Len is the publisher of online magazines and an internationally published author, photographer, and videographer. He is the Costco expert.
Everyone Loves Costco
Everyone loves Costco, and we all know they have terrific deals, great prices, quality merchandise, a wonderful return policy, and the best hot dogs with a soda for only $1.50.
Costco, like many other stores, runs some of their merchandise at close-out prices. Unfortunately, they don't make it easy for the shopper to know which items are marked down. Many of us have no idea which items are being sold at these lower prices. You can't tell by simply looking at the price sign on a product that it is a mark-down, special priced item, rebate item, or discontinued item, or which items will not be replenished when the current stock is sold.
In this article, you will discover how to find which items are at the lowest costs, as well as other facts that I have learned over my many years as an expert Costco shopper.
How I Started
I was an eBay Power Seller for many years and made extra money each year by buying close-outs and special items at Costco. I purchased their sale or close-out items and resold them at higher prices on eBay. I did over $60,000 in gross sales in one year alone.
You don't have to buy to resell their goods, but you can save yourself thousands of dollars if you know their pricing codes. Read this article and follow my directions to save a bundle.
Understand the Costco System and Take Advantage of the Bargains
This article will illustrate how Costco prices these special sale items and how you can take advantage of the bargains once you understand their system.
Now, some say that I shouldn't give up my professional secrets and—like a magic trick—should never publish them and share them with the world. But I disagree. In these very difficult times, I think it is in everyone's best interest if we all share our tips and tricks on how to be a smarter shopper.
So, if you like this article and find it helps you save money at Costco, then a recommendation, positive comment, and your promise to pass the link to my article to every Costco member you know would be my payment in full.
This article has disclosed the concept of secret pricing policies at Costco as well as other stores. I decided to share these secrets with ToughNickel readers years ago, and over the years my tips and secrets have appeared in the media, became the basis for many other "Secret Codes" articles, and spawned hundreds of new frugal living websites. It's nice to be a pioneer.
Steps to Saving Money at Costco
When you visit your local Costco, pay special attention to the price tags for each item. You will notice that most items end with a 99¢ ending. That’s the regularly priced merchandise. Other items may be priced or end with other numbers like .49¢ .79¢, .89¢, or 97¢.
Now, most of these are not significant, with one exception: .97¢. Items ending with a .97¢ ending are items that have been marked down. As you go through the store, look for the .97¢ endings; you will find quite a few throughout the store, even on food items.
Look for the Asterisk and the Date
1. Look for the 97¢
You are going to look for items that now have a 97¢ ending. Regular priced items usually end with a 99¢ ending but not always. However, the ones with the 97¢ endings are those items that did not sell and must be cleared out. They are marked-down, but unlike all other retailers, Costco doesn't like you to know this, so the don't put the original prices with a slash and than the new price as many stores do. So to take advantage of these special deals, you have to know the code to know it is a close-out.
On a side note, just because it is a close-out or marked down, in some cases it might only be a very small mark down, so it is good to know what the original price was. You can ask their manager to tell you the original prices on these items if you copy and give them the item numbers before you make your purchase.
Remember, not all markdowns are deals. I have seen some items only marked down $1, at times when there is a large inventory. Don't rush to purchase if there is a large inventory of that item wait until the inventory and the price is lower.
2. Look for the Asterisk
Always look to see if there is an asterisk * on the upper right corner of the sign. If you see one, it means this item is not being restocked. What ever remaining stock you see is all that they have. This is a tip that it might be a marked down item, but not always. It does let you know that once these are gone there will be no more. I use this guide to determine if I should stock up on a discounted item, knowing that the store inventory is all there is.
3. Know Which Price Codes Are Regular Prices
Odd pricing like those that end in a 79¢, 49¢, 89¢ and others are usually regular priced merchandise. At times Costco also gets special deals from their vendors and will pass them on to their customers, however, those items with a .97¢ ending are your close-outs. Easy to remember when you are shopping at Costco.
4. Distinguish Between Markdowns and Manager Specials
You may also see some odd and end merchandise on a flat truck or in an area of the store that has an 88¢ or .00 endings. These usually are Manager Markdowns taken at the store on returned but sellable merchandise (may have a damaged box of package).
They can be display goods or a few end of inventory items that they no longer want on the regular display. They will generally put these in a special area of the store so they don't take up valuable real estate. They will usually have the original price or close-out price printed sign and using a magic marker will cross out that price write in a new price that might say "Last One".
I don't pay much attention to these unless I can use the item for personal use. Some are floor samples and are not first quality merchandise anymore. If you need it buy it if the deal is right, but remember, it really has to be at a great discount, you may be buying used or damaged merchandise....of course you can always return it too.
