Secret Price Codes That Will Save You Money At Costco

Updated on March 28, 2017
Len Rapoport profile image

Len is the publisher of online magazines and an internationally published author, photographer and videographer. He is the Costco expert.

Costco,  Hazlet, NJ
Costco, Hazlet, NJ

Everyone Loves Costco

Everyone loves Costco and we all know they have terrific deals, great prices, quality merchandise, 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 find which items are at the lowest costs as well as other facts that I have learned over the many years as an expert Costco shopper.

eBay Power Seller

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-outs and resold them at higher prices on eBay and 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.

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 it and share it with the world. But I disagree and 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 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 Hubpages 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 has spawned hundreds of new Frugal Living websites. 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.

Tips and Tricks For Better Shopping At Costco

One Florida Costco Actually Printed The Original Price.
One Florida Costco Actually Printed The Original Price.
This is the typical way they will show their marked down items.
This is the typical way they will show their marked down items.

Look For The Asterisk and the Date

The Basics

1. 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. 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. 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.

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 Ways To Save

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.

Seasonal Mark-Downs

Holiday Mark-Downs
Holiday Mark-Downs
Seasonal Mark-Downs
Seasonal Mark-Downs

Watch for Holiday or change of season 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.

Instant and Manufacturer Rebates

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.

Food Mark-Downs

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.

Always Save Receipts Especially On Large Purchases
Always Save Receipts Especially On Large Purchases

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

Small sampling of their many member services
Small sampling of their many member services

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.

The best produce anywhere
The best produce anywhere

Save Money via Member Services

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.

Food Court & Free Food Sampling

Costco has become the food destination for many shoppers and still offers a Jumbo All Beef Hot Dog and Soda with FREE refills for only $1.50
Costco has become the food destination for many shoppers and still offers a Jumbo All Beef Hot Dog and Soda with FREE refills for only $1.50

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.

Food Samples

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?

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    • profile image

      Peggy 7 weeks ago

      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

    • profile image

      Gudem 2 months ago

      I have been going to Costco for so many years and had no idea about any of this. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Nychuck 4 months ago

      Thanks for the cool tips.

    • profile image

      Ann 4 months ago

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      Sadie 5 months ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Jo 6 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      vee 8 months ago

      thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      Normi 9 months ago

      Thank you for schooling me. Now to go shopping! I'm ready for ya...Costco.

    • profile image

      Robert 9 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Dirk 9 months ago

      Learn the "than/then" rules. informative article but the grammar was more atrocious then death. see?

    • profile image

      Mike B? 10 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Cheryl 11 months ago

      Great article... very informative... thanks!!!

    • profile image

      Jon Currie 15 months ago

      I knew all of these. Wow. I must be addicted to Costco. You know, what, you don't even need a receipt.

    • profile image

      Trudy 19 months ago

      Wonderful tidbits of info. Ill be sure and pay closer attn to the signs from now on. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Priscila 20 months ago

      You Rock!!!

    • profile image

      BB 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing this valuable info.

    • profile image

      Egg Crackin Diner 2 years ago

      Great Article

    • Kathryn Lane profile image

      Kathryn Lane 2 years ago

      Sweet hub, this should help me save a little on my weekly shop!

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Thanks for these awesome tips mate

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 2 years ago from New Jersey

      Useful information about how to read Costco pricing to save. Thanks for this!

    • QuintessenceOfAng profile image

      Angela 2 years ago from Colorado

      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 :-)

    • profile image

      Jeanne 2 years ago

      I am trying to print your article to keep on file but I don't see any printing icon. Pls advise.

    • sam777777 profile image

      Satvinder S. Sihra 2 years ago from Queens, NY

      Hi Len,

      What are you favorite items to buy and sell?

    • skperdon profile image

      skperdon 2 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      kbdressman 2 years ago from Harlem, New York

      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?

    • profile image

      DebMartin 2 years ago

      Very helpful. Thanks. I still have to drive 130 miles to the nearest Costco but one day.... Sigh.

    • lonestarfinancing profile image

      Lone Star Financing 2 years ago from Austin, TX

      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.

    • darciefrench profile image

      Darcie French 2 years ago from BC Canada

      Super cool to read the ins and outs of saving money at Costco, many thanks!

    • profile image

      gasjr4wd 2 years ago

      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.

    • Slavon Smartmil profile image

      Bob Foster 2 years ago from USA

      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 O profile image

      Kirsty 2 years ago from Scotland

      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 profile image

      Deborah Demander 3 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks for the great information. I will pay more attention the next time I shop at Costco.


    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      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.

    • seraphic profile image

      Seraph 3 years ago from Canada

      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 profile image

      ezzly 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      Hezekiah 3 years ago from Japan

      Great information there, I wasent aware. Do you think this will apply to other countries and currencies too? I am in Japan.

