I sometimes find myself wondering about all of the Costco secrets, like: Does Costco really have the best prices? Are there ways to avoid membership fees? What are the worst buys in the store? And what about those Costco coupons? I decided to dig deep. I found some tips that answered all my questions, so I thought I’d share them with you!
1. Skip the Costco membership fees and pay with a Costco Shop card.
While only members can purchase a Costco Shop card, ANYONE can use them. You can buy them for as low as $25 and as high as $2,000. Have a nice friend or neighbor pick one up for you the next time they hit Costco, if you don’t want to pay that membership fee.
2. Stack Costco coupons with rebate apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51 & Fetch Rewards.
(New to Ibotta? Sign up with this Ibotta link to receive up to $20 in bonuses!)
We notified KCL users about a great Costco deal in September 2020, which was: “Spend $100 on P&G products and receive a $25 Costco store card.” We stacked this with coupon book instant savings in several categories to save more. Here’s what we did with laundry detergent:
Buy 1 Bounce Dryer Sheets, 160 ct 2 pk $9.99, regular price
Instant savings – $10.00/2 – Tide Pods, 168 ct AND Bounce Dryer Sheets, 160 ct 2 pk, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Buy 1 Tide Ultra Concentrated Free & Gentle HE Liquid Laundry Detergent, 208 oz $24.99, regular price
Instant savings – $5.00/1 – Tide Ultra Concentrated Free & Gentle, 208 oz, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Buy 1 Downy Infusions Calm Fabric Softener, 115 oz $18.99, regular price
Instant savings – $2.00/1 – Downy Infusions Calm Fabric Softener, 115 oz, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Buy 1 Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Variety Pack, 11 ct $9.89, regular price
Instant savings – $3.00/1 – Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Variety Pack, 11 ct, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Buy 1 Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Cloths, 64 ct $15.79, regular price
Instant savings – $3.20/1 – Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Cloths, 64 ct, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Buy 1 Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, 92 ct $19.99, regular price
Instant savings – $5.00/1 – Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent, 92 ct, exp. Sept. 27, limit 1
Spend $100 on P&G through Sept. 27, submit for $25 Costco Shop Card through Oct. 30
Pay $101.43, receive $25 Costco Shop Card
Final Price: $76.43, when you buy 7
Savings: $53.20, or 41%
3. Prices ending in “.97” are national markdowns. Prices ending in “.00” are local level markdowns.
You already know Costco offers some amazing prices. But here’s how you can tell if you’re saving more than your east coast (or wherever they happen to live) cousin. If the price on a Costco price tag ends in “.00” that’s a special markdown for your area and not available nationwide.
4. Costco refills ink cartridges starting at $6.99.
5. Kirkland batteries are identical to Duracell batteries.
6. Movie tickets are cheaper at Costco than the theater.
7. Costco beats Amazon toy prices! Use the Amazon Shopping app to ensure a deal.
It’s not often you can beat the prices at Amazon, but when you do, run with it! One area where Amazon loses to Costco is toy prices, especially in store, as the prices in store are sometimes cheaper than what you see on Costco.com. Scan toys while shopping at Costco with the Amazon Shopping app and you can compare prices on the spot.
8. An asterisk means the item won’t be restocked.
9. As of early 2014, Costco coupon savings are applied automatically. You don’t need the booklet!
If you’re not a Costco member and have a Costco Shop card, you can use the coupons in the coupon savings booklet. How do you get one? Simply go up to the customer service desk and ask.
PRO TIP: Learn how to save with coupons by downloading the free KCL Quick Start Guide to Couponing.
10. Get a price adjustment if the price drops within 14 days of your original purchase.
Costco will give members the difference in a sales price cash back within 14 days of the price dropping (AKA price adjustment). Ask Customer Service to look up your purchase using your membership card or, to make it easy, provide them with the original receipt.
11. Costco chickens have the biggest breasts.
12. Costco sells a half sheet cake for $18, while supermarkets sell a quarter sheet for over $20.
Since Costco stopped selling the sheet cakes ready made in store due to COVID-19, shoppers can’t run in a grab one. However, Costco is still technically selling them. You just have to special order them by calling your local Costco and order direct from the bakery.
My local Costco is selling the half-sheet cakes for $18.99. You just have to give them 24-hour lead time. Bonus: You get to customize these cakes, too, with a dozen different designs.