Costco is tricky because you walk in thinking everything is going to be a steal of a deal. I mean, you’re literally paying $60/year to shop there, so everything inside the warehouse should be a good deal… right?
The hard truth is that not everything at Costco is going to be worth the buy. Not even close. Sometimes quality alone might tip the scale into the more expensive. And Costco’s Kirkland brand is famous for being one of the best store brands out there, but it’s still technically generic.
So which items are on our list of what not to buy at Costco? We investigated nearly every deal inside the warehouse and found a handful of items that stuck out as being a poor deal at regular price when you compare the prices to other stores. Let’s dig into our list of what not to buy at Costco — then you can check out our list of the best deals at Costco.
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1. Produce is top on our list of what not to buy at Costco based on the price.
Costco’s produce can trick almost anyone. The packaging is so big, and the produce looks so fresh! It must be a good deal, right?
When it comes to fresh produce deals, we compared prices across Walmart, Kroger, Target, Aldi, Grocery Outlet, and Costco. The only categories of produce where Costco had the best prices? Apples and bananas. For the rest of the produce items, you’ll find cheaper prices elsewhere.
Related: Check out all of our best tips for buying inexpensive produce.
2. Just say no to school supplies at Costco.
We’ve already mapped out the cheapest places to buy school supplies, and you’ll notice that Costco isn’t on the list. When that little voice in your head tells you Costco must have cheap prices on back-to-school supplies, just say no and head to Walmart, Target, or Amazon instead.
The best deals we saw for Costco’s back-to-school prices in 2022 were:
- $0.50 Expo markers
- $0.36 Sharpie markers
In July 2022, Costco offered $5 off a $13.99 pack of 18 Expo markers or $5 off a $13.99 pack of 25 Sharpie markers, which brought the prices low enough to meet our stock-up price guide for school supplies.
Here are a few deals from competitors that give you stock-up prices on school supplies:
3. Skip buying eggs at Costco.
I hate to bring more bad news about Costco, but when we cost-compared egg prices across popular grocery stores, Costco came in dead last.
Costco was the most expensive option at $0.21 per egg, while Aldi came in first place for low egg costs at just $0.14 per egg. Of course, egg prices have been fluctuating a lot lately, so prices may vary at your warehouse.
But we did find a superb deal on Starbucks egg bites at Costco — you’ll save 44% compared to the Starbucks price per serving with this deal:
Related: We found the cheapest grocery store in America — and you may be surprised.
4. Get canned soup cheaper at Sam’s Club.
Here’s the thing: When you’re paying at least $60/year for a membership, prices shouldn’t equal what other stores are offering.
But when we compared the cost per ounce of canned soup at all the major stores, Costco’s prices were $0.02/oz more than Sam’s Club, and exactly even with Walmart and Kroger.
The prices for canned soup at Costco were only $0.01/oz less than Target. And there’s almost always a soup coupon you can use at Target (that you can’t use at Costco), and if you pay with a Target Red Card, you’ll save an extra 5%. Not to mention you’re not paying for an annual membership at Target like you do at Costco.
The lesson here? Just skip the soup aisles at Costco. Here’s the deal at Sam’s Club:
Related: Not familiar with Sam’s Club? Here are our top picks for the best things to buy at Sam’s Club.
5. Costco’s Kirkland diapers aren’t usually priced as well as you might think.
If you’re buying diapers on a regular basis, you might expect that Kirkland diapers would be the best deal out there. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Taking into account Amazon’s 20% Subscribe & Save discount, you can get a 196-count box of Mama Bear diapers (Size 1) from Amazon for $26.16, which comes out to $0.13 per diaper.
A similar box at Costco — the 192-count box of Kirkland diapers (Size 1) — regularly costs $34.99, or $0.18 per diaper. That’s an increase of $0.05 per diaper over Amazon’s price.
The one exception would be if you’re shopping at Costco when there’s an Instant Savings deal (like we recently saw June 12 – 18) that knocks off around $9 per box. During the June sale, we found Kirkland diapers on sale for as low as $0.14/diaper.
But if there’s not an Instant Savings deal at Costco, buy from Amazon where you can get them as low as $0.11 each with a 20% Subscribe & Save discount and a Prime member deal:
6. Skip buying electronics at Costco and just ask for a price match at Best Buy, Fry’s, or Staples instead.
Plenty of other big-name stores will price match Costco’s electronics prices. This means you can still enjoy Costco’s prices without paying the $60 annual membership fee.
Best Buy, Fry’s, Home Depot, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Sears, and Staples will all price-match identical electronics from Costco. Just be sure to read the fine print to make sure all the little details line up for a clean-cut price match.
For example, here’s a current deal I found at Best Buy that’s offered for a lower price at Costco:
TIP: One reason to buy electronics at Costco is the generous return policy. So, make sure you’re happy with the competitor’s return policy if you decide to price match elsewhere instead.
7. Ditch the Costco-size can of coffee unless you want to start losing flavor after two weeks.
According to Coffee Brew Guides, coffee beans should be consumed within two weeks of purchase. This is probably why most standard-size bags of coffee last the average household around 1 – 2 weeks.
So unless you’re going to go through Costco’s 3-pound can of Kirkland Signature 100% Columbian Coffee within 2 weeks of purchase, you should probably just stick to the smaller bags.
And if K-Cups are more your style, you can use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save to purchase Starbucks Pikes Place K-Cups for $0.44/pod with the 15% Subscribe & Save discount.
The same Starbucks K-Cups at Costco are priced at $0.51/pod, which is $0.07 more per pod compared to the Amazon price.