Stephanie Nelson | 

16 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Save Money at Costco

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Update: Check out Things Every Costco Shopper Should Know and you’ll learn every single way to save money and shop smarter at Costco. Including tips that aren’t listed here.

If you’re a die-hard Costco lover, you’ll shop Costco even if they change the membership fee to require your firstborn child.

I can respect that! But let me help you feel good about the money you spend at Costco, because there are certainly a few less obvious ways to save.

Check it out:


1. Let Paribus help you get money back when prices drop at Costco.

Costco has a 30-day price protection program — which means that if an item you buy experiences a price drop within 30 days, you can get the difference back.

But it’s a total pain to babysit prices on items you already bought, right?!

So don’t! Instead, sign up for Paribus and let them do the dirty work for you. Paribus monitors your online purchases and helps you get money back when there’s a price drop. It’s free too, which makes it a total no-brainer.

Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links we provided.


2. Look up “Warehouse Savings” online before you visit Costco.

Here’s a shortcut for you — look at everything that’s on sale before you hit your local Costco.

Costco offers additional savings on certain items. Every month or so, the items rotate and new things show up on sale.


3. Take pictures of your receipts with Ibotta and get paid to shop.

Download Ibotta and look at the offers available for Costco. After your shopping trip, tap the Ibotta offers you want to redeem and then follow the prompts to take a picture of your Costco receipt and upload it.

You’ll see the money in your Ibotta account within 24 hours, and you can cash out through PayPal once you’ve redeemed $20 worth of offers.


4. Buy discounted gift cards using discounted Costco gift cards.

Stay with me here.

You can buy a discounted Costco gift card at Gift Card Granny and save up to 3%. Then use that gift card to buy one of the many discounted gift card packages — restaurants, vacations, movie theaters and more — at Costco. You’ll save up to 30% on gift cards like these at Costco, for a total potential savings of up to 33%.


5. Tattoo Costco’s unbeatable deals list to your arm.

Costco has some great buys. In fact, we rounded up 100 of our favorites.

See all of Costco’s best deals.


RELATED: 23 Things Every Costco Shopper Should Know


6. Book your Disney vacation through Costco Travel.

It’s cheaper to let Costco book your Disney World getaway than to go it alone.

Here’s a comparison to prove it. (Keep in mind I didn’t even include hotel upgrades and extra add-ons to Disney World tickets that you’d get with Costco Travel.)

Costco Travel

Five-night Disney World vacation for two including car rental, flights, hotel (Sheraton Vistana) and Park Hopper tickets: $2,562


  • Disney World Park Hopper tickets: $1,055
  • 5-nights at a Sheraton Vistana Disney villa: $945
  • 5-day car rental: $200
  • Flight: depends on your location, but would need to total less than $550 in order to be cheaper than Costco (not likely)



7. Get a Costco cash card from a member and pass on the membership fee.

Even though people say this doesn’t work, it truly does. In fact, you can find it on Costco’s website.

“Members and non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online at”

So, give a friend (who is also a member) some money, ask them to buy you a cash card online and shop til you drop.

Note that you’ll pay a 5% surcharge when you shop online with your cash card.


8. Get free health screenings.

If they’re available in your city, take advantage of free diabetes, osteoporosis and heart health screenings.


9. Non-members can shop Costco online.

You’ll pay a 5% surcharge on everything except prescriptions, but this is a good way to shop Costco if you know you don’t shop often enough to justify the cost of a membership.


10. Take advantage of Costco’s generous 90-day return policy.

Costco will take anything back within the 90-day window (and sometimes much longer after that). Buy with confidence that you can return something even if you use it.

Just don’t abuse the return policy because you could get booted from Costco as this lady did.


11. If you see an asterisk on a price tag, buy now! The item won’t be restocked.

An asterisk indicates items that when the item is gone, it’s gone.

This most frequently happens with seasonal items.


12. Buy gas at Costco if you can fill up twice a month.

The gas savings alone can cover your membership fee, assuming you live within a reasonable distance from Costco and you shop there often.

Here’s some math:

  • $60.00/G x T = The number of times you must fill your tank to break even on your Costco membership in gas savings alone
  • $60.00 = The cost of a Costco membership
  • G = The capacity of your car’s gas tank
  • T = The difference in Costco gas prices versus other gas prices

So, if gas at my local station is $2.31 a gallon, but Costco gas is $2.10 a gallon, it would look like this:

$60.00/12 x .21 = 24 tanks of gas per year



13. Fill your prescriptions at Costco even if you’re not a member.

It’s true. You can go into Costco and fill a prescription without a membership.

Contact your local Costco pharmacy for exact prices on medication, but savings can be up to 80% even without insurance!


RELATED: 6 Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership


14. Get groceries delivered to your door via Instacart.

instacart costco delivery

Via Honolulu Insider

You can get same-day Costco grocery delivery (to your door!) through Instacart.

Go online to to place your order. Realize that prices are higher than Costco’s in-store pricing because Instacart’s delivery fee is factored in — you’re paying for convenience.

Also, there’s a $35 minimum purchase you need to meet, but let’s be honest, that’s not too hard when it comes to shopping Costco.


15. Only buy non-perishable groceries online if you’re spending at least $75 to avoid paying for shipping.

If you spend $75 on non-perishable grocery purchases online, you won’t have to pay shipping. Otherwise, shipping fees start at $7.99.


16. Sign up for the Costco Anywhere Visa and get up to 4% cash back.

Via Visa

If you’re the sort of Costco shopper that I think you are, you need this credit card in your arsenal.

You’ll get 4% cash back on gas, 3% back on restaurants and travel, 2% back on Costco purchases and 1% back on all other purchases.

Be sure to pay it off every month to avoid paying credit card fees.


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