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38 Life Hacks For Making the Most of Your Costco Membership!

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Costco is widely considered to be one of the best wholesale warehouse clubs in the world. With annual revenue of more than $152 million, it is clear that customers have enjoyed scoring great deals on their bulk products. Whether you are a member of Costco or considering joining, make sure you keep on reading. Today, we are going to highlight 38 simple tips and tricks that can help you make the most out of your Costco Membership!

Shop Without a Membership Card

If you have been wanting to check Costco out but lacked the membership, don’t worry! As it turns out, all you need to do to shop at Costco is join along with a friend or family member. If you don’t have any local Costco members in your family group, consider requesting a Costco gift card for a gift! With a Costco gift card in hand, you can walk right in and start to shop.

Look Out for This Special Sale Price

The Costco team likes to play plenty of games with its price tag system. We’re going to talk a lot about the different elements on the price tag but first, we are going to highlight the secret behind the $0.97 price tags. When you see a $0.97 at the end of a price tag, it means that the item is on clearance.

Get Your Sale Price a Month Later

Everybody loves a great sale price, but nobody likes dealing with lines and crowded parking lots. How are you going to enjoy prime Costco sales without setting foot in the store? Simple, just wait to go on a different day. Costco will honor sale prices up to 30 days after the announced day.

This Price Means to Buy in Bulk

If you see products that finish at $0.88, this means that you are looking at a product that might be leaving the store. Costco managers tend to set their price tags to $0.88 on products that are being phased out or have pieces missing from its packaging. Seeing this price tag on a product that you like means you need to stock up!

Keep An Eye Out for the Costco Asterisk

Spend any measure of time on Costco-based forums and you’ll see people discussing the mysterious ‘Costco Asterisk’. The asterisk is located in the top right corner of the public price tags. These asterisks are really just signs of impending doom as they signify that a product will not be restocked.

Price Tags That End in an Odd Number

Basically, anytime that you see a price tag that ends in an odd number, you should raise an eyebrow. Whether that tag manifests with a $.99, $.89, or $.97 then the product is likely going to be vanishing from the shelves soon. Inquire with a Costco associate for further clarification or deeper potential discounts.

Take Advantage of the Costco Gift Card Aisle

Professional shoppers — and yes, that’s a thing, have been looking to the gift card section at Costco as the best place to save money. Costco already deeply discounts some of their prices and gift cards are no exception. If you are planning a big date or a vacation, make sure to swing through the gift card section for all the savings you could imagine.

Bypass Membership Restrictions with a Costco Cash Card

If you want to go shopping before signing up for your own membership, have a friend buy you a Costco Cash Card. These payment cards can be loaded with anywhere from $25 to $1,000+, depending on the initial deposit. These cash cards will allow free-reign for non-members to shop through the store at their convenience.

Fuel Up at Costco Gasoline for Discounted Prices

The discounts at Costco start well before you walk through the front doors. If you are looking to fuel up your vehicle, take some time to fuel up at the Costco Gas Station. Costco cuts prices on its gasoline to try to bring customers to their store. Whether you actually plan on shopping, you can still get the discounted fuel.

Costco’s Pharmacy is Open to Non-Members

Dealing with an expensive prescription can be a challenging task, even when you have great insurance. If you want to find cheaper pharmaceuticals from a reliable and professional pharmacy, stop by the Costco Pharmacy. These pharmacies are open to the public, meaning that you don’t even need to be a member to get your prescription filled.

Free Samples Are Your Best Friend

Did you know that the sample carts at Costco aren’t actually owned by Costco? As it turns out, these folks are contractors who are more than happy to hand free sample after free sample. Costco likes to encourage the sample carts to be free with their offerings, so don’t feel bad about going for seconds.

The Real Reason Costco Checks Your Receipt

When you leave Costco and they check your receipt you probably think its related to shop lifting in the store. But the General Manager Keven Heuer says that theft isn’t a huge issue at Costco and what they mainly are doing when they check your receipt is to make sure that you weren’t over charged or under charged.

