21 Costco Shopping Hacks You Wish You Knew Sooner

Costco Wholesale is a mecca for all things grand and money-saving. The deals you’ll find at Costco cannot be found anywhere else, which helps justify the excesses of buying in bulk. Although you’ll get instant savings, there are more Costco hacks to help you save even more. Check them out.

1. Get your money back from sales

If a product you buy goes on sale later, return to Costco within 30 days of your purchase and request the price difference.

2. Costco has a very generous return policy

If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, return it for a full refund with no questions asked. However, there are limitations on electronics and major appliances, which are subject to a 90-day return policy. You can even return your membership!

3. Subscribe to Costco emails

If you want to get exclusive Costco coupons and offers from Costco.com delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to the emails.

4. Students and military personnel can save on their membership

Costco memberships can get pricey, but if you’re a student, a military member or a veteran, you’ll get exclusive savings. Students will receive a $20 Costco Cash Card when they buy a new Gold Star membership. Military personnel and veterans will receive Costco coupons for free products and more offers valued at over $60.

5. Steer clear of the center of the store

Make your way to the edges of the warehouse to get the best deals Costco has to offer. The center of the store contains strategically placed products to entice you to make impulse purchases. Stick to your shopping list and scope out the edges.

6. An asterisk means the item is disappearing

An asterisk on the top-right corner of a price tag means it’s the last of that product until next season. If you’re contemplating buying it, an asterisk should help push you over the edge.

7. You actually don’t need coupons

Costco has made it as easy as possible for shoppers to save. Keep your eye out for a monthly savings book filled to the brim with unbeatable deals on items from DSLRs and laptops to kombucha and frozen chicken nuggets. If you purchase these featured products, the discount will be automatically applied at checkout. You can also access these offers on the Costco mobile app.

8. Download the Costco app

The Costco app allows you to access all the best offers easily and on the go, shop Costco.com’s special selection of goods, create a shopping list, print photos and see the details of your local Costco warehouse.

9. More payment methods than you think

At Costco warehouses, you can pay with only cash or the Costco American Express credit card. On Costco.com, however, you can pay with any credit card. This way, you can skip lines and avoid hauling heavy purchases from the store to your car to your home.

10. Shop the gift cards section

Some of the best deals at Costco can be found in gift card form. Bundles of movie tickets, theme park tickets, restaurant vouchers and much more can be purchased at a discount. Imagine going back to the days of not having to pay $18 for a movie ticket.


11. Search for prices ending in $0.97

This pricing means the item has been discounted because it hasn’t been selling well. Costco won’t openly advertise that, but this is your chance to save even more.

12. Eat at the food court without a membership

You don’t need a Costco membership to access the super affordable and tasty food court. Just let an employee know you only want to get food, and you can make a beeline straight to your $1.50 hot dog or $1.99 slice of pizza.

13. Save on gas

Costco is incredibly popular for its affordable gas, which is often at least 20 cents per gallon cheaper than other gas brands. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a member to save. If you don’t have a Costco membership, you can still buy gas with a Costco Cash card – you’ll just need a Costco member to purchase the Cash card for you.

14. Get your medication without a membership

Members and nonmembers alike can fill prescriptions at the Costco pharmacy, which offers some of the most affordable generic medication around.

15. Get an eye exam

You don’t need to be a member to enjoy an affordable Costco eye exam for only $60. If you want to purchase contact lenses or glasses, however, a Costco membership is required.

16. Nonmembers in these states can buy alcohol

If you live in one of the following states, you don’t need a Costco membership to purchase alcohol. This is a huge bonus if you’re looking to save a pretty penny, because the Kirkland brand of alcohol is priced much lower than its competitors — without compromising taste and quality.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Vermont

17. Shop Costco on Instacart

And you don’t need a membership to make it happen. Fill your Instacart with everything you need and schedule a delivery time to get your goods sent straight to your doorstep. The downside is there is a delivery fee and some prices are slightly higher, but it may be worth it if you don’t want a membership or you only stock up at Costco a couple times a year.

18. Love Costco’s rotisserie chicken? We do, too

A mere $4.99 for a whole rotisserie chicken is an absolute steal. The secret to getting fresh chickens? Listen for a bell, which signifies a batch of fresh chickens being put out.

19. Rent cars for cheaper

Did you know Costco members can rent cars at a discount? You can take your pick of rental cars from Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise locations, but the minimum 25-year age limit still applies. Just visit the Costco Travel website to start browsing.

20. Get your prints with Costco

Don’t underestimate the quality of photo books, canvas prints, greeting cards and more from Costco Photo Center. Just because the price is unbeatable doesn’t mean this wholesale retailer has sacrificed quality. You can save a lot more than at traditional photo services.

21. Book your vacations and save

Costco’s executive members receive some extra benefits, including extra perks with vacation packages. Although you can’t book individual flights, you can book air travel as part of a larger vacation package that includes hotels, activities, tours, car rentals and more. Check out the Costco Travel page to learn more.

Follow these Costco tricks and hacks, and you’ll be on your way to massive savings in no time. Happy shopping!

From the latest tech to the hottest fashions and everything in between, the editors at The Smart Shopper are in the know and ready share their expertise. Check out our posts on shopping secrets and product trends for those who live for a little retail therapy.

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