16 shopping tips from one Costco shopper to another (and some social media experts) to make your next visit cheaper and easier

HOUSTON – Costco may be a wonderland for large bulk items, but it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time.

From price tags to $1.50 hot dogs and cokes, Costco has a plethora of sizes that can be friendly to your family and your budget.

For this Bulk Buying KPRC 2 series, here are some buying tips to make your first browsing easier, thanks to myself and the Instagram influencers who visit Costco waaaaay more than me.

Price tags

The asterisk

When you look at the price tags on certain items, you might wonder why some have an asterisk.

in the upper right corner.

This means that the item will no longer be on sale (at least for a while). If you see a pallet full of these, chances are that’s all they have in stock. On these items, if it’s worth buying and you’re lingering over it, jump on it. You may not see him again for some time. This is usually the case with holiday decorations such as Christmas and Halloween.

The “.97”, “.49” and “.74”

Items with prices ending in 0.97 mean they are on clearance. Normally, 0.97 items are marked with an asterisk, which means the managers are trying to push these items out. Other times, prices ending in one of those three numbers (without an asterisk) mean that the manufacturer has a special sale.

Manager’s Specials

Manager promotions, indicated by prices ending in “.00” and “.88”, are rarely seen in some Costco stores. Managers will price these items for sale to make room for new merchandise.

General purchases

The best days to shop

Trying to avoid large crowds (and fights for parking spots)? Costco influencers say the BEST time to visit Costco is mid-week, in the afternoon. There are fewer people, more parking spaces and plenty of room to walk. If you can, avoid the weekends – they’re usually the busiest and the store closes earlier than on weekdays (Costco closes at 7 p.m. every Saturday and 6 p.m. every Sunday).

The best way to shop in store

Almost every Costco has the same layout – deals are usually on your left and electronics (such as TVs, computers, and appliances) are on your right (although others are on the opposite side) . If you’re a penny pincher, you’ll want to run to the waaaaaaaay back of the warehouse. Most of what you need, like groceries, fresh bread and produce, is in the back. If you only go to Costco for groceries, always have a list with you. Keep in mind that the further back you go, the better the offers.


Costco unfortunately does not accept coupons from manufacturers. Most coupons are already included in the offers. BUT, you can ask customer service if there are any coupons available before making a purchase on an item. The Secret Deals You might have wondered how your next-door neighbor got a brand new 60-inch TV at a steal. That means he signed up for Costco emails about the latest deals. Some deals offered last from one day to one month and are usually below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. If you’re looking for a good deal on an item such as furniture or electronics, sign up for these emails.

(BIG TIP: You can sign up to receive emails if you’re on the fence about membership to see if the deals are good enough for your wallet. No commitment necessary.)

You will thank me later.

The samples.

Every other day, Costco employees will be giving away multiple samples throughout the store — from foods and snacks that are part of a Costco deal to non-food items like fabric softener. You’ll feel like a free buffet if you try them all!

The return policy

Costco has a generous return policy. Whether you purchased your item online or in-store, Costco will gladly accept it. However, there is a catch (well, several). Electronics and appliances have a 90-day return policy, even if they’re under Costco’s Concierge Service, which gives most electronics an extended manufacturer’s warranty.

Read Costco’s full return policy here.

Around the store

The Kirkland Signature

Kirkland Signature is Costco’s generic brand, and many Costco influencers and shopping experts claim that most items are of the same quality as the brand. If you’re on a budget and don’t want to spend the extra $2-3 on a branded item, buy generic. You’ll find items in this quality brand, from dishwashing detergent to wine.

The big markdowns

Experts say the best markdowns happen in late summer. Yeah! With back-to-school around the corner and the smell of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas goods fresh off the pallets, that means all summer stuff – including camping gear and clothing – have to go! Managers are making room for these items as the holiday shopping season approaches.

fresh food

Do you hear that bell? It’s the sound of fresh roast chickens coming out of the oven.

From roast chickens to hot dogs, Costco has what you need to break the hunger. No dinner plan? Get a large $9.95 pizza with slices that barely fit in your hand. Dinner for one? A hot dog and a soda for $1.50 is perfect (and the hot dogs are enough to satisfy you). Need a shortcut for your family dinner? The $4.99 roast chicken can be useful for several dishes and soups.

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And for those who don’t want to deal with cooking at all, there are so many convenience foods you can whip up, from street tacos to spaghetti bolognese and scampi with shrimp.

If you don’t want to be a member, but still get some benefits…

The online store There are items on Costco.com that you can still purchase as a non-member. As long as the item doesn’t have a “Member Purchased Item” tag, you can purchase it without a subscription. Members-only prices are visible ONLY if you have a Costco.com account and have a subscription linked to the account.

An example of how non-members shop on Costco.com. Most of the time, prices are hidden for members only. You must have a linked membership and a Costco.com account to purchase exclusive member pricing.


The liquor store

Members and non-members alike can purchase liquor at prices that beat most traditional liquor stores. No membership necessary! You can even try out some samples when they become available.

The pharmacy

Do you have a prescription you would like filled? You can buy prescription drugs at any Costco store without a subscription. Simply notify a member of the team of your arrival.

The Costco Gift Card

If you want to buy a few items at Costco, but don’t want to commit to a membership yet, ask a friend with a membership to buy a Costco gift card to use in-store. This way you can treat it as a “trial membership”.

Do you have any other shopping tips that I may have missed? Tell me in the comments.


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