Dawn Papandrea | 

11 Costco Pricing Secrets to Get the Best Possible Deal

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My family and I joke that Costco is the “land of the large,” with jumbo versions of all our favorite household staples. But the warehouse is also great for large savings, too … as long as you know your Costco price codes and price tag secrets. To help you identify the best deals at Costco and the prices that are just “meh,” you're going to need to know at least a few of our Costco secrets and pricing hacks.

For starters, it always pays to look through the current month's Costco coupon book before you shop. And you should definitely check Costco Next for any competitive deals from brands that partner with Costco. But beyond these simple strategies, we’ve got the scoop on some lesser-known secret Costco price codes (like how to spot Costco clearance deals) if you're a more advanced bargain hunter.

With these Costco secrets in mind, you'll be confident you’re getting the best price possible — and you'll know what Costco prices ending in .99 really mean (hint: they're still a good deal!).

For more smart shopping tips and savings hacks, download the KCL app or text HACKS to 57299.

Costco Price Tag Secrets

The meaning of common Costco price codes, including prices ending in .99 (regular priced) and the asterisk (the item won't get restocked).

1. Prices ending in .97 are markdown deals.

If an item's price ends in a ".97," it signifies that the item has been marked down as a Costco clearance item.

There’s a lot of buzz online about exactly who makes the decision to price items this way — is it a Costco corporate-level decision or up to the store manager? But the important thing to know is that if you see a price ending in .97, that means it’s lower than regular price and you’re getting a great deal.

2. Costco prices ending in .99 (or .49, .69, .79 ...) mean it's regular price — but that can still be a good deal.


Now that you know about the Costco price codes, you may be hesitant to shop for items with prices ending in .99 (sometimes referred to as “Code 99”), as that indicates the item is regularly priced. Same goes for prices ending in .49, .69, or .79.

But just because it's not necessarily Costco’s lowest-ever price, it can still be less expensive than what you’d pay at your local supermarket. Case in point? The famous Costco rotisserie chicken for $4.99.

3. Prices ending in .88 or .00 are special, last-chance markdowns.

Here's one of my favorite Costco secrets. If the number on a Costco price tag ends in .00 or .88, that indicates a special in-store markdown specific to your location.

In some cases, it could mean an item was returned, or it could be a floor model. Translated into deal hunting terms: If you want it, grab it, since that’s likely the lowest price you’ll ever get (and the markdown may not last long).

KCL TIP: According to a Costco employee on Reddit, a price tag ending in ".00" can open the floor for a little price haggling on your part. "If you see a .00 item, you can ask for a manager and see if they will take any more off if you take it today," the employee said. "Sometimes they will say yes just to get rid of it."

4. The bottom right of the price tag is worth checking, too. 

Another tip making the rounds online is that there's a date in small print in the bottom right corner of the price tag. It’s actually the date that the tag was printed, but some social media super shoppers say that it can offer a clue.

If the date is from a few weeks ago, it could be a sign that the price will drop again in the near future.

Our advice? If you think the price is competitive and you need the item right now, don’t wait, since you may not find it again.

5. An asterisk (aka the 'Costco star of death') means the item won't get restocked.

Or rather, it means the item has been “deleted.” This can happen for a few different reasons. Maybe Costco couldn’t get the item at a lower price and they’re not interested in restocking it. Or maybe the item didn’t sell well and they’re not renewing an order. Either way, the Costco star of death on a price tag means you won’t be seeing that item at your Costco warehouse for much longer.

Keep in mind, seasonal and holiday items with an asterisk can still return year after year. “I tell members that doesn't necessarily mean it's discontinued. We're just not going to restock that product at this time and it might return again in the future, especially if it's a seasonal product,” explained a Costco employee in a Reddit thread.

The moral of the Costco star of death story: Buy when you see it! It might not be around when you come back later.

6. Don't overthink the timing of your Costco trip — markdowns happen all the time.

If you’re wondering what day or time of the month Costco does their markdowns, don’t stress about it. Word on the social media street is that markdowns happen as needed, with at least some inventory price changes happening on a daily basis.

If you’re a frequent Costco shopper, you can try chatting up the workers to see if certain departments run regular sales, but there are no hard-and-fast rules about the timing of markdowns.

Even More Costco Price Secrets & Hacks

7. Claim a Costco price adjustment if the price drops within 30 days of your original purchase.

Costco will give members the difference in price (via a refund) within 30 days of a price drop. This is known as a Costco price adjustment. You just need to have your original receipt to prove the difference, and you have to actually ask for a price adjustment — it's not automatic.

Tip: If you’re past the 30-day mark, try to get a price adjustment anyway — it’ll all depend on the store manager. If that doesn’t work, you can return your product for a full refund, as the Costco return policy has no time limits (for most products). Then, you can repurchase the item at the new, lower price.

8. Movie tickets often cost less at Costco than at the theater.


Here’s an example: Costco sells a Regal Ultimate Movie Pack for $29.99, which includes two standard All Access E-Premiere tickets, plus a $10 E-Gift Card.

I priced out a standard showing of Madame Web for two adults at my local Regal theater, and the tickets alone cost $19 per adult ($38 total). That means the Costco movie ticket deal would save me 21%, plus I'm getting a free $10 gift card.

9. Costco sells a half-sheet cake for $25 — still the best bargain around.


Costco half-sheet cakes had a price hike up to $24.99 in the last year, but considering that it feeds 48 people for less than two bucks a slice — and is delicious! — you can’t really find a better deal on dessert. You can even customize your order in advance (give them 24 to 48 hours), but you have to go in person or call the Costco Bakery department to place an order.

10. On your next road trip, visit Costco to save on local attractions.

You know those local restaurant gift cards and water park deals you see at your local Costco? Guess what: every Costco has local gift card deals, so make a quick Costco run the next time you travel out of town to see if you can score some quick savings.

Whether it’s for a trip to a local zoo, a theme park, a sporting event, or a famous shop in the area where you can pick up souvenirs, you may find discounts that help stretch your trip budget. (And while you’re there, grab a case of water and some snacks for the hotel room.)

11. Like Shutterfly? Have a Costco membership? You just saved 51%.

Costco members are entitled to an exclusive discount of 51% off regular-priced Shutterfly orders, plus free shipping on orders over $49 — and it’s automatically applied at checkout. You just have to add your Costco membership number to your Shutterfly account and you’re set.

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