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Eager to buy in bulk but not sure if Costco warehouse savings are worth the membership? I got you. Even if you’re a seasoned Costco shopper, I have a few shopping secrets that can help you save money and time. Let’s get started.
Be sure to download the Krazy Coupon Lady app for more money-saving Costco tips and deals.
1. Costco doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons.
Unfortunately, you can’t use any manufacturer coupons at Costco. That shouldn’t stop you from shopping the warehouse giant, as they offer their own coupons on many items you can’t get from other stores.
2. Costco warehouse coupons are called “Instant Savings.”
Costco mails members a “coupon” booklet every month, but in reality, there’s no clipping involved. The advertised discounts automatically come off at the register. Don’t have one or you’re a non-member shopping with a Costco Shop card? Stop by the customer service desk for a savings booklet, or look for red tags like the one above throughout the store.
3. Stack Costco coupons with rebate apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Fetch Rewards.
Stacking Costco coupons with rebate apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Fetch Rewards puts money right back in your pocket. Just buy the product available for a rebate, and scan your receipt while in the app. (New to Ibotta? Sign up with this Ibotta link to receive up to $20 in bonuses!)
Here’s an example of a great Costco deal: “Spend $100 on P&G products and receive a $25 Costco Shop card.” I stacked this with the Costco coupon book instant savings in several categories to save more. Here’s what I did with laundry detergent:
Instant savings – $10/2 – Tide Pods, 168 count AND Bounce Dryer Sheets, 160 count 2-pack
Buy 1 Tide Ultra Concentrated Free & Gentle HE Liquid Laundry Detergent, 208 ounces $24.99, regular price
Instant savings – $5/1 – Tide Ultra Concentrated Free & Gentle, 208 ounces
Buy 1 Downy Infusions Calm Fabric Softener, 115 oz $18.99, regular price
Instant savings – $2/1 – Downy Infusions Calm Fabric Softener, 115 ounces
Buy 1 Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Variety Pack, 11 count $9.89, regular price
Instant savings – $3/1 – Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Variety Pack, 11 count
Buy 1 Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Cloths, 64 count $15.79, regular price
Instant savings – $3.20/1 – Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Cloths, 64 count
Buy 1 Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, 92 count $19.99, regular price
Instant savings – $5/1 – Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, 92 count
Spend $100 on P&G through Sept. 27, submit for $25 Costco Shop Card
Pay $101.43, receive $25 Costco Shop CardFinal Price: $76.43, when you buy 7
Savings: $53.20, or 41%
4. Browse through Costco’s monthly ad before you overspend.
We’ve all been there. You get to Costco for a few items, and the next thing you know you’ve spent a month’s salary. Instead of aimlessly wandering the warehouse, browse through Costco’s monthly sales ad (Member-Only Warehouse Savings) before you shop. This way you can see what’s discounted and stay (hopefully) focused on those particular specials as you cruise through the store.
5. Pay with Visa, Mastercard, and Discover credit cards when you shop at Costco.com only.
Buy at Costco.com and use Discover, Mastercard, and other Visa cards, not just a Costco Visa. In store the only credit cards they accept are Visa.
6. Skip Kirkland frozen chicken breasts; no Costco warehouse savings here.
It’s true. Kirkland frozen chicken breasts aren’t the cheapest you can get. Brand-name Foster Farms frozen chicken breasts are actually $0.45 less per lb than Costco’s.
7. New Costco membership promotions include a $20 Costco Shop card for firefighters, police officers, and EMTs.
New Costco membership deals offer medical personnel, including first responders, a $20 Costco Shop card when they sign up for a new membership. Students who join Costco receive the same. Military members active, veteran, or retired can get a $30 Costco Shop card when they join. This military offer extends to spouses and dependents as well.
8. Get an eye exam at Costco Optical for $65 and buy your glasses elsewhere.
Costco’s licensed, independent opticians will perform a vision and eye health check right in the store at Costco Optical. Best part? You don’t have to be a Costco member to get the exam! Just let the door attendant know you have an appointment. Schedule an appointment at your local Costco warehouse.
While you can buy glasses at Costco (with a membership), I’ve found that online eyeglass retailers like Warby Parker or Zenni Optical have a greater selection of lenses.
Related: We did a deep dive into how Costco Optical works.
9. Costco Pharmacy’s Member Prescription Program can save you up to 82% on retail prices.
One of the many perks of a Costco membership is the Costco Member Prescription Program (CMPP). Don’t worry: there’s no additional sign-up or fees; merely show your Costco membership card at the pharmacy and save up to 82% on retail prices. Even better, you can grab pet medications that regular pharmacies don’t carry and shop for your groceries while you wait (take that CVS and Walgreens). Find your local participating Costco pharmacy.