Other Money-Saving Tips
Now as you go through the store, you will begin to notice another special deal, the Instant Rebates on some items. Generally these will come from the manufacturers and Costco will give you the rebate on the items at the cash register. I like these a lot and you can watch for them at certain times of the year. I buy my Sonicare Toothbrush system and refills during these rebates, because I can save $20 or more on a $100 item. Same holds true for many other items, including food.
You will find a number of these in their monthly coupon books. No need to clip coupons anymore, the discount will be deducted from your order. Check your receipts to be sure it was.
Other instant rebates are also available, especially the ones that qualify for your States Energy Rebate program. Now that they have found the fluorescent bulbs contain Mercury and are actually harmful to the environment, you will see loads of the newer LED lights also available now with State funded Energy Instant Rebate Programs.
In New Jersey and other states you can get a substantial rebate at the cash register to entice you to switch over from your old energy consuming bulbs to these new high output bulbs no polluting varieties. They still offer rebates on the fluorescent bulbs, but I for one, have donated all that I had and converted every light in my home to the newer LED's. The time to stock up is when you see these state rebates. This happens usually once or twice a year.
Watch for Holiday or Seasonal Close-Outs
As the Holiday Seasons, like Christmas, start to wind down, you need to get into the store and look for marked down items. Generally depending on when the inventory hit the store for that holiday is an indication of the first items to be marked down.
Quite often they will get seasonal merchandise or holiday goods in very early. I know by the amount of inventory they bring in and the type of merchandise if it will be a potential mark down. So I wait and watch the items I want to buy.
Certain items are always marked down. Wrapping paper, Christmas cards and other items are going to be marked down. Buy them and hold them for the next year. In the summer they always have lawn furniture, large flower pots, lawn chemicals and other items need to be sold at any price. Watch for the deal.
When the inventories start to get really low it is wise to scoop them up before they are gone. Dealers and others will clean them out fast if there is limited stock and resell them the following year as I might.
Tip: If you know certain items may be gone by the time you get back to the store to purchase them, buy them a few days before even if they are at full price. When they get marked down, go to the customer service area and get a refund on the difference. Costco has a 30 day price protection policy and will do this for you.
The only caveat on this move is you have to be pretty sure they have enough inventory and WILL BE MARKING THIS DOWN. in order to get a price adjustment. If they never marked it down, the only option you have is to return it with your receipt for a full refund.
For a more extensive look of Holiday deals, click the link below and see my article that will give you tips on saving even more on Holiday purchases.
Even More Markdowns
Vendor Mark-Downs - Items that are not selling as well as they should are a prime target for a manufacturer mark-down. If it wasn't a direct import by Costco corporate (Kirkland Brand), Costco will go back to the vendor (manufacturer) and request an allowance from them to enable them to reduce the price of that merchandise. These will be the items to look for and will either have a Manufacturers Instant Rebate tag or a markdown price ending in .97¢.
I usually take note of an item that doesn't seem to be moving and wait patiently for the price reduction. If it is on the shelves for months and each time you visit you still see the same inventory there and it is not a staple item (food, etc.) you can be sure it will be reduced, so be patient if there is something you want to purchase, but think it is still a bit higher then you would like to pay. I have scored on tools and other items this way.
Yes you can also score big on some Food items too. Anything with an expiration date on it can and will be marked down as the date gets short. I have purchased many food items at 80% off the original price. As you know many of these will not spoil for years after the Best Used date on the package.
Note* Consumer Reports recently wrote that the expiration or Best Used Date has little to do with spoilage. Each manufacturer determines the dates that their products will taste the best, but does not mean they should not be consumed.
* Take A Camera, Smart Phone or iPad... Today I check prices on mark-downs immediately in the store. If you don't have that capability to do so, than by all means, record the prices on items so you can go home and check them on the internet to see just how good the deals really are.
* Resellers and Gift Givers...If you need them for gifts or for resale and they have that asterisk * on the upper right side, then buy what you need and don't wait if you see their inventory is low, they won't be getting any more.
* Coupon Specials...Take advantage of their coupon book specials and instant rebates as well. If you decide later you don't need them, or have a change of heart, just bring them back.
Remember to keep your receipt in case the prices have been reduced. Members receive a promotional booklet each month with loads of coupons and special offers stock up on some of the basic items like paper towels, toilet paper, they usually alternate every other month on these items. Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons.
Price Protection • Returns
* Price Protection Guarantee...If the prices do go lower on the close-outs, or items you purchased at full price, you can always bring the items back and repurchase them at the lower price. Remember, they do have a price adjustment policy on an item for 30 days too.
• Beyond The 30 Day Guarantee...If you see the item you bought at full price go on sale and it is beyond the 30 days the only other method it to purchase another one at the lower price. Than take your original receipt for the same item you purchased at the higher price and return the one you just bought at the sale price with that first receipt. I know Costco won't like me telling you this, but it is the only way I know to get around that 30 day price adjustment policy.
