s success formula is no secret. They're one of the five largest retailers in the U.S., and their sales have grown year after year without fail, even during periods of economic downturn. Consumers also give Costco's high marks. According to The Harris Poll's 2016 Reputation Quotient Ratings, Costco ranks high with the likes of the Walt Disney Company, Apple, and Amazon. Members are loyal, and more than 90 percent of U.S. customers renew their memberships each year.
Costco runs a no-frills, member-based operation by purchasing products in large quantities, selling some items in bulk, keeping markups at 15 percent or less, and providing additional value with their in-house Kirkland brand products. While their product assortment is selective and often fleeting, there are some regularly stocked items that are definitely must-buys for any cost-conscious member.
The list below highlights 10 of the many great deals that are consistently available at Costco, including some Kirkland and Kirkland Signature branded products.
1. Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner
The high quality of this Kirkland Signature hair-care duo is reminiscent of high-end salon brands. Both products are sulfate-free, paraben-free, vegan, gluten-free, and safe for color-treated hair, and neither is tested on animals. Their quality and performance have been compared to that of the Hydrate shampoo and conditioner duo offered by Pureology, a pricey salon brand. Unlike Pureology's Hydrate line products, however, Kirkland Signature shampoo and conditioner are extremely affordable.
The chart below compares prices of moisturizing shampoos and conditioners between salon brands, drugstore brands, and Costco's Kirkland Signature brand. The non-Costco brand prices listed are from the retailer Ulta.
Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
Pureology Hydrate Conditioner
EverCrème Sulfate-Free Moisture System Intense Nourishing Shampoo
EverCrème Sulfate-Free Moisture System Intense Nourishing Conditioner
Healthy Sexy Hair Color Safe Soy Moisturizing Shampoo
Healthy Sexy Hair Color Safe Soy Moisturizing Conditioner
Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo
Kirkland Signature Moisture Conditioner
2. Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The quality and value of this product are exceptional. A study by the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, found that Kirkland Signature's organic extra virgin olive oil was one of just five brands out of the many analyzed that had not been combined with cheaper, more refined olive oil.
At about $10 per liter, this Kirkland product is a major bargain. Other well-known brands, some of which failed in the study, cost twice as much or even more. While you're in the olive oil section, don't forget to grab Kirkland Signature's balsamic vinegar—it's also a quality product and a great value.
Two things set Costco’s wine assortment apart: selection and price. Costco is the largest retailer of fine wine in the U.S. Consumer Reports rates Costco's store-brand wine as an exceptional value. For example, Kirkland's 2011 Sonoma Chardonnay (which sold for $6.99) was rated a Consumer Reports Best Buy.
Costco collaborates with specific winemakers and wineries around the world to create custom blends for its Kirkland Signature wines. The wines are offered in tiered categories that denote quality and value: Premium, Super Premium, and Signature Series.
Here’s the best news—you don’t even need to be a Costco member to purchase wine or liquor from its warehouses due to a law that prohibits selling alcohol through members-only agreements. Simply tell the warehouse greeter that you are there to purchase alcohol.
4. Pet Products
According to a Consumer Reports analysis, Costco’s Kirkland Signature pet food is among the least expensive in its product category. Savings on popular national brands like Iams can be found at Costco as well.
They carry a broad assortment of pet products that offer savings compared to traditional pet stores and even online retailers. Other pet products found at their warehouses include treats, toys, bedding, and pet health products. Don’t forget to stop by Costco's pharmacy, which carries a full line of pet medications offered at considerable savings over drug stores and veterinarian offices.
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5. Kirkland Bath Tissue
Bath tissue is a top-selling product at Costco warehouses. The company recently improved their Kirkland Signature bath tissue product by upgrading its softness, absorbency, and durability. At less than half the cost per square foot of leading national brands according to a price survey conducted by the warehouse, it is undeniably a great value. The savings from purchasing this product alone throughout the year for could likely pay for your family's membership fee.
Can't part with your name-brand toilet tissue? Costco carries many additional brand names and product lines, including toilet paper giant, Charmin. Watch for frequent sales on Charmin and Kirkland Signature toilet paper.
Purchasing new tires at one of the store's warehouses will save you up to 20 percent compared to automotive store prices. Included with a Costco tire installation are free pressure checks, tire balancing, tire rotations, and flat tire repairs. The best perk here is that you can shop at the warehouse while your tires are being installed or serviced.
Take caution before purchasing bulk quantities of produce so that half or more won't end up in the compost. You might not need a dozen oranges, but a bulk parcel of organic strawberries could be in order if you are making a strawberry pie and have room in your freezer to store what's leftover for smoothies.
If you have a large family that consumes a lot of fruits and vegetables, there are great values to be found in this product category. Look for higher-end produce offerings too, as savings on organic products are often greater than those on typical produce when compared to standard grocery store prices.
