5 Thing s to Know Before You Shop at Costco

Costco is a warehouse store that offers big savings on groceries, household products, and an array of seasonal merchandise. If you have a large family to feed or you're just not into clipping coupons, Costco is the way to go. Before you head to the store, keep a few things in mind to maximize your savings.

1. Skip the Membership Fee

If you want to shop at Costco without buying a membership, try using a Costco gift card. Just ask a friend with a membership to buy the card for you and then use it to make your purchase at the register.

2. Look at the Price Tags

You should always check the price when you’re shopping for deals. But Costco’s price tags tell you a bit more:

  • Regular membership prices end with .99. These may or may not be a good deal. You’ll need to do a bit of research to compare with other stores.
  • If a price ends with .X9 (e.g. .49, .59, .79 — but not .99), it’s a manufacturer’s special offer.
  • Costco’s clearance items end with .97. These are usually good deals.
  • If a price ends with .00, it’s a manager’s special price. These are often the best sales in the store.
  • If an item has an asterisk next to the price, it won’t be restocked.

3. Get an Executive Membership for Extra Savings

If you plan to do a lot of shopping at Costco, you may save more money with an Executive Membership. You will shell out $120, but you’ll earn 2% cash back. The Executive Membership pays for itself if you think you’ll spend more than $3,000 at Costco this year.

4. Check the Savings Booklet

Costco doesn’t honor manufacturer coupons, but they do offer their own “instant savings” in a new booklet each month. You can find a copy online or near the customer service area. You don’t need to clip these coupons to save. They automatically adjust the price at the register when you checkout.

5. Bring Cash or Your Visa Credit Card

This tip won’t help you save money, but it may save you a lot of hassle and frustration. Before you head to Costco, make sure you have cash, a Visa card, or a Costco gift card. Other payment options aren’t accepted in-store. If you want to pay with a Discover or MasterCard, you can shop online instead, but the prices are usually a bit higher.