How to Save Money at Costco

12 Way to Save Money at Costco

The arrival of summer has brought several price increases with it. And as people start to feel the squeeze, they are looking for more ways to cut their budget. However, eliminating unnecessary expenses may not be enough. Savvy budgeters know that joining discount buying clubs can help you stretch your dollar further. But if you are already a member, here are 12 more unexpected ways to save even more money at Costco.

12 Unexpected Ways on How to Save Money at Costco

Costco already offers great savings and discounts on many products. However, the 12 overlooked money-savers could help you stay under budget.

1. Costco’s Price Adjustment Policy

It hurts deep down when I see an expensive item go on sale after I just made the purchase. Thankfully, Costco is more generous than other retailers. If an item goes on sale within 30 days of your purchase date, Costco will refund the difference. And, you don’t need a receipt to get the price adjustment. Those who don’t have time to monitor price changes can download Paribus to track online purchases and notify them of price drops. By adding the app to your phone, you can maximize your monthly savings.

2. Return Policy

Costco also has one of the most flexible return policies out there. So, if you made an impulse buy or aren’t happy with an item, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. Even if you opened the packaging or wore the item, you can still get your money back. However, there are some limitations on electronics and large appliances. And, if you abuse the policy, you could lose your membership. But, Costco is willing to work with its customers to keep them satisfied.

3. The Executive Membership

Frequent shoppers can save even more money at Costco by upgrading to the Executive Membership. While the black card is more expensive than the standard membership, it also offers additional perks. One of them is the 2% cash back on your purchases which they mail as a rebate check once a year. The added savings are especially welcome if you need some breathing room in your budget.

The membership costs an additional $60. However, the card will pay for itself if you spend $3,000 a year at Costco. Furthermore, you can find sign-up deals through discount sites like Groupon. And if you aren’t completely satisfied or haven’t used it enough to justify the cost, you can downgrade your membership for a refund.

4. Costco Anywhere Visa Card

I rarely advocate a new credit card as a budgeting tip. However, Costco’s Anywhere Visa card comes with some significant benefits for its members. First of all, there are no annual or foreign transaction fees. But more importantly, cardholders earn rewards on all their purchases. They receive an additional 4% cash back on gas, 3% for travel and restaurants, 2% at Costco, and 1% on all other purchases. Although you can only redeem your rewards once a year, you can claim them in the store to reduce your total bill.

5. Learn the Pricing System

It is a little-known fact that there is a code to Costco’s pricing system. If you look at the last two digits of the price, it can give you an idea of its markdown history. Based on the price tag, you can tell which items have already been reduced and which may be subject to further reductions.

    • $0.99 = Costco’s price
    • $0.98 = the retailer’s price
    • $0.97 = the markdown price
    • $0.00 and $0.88 = returned items or the manager markdown price

Furthermore, look at the sales sign in the store. If you see an asterisk on the top right corner of the sign, it means they will no longer carry the item in the store. So, you may be able to snag some great deals on discontinued items.

6. Seasonal Sales

In addition to their already low prices, there are always clearance sales at Costco. They are constantly rotating out old inventory to make room for the new stuff. Depending on the season, you can find gardening supplies, pool items, winter clothing, and furniture all at deeply discounted prices during season closeout sales.

7. Knowing Which Items Offer Big Savings

Another important way to save money at Costco is to know which items offer the biggest savings. According to employees, members, and other budget bloggers, these items offer the best deals.

  • Kirkland, Costco’s brand, is often much cheaper than comparable goods. Its bottled water is worth buying in bulk since you pay about $0.09 a bottle in the large 40 packs.
  • Their meat is much cheaper since they sell it in larger quantities. Although, you may need to portion it out to fit in your freezer.
  • You can find your favorite “fresh” baked goods in the frozen section. They are the same items they bake for sale but at a much lower price.
  • Buying a rotisserie chicken for $5 is a steal and can stretch for several meals.
  • You can purchase discounted gift cards for up to 30% savings.
  • The pharmacy offers huge savings on prescription medications, even for non-members. Their prices are often cheaper than insurance copay.
  • If you need new tires, time your tire purchase for the $70 discounts with Michelin and Bridgestone.
  • Costco gas is usually cheaper than other gas stations.
  • The photo services are quick, easy, and have some of the best prices around.

8. Find Coupons

Using coupons is an age-old budgeting trick. But if you double up with your Costco savings, it can really add up. Costco Insider is a great place to start for upcoming sales and member-only deals. You can also sign up for email promotions with exclusive offers and deals. Costco’s coupon book and third-party sites like RetailMeNot also offer even more ways to save. And don’t forget that your Costco membership also comes with a 10% discount on many other services and accommodations.

9. Online Orders

If you want to skip the crowds and the lines, try ordering everything online. Not only does it save you money on gas, but you can also get free delivery if you buy at least $75 of non-perishable items. And you may run across some online-0nly deals. Furthermore, you have more options to use different credit cards online.

However, Costco Next is one of the retailer’s best-kept secrets. With this program, you can buy directly from partners for even more savings.

10. Sharing the Benefits

The membership fee and large quantities can make it difficult to fully take advantage of Costco’s savings. But it can be much more cost-effective to share the benefits with a friend or family member. You can split the cost which saves you money. And, you can buy more items in bulk to divide later into more manageable portions. Doing this with paper products can save you a ton of money at Costco.

11. Avoid Shopping Hungry

We all know that you shouldn’t shop hungry. You are more prone to buy prepackaged things and items not on your list. Try filling up on free samples to curb your cravings and your spending. You can also find cheap food from the food court like the $1.50 hot dog meal and their $1.99 slice of pizza. Then you can let your brain make the decisions, not your stomach.

12. Stay Focused

The final tip is good no matter where you shop. You’ll save money if you make a list and stick to it. Don’t browse for items you don’t need. For Costco shoppers, this means putting up your blinders to advertised sales and the “center court” area with the newest items. Employees suggest working your way from the back of the store to the front. The back of the store and the end of the aisles usually have the best bargains.

How do you save money at Costco? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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