8. Fitness Clothing
The global sports apparel market is expected to grow to $248.1 billion by 2026 according to the research firm, Trefis. Many new fitness apparel specialty stores have popped up in recent years to meet this growing demand, including Lululemon and Athleta. Much of the growth in this category is thought to be due to an increasing desire to wear fitness apparel outside the gym and to the boom of yoga and specialty exercise classes such as CrossFit.
Many fashion retailers, like Forever 21 and the Gap, have stepped into the fitness apparel market with their own fitness lines in stores and on the web. Warehouse clubs like Costco are seizing this market as well. Prices for fitness clothing vary significantly from store to store, but at Costco, members can purchase athletic apparel for a fraction of what they would pay at retail stores.
While the selection is not the most extensive, the assortment is broad enough. Some of the fitness apparel items members can purchase at Costco include running shorts, tennis skirts, fitness tops, jackets, and yoga pants. Costco also carries a limited selection of athletic shoes.
9. Kirkland Signature Coffee Pods
In the world of coffee sales, the single-cup coffee market is growing by leaps and bounds. Sales of single-cup coffee products have more than tripled in recent years and continue to grow. Single-cup coffee pods offer convenience but are not typically cheap. One coffee pod can cost up to a dollar, with most pods cashing in at about 60 to 70 cents per pod.
At Costco, you can purchase several brands of coffee pods at lower prices than other retailers, but the Kirkland Signature coffee pods are by far the best value at about 33 cents per pod online and slightly less at warehouses. The Kirkland Signature coffee pods (along with other brand-name pods) are on sale frequently for even less. Kirkland offers two coffee pod flavors: Pacific Bold and Breakfast Blend.
10. Costco Executive Membership
Costco Executive members pay $120 for a yearly membership (compared to $60 for a standard membership) and account for about two-thirds of the company’s sales. If you are a frequent Costco shopper, you could easily make up the extra $60 you pay in membership fees.
Benefits include two percent cash back on most Costco purchases in the form of a merchandise certificate (see tip below) along with additional perks and savings on other products and services, such as travel. If you are a frequent Costco shopper and loyal to the Kirkland brand, an executive membership might be worth it.
Think back to your last Costco shopping trip and ask yourself: how often do you shop at Costco? If you shop weekly, you would need to spend about $53 per week (or about $229 per month) to recover the additional membership amount.
This does not include bigger-ticket purchases you might make from Costco, such as a family vacation, new tires, a flat-screen television, or perhaps a Kirkland Signature patio furniture set. In these scenarios, that two percent back could easily pay for your entire membership and leave a significant surplus behind to spend or save.
Sources and Further Reading
- Denman, Tim. "The 10 Retailers with the Best Reputation." The 10 Retailers with the Best Reputation. Retail Info Systems News, 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
- Fottrell, Quentin. "Sales of Single-serve Coffee Have Tripled since 2011." MarketWatch The Wall Street Journal, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 16 July 2014. <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sales-of-single-serve-coffee-have-tripled-since-2011-2013-11-20>.
- Jakab, Spencer. "Growth Is Helping Costco at the Margins." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 11 Mar. 2013. Web. <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324096404578354581556318960>.
- Logan, Lori Gordan. "Costco: Breaking All the Retail Rules." CNBC.com, 25 Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.cnbc.com/id/47175492>.
- Sherman, Lauren. "For the Activewear Market, There's No Way But Up - BoF - The Business of Fashion." The Business of Fashion, 15 Jan. 2014. Web. <http://www.businessoffashion.com/2014/01/activewear-lululemon-nike-hm-sweaty-betty.html>.
- Vasel, Kathryn. "Costco Could Hike Its Membership Fee." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/22/pf/costco-membership-fee/index.html>.
- "Wine Bargains | Wine Shopping - Consumer Reports." Consumer Reports Money Advisor (October 2013), Sept. 2013. Web. <http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/09/red-wine-white-wine-cheap-wine-bargain/index.htm>.
Questions & Answers
Question: I am a widow, is it worth the extra money to join Costco?
Answer: The good news is that if you don't find your membership useful or worth the cost, Costco will refund you your membership fee. That said, it depends on your purchases as to whether or not it is worth joining. If for instance, you are purchasing a set of tires that year or a vacation through Costco, it is certainly worth it as the savings you will have outweigh the cost of your membership for sure.
Question: Should I buy Costco running shoes?
Answer: Yes and other shoes there are great too. They do have some extended sizes and styles available online.
Question: Has Costco discontinued the white Kirkland tennis shoes?
Answer: It might depend on your local warehouse as they do carry slightly different inventories. They do carry a small variety of "tennis shoes" so there could be a white pair at your local warehouse and likely online.