    • Joyfulcrown profile image

      Joyfulcrown 3 years ago

      I was just planning a trip of Costco. I am so glad I read this.

    • profile image

      Charles 3 years ago

      Nice info.

    • profile image

      Sam H. 3 years ago

      Does Costco offer any savings for transportation costs? I live in Boston and use taxis a lot. I use 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.


    • profile image

      Linda H. 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      Christy Maria 3 years ago

      Awesome tips, I will definitely keep them in mind next time I take a costco trip!

    • profile image 3 years ago

      Len, Thank you, greatly, for sharing the Costco code information. HubPages work!!

    • profile image

      Parker 3 years ago

      Thanks quite interesting , will surely pass it on. Will appreciate more articles e.g car dealerships! Shops like Target Sears HomeSense etc

    • Len Rapoport profile image

      Len Rapoport 3 years ago from New Jersey

      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.

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      Bob Dicus 3 years ago

      Good info. !!!!

    • profile image

      SB 4 years ago

      wonderful tips! will keep them in mind on my next Costco trip! :+)

    • toptenluxury profile image

      Adrian Cloute 4 years ago from Cedartown, GA

      This was such an amazing hub! Thanks for the help. This was really helpful! Voted up!

    • sickdub profile image

      Jacob Jackson 4 years ago from Kansas

      wow great article thank you!

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      Linda 4 years ago

      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 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 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 beware of picture taking and hope you never get caught doing it!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very interesting insights.

      I used to have a Costco membership, but gave it up, as it was not actually saving me any 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....

    • profile image

      Seattle_JC 4 years ago

      Costco vendors sometimes refer to the asterisk as "the Death Star".

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      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!

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      Len Rapoport 4 years ago from New Jersey

      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 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Great tips....I will have to check these out! Thanks for sharing :) Voted up and useful

    • profile image

      KB 4 years ago


      I was wondering if you could tell us more about the Kirkland products. How do those work?

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      Lolita 4 years ago

      Any tips on getting a better price than $259.99 for the G.E. 7.5 ft pre-lit easy shape Christmas Tree that I've had my eye on since last year? I'm going to be looking for it this year, was told by Costco that they start putting out Christmas items out in August or Sept.

      Please help...I REALLY want this tree!!!

      Thanks for any help you can provide!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Nice tips on Costco. I am of the opinion that Costco is not such a great deal as it used to be, and I am thinking about not renewing my membership. Because people buy in bulk there they think they are getting wonderful deals, but when you sit down and do the math the savings are not that great. Still, it's fun to shop there. They do have good hot dogs and every once in a while you find something there that you absolutely must have.

    • DATALOAD profile image

      DATALOAD 4 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for the great tips. I didn't realize there were so many ways to save money at Costco.

    • cbpoet profile image

      cbpoet 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Very helpful hub. Thank you for sharing these beneficial tips to us - the uninformed consumers.

    • Tom Schumacher profile image

      Tom Schumacher 4 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

      Great Hub! Costco is one of my favorite stores. I love buying in bulk due to economies of scale. As you pointed out, however, savings is not always possible. But, given your advice future trips to Costco should prove more advantageous for my pocket book because I have lots of useful tips to help me shop smarter. Thanks! Voted up.

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      Terese 4 years ago

      Great article, thanks so much! Will share this with my Costco friends.

    • profile image

      DeepaC 4 years ago

      Awesome Read. I never understood what the asterisk meant, was clueless about the different prices. Thanks for your wonderful article, am sure gonna be an educated costco shopper from now on :)

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      Alex 4 years ago

      those store assitants smiles are amazing.

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      marg 4 years ago

      Hi Len,

      I live in Australia and am going to look at what you have said as there have been items that I have missed out on not knowing that they will not be getting them in again, so you have made me aware to work out if here is the same or a little different.

      Looking forward to seeing how this will unfold.

      It has been a fantastic read.

      Thanks for all your efforts

    • profile image

      Sharon 4 years ago

      Thanks for the terrific article. I am recommending it to my kids. Our son is a BIG Cosco fan and I am becoming one, with your help.

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      Also as an employee your information regarding the vendors in incorrect. Costco does take a hit with no salable goods. Tvs for some we will only get maybe 22% credit. That is a huge amount since I know at my location it happens all the time.

    • profile image

      Tom 4 years ago

      Great article and I can only take issue with you on one topic. The $1.50 hot dog lunch is not an example of what is right with Costco, but is rather a reminder of what used to be and is no more. Costco used to sell a quality Hebrew National hot dog and soda for that price. Now they sell a vastly inferior hot dog of their own making. I'd much rather pay more for the HN dog than try to swallow what now passes for quality there. I understand that they were losing money on the HN product, but even at $2.00 or $2.50, it would still be a bargain when compared to other fast food offerings. Alas, no more cheap hot dogs for me.