* Keep All Your Receipts...The single most important tip in this article is to hold onto every receipt from your Costco purchases. I keep mine in a little folder in date order. I also keep those for electronic items, larger purchases, etc. in a separate stack. Here is the reason. Costco has a satisfaction guarantee on all the products they sell. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the item in that time you can return it within 2 years, yup, 2 years.
Now If you kept your receipts, it makes this process easier and you will be credited for the original amount you paid. If not and they can't locate your purchase in their computer, if they can't find it , they may only offer you the lowest price the item sold for. As you already know it could be the marked-down price. So this is why keeping your receipts will be the one of the most important tips in this article.
* Return Policy...Costco has the best return policy of any retailer around. Try not to abuse it and try not to take unfair advantage of their liberal satisfaction guarantee. I have seen people bring back a bunch of dead cut flowers after they have had them in their homes for a week and get their money back. In this economy we don't want Costco to either go out of business or change their wonderful customer service policies.
Exceptions: On most items, but not all, you can return it if not satisfied up to two years in some cases. However on computers, certain electronic items and cameras the policy is now 90 Days, but to still keep their customers happy, they now have their own support system to help you resolve any issues with the products. Those items are clearly marked so you understand their policy on these special items.
Member Services and Perks
Member Services...Costco has formed relationships with many other companies to bring you even more services. Visit their website to see a full list of the many services to all members.
• Other Executive Member Perks... Executive Members also receive special pricing on goods and services too.
This includes additional savings or perks on these Costco Programs: Auto Purchase, Auto & Home Insurance, Mortgage & Refinancing, Boat and RV Loans, Gp Daddy websites and online solutions, Water Delivery Services, Identity Protection, Mexico Travel Auto Insurance, Online Investing with ING Direct, Personal or Business Checks (an additional 20% off member pricing), Business Phone Services, Merchant Credit Card Processing, and Costco Travel.
Now I will bet most of you never realized Costco has so many other programs set up to save you even more money. Check them out too.
• Risk Free 100% Membership Guarantee...If for any reason you are not happy with your membership, Costco will refund your full membership fee if you are ever dissatisfied.
As you go through the store, you may notice another deal: instant rebates. Generally these will come from the manufacturers and Costco will give you the rebate on the items at the cash register. I like these a lot and you can find them at certain times of the year. I buy my Sonicare Toothbrush system and refills during these rebates, because I can save $20 or more on a $100 item. Same holds true for many other items, including food.
You will also find a number of instant rebates in the monthly coupon books. No need to clip coupons anymore, the discount will be deducted from your order. Check your receipts to be sure it was.
Shopping Strategies: Vendor Markdowns
Poorly performing items are prime candidates for a manufacturer mark-down. Unless it’s Costco’s own Kirkland brand, the store will often go back to the vendor (manufacturer) and request a price reduction. These items will have either a Manufacturers Instant Rebate tag or a markdown price ending in .97¢.
I usually take note of an item that doesn't seem to be moving and will wait patiently for the price reduction. If it is on the shelves for months and each time you visit you still see the same inventory there, you can be fairly confident the item will be marked down. So, be patient if there’s something you want to purchase but can’t or don’t want to pay the full price.I’ve gotten great deals on tools and similar items this way.
Costco has formed relationships with many other companies to bring you even more services. Look at this list for some of the services offered to all members.
Executive membership perks. Executive members also receive special pricing on goods and services too. This includes additional savings or perks on these Costco programs:
- Auto Purchase
- Auto & Home Insurance
- Mortgages & Refinancing
- Boat and RV Loans
- Go Daddy Online Solutions
- Water Delivery Services
- Identity Protection
- Mexico Travel Auto Insurance,
- Online Investing with ING Direct
- Personal or Business Checks (an additional 20% off member pricing)
- Business Phone Services
- Merchant Credit Card Processing
- Costco Travel.
Get cash back. Executive Members receive a 2% Reward (up to $750 per year) on most Costco purchases, as well as additional benefits and bigger discounts on many of their services. If you do the math, you will be paying an additional $55 per year over the cost of their Business or Gold Star membership. So, if you spend an average of $245 per month, your reward will cover the additional cost to become an Executive Member. Who doesn't spend that much each month at Costco? Seems like a no-brainer!
Risk-free 100% membership guarantee. If for any reason you are not happy with your membership, Costco will refund your full membership fee.
Costco Co-Branded Credit Card
For the past 16 years Costco and American Express offered Costco members a co-branded card that was used as a membership card as well. It offered cash bonus rewards at the end of each year on all purchases Costco and others. Currently, customers can use any American Express card at checkout in addition to their MasterCard and Visa debit cards.