Costco: Simvastatin, generic for Zocor, 10mg. 90 count, $11
Costco: Lisinopril, generic for Prinivil and Zestril, 20mg. 90 count $11
Costco: Metformin, generic for Glucophage, 500mg. 180 count, $11
10. Grab a 5.5lb bag of Costco’s Kirkland frozen vegetables for $0.10 an ounce.
Tired of the broken bits of frozen broccoli stems you find in regular store-brand frozen veggie bags? Yeah, me too. I started buying the Kirkland bag of Normandy Style veggies and haven’t looked back. The quality beats store brands, and the price is comparable to Birds Eye at other retailers like Walmart.
BIRDS EYE Normandy Blend, 60 ounces, $5.89 ($0.10 per ounce)
11. Get a Costco price adjustment if the price drops within 30 days of your original purchase.
Costco will give members the difference in a sales price in cash back within 30 days of the price dropping (AKA price adjustment) with the original receipt.
12. Costco’s Kirkland batteries are just as good as Duracell.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Rumor has it that Kirkland batteries are made in the same factory as Duracell. Other comparable products under the Kirkland name that I love are trash bags, seasoning, and diapers.
13. Use a Costco Shop Card without a membership.
Know someone with a Costco membership? Ask them to buy you a Costco Shop Card (essentially a gift card for Costco). You can gain access to all the sweet deals within the store for as low as $25 and as high as $2,000 without paying a membership fee! Just show the card to the door greeter and you’re in.
14. Look for Costco price tags ending in either a 7 or a 0 for the best deals.
Decoding Costco’s price tags can help ensure you’re getting a bargain. After much detective work I’ve found that the amounts have significant meanings:
- Prices that end in $0.97 are national markdowns
- Prices ending in $0.00 are local markdowns
- An asterisk indicates an item won’t be restocked
15. Costco’s Executive Membership can pay for itself if you spend $250 a month in store or on Costco.com.
If you shop Costco on the regular, you’re best off with the Executive membership. Before you grumble about its $120 price tag, hear me out. When you join Costco you have to buy a membership like the regular Gold Star membership for $60 a year. For an additional $60 you can get an Executive membership and earn 2% back on every Costco purchase in store and online. Spend $3,000 each year (or $250 a month) and your membership fee is a wash. Spend more than that threshold and your 2% earnings will continue to stack up. At the end of the year, you’ll receive your annual reward voucher that you can use on any Costco purchase.
16. Watch for Groupon’s New Costco Membership package every fall.
If you’re not a current Costco member, watch for a Groupon Costco Gold Star membership deal between August and October that could get you a Shop card and exclusive savings. In 2021, here’s what they offered for new members:
- Buy a one-year Costco Gold Star membership (with auto-renewal and an additional card for a household member over 18 years old) for $60
- Receive $40 Costco Shop card (usable toward fuel too)
- $40 off any order of $250+ on Costco.com
17. Scan Costco toys while shopping in store with the Amazon Shopping app.
With the Amazon Shopping app, you can compare prices on the spot. It’s not often any store can beat Amazon pricing, but when they do, run with it! One area where Amazon loses to Costco is prices on hot brand-name toys like Nerf and American Girl, especially in stores (warehouse prices are typically cheaper than what you see on Costco.com).
18. Shop Costco’s new arrivals, clearance, and seasonal savings.
Like other retailers, a new season brings on new goodies to the store shelves. Picking up seasonal items at the right time can save you a few extra bucks. Here’s the best time to buy new arrivals, clearance, and seasonal merchandise at Costco:
- January – furniture arrives, winter jackets go on clearance as does kitchen storage and office supplies
- February – chocolate-covered strawberries arrive (week of Valentine’s Day) and specials like $39.99 50-stem roses (delivery online)
- March – tax software and grills
- April – summer alcohol (vodka popsicles & Kirkland strawberry margarita)
- May – mattresses, Mother’s Day specials like $39.99 50-stem roses (delivery online)
- June – furniture arrives, Back to School arrives (late June)
- July – furniture goes on sale (after 4th of July), Back to School best sales (mid-July to late Aug)
- August – Halloween costumes, American Girl Dolls (online)
- September – Christmas toys and decor arrive
- October – American Girl Dolls arrive in stores (late Oct. – Nov.)
- November – Turkeys and Thanksgiving fixings (aka huge pumpkin pies)
- December – Christmas toys and decor on clearance (mid Dec.)
19. Score up to 20% savings in Costco’s gift card section.
Whether you’re looking for a quick and inexpensive gift idea or you want to take the family out, pick up some discounted gift cards in Costco’s gift card section and save up to 20% on the retail price. Here are some deals we’ve seen in the past:
- The Honey Baked Ham Company, two $50 Gift Cards $79.99 (reg. $100)
- Outback Steakhouse, five $20 Gift Cards, $79.99 (reg. $100)
Current in-store deal at Costco:
20. Enjoy more rotisserie chicken at Costco for less.
Costco rotisserie chickens are around three pounds, while the birds at Walmart and other supermarkets are only 1.5 pounds and cost the same: $4.99.