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      Lasist 4 years ago

      Great article, very helpful thank you.

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      Cyndi hunter 4 years ago

      Great info

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      Becky 4 years ago

      You rock! Great article... We love Costco and have found some amazing deals over the years. And that was a great reminder to people to please NOT abuse the return policy. If people abuse it, it will be gone! I knew a girl who once returned a mattress she slept on FOR 6 YEARS!!! That is just trashy!

    • profile image

      WebWatcher Reviews 4 years ago

      Hey just surfin the web and I found your blog. I found your information very useful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rosemari Simmons profile image

      Rosemari Simmons 4 years ago from Estacada, Oregon

      Please note that here in Oregon, Costco donates a lot of unsold, overstocked, out-of-date but still edible & safe, food from all categories (canned, boxed, frozen, refrigerated, fresh, etc.) to charities that get food to the needy (Food Banks, gleaning groups with monthly fees, etc.).

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      Bek 4 years ago

      Thanks for all the tips! I am curious why you suggest saving reciepts, though? I never save my reciepts but all my purchases are in their system under my membership. If I have a return, I just show my card and they pull it up and give me cash with no questions asked. Gotta LOVE Costco!

    • profile image

      sharonchapko 4 years ago

      Hi Len, very informative article here! Thank you! I was just about to open a store/business on EBay(unaware of their higher price fees)! Never thought about their fees before! Where do you sell your Costco finds?

    • Len Rapoport profile image

      Len Rapoport 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank You for your kind words. It means a lot to me to see that readers appreciate all the time and effort it takes to produce an article like this one. I would like to invite you to see more of my works on my online publication IMPress Magazine. Http://

    • profile image

      Chad 5 years ago

      Great article. Thank you

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      Leslee 5 years ago

      I have been a faithful Costco shopper for years and am happy to acknowledge that someone else knows about these special pricing. I always check the pricing, especially in the linens area. It happens more often than you think.

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      Me 5 years ago

      HI, I'm a 10 Year Costco employee, and Refund Clerk, the comment by another employee stating "edible" product is trashed is not true. That rule is applied to perishable goods. Canned and dry goods are put back on the shelf, also the People doing the Demos aren't Costco Employees, they are either from the vendors themselves or WDS.

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      carlogan 5 years ago

      Thank you, a million times, thank you. I don't comment or write for that matter on sites, but I felt (extremely) compelled to do so for you. We shop at Costco for most of our needs; including my handicapped daughter's diapers and nutrition. The signs were in another language as I couldn't discern why they were so "busy" with symbols. I had thought the ".97, .00, .79,...etc." were Walmart Rollback pricing gimmicks. The asterisk, an attention grabber (though not for the reasons you mentioned). My thanks mostly goes to your time and effort to publish such detail and knowledge that most people would not disclose. This is my short letter of "thanks and keep up the good work" and hope other people will follow as this benefits us all ; the fair consumer and the store that provides good service.

      P.s. my serendipitous find came from searching "costco coupons" on Google, little did I know it would be my biggest "coupon" yet.

    • profile image

      DJKJ 5 years ago

      What a wonderfully written article! Thanks for all your hard work! Loved reading it!

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      Rae 5 years ago

      Hi i am an employee for Costco and have been for six years; i would like to put out two things that haven't been mentioned. The first is that a lot of our members don't look closely at our signs, they just see the price, if you were to look closer you would see that we break down the pricing by ounces or pounds or whatever is applicable. This really helps you find the best deals on our items, and it makes it easier to get more bang for your buck. I would also like to point out that it is a myth that only executive members get coupons, all members do, if your a gold star member and your not receiving your coupons go talk to membership because they might not have your address or they might have it wrong.

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      Robert 5 years ago

      I used to to exactly the same thing as the author. I was an eBay power seller, flipping tens of thousands of dollars a year on things bought at CostCo. I maxed out the executive rebate four years in a row. The buyer for my store just didn't seem to know his/her market, leaving me with close-out bargains galore.

      Here's some other tidbits I learned:

      + Prices ending in .88 are store-level mark-downs and can mean even larger savings than the .97 items. Sometimes a particular store wants to rid an item quickly -- this is how they do it.

      + All bin tags have the date printed in tiny print under the price. This tells you the last time CostCo printed a tag for this item, including when they lower prices. I use this as a gauge for how often CostCo is thinking about this item. Old dates may mean a nearing close-out as CostCo doesn't keep many items very long.

      + It's sometimes possible to dicker on price if you are willing to buy out the remaining inventory of a discontinued item. I've successfully negotiated even deeper discounts in return for relieving a store of their entire remaining inventory on something they want outta there -- especially the .88 items. This only works if the manufacturer doesn't offer the store a full credit return. But it's worth asking. It's worked for me probably a half dozen times. I've done this at Sam's Club, too.