On April 1, 2015 that relationship will end and Costco who will now offer a co-branded Citi Visa card will become Costco's exclusive card. We still don't have information on the rewards if any on the new Visa card, but will report it when it is clear.
The Biggest Bargain At Costco. Some people like to hit the food court after they shop. For me, it is better to go to the food court before I hit the Racetrack. Many buy their 1/4 pound all beef hot dog and a soda with free refills for only $1.50.
Costco now produces their own Hot Dogs and has sold over 100 million...that is a lot of beef. Of course you can refill your free soda as many times as you like. Good idea to get your dog and soda before you shop and then use your soda refill to wash down all the tasty samples I’ll be enjoying as I move throughout the store.
Calorie Counters Look: Ask the counter person to pull out their calorie chart and see how many calories in each item. The Hot Dogs according to their calorie chart has 500 calories, a slice of plain pizza is 700, loaded is more.
So if you are watching your diet, you may want to try the lowest calorie item on their menu, the soft serve yogurt. Only 300 calories for a nice 15 ounce cup. I like their vanilla yogurt best, the chocolate tends to have a powdery taste. Add the strawberry topping and you are adding a lot more calories.
Costco offer more sampling of products then any other retailer I know. The reason is simple...not only do they generate business on products you might never purchase, but by offering you all these samples as you stroll through their stores, it encourages you to stay longer or even look forward to your visit.
Did You Like This Article?
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article on Costco. Please recommend the article to others. I very much appreciate all of your comments and encouragement and I will keep updating this article as I get new information. If you’ve made your own discoveries about how to save money at Costco, please share them in the comments below.
This article and its contents are protected and registered with the US Copyright Office, registration number TX-7-941-665, year of publication 2009.
What do you think?
Chito332 on December 29, 2019:
Thank you very much for the Info....I will try to save money with your system the next time I shop at Costco.....Mesa,AZ
Lorrie on October 07, 2019:
I loved this information. I've been doing a lot of research on Costco so to be prepared during an interview:-D Obviously, this is great information for my own purpose.
JK on August 30, 2019:
Thanks for the information, I plan to try it out next time I am at Costco in Adelaide, Australia.
MartineM4C on August 27, 2019:
An eye opener and code revealer. I sure will check out all the info received and start saving properly at Costco
gail on May 25, 2019:
Thanks for GREAT information Appreciate sooo much!
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on February 20, 2019:
Thank you glad it helped you find the best deals at the lowest prices at Costco.
pdeb on February 16, 2019:
Great info.Thank You!
seth on January 31, 2019:
Are you still actively selling costco products until now?
LimaGuy on October 05, 2018:
Love Costco. This quarter I am receiving a 5% cash back with my bank credit card for warehouse purchases, like Costco. Even more incentive during the next 3 months to stock up. Kirkland brands are very good quality...I buy wines, olive oil, various nuts, all of the time.
Sheree Huppunen on September 24, 2018:
Phil on September 06, 2018:
Excellent information!! Thank you so much! I will most definitely use your tips!
firstname.lastname@example.org on May 31, 2018:
I wished we had a closer and i would use it more. the Costco we use is in Spartanburg SC and we reside in Candler NC.(outside ofAsheville ), it is well worth the drive; however,one located closer would be a dream come true...Maybe in the future, I keep hearing rumors, but no luck.i did live in Miami and that was great.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 27, 2018:
Costco is not close to me, so I haven't been there too often. I ave family members that are there weekly, and your helpful information will be passed along. Excellent article.
Patrick on May 11, 2018:
Very informative article. I am a wholesaler and i just learned something. As i buy Costco in wholesale bulk for resale at my store.
To all he is telling the truth.
MrBratCat on April 29, 2018:
Thank you for all the informative information! Would love to score a deal on the seasonal patio furniture, do you have any idea on the timing when they would be trying to clear out the floor samples?
Anna on April 13, 2018:
This article was very informative. I will be keeping my eyes open when shopping for deals. Thank you
Becca on February 03, 2018:
Steve on January 17, 2018:
thank you for the advice
Lystra on January 08, 2018:
Robert on January 04, 2018:
Thank you for all the useful info.I intend to use it everytime that I visit Costco from this point forward.I am sure that these tips will save me money on a regular basis. Thank you again !
Wornout on January 01, 2018:
Thanks for the tips...
adolf klimek on December 17, 2017:
I hope in Canada we have the same product like American we are far away from them with the prices
NP on December 17, 2017:
Valuable info, thanks!!!
Lise on December 17, 2017:
Wow. Learnt a lot in this article. Thanks a lot!
