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15 Costco Shopping Hacks Every Shopper Needs to Know

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Kate MurphyGuest Blogger
June 19, 2017 · 18.3k Views

Costco is the place where smart shoppers go to score massive discounts on bulk foods and home goods. With a Costco membership, you can stock up on anything from paper towels and laundry detergent, to dog food to snacks like trail mix and Oreo cookies. The deals are already great. But you can do even better. Follow these tips and save even more money on your next Costco shopping trip.

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15 Costco Shopping Hacks Every Shopper Needs to Know

1. Use Costco coupons.

costco coupon book

"Costco coupons" by mo1229 via Flickr

Look for coupons in Costco’s monthly coupon book or on Costco’s mobile app. You will find coupons for discounts on items ranging from toothpaste and coffee to cameras and printers. You can also find coupons and offers to Costco at DealsPlus.


2. Split purchases with a friend.

Not all of us have a family of six to feed. Buying items in bulk may seem unnecessary and burdensome, especially if you live alone and don’t have much extra storage space. But you can still get in on the savings. Try shopping with a friend or two and divide the purchases when you get home.


3. Load up on pantry items and non-perishable food items.

costco non-perishable food items

© BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

This tip is geared toward singles or couples. Pantry items like pasta, beans, and rice have a long shelf life. So chances are you will be able to get through that massive supply of penne even if there are only two of you.


4. Learn the Costco price codes.

The signs and price tags reveal a lot to the savvy Costco shopper. Experts suggest keeping the following clues in mind to know what kind of deal you are getting on an item:

  • Look for prices ending 97 cents: This indicates that the product has been marked down from 99 cents.
  • Odd prices ending in 79, 49, or 89 cents are used for specially priced items where Costco got a deal from the manufacturer. They are usually cheaper than at other stores.
  • Manager markdowns are priced with 88 cents or .00 endings.


5. Buy the Kirkland brand.

costco kirkland brand

"Kirkland Signature Yoga Pants" by m01229 via Flickr

You’ve seen the Kirkland brand, Costco’s private label, peppered through the store aisles. Why get the generic brand when you are already saving money on your favorite brands? Well, according to money-saving bloggers and loyal customers, the Kirkland products are just as good, even better in some cases.


6. Grab soon-to-be out-of-stock items while you can.

An asterisk (*) on the upper right of a price sign indicates that the item will not be reordered. If it is a regular item on your Costco shopping list, stock up while you still can.


7. Buy alcohol at Costco.

costco alcohol

"Costco in Bozeman, Montana - alcohol section" by m01229 via Flickr

Anyone who has ever thrown a party knows that buying alcohol at a warehouse club like Costco is going to save you money over buying supplies at the liquor store. And the buzz surrounding Costco’s Kirkland brand of liquor is that it’s good. In fact, it’s so good that tasters could not tell the difference when compared to premier brands like Grey Goose.


8. Buy gift cards at Costco and get more for your dollar.

Costco sells gift cards at a lower price than their value. For example, you can pick up a set of four $25 gift cards ($100 value) for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for just $79.99.


9. Have lunch or pre-dinner snacks while you shop.

costco samples

"7219" by Panegyrics of Granovetter via Flickr

 If you find yourself shopping midday and hunger sets in, treat yourself to a smorgasbord style lunch of food samples. Freebies may also introduce you to a new tasty item or reveal that hunger-triggered impulse buy you were considering would have been a total mistake. Food samples come in especially handy if you are shopping with the kiddos.


10. Shop for alcohol as a non-member.

Because of state law, some Costco locations are required to sell alcohol to non-members. So the next time you need to buy alcohol in bulk, consider getting it at the nearest Costco and save money.

SEE ALSO: How to Shop at Costco Without a Membership


11. Shop at Costco without a membership.

shopping at costco

"Day 228/365 - Costco" by Ricardo Velasquez via Flickr

A Costco Gold Star membership costs $55 a year. If you have commitment issues though. or know that you’ll only make it to Costco once in a blue moon, do not worry, you can still shop there when the mood strikes. Ask a friend with a membership to buy you a cash card. These cards are offered so people considering a membership can test Costco shopping out. But you can use it just like a gift card and buy what you need when you need it. No strings attached.


12. Head to the back of the store for the best deals.

According to money saving experts, the best deals at Costco are usually at the back of the store or tucked away at the end of the aisles. Plan a strategy and start there and work your way up to the register.


13. Avoid “Action Alley.”

costco action alley

Money saving experts have labeled the middle area of the store as “Action Alley.” You want to avoid this area not only because of heavy traffic and a dizzying display of advertisements but also because it has been reserved for the highest priced items.


14. Shop for holiday candy and party snacks.

Avoid paying for overpriced Halloween candy at the local drugstore this year. Instead, head to Costco and pick up a bag or two for much less. This goes for Christmas and Easter too. Planning a holiday party? You’ll find a nice selection of cookies, crackers, and cheeses at great prices.


15. Stick to the list.

costco wholesale storefront

"Costco" by Mike Mozart via Flickr

An obvious tip, we know. But warehouse shopping can be overwhelming, making it easy to lose sight of why you went there in the first place. Stick to the list to avoid a cart full of who knows what, and feeling buyer’s remorse for the rest of the week.


You already know you are saving money by shopping at Costco. That’s great, but more can be done. Just follow these pro tips and you’ll get the most out of your spending. Guaranteed.


catherinemurphy profile picture
Kate Murphy is a native of Pennsylvania. After receiving a degree in art history, she moved to New York City to test the waters. She enjoys writing about art, culture, fashion, design, and travel. In addition to writing, Kate works with artists, leads, street art tours, and moonlights as an illustrator.

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