Look Out for ‘Kirkland Signature’ to Get Discounts

Every major big box store will have its own line of discount brands and Costco is no different. Costco offers the Kirkland Signature line which is competitive with every other major brand on the market while significantly discounted. If you are already shopping at Costco, you might as well go all-in with your discount by picking up quality Kirkland Signature products.

Know the Best Shopping Days

Trying to beat the rush at Costco can be tough, but not hopeless. If you want to get in and out of Costco without feeling hemmed in by the crowd, focus your shopping on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Costco’s slowest shopping periods are in the morning during the week. Who doesn’t like strolling through a calm store?

Don’t Blindly Trust Your ‘Savings’

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money, but it doesn’t always mean that you will be making out like a bandit. Some products are priced great but the deals aren’t all that they appear. Make sure to look at price/OZ when comparing individual products with their bulk counterparts to see if the deal is actually worth it.

Walk Down the Aisle for Better Prices

The majority of shopping in Costco will be done at the ends of each aisle, or the aisle caps, as well as in the center of the floor. If you want to take advantage of some of the best deals in the shop, set your sights in the middle of the aisle. Costco likes to push their best bargains away from public spotlight, so don’t be afraid to start sleuthing.

Embrace Buying Bulk Meat

If you really want to take advantage of Costco’s bulk prices, make sure to shop for meat on your next trip. Costco’s frozen meat section offers some of the finest bargains in the entire store. Make sure you have a big freezer at home, because it is time to save some money!

Make Sure You Get Sale Prices

Is there anything more frustrating than buying an item only for it to go on sale a week later? Don’t worry, Costco doesn’t want to leave you frustrated. The staff at Costco will honor their price cuts for up to 30 days after your initial purchase. Feel free to come back with your old receipt in order to get your discount.

Take Advantage of the Costco Return Policy

Costco is ultimately focused on ensuring the satisfaction of its customers. For that reason, Costco has made sure to offer one of the most expansive return policies in the industry. If you have an item that you want to return, don’t hesitate to call. Costco will probably let you return the product. One customer even returned her old and dead Christmas tree!

Dig Deep for the Best Sale Prices

Costco doesn’t like to let its customers get too comfortable while they are shopping. If you notice that your Costco shopping experience is a little different every time, that’s probably because it is! Costco likes to rearrange their products regularly, so make sure you keep an eye open for new deals in old areas. They don’t call it Costco treasure hunting for no reason!

Use a Spam Email to Sign up For Costco Coupons

While Costco does a great job of filling your mailbox with coupons, you don’t have to wait for them to arrive in the mail. Instead, create a junk account to sign up for the Costco newsletter. You’ll be sent coupons directly to your inbox that you can use the very same day. What’s not to like about that?

Check Costco’s Policy for Available Discounts

There are many available discount programs at Costco that customers can take advantage of. While membership can be pricey, using these discounts can help to make it more affordable. Students, members of the armed forces, and Gold Star family members will be able to receive significant discounts as well as free products.

Avoid Costco Soda Deals

If you find yourself with a sweet tooth, you might want to satisfy it somewhere else. Soda is billed as a ‘loss-leader’ for companies like Costco because the products are discounted so deeply, Costco loses money on each sale. Why does this matter? Well, Costco uses these deep discounts to inflate prices in other areas.

Don’t Shop in the Center of the Store

If you’ve been in multiple warehouse stores like Costco, you’ll start to realize that the overpriced stuff is right in the middle of the store! From clothing to overpriced snacks, clothing, and books, Costco is trying to make up for their discounts with ancillary purchases. Don’t fall into the trap of alluring products!

The Store Is Purposely Disorganized

Humans are creatures of habit. When we go to the same store long enough, we naturally angle toward familiar spaces. As a result, we miss out on many potential deals and product options. Costco realizes that people follow beaten paths, so they try to change up their organization as often as possible.  There is no rhyme or reason to how the store is laid out, their goal is to promote impulse purchases.

Check Costco Roadshow Scheduling

Costco likes to host companies to showcase their products. If you walk into a Costco one weekend, you’ll see different samples than you did the weekend prior. Brands like to travel around the country hitting different major stores, so ask Costco about their roadshow schedule to get a leg up on what is coming next!