Dmessersmith@rogers.com on December 16, 2017:
Thank you for all of the helpful info
Ray on December 15, 2017:
If you go to Sam's Club anything with a 1 ONE at the end of the price is a reduced price closeout.
Ginger Coon on December 15, 2017:
Is there any time of year that I can get a discounted membership?
Linda Fultz on December 15, 2017:
LOVE this place!!! I returned a washer and dryer after almost 2 years at the managers suggestion. It had the same problem three times and was going to cost a lot to repair. Where do you think I bought another washer and dryer?? COSTCO and got a wonderful warranty. Can’t beat Costco!!!
Bob on December 15, 2017:
Thanks Len - Lots of great tips to make our Costco shopping experiences even better. Happy holidays to you!
Rich on December 15, 2017:
I've even got my car ins. through costco
email@example.com on December 15, 2017:
thanks so much... can you do an article about reselling Costco on Amazon... we went to a seminar...and they were talking about buying their bulbs and reselling them... is that fair or right?
William H Eley on December 15, 2017:
Are you planning building south in the Manteno ,Bourbonnais area?
Jeanie on December 15, 2017:
A "great and informative" article. I'm sending link to all family members with Costco membership.
Thank you for sharing.
Paul on December 15, 2017:
Love the shopping idea, so convenient and thrifty
Charlie on December 15, 2017:
Got a refund on a set of roadshow kitchen knives after 7 years with a receipt. $550 back after seven years of use. I believe I own the world record for a return at Costco.
Carl C Pulsifer on December 15, 2017:
I appreciate this good info but I am absolutely disgusted with the new hearing aid batteries. I get about half the service time out of them as compared to the discontinued brand. I actually had one last only two and one half hours. Please get a better model. Thanks
Stan Fetherman on December 15, 2017:
Great article, learned a lot!
Patricia on December 15, 2017:
I believe I read your article before. I am interested in the 2018 version for returns. Is there still a 2 year return policy on most items. Also, I have found that washer / dryer's are also 90 days return policy.
Stan on December 14, 2017:
You say to hold on to your Costco receipts, but it's not really necessary.
They can look up your purchase and do so willingly. We've often returned stuff without it. Even if you do have it, they will look it up.
One thing you should always buy at Costco is car batteries. I recently had a battery go bad in our van, and brought it back to Costco. It was a battery with a 42 month replacement warranty. I actually called the local Costco and they told me the date it was bought (I couldn't find the receipt).
I jumpstarted the van and drove to Costco. Went into the tire dept to make sure they had the same battery, and asked about the warranty just to make sure. He said I can bring in the old battery and they look at it as a return (I got exactly what I paid for it credited to may card) and then they look up the original purchase and sell me the new battery at the price I paid for it 40 months ago.
It used to be they gave a free replacement for 2 years and pro-rated for 3(?) more, but now it's justA 42 month replacement warranty.
Peggy on November 29, 2017:
Thanks for all your tips
It would be great if the same article could be written
With Canada in mind as several of your observations do not
Pertain to Canada
Gudem on October 30, 2017:
I have been going to Costco for so many years and had no idea about any of this. Thanks.
Nychuck on September 15, 2017:
Thanks for the cool tips.
Ann on August 31, 2017:
Sadie on August 23, 2017:
Helpful,I'll be going more to Costco and noting more. I get lots of ribbing for my offers of lunch at Costco, can't beat the quality or price!
Jo on July 06, 2017:
Even though there are only 2 in my household, I buy meats, take them home and divide up for 2 and put in freezer seal bags. I stock canned goods in pantry, large box items go in containers ( usually glass) and cleaning items last me several months. My soy milk, I can open a qt. at a time and stock the rest on a shelf. I buy large bags of flour and sugar and store them in large crocks, which keeps them cool and I cover them to keep out any vermin. I've been a card holder for many years and although it's a 25 minute drive from where I live, I feel I save money in the long run by buying what I can actually use and making meals from what I have on hand. Costco has been a true friend to my household.
vee on May 17, 2017:
thanks for the tips
Normi on April 24, 2017:
Thank you for schooling me. Now to go shopping! I'm ready for ya...Costco.
Robert on April 19, 2017:
All good info. I, too, sold lots of close out merch on eBay. Gun safes, golf bags, flatware, tools, whatever they had that I could flip.
My best flip was selling close out leatherman tools to the U.K. back when a £1 cost $2. I made something like $75 each for the Wave and sold probably 500 in one year. Crazy.
Another tactic is to ask the FE MOD (front end manager on duty) if he can work out a special price in turn for buying out the remainder of some close out item. The key is wether the vendor will offer buy back credit or not. If not, the FE MOD will sometimes bargain. I've succeeded in getting better prices than even their .88 closeouts.