© 2014 Marcelle Bell
Marcelle Bell (author) on July 25, 2020:
Thank you for your comments, Abby. Always great finds at Costco!
Abby Slutsky from America on July 19, 2020:
My favorite is the Costco prepared chicken. It is a nice-sized chicken, and the price is great. I am going to look for the olive oil next time I go. Informative article.
Marcelle Bell (author) on February 10, 2020:
Hi Dreama! You get that certificate mailed to you at the end of your membership year. Hope this helps.
Dreama Kobermann on February 10, 2020:
How do I get my executive member merchandise certificate?
Marcelle Bell (author) on August 26, 2019:
Thanks for your comments Mataya. I have to say that I have zero connection to Costco or it's brands except that I've been a member for many years and really like the Kirkland off brand for most things but not all. We have a senior dog now who has already lived a bit beyond her expected years. We do use the Kirkland senior salmon and sweet potato formula that has worked well for her. We also give her baked sweet potato for a treat.
Mataya from Oregon on August 26, 2019:
This article sounds like an advertisement for Kirkland. I would be very careful about getting "value" food for my animals. Sometimes value food is value because of the cheap and unhealthy ingredients they put in it. Be careful.
Marcelle Bell (author) on May 09, 2019:
You will love the shampoo and conditioner, Nancy. It's honestly a high quality product and an amazing value.
Nancy on May 09, 2019:
Thanks for the info about Kirkland shampoo.
I've been looking and concerned about where to find an inexpensive vegan/cruelty free shampoo and here it's been right under my nose at Costco all this time!
Marcelle Bell (author) on May 04, 2019:
I'm so sorry to hear about your service experience, Imho. I hope that you were able to rectify this with your local Costco warehouse.
Imhoi on May 02, 2019:
While I agree Costco tire prices and included services are hard to beat, I’ve found it almost impossible to have them rotate my tires. At least over the last year they refuse to allow me to set up an appt (“All our appt’s are taken for the next 3 months” is a typical explanation) or do it while I wait. The only successful solution is to drop the car off in the morning, before the main store opens or you won’t be accepted, leave and wait for them to call indicating the work is done. With Michelin requiring rotation every 5,000 miles for warranty coverage this is a regular occurrence.
This may not be the experience at all Costco locations, but it has been at the three nearest stores here in Orange County, CA. Before you buy call their tire dept and ask to set up a tire rotation appt and see how that goes first.
For comparison, America’s Tire appts were easy to make and drop in/while you wait rotations were rarely a problem, same geographic area.
This is one of the few areas Costco falls down. It’s an atypical but glaring oversight for them to offer a service but not have the bandwidth to deliver it.
James C Moore from Joliet, IL on February 24, 2019:
I wish that I read this before spending big time money on tires while leasing a car for my rideshare enterprise. Now that I rent on occasion maintenance isn't on me. Good info to know.
firstname.lastname@example.org on February 07, 2019:
Just an fyi, I would NOT recommend purchasing the Kirkland cat food for your cats. I used to buy it all the time for my two kitties because it was a great "value"...until it started making them sick CONSTANTLY. That shit is full of filler ingredients like grains and animal byproducts that are terrible for your pets.
Everything else listed here is all right as far as I know.
Marcelle Bell (author) on November 10, 2018:
Thank you so much for your additional items. It's hard to keep it to just ten and you are correct that items rotate ongoing based on what moves. There gas is definitely up there on the list. Thanks!
Mom2Laney on November 09, 2018:
Just found this site today. Thanks for the tips. I will add a few
1. If you want your Costco to carry something you can fill out a card. If enough people request an item, the will stock it.
I questioned them a few years ago and was told they only carry items that move. If a product starts to lag they will discontinue it IN THAT STORE. That is why you can find some items in one store but not at another store.
2. You don't need to go with a member. They will give you a one day pass. You can probably only do that once because they have very good IT and I would guess they could see that you already did it and would not let you keep doing it.
3. The gas prices are the BEST.
They are consistently about 40 cents a gallon below the other gas stations in California. Saving over $4 each time you fill your tank is nothing to sneeze at. I remember gas wars back in the 1960s and 1970s when we would look for 2 - 4 cent discounts.
To know you will always get a great price gives you peace of mind to drive to your Costco. You don't need to price shop gas stations.
4. They used to carry Reviva Calcium and D3 liquid supplement and then I could not find it any more. I buy it from Costco On-line with free shipping. Love it. My calcium and D3 levels are now back to normal.
5. For people who don't have a Costco close by check out the on-line store.
Long live Costco!
Kw on December 17, 2017:
Too bad the olive oil is in a PLASTIC bottle.....
Carol Starr on August 30, 2017:
Why doesn't Costco in Menomonee Falls, Wis. carry decafe coffee in the pods?