Related: Costco Food Court tips and tricks.
21. Costco’s credit card offers you cash back and extended manufacturer warranties.
The Costco credit card offers users savings at Costco warehouses and online, in addition to other retailers. Plus, you can extend your standard Costco Concierge warranty by two years when you purchase with your Costco Citi credit card. Here are the cash-back offers:
- 4% on gas at Costco and other gas stations (1% at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other warehouse club gas stations)
- 3% on restaurants and some Costco travel
- 2% on other purchases at Costco warehouses and Costco.com
- 1% on all other purchases
I use my Costco card enough throughout the year that I earn enough cash back to cover the cost of my $120 membership fee. Be sure to pay off your balance every month; otherwise, you won’t see any savings.
22. Costco’s half sheet cake sells for $19.99, while supermarkets charge over $18 for a quarter sheet.
You have to place an order for your sheet cake, but Costco can usually turn orders around in 24 hours. Here’s what you can expect to pay at other grocery stores:
- Kroger: 1/4 sheet cake $18.99
- Meijer: 1/4 sheet cake $23.99, 1/2 sheet cake $34.99
- Walmart: 1/4 sheet cake $18.98, 1/2 sheet cake $29.98
Related: Find out what else you can custom-order through Costco Catering.
23. Buy Costco electronics and receive free tech support.
Buy electronics at Costco, and get free tech support.
You might not have noticed, but if you’ve bought a TV, computer, tablet, camera, or Blu-ray player at Costco, there’s a free tech support sticker right on the box.
Call (866) 861-0450 between 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT anytime except holidays, for assistance with your electronics. Have your name, Costco membership number, item number, model, serial number, and purchase date handy.
- Costco: free
- Best Buy: Standard Geek Squad Protection on a refrigerator for three years $159.99
Buy an Apple product through Costco and pay less than directly through Apple, even though they both are offered by Apple’s Tech Team.
- Costco: AppleCare+ for 13″ MacBook Pro for three years $214.99
- Apple: AppleCare+ for 13″ MacBook Pro for three years $249
24. Book through Costco Travel to receive exclusive deals on cheap flights and hotels all over the world.
Costco offers exclusive deals on cheap flights and hotels all over the world. In the past I’ve seen offers like 25% off Disney Resort Hotels, $150 Disney bonus gift cards, and special perks like memory photo packages included for free when you purchase an all-inclusive vacation.
Related: Check out more about Costco travel.
25. Skip shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, and razors at Costco.
Sadly, Costco isn’t the best place to buy a few items like razors, shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste. You can get better deals on these items elsewhere like CVS and Walgreens, because you can use and (often) stack store rewards, coupons, and manufacturer coupons. Sometimes that means you go home with free toothpaste or a moneymaker! Here are Costco’s prices compared to a few deals at pharmacies:
Colgate SF Advanced Whitening Toothpaste, 6.4 ounces, 5-pk, $15.49 ($0.48 per ounce)
Buy 2, receive $4.50 ExtraBucks
Use one $5/3 – Colgate Total Advanced, Optic White Advanced or Renewal, Zero, Enamel Health, Sensitive, or with Charcoal or Hemp Seed Oil Toothpaste, CVS L2C Manufacturer Coupon (cvs.com)
And use one $0.75/1 – Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste 3 oz or larger, limit 4 (colgate.com)
Pay $8.21, receive $9 ExtraBucks
Final Price: $0.79 Moneymaker, when you buy 4
Buy 2, receive $4 Register Reward
Use one $3/2 – Colgate TotalSF Advanced, Optic White Advanced or Renewal, Zero, Enamel Health, Sensitive or with Charcoal or Hemp Seed Oil Toothpastes, Walgreens L2C Coupon (walgreens.com)
Pay $2.98, receive $4 Register Reward
Final Price: $1.02 Moneymaker, when you buy 2
26. Shop Costco between 3 – 5 p.m. weekdays to avoid crowds.
Save yourself time and avoid insane checkout lines by planning your Costco trip on a weekday afternoon.
27. Shop at Costco for alcohol and prescriptions without a membership.
Due to certain laws, Costco can’t limit the sale of alcohol to just members. So, if you’re not a member, you can still take advantage of the great booze deals. You can also purchase prescription drugs without a membership.
28. Costco’s Kirkland Signature isn’t always cheaper than other labels.
While the flavor of Costco’s Kirkland wines can pass for some brand-name labels, you may not save buying from Costco. Wondering how many glasses in a bottle? According to Vinovest.co, it is around 147 millimeters for a typical glass of wine, so a 750 milliliter bottle should get you about five glasses.
- Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, 750 milliliters, $14.99 ($3 per glass)
- Yellow Tail, Cabernet Sauvignon, 1,000 milliliters, $14.99 ($2.20 per glass)
- Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon, 750 milliliters, $8.49 ($1.66 per glass)
- Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, 750 milliliters, $8.49 ($1.66 per glass)