To make all this work, you really have to be familiar with the merch and what your store carries. I walked the isles 3-4 times a week making notes of everything that looked like a deal then checked eBay. It's tougher these days because there are far more Costcos around and more people are on to the game. The real killing was back in the early aughts when I maxed out my annual rebate several years in a row.
WandaShip on April 11, 2017:
This is a great article. Even though construction prices are up we are putting on an addition to house our Costco stuff, I just love saving money.
Mike B? on March 24, 2017:
Great info on the * and .97 prices. I didn't know this and it will help as I often wonder why something is no longer available.
Cheryl on February 24, 2017:
Great article... very informative... thanks!!!
Jon Currie on October 04, 2016:
I knew all of these. Wow. I must be addicted to Costco. You know, what, you don't even need a receipt.
Trudy on June 14, 2016:
Wonderful tidbits of info. Ill be sure and pay closer attn to the signs from now on. Thank you!
Priscila on May 24, 2016:
BB on December 11, 2015:
Thank you so much for sharing this valuable info.
Egg Crackin Diner on December 07, 2015:
Kathryn Lane on October 18, 2015:
Sweet hub, this should help me save a little on my weekly shop!
Hezekiah from Japan on October 16, 2015:
Thanks for these awesome tips mate
John Coviello from New Jersey on October 13, 2015:
Useful information about how to read Costco pricing to save. Thanks for this!
Angela from Colorado on October 10, 2015:
Thanks for the article! My husband and I are pondering whether or not to renew our membership.....I seem to spend more on groceries when I have the membership than when I don't. In any case - this gave me a lot to think about. Thanks again Len :-)
Jeanne on October 10, 2015:
I am trying to print your article to keep on file but I don't see any printing icon. Pls advise.
Satvinder S. Sihra from Queens, NY on July 25, 2015:
What are you favorite items to buy and sell?
skperdon from Canada on June 09, 2015:
Just love it! Of course I knew of a few of the Costco saving tips you mentioned, but I didn't know about the prices ending in 7s. So thank you very much for sharing your years of experience being a fellow Costco shopper.
My whole family love shopping at Costco. My shopping trip usually starts at Costco then to other retail stores for any needs that Costco doesn't sell. I will definitely come back to read your hub.
kbdressman from Harlem, New York on May 03, 2015:
Thanks for all the info on saving money at Costco! Any guesses why they don't advertise which items are on sale? What does the secrecy benefit them?
DebMartin on May 02, 2015:
Very helpful. Thanks. I still have to drive 130 miles to the nearest Costco but one day.... Sigh.
Lone Star Financing from Austin, TX on May 01, 2015:
Great article! Costco is, in my opinion, the way to go when it comes to buying groceries, especially if you have a large family. You can't beat the deals. Definitely worth the membership.
Darcie French from BC Canada on April 13, 2015:
Super cool to read the ins and outs of saving money at Costco, many thanks!
gasjr4wd on March 09, 2015:
regarding photos- we take photos of price signs and product boxes all the time. All the time. Never an issue. Many times employees are standing there talking about the item, walking by, etc. It's never been an issue - never questioned - never anything. I honestly don't think they can stop you. I for one compare items and price. Many times manufactures have model numbers or changes in products specifically for each store. We were looking at carpet shampooers. Same brand at all the big box places and others... each a little different with a different model number. No one sold the same exact thing.
There are very few things we don't get a costco. Tea bags are one. Their green tea tastes like chicken. (honestly)
They used to have better tasting roasted chicken. Still not a bad deal or bad chicken but it used to be different. And we always order their pizza well done. They just slide it back in. We like a crisp pizza.
Many times Kirkland brand is better than name brand, not always, most of the time.
If you see something you like, buy it when you see it. Next time you are there, it will be gone. Seasonal items are bad for this. I'm still trying to figure out why gojo hand cleaner a seasonal item.
Oh, and we have been to a few different Costco's. Not all of them have the same stuff. Some may have more TV's, others have more of something else. We also noticed this with Sams.
I do wish you could log into the costco website and see everything you have bought in the past year.
Bob Foster from USA on March 08, 2015:
I work in retail as a cashier and once in a while they run manager's specials which I have no control over. Over MLK Day weekend, they had a buy more save more sale. if you bought 1-2 items you save an extra 25%. If you bought 3-4 items it was an extra 35%. If you bought 5 items or move it was an extra 50%. And they had that same sale for President's Day weekend as well.
Kirsty from Scotland on March 02, 2015:
I am in the UK and have had a Costco membership for a little over a year however I wasn't making good use of it until recently since I didn't have my own car and had to get my mother to take me (can you imagine trying to carry a Costco shop on the bus?) I honestly didn't think I was saving that much money and wasn't going to bother renewing my membership this year but I am so glad I did (I have a car now so can make use of it). They were doing a special deal on the executive membership so I upgraded to that and even although its only been about six weeks I have started to see the pennies mounting up with the cashback and the savings I am getting (my favourite is 8 2 litre bottles of pepsi max for a little over £7, they are £2 each in the shops) . I have never paid that much attention to the price labels themselves but after reading your hub I will have a better look when I am there next week to see if they are similar over here.