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      Lynne 5 years ago

      I found your article via Pinterest, great article. I will have to look at my local Costco in Australia and see if they follow the same system. Also your comments concerning postage was great reading, as I purchase from the U.S. and my postage costs have doubled, which is a shame as it affects all of your local businesses from earning income.

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      Sarah T. 5 years ago

      Hi, as a Costco employee for 10 years I just wanted to let you know about the food returns. You said you thought the unopened food goes back on the shelf, but any edible items that are returned are immediately trashed regardless of the state they are returned in.

    • Len Rapoport profile image

      Len Rapoport 5 years ago from New Jersey

      This article was written to show you how you can save money at Costco and not to be a general Forum for off topic posts such as yours. I cannot answer your question because I have not seen it in our stores and I don't know much about their Canadian operation. I did not answer or approve your comment because I have not checked the approval section of my account for some time, my fault and I apologize. I am leaving your post for now to let others know, this is not an open forum for Costco complaints but rather an article that will show you how to save money. I am sure you will find many forums that you can post your question or complaint.

      Please guys and gals reading this article, I would appreciate it if you would keep on topic. This comment section is meant to enlighten those that read and follow my suggestions and to of course tell me how much love you have for me and Costco...Love you all and thanks for sending the link from this article to your friends and relatives. We are now seeing over 25,000 reads each week which is amazing. Keep up the good work and save, save, save at Costco. Watch for the Halloween mark-downs in October and look for those items they have a lot of stock on near the holiday. Then go in immediately after and see what was marked down. Remember to hold your receipt and if that item goes lower, ask for a price adjustment or buy another at the lower price and return it with your original higher receipt.

    • Len Rapoport profile image

      Len Rapoport 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thanks, you might enjoy some of the many articles I publish on our site and some of my great photos too. Check them out at: and my articles are listed here.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

      Fantastic article about saving money! I will pay much more attention to Costco sales now. You are such a great writer and your photos added a lot to the lesson on saving money. Also I saw my article link on Shop Goodwill listed on your page too. Will include your link to my page. Thanks!

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      Marie 5 years ago

      Fyi with receipts: photocopy them immediately. The ink fades really fast.

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      Trista@BudgetForBaby 5 years ago

      Great article! My husband and I are avid Costco shoppers. Mainly we just buy produce, meat and gas. But, we just bought a home and are outfitting it with a few things from Costco. We had been eyeing some decorative vent covers, and last week they were marked down 50% so we grabbed enough for the house. It was super exciting! Thanks for sharing all these tips and tricks. Can't wait to share with my husband!

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      Luanasf 5 years ago

      What an enlightening article. How wonderful of you to take the time with great detail how we can shop wiser at Costco. Your a really great writer, and I will be checking back often to learn more of what you have to share. Thank you

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Wow I had no idea! This information is awesome for a twice-a-week Costco shopper like myself. Thanks!

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      Brian 5 years ago

      I'm a Costco fan in Canada but I've become a little leery of their pricing and wondering if anyone else has noticed some of their antics. For example, I had my eye on a Karcher 2000 psi pressure washer that was selling for $ was winter so I was in no hurry. Then one month, I received the Costco Connection mag with the the booklet of upcoming discounts and to my delight, a $40 discount was going to be offered on the pressure washer I wanted in a few i waited. When the week arrived, I went to Costco to purchase the pressure washer at a $40 discount only to find that the sign was now showing regular price to be $199.99 less $40 rebate for a new price of $159.99!!!! The so-called discount price was $10 more than what I could have bought it for a few weeks earlier. The $40 rebate expired after one week and to this day, the price now remains $199.99....very disappointing!. I've even seen it on small items like Chunks Ahoy cookies....picked up a couple of boxes one day when sign showed regular price of $6.99 less $2 instant rebate for a price of $4.99. A couple of weeks later....same cookies were just $3.89 without promotion of an instant rebate. I have noticed the price fluctuate all over the place since as I'm generally at Costco every 2 weeks. Anyone else notice these false "sales"?

    • Len Rapoport profile image

      Len Rapoport 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Jean, this is what you need to do. Do you have the receipt from the camera? Even if you don't you will be O.K. Go to your Costco and purchase another one of the cameras as the Sale Price. Then return the new one with your original receipt. If you don't have the original receipt ask them to look for it in their system and find it. If you know approximately when you purchased it, it will help. Since Costco has a liberal money back return policy, you can do this without any problems. Now you won't feel so bad about the price reduction and can enjoy using your camera that just cost you $50 less.

    • Jean Rogers profile image

      Jean Rogers 5 years ago

      I wish I had read this a few months ago. I bought a camera and two days later it was marked down $50. Next time I will know what to do. Thanks for the great info.