Skip Coupons, Use the Costco App

If you are a more digitally-minded individual, skip coupons and websites altogether. Costco has a great little app that showcases all of the best deals and offers currently available. You can use the app to create your own shopping list or to print photos of items that you want to see while in the store.

Plan Your Vacation With ‘Costco Travel’

Costco has an impressive and expansive selection of lifestyle services for its members. If you are looking to take a trip in the near future, check out the Costco Travel perks that are available to you. There will be age restrictions on certain perks, such as renting a car (25+), so be aware before you book anything.

Head to the Food Court for Cheap Combos

The Costco food court might have the best deals in the entire store. You can get an amazing array of food combos for jawdropping prices and the food isn’t bad, either! A hot dog and soda combo will run you just $1.50 with a large pizza sitting at just $11. Make your trip to Costco an afternoon affair by starting with lunch!

Costco Has Discounted Auto Insurance

Did you know that you can apply for home and auto insurance along with your Costco membership? Costco works with several major insurance companies to provide its customers with legitimate discounts. If you already have great auto insurance, it doesn’t hurt to get a second estimate. Many people get into the habit of paying their insurance rates without realizing better options are on the horizon!

Focus on Frozen Food and Dry Goods

The best way to use your Costco membership is to focus on items that are significantly discounted compared to other shopping locations. Costco’s best deals will revolve around its dry goods and frozen food sections. Costco members can enjoy bulk food discounts on various dry products and frozen products such as meat, soda, condiments and so on.

Shop on Costco’s Website to Use Alternate Payment Methods

Shopping at Costco can be tough if you don’t have a cash card or, well, cash. If you want to enjoy Costco discounts without relying on these odd payment sources, consider heading to the official Costco website, instead. You can purchase anything from Costco’s inventory with whatever payment method you preferred. 

Avoid Bulk Goods That Can Perish

Getting five oranges at a discount is great. You will probably eat those oranges before they go bad. Buying 50 oranges at a discount, well, that’s a different story. Bulk purchasing perishable items won’t exactly lead you to saving money. Instead, you’ll just end up spending more to waste more product. Unless you know you’ll go through all of the items, you’re better off avoiding bulk purchases on perishable products.

Get Discounted Movies Tickets at Costco

With the rise of streaming platforms coupled with rampant piracy, movie theaters are more than ready to jack up their prices. If you want to go see the big new Marvel movie but can’t afford the tickets, you can shop through Costco for its special ticket bundles. For Costco members, going to the theater just got a whole lot more affordable.

Costco Does NOT Have a Backroom

In most traditional stores, it is normal to ask if there are any items in the backroom. With Costco, everything that they have is on the floor or the racks. If Costco is out of something, it is truly gone. With that being said, you can still ask a customer service rep to see if your product has been moved.

A Ringing Bell Signifies Fresh Rotisserie Chicken

Costco has delicious rotisserie chicken and at under $5 a bird, we are definitely buying. If you want to get the freshest and tastiest rotisserie chicken possible, wait until you hear a bell ringing near the chicken station. This bell means that fresh rotisserie chickens are being put on the floor for sale.

Sign Up For the Costco Wedding Registry

If you really want to take advantage of the rampant deals available at Costco, consider signing up for their wedding registry service. The wedding registry at Costco is perfect for stocking the house up on all your necessities after you get back from your honeymoon! Of course, we don’t advocate for taking advantage of this registry unless you are actually, you know, getting married.

Keep An Eye On Your Children

Costco is a large and fascinating store, so it is the perfect place for children to get lost. With machines, giant carts, and crowds of people around, make sure that you keep your little ones nearby. If you do lose sight of your kids, don’t worry — Costco can help you out immediately, just let an employee know.

Return Your Membership If You Are Dissatisfied

Costco has gone above and beyond when it comes to satisfying its customers. We’ve already discussed the generous return policy at Costco, but did you know that they also let you return your ACTUAL membership? It’s true! The generous return policy at Costco shouldn’t be abused, but if you aren’t happy with your service then feel free to get a refund.

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