Deborah Demander Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on January 11, 2015:
Thanks for the great information. I will pay more attention the next time I shop at Costco.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 10, 2015:
We shop in Costco only in the summer but because we like their meat products, we keep our membership. I never knew of these things you mentioned here. I will now be more aware and bag some of those discounts.
Seraph from Canada on January 06, 2015:
This is Great~!!!! I was going to pick up a Costco Card, did not feel the value was there, but now after reading your article I am going to get one and jump on some of these sales! Thanks for sharing!
ezzly on January 05, 2015:
Wow, what a kind person to share your tips, can't believe you earned $60000 on e bay from the sales , very savvy business man !
Hezekiah from Japan on January 05, 2015:
Great information there, I wasent aware. Do you think this will apply to other countries and currencies too? I am in Japan.
Joyfulcrown on January 05, 2015:
I was just planning a trip of Costco. I am so glad I read this.
Charles on January 05, 2015:
Sam H. on January 04, 2015:
Does Costco offer any savings for transportation costs? I live in Boston and use taxis a lot. I use www.somervilletaxicab.com who are really great, but it can be expensive on a daily basis. I wonder if their executive membership offers any discount on cabs in Somerville MA.
Linda H. on January 04, 2015:
Laughed when I read your comment about eating the hot dog and refilling your drink before shopping.
I did this once and tried to refill it again on the way out and had one of their "security" people LOUDLY proclaim that I was "stealing from Costco".
When I asked him what I was stealing he informed me that you are only allowed ONE refill. Anything beyond that is stealing from the company. When I asked the cashier about their policy, she told me to ignore the security guy. By now people were staring at the 3 of us. I admit I was kind of embarrassed by all the attention over a soda refill. I started to leave the store without my refill, but this guy just would not let it go!
He followed me to the door, still saying that I had attempted to steal from Costco.
At this point, I asked for the store manager. Suddenly he didn't want to push the issue anymore. Once the manager listened to both our stories, she apologized profusely to me, and said that they don't have a policy on how many refills you can have. She then told him she would like to see him in the employee break room.
I don't know what the outcome of their conversation was, but no one has ever has never said anything to me about the refills since.
Christy Maria on January 04, 2015:
Awesome tips, I will definitely keep them in mind next time I take a costco trip!
firstname.lastname@example.org on May 29, 2014:
Len, Thank you, greatly, for sharing the Costco code information. HubPages work!!
Parker on April 26, 2014:
Thanks quite interesting , will surely pass it on. Will appreciate more articles e.g car dealerships! Shops like Target Sears HomeSense etc
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on April 02, 2014:
Regarding taking photos at Costco. Most stores won't allow extensive picture taking for security reasons. Today everyone has an iPad and Smart Phone and quite often we take photos to send to others to see if they want us to purchase a particular item. This is always OK with 99% of the stores I have shopped, especially today where everyone is connected to the world through their devices. That said...when I go to Costco I use my iPad for my photos. Only once when I brought in my pro camera with flash and it was firing did a manager walk over to me to question my motive. Once I explained what I do and the article I wrote, which he had read, he gladly allowed me to continue.
If a Costco employee came to me and was as rude as the one reader had posted about a palm tree she took a photo of, then I would demand to see the manager of the store and file a complaint. Many employees simply don't understand their own company policies and will interpret them incorrectly. I believe that was the case that this reader experienced. If I did not get satisfaction speaking to a manager, visit their Fan page on Facebook and post the comment there. Costco reads these faster then a letter to the corporate office and should respond.
Bob Dicus on February 10, 2014:
Good info. !!!!
SB on October 26, 2013:
wonderful tips! will keep them in mind on my next Costco trip! :+)
Adrian Cloute from Cedartown, GA on September 05, 2013:
This was such an amazing hub! Thanks for the help. This was really helpful! Voted up!
Jacob Jackson from Kansas on August 24, 2013:
wow great article thank you!