Joanne on July 23, 2017:
Thank you for this info. I am a loyal Costco shopper for many years. Only problem now after moving to FL. The closest one is almost an hour away. I do make the trip especially for Kirkland paper towels, dish washer soap, etc. love everything about Costco. Hoping they will open closer to where I live, they have been talking about it for years. Been buying my glasses there too, for the last 25 years!
Savannah on July 08, 2017:
Produce bags are a lifesaver if you buy bulk fruits and veggies and have a small family. They extend the life of your produce by WEEKS.
Kara on May 10, 2017:
Be careful with the costco brand pet food. The dry food is known to cause sickness in many dogs.
Dino Matucci on January 20, 2017:
I have tried many different brands of Albacore and have always been totally satisfied with Kirkland .. .Note: Albacore is the only Tuna that can be labelled "White, by the F.D.A. There cans are solidly pack and very tasty..If you like a more fishery taste,then buy the Skip Jack" Tuna...
Marcelle Bell (author) on October 20, 2016:
Thanks, ClayR! I am going to try that on my next trip there. Costco has so much great stuff at reasonable prices that I could easily expand this list to 100 plus items.
clayR on October 20, 2016:
Get the Avacado Oil! Amazing stuff, as healthy as Olive Oil, light to almost no taste but with a very high smoke temperature unlike Olive Oil (and even higher than vegitable oil) making it a great all around cooking oil. Costco is the only place that sells it at a reasonable price.
Sue C. on June 05, 2016:
Hearing Aids are the best bought at Costco. My husband saved thousands and is getting the best care ever. He will never go elsewhere for his hearing aids!
oandc on January 04, 2016:
I love the Kirkland Colombia ground coffee. Best coffee
Marcelle Bell (author) on February 22, 2015:
Thank you, Peg! So glad I could give you some suggestions on things to buy and really, this could be a list of 50 things or more. I've heard great things about that pet food. We use the Kirkland dog food with the salmon and sweet potato mix and our dog loves it and her coat looks great. I agree about the coffee too. I love that it's such a great deal too.
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on February 22, 2015:
These tips are excellent reasons to shop at Costco. We are members and love the value and quality of the produce and the other merchandise, including the wine. You've detailed some of the great deals here. We're headed over there today and I'm going to pick up the Olive Oil. We also buy the Kirkland brand of No Grain Dog Food and their whole bean coffee It's actually better than Starbuck's. Up, Useful and Interesting.
Congratulations on the Hub of the Day award. Well done.
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 24, 2014:
Dear My Bell,
You are so sweet and warm as to leave me such a tender reply. And I do appreciate you following me. I cherish YOU and all of my followers. I wish I had the monetary-means to take you and all of my followers on a two-month cruise and pay-off all of your bills.
"It is better to give than to receive."
You keep up the great work and I will be around if you should ever need my help.
Your Friend for Life
Marcelle Bell (author) on September 23, 2014:
Thank you so much, Kenneth, for your thoughtful and honest comments. It means a lot to me coming from a seasoned journalist and hubber. I have a journalism background but have been busy raising kids for some time so am just getting back to it. I'm grateful for all the encouragement and praise I receive from other hubbers and will definitely keep it up. I will definitely be checking out some of your many quality hubs. Thanks!
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 23, 2014:
I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:
1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.
2, I loved every word.
3. Graphics, superb.
4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.
5. Voted Up and all of the choices.
6. I loved your topic of this hub.
(Sorry, I couldn't vote in your slot. I have no Costco near my hometown. Just wanted to be honest).
You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.
Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama
Marcelle Bell (author) on August 29, 2014:
Thank you all! Yes, Kirkland is the brand name for Costco's products (similar to Great Value at Walmart or Simple Truth at Kroger). Glad to hear about the other product suggestions. I could have easily expanded this list to 20 or more items.
Theo from GeekTech on August 29, 2014:
Definitely would agree. Just a heads up for those that are wondering, you should not buy hearing aid batteries from Costco. The Kirkland brand is just awful compared to some of the leading.
Solaras1 on August 29, 2014:
Great article - I can attest to the quality of their dog food. My dogs have been on it for 8 weeks and still have shiny, healthy coats! Can't wait for my executive points to give me a free bag of food!
dragonflycolor on August 29, 2014:
Congratulations on your HOTD award. I do have a question though. Is Kirkland the brand name of all these products or is it Costco's equivalent to Walmart's Great Value brand? I do not shop at Costco, so I was inquiring! Thanks!
Jack Burton from The Midwest on August 29, 2014:
If I remember correctly an executive club member who pays the $110 fee will get the difference refunded at the end of the year if their savings don't total enough money. You do have to be careful though about getting the membership towards the end of the year because there might be some restrictions on that refund.