Costco is a magical place where you can find the best deals in bulk, the best hot dogs this side of paradise, and all of the Kirkland Signature products. While those discounted prices are nothing to shake a stick at, shopping at Costco can still get pricy fast if you don’t pay attention to what you plop into your cart. However, there are lots of Costco hacks out there to help you keep costs low while still snagging the free samples in every aisle.
From regular price tag hacks to tips for shopping without a Costco membership, these hacks will save you time, money, and peace of mind.
1. Keep an eye out for $.97 price tags.
Most Costco products will end in $.99, but if you spot those ending in $.97, it indicates that the product is marked down for clearance. Additionally, it’s an indicator of what has sold well and hasn’t.
As Leon Rapoport researched on ToughNickel, sometimes you’ll find the previous price printed in the bottom left-hand corner of the tag.
2. Don’t forget to look for $.88 or $.00, either.
Unlike $.97, if an item ends in $.88 or $.00, Rapoport discovered that the store staff is trying to move it off the floor quickly. If you spot a tag with an asterisk in the upper right-hand corner, that means it won’t be restocked. These are also known as Manager Markdowns.
If that’s the case, it’s time to buy bulk for a product you love because that’s the last time you might see it in the store. This is especially true for seasonal items, but seasonal items are more likely to be restocked than generic items.
3. Look out for indicators of these price drops.
You’ll know you’re getting more bang from your buck when you purchase items that end in odd cent amounts because these items signal Costco purchased them directly from the manufacturer. By cutting out the middle man at the wholesale club, they’re often able to offer steeper savings.
4. If you don’t have a membership, a Costco cash card is all you need.
If you don’t buy into big box stores with a regular membership fee of $60, you can still shop at Costco. If you have friends or family members that are members, simply ask them for a Costco cash card, essentially Costco gift cards. All you need to do is flash the card as you walk in, and shop away.
As Lifehacker points out, “If you have a cash card worth only $25 and you rack up a couple of hundred bucks worth of merchandise, you can simply pay the difference with one of their accepted payment methods.” Now that’s a smart shopping trip.
5. Know what you can buy without a membership card.
If you don’t have a membership, you can still shop without a Costco cash card. The Costco pharmacy is available to members and non-members alike, and you can even use the online prescription filler with free delivery from the warehouse store.
Costco also offers immunization shots and lung health screenings for all, and non-members can schedule appointments with the Costco optometrist in the price club. Non-members can buy alcohol at Costco without a membership in some states, but it varies depending on your state’s laws. Finally, you can enjoy all of the famed Costco food court offerings with a membership fee.
6. Kirkland Signature is your best bet for savings.
Kirkland Signature is comparable to almost every brand name product because they are often produced by those brand name companies at lesser prices. It’s rumored that Grey Goose makes the Kirkland vodka, and Jim Beam makes the Kirkland bourbon.
We’ve listed the best bang-for-your-buck purchases in the grocery store, household goods, and Kirkland products here.
7. Bring your local grocery flyer to come out on top.
Grab your local grocery store flyers and use it as a guide during your Costco shopping trip. Lifehacker points out this is the one of the smartest tricks to use in the bulk store. Bulk shopping can seem tricky because it’s easy to assume you’re getting the best deal, but that’s not always the case at places like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale.
Pull out your phone calculator and do some quick math to make sure you’re really getting the best bang for your buck, especially if space and storage is a concern.
8. If you buy bulk, buy bulk meat.
You don’t even need to buy an expensive vacuum sealer for this tip because you can make a DIY sealer at home here. The bulk meat deals are by far some of the most best Costco offers, so grab the most beef, chicken, and pork you can find. Cut into portions when you get home, vacuum seal, and freeze.
You’ll have meat savings and then some with a full freezer for months.
Check your nearest Costco location for more information, and remember that every shopping experience at the warehouse giant should be frugal, smart, and effective.