Linda on August 05, 2013:
Great article, thanks so much for the tips! i am in Canada and most of what you said is also how our stores work as well.....except the picture taking part with phone camera etc. Costco does NOT allow you to take any form of photo within their warehouses here....I made the mistake of taking a photo of a banana tree plant they were selling at their Port Coquitlam location....wow...big mistake....I wasn't even going for the price tag, I just wanted to show the photo of the banana plant to my mom who was in hospital as it is so unusual to see the plant here....well, Cruella D'ville in heels came up to me and told me loudly in no uncertain terms that Costco doesn't tolerate picture taking of any kind...I tried to point out I was outside in the garden shop in the parking lot not even in the wear house but she continued her rant, you would have thought I sold state secrets to spies....in any case, she made quite a scene, waiting while I deleted the photo of the stupid plant and then stomped off....the people around that isle at the time came over and also couldn't believe the scene this woman made over a picture of a plant....I have never been back to that location since then as I was made to feel so bad and humiliated for nothing (IMHO), but I still do shop Costco, just not that one....so beware of picture taking and hope you never get caught doing it!
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 25, 2013:
Very interesting insights.
I used to have a Costco membership, but gave it up, as it was not actually saving me any money..in fact, I was repaying them and then some for the "discounts" I was getting. I had only a small home-based business that didn't involve re-selling anything--it was all hand-crafted items, and in fact, I had primarily formed the "business" so I COULD get a Costco membership (back when that was the only way you could get in--no personal ones existed).
So, I was buying just for the household. All I ever needed in the food section was the 6-pack of green beans; the great price on 3 bottles of A-1, and the country boneless ribs my husband liked. The ginormous packages of TP and other paper goods presented a storage problem, so I didn't buy that there. We sometimes got into trouble with our budget buying a bunch of "great deals" we did not really NEED.
In the end, the (then) $45 per year membership was WAY more than the couple of dollars saved on green beans and A-1 sauce. When the economy fell apart, we gave up all memberships in anything, credit cards, and all sorts of other things to save money.
Now that we are on a fixed income, I suspect the same would be true, and I don't intend to return to Costco....
Seattle_JC on July 18, 2013:
Costco vendors sometimes refer to the asterisk as "the Death Star".
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 18, 2013:
Costco is not too close to my home, so I have shopped at Sams. After reading your article I think Costco is worth the drive. Thanks for all the useful tipd. Great hub!
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on July 18, 2013:
Great article. Voted up and useful. Also shared it and bookmarked it. I wish I lived a bit closer to Costco. We only get there once or twice a month, so it's not easy to wait for the best price.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
Kirkland is Costco's private label merchandise. Similar to every major department or retail store, they import their own products. They may also make arrangements with leading vendors to produce product to their specs under their Kirkland label. I just purchased their 8 pack of Tuna under the Kirkland label and paid $1 more then the Bumble Bee brand. Why, because it said that their Tuna was "Superior Quality". Since I trust Costco to be truthful, I paid the extra money. Will let you know if I do see a superior product when I open the can.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
I will be writing my Holiday Seasonal article closer to the season, so watch for it. If you read my other seasonal articles here you will see I can usually tell which items will be a mark-down based on the rate of sale or based on an item that comes in each year and gets marked down. The next round of goods coming in will be for Halloween, then comes Christmas. Now all the furniture has come in and mattresses to replace the summer merchandise which is now in the end aisles and marked down.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
As I mentioned, each contract with a vendor is different. Some will take the goods back, some will not. In the case of their third party purchases like designer products or certain electronics that they can't buy direct, they may own it once they buy it with no return options.
Read my most recent updates as I discover new information I continually update the aricle.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
I know that the HN was to me a much better dog and I too was disappointed in the change. I also preferred the old roll they used to use, this one is a bit soft and breaks apart when you load it with the mustard, Kraut and relish. I can only assume it was because they were losing money on the deal and didn't want to change the price. After all this became so popular with everyone, including celebrities it was like their trademark.
Now their roasted Chicken at $4.99 will one day have to change too, because this is the second item that has reach celebrity status with Costco shoppers. Now they did raise the price on their half sheet cakes, I love it when it was only $12.99 :-)
We will see what the future brings.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
That is great to know. I don't believe our local Costco does this, I will have to check with them and see if they do or at least suggest they do. I am sure many of the families here in New Jersey that lost everything after Hurricane Sandy would be happy to receive some of the thousands of returns they get back.
Len Rapoport (author) from New Jersey on July 17, 2013:
Sorry for the late reply, don't check these too often. You will save the receipts so you won't waste their time as the have to find the item in a maze of purchases you made. Especially if it goes back a number of months or even years. It also protects you from getting their lowest price on the item as they will usually just scan the item, not go to their system to search your account, so if it was on a close-out or an instant rebate or even a coupon deal you will be given that lower price. Now it is especially important if you find it for a lower price later in the season. You buy one now at the lower price and return it with the old receipt showing the higher price. You have just saved a ton of money because they have a 30 day price protection and this method extends it even further.
tastiger04 on July 17, 2013:
Great tips....I will have to check these out! Thanks for sharing :) Voted up and useful
KB on July 16, 2013:
I was wondering if you could tell us more about the Kirkland products. How do those work?