The annual cost of a Costco membership is definitely well worth it. In this post, we will share with you the Top 10 Costco Shopping Tips and Tricks To Save You Money!
The annual cost for a basic Gold Star Membership is $55 and Costco will refund your membership at any time if you are not satisfied. What if you want to find out beforehand what it's like to shop at the Costco Warehouse? Well, there are a couple of different (easy) ways to do a test run.
1.) First, ask a friend who is a Costco member to purchase a gift card for you, or have them order one online for you and it will ship directly to you by mail! You will probably want to purchase the lowest denomination for a gift card available ($50) because if you spend more when you shop at Costco, you will be able to pay for the remainder of the balance with another form of payment. You can also use these cards to pay for gasoline at a Costco location.
2.) Secondly - before you go on your shopping trip, check out the most recent sale prices on items using our Bargainmoose Weekly Costco posts, and make a shopping list.
- For East Costco warehouse locations, click on this link.
- For West Costco warehouse locations, click on this link.
- You will also want to join either the East or West location Facebook groups mentioned in the beginning of these posts, because you will also find other good deals there as well!
You may not realize this, but Costco does not advertise all of their sale prices each week. They publish on their website each week a selection of sale items, but that is always just the tip of the iceberg.
Now that you have your gift card in hand, you may use that to enter the Costco warehouse. It's definitely not a long term solution to avoid paying the membership fees though, because you can only reload the card if you are a Costco member.
What if you want to go to Costco only to get a prescription filled, or see an optometrist there or eat at the food court? (The $1.50 hotdog with pop is an amazing deal!) I have even heard that they have no plans to ever change the price on their hot dog with pop! Hopefully that is true. Apparently you can participate in all of the above activities without a membership but you would always have to explain to a Costco staff member what you were doing, as they are always located at the entrance and exit, checking for memberships.
3.) Purchasing Kirkland Signature products are a great way to save money. These are generally top of the line products possessing superior quality but at a lesser cost than the original name brand product. Factor in that you are purchasing in bulk (bigger packages than normal) and you have got the best savings possible, especially when the Kirkland Signature products go on sale! Kirkland Signature should be your go-to brand for laundry and dish washing detergents, pet foods (these tend to be highly rated), and oh yes - if you have a baby? The diapers! Kirkland Signature makes excellent baby diapers and wipes.
4.) Does Costco participate in the Scanning Code Of Practice, better known as 'SCOP?' Yes, they do! (Read all about it in this Bargainmoose Scanning Code Of Practice Post if you are unfamiliar with SCOP.) However, with that being said, in all my years of shopping there, I have only once had a price error found once on my receipt - that is how effective they are with keeping up with their pricing on the shelves. Always check receipts before you leave the store in case of a price error mentioned above or in case something has been scanned in twice by accident.
5.) Did you know that you can use phone apps like Checkout 51 to receive even more money back when you purchase products that are listed on the Checkout 51 app? You can submit Costco receipts to Checkout 51, and earn back the amount of money specified in the app, as a rebate. Costco does not accept manufacturer's coupons. Maybe it's a time/cost effective money saver for them, or maybe because they are already so low priced (for size/quantity/quality of their products) they don't feel a need to offer additional savings other than their own coupons. Which by the way, you no longer have to cut out and present. Years ago we used to have to present the coupons for them to scan, but now it is automated in their system so you don't get back home and realize you missed giving them a coupon.
6.) Bargainmoose writer, Brooke, wrote about this excellent tip for our readers a short while ago; you will want to read about this Costco Secret Shopping Tip here, if you haven't already.
7.) Prices that end in a $0.97 are on clearance, and often will get marked down more and more, as time goes on. We purchased a BBQ toward the end of the season last summer and because I noted it ended in a $0.97, I kept the receipt in my purse. Every time I went back, I checked on it and sure enough, it was marked down more. They processed price adjustments two times for me! The trick though, is that stock has to be on hand in that store in order for them to process a price adjustment. Some stores vary with their policies so the bottom line is, even if ultimately you have to repurchase at the new lower cost, (but then return the item with your original receipt), that seems to be an accepted way of doing so if they can not process a price adjustment for you - but again, it may vary. Out of courtesy it is considerate to of course return the new, unopened product, so that they may still sell it to others, rather than letting it go to waste.
8.) The samples of food are always great, the food demo employees are sanitary in their food prep procedures and Costco often has a lot of food demo stations set up at various spots throughout the store. They usually offer up the best products available to sample, too, and often they are on sale so you will save money if you decide to purchase the product. Typically, 2 out of 3 times I will end up purchasing the products that they are providing samples of. I purchased the butter chicken sauce in the 2-jar pack last week because they had a demo of it over rice. I didn't even taste it, but by the delicious scent of it cooking, I knew it would be good, and it is superb!
9.) Looking for some entertainment? At Costco, you can purchase the Cineplex Great Escape Movie Package which includes 2 General Admissions, 2 Regular Soft Drinks and 1 Regular Popcorn , for a little under $25 in-warehouse. The cost of general admission at the theatre doors costs more than that for 2 people, so essentially you are receiving the medium popcorn and 2 drinks for free. Not only that - but for around 50 cents extra at the cinema, you can upgrade your medium popcorn to a large. And no - I have not yet figured out how to not have to pay additional for 2 squirts of real butter! Can't make it in to a Costco warehouse to pick up some tix? For $24.99 you can purchase the printable (or downloadable to your phone) tickets, but note, there are new provisions now where you do not receive your tickets until 48 hours after purchase. My tip is to always have one set of tickets on hand, as you never know when the urge to see a movie will strike you.
10.) The Costco no-nonsense return policy is unsurpassed by any other retailer - This ends up saving you money in case there is something 'wrong' with the product, or if it is not up to your standards, etc. because you have a lot of leeway to return it. Electronics are the exception to the rule, as they have a 90 day policy, (which is more than enough time to properly test out a product and they also sell excellent extended warranties for very reasonable amounts.) It saves you money when you are not stuck with a product that you dislike (such as, a highly scented laundry detergent that most retailers wouldn't think of taking back once you use it.) Costco is always superb with their customer service, and it brings their customers back to them over and over again.
Happy Costco Shopping!