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Costco Hacks Most Members Don’t Know



Shopping at places like Costco is one of the great joys in life. A place where you can finally stock up on virtually anything a family or group of people would need, all at a way more affordable price with the simple cost of a membership. But did you know that there’s even more secrets to truly saving at Costco? It’s true…
Despite having fantastic deals on legitimate name-brand products and a wide assortment of produce and electronics, Costco shoppers can make some calculated moves that will help them get the most out of their membership, and even make the customer feel less stressed by what can sometimes be an overwhelming experience. Read ahead for the tips you need to know!

Split Up Servings

Did you know that when buying any meats, or large quantities of protein that the employees behind the counter can help you split up a quantity that may seem like too much? They can also do this with a variety of other self-packaged produce, but if you ever want to buy toiletries or anything else there, consider splitting costs with a friend so you can both save!

Chicken Bells

Are you a fan of Costco’s rotisserie chicken? Well, if you didn’t already know, if you hear a bell ring in the store near the deli section, don’t hesitate to make your way there, because this is the sign they’ve just put out fresh chickens. And why is it such a craze? That’s because Costco hasn’t wavered from the price of $4.99 since 2009.

Tech Support

Have you found yourself purchasing one of Costco’s many electronic products and having trouble with something? Feel free to call up their tech support, which operates from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. pacific time, and their no-cost support team will be able to assist you with whatever troubleshooting or set-up help you may need.

No Membership Required

Maybe you’re not a Costco member but are curious to see all the ways you can save and stock up on your favorite products. In this case, you can still shop at Costco, you just need a Costco Shop Card, which needs to be purchased and filled for you by another member. So if you have a friend or family member who you know shops there, ask them to grab you one so you can see what the excitement is all about.

Ground Beef Chub

It may sound ridiculous, but if you approach the meat counter and ask for a “10-pound chub”, you may be able to score a hefty portion of ground beef at a fraction of the cost. According to shoppers, Costco usually takes trimmed fat from its steaks to add fat to the ground beef, making it leaner, and potentially cheaper than just buying the standard proportions at cost.

Research Brands

You’re probably already aware that Kirkland Signature is the in-house brand that Costo named after the city its original headquarters was located in, but did you know that they actually work with many name-brands to do third party manufacturing for these items? That’s right, most Kirkland Signature items are just popular brand names at a discounted price, which is good for both of the companies involved, and the consumer.

Cheap Food Court

One of the seminal traits of a Costco is its food court, and the reason it’s always packed is because of its prices. It’s not a well kept secret, but the prices of a hot dog haven’t shifted from $1.50 since 1985, and it even comes with a soda! The pizza is also a great deal, as you can get an 18-inch pie for only $9.95, which is much cheaper than most chains for that size.

Lenient Return Policy

Returning things can be a hassle, especially because many stores are very stringent and complicated based on product, but Costco offers one of the best return policies you can ask for. Aside from electronics which have a 90-day return limit, everything can be returned at any time, no matter how much time has passed. People have been known to return things six months, even a year later because they were unsatisfied. Now that’s customer service!

No Contract

Regardless of life’s uncertainties, Costco memberships are obviously a privilege for a lot of people, and sometimes you need to cancel yours for any number of reasons. Well, that’s perfectly okay, because you can even get a refund on your membership at any time, whether you no longer have the need to buy bulk, or just don’t live near a Costco anymore.

Buy Fresh, Then Freeze

The beauty of buying bulk means having some extra, but maybe you won’t be able to eat it before it’s going to expire. No worries, because freezing your produce like meats, vegetables, and even bread can be a very sustainable option, and these things hold their integrity despite being frozen over. And nowadays with air fryers and insta pot, freezing is more practical than ever.

Refillable Ink

One commodity that’s seen a significant increase in price over the years is printer ink, and that’s largely due to the recurring use and inefficiency of the cartridges since you need to spend more for it to last longer. But thankfully, Costco offers refills on its cartridges for just $6.99, and they will refill your cartridges in-store while you shop to make things as convenient as possible!

App Over Coupons

We all grew up using coupons at the store for various items to save what we could, but the entire point of Costco is to save at every turn. This is why the store will not accept brand-name coupons for products, but is happy to provide you with their own one-of-a-kind deal that no other store will offer in person. These weekly deals will always be displayed in their phone app.

Floral Frenzy

Who doesn’t like flowers, right? Well, Costco is truly a one-stop shop because their flower section is the only warehouse store offering bulk flowers for more than half as cheap as a proper florist. Customers swear they’re great, especially for the price when purchasing flowers for a huge event like graduations, baby showers or even weddings. 48 roses cost just $50, and that’s just the beginning of the deals.

Visa Only

When contemplating their own costs, Costco made an executive decision years ago to only accept Visa as their singular credit card partner. This was in efforts to cut transaction costs, and ultimately helps all the parties involved, from retailer to consumer. And while it may seem strict, you’re still able to pay with cash, debit cards, or even Apple and Google Pay now.

Gas Haven

Costco gas station lines may be consistently packed, but it’s for good reason and consistently low pricing. Year after year, Costco gas continuously ranks near the top of most affordable fuel in the country, and many have claimed to own a Costco membership simply for the opportunity to buy their gas alone. Also, if you have a Costco Anywhere Visa card, you can get 4% cash back at all eligible gas stations.

Cryptic Pricing

If you weren’t aware, the price tag on Costco products is more than just the standard price. According to Consumer Reports, items ending in .97¢ are on clearance and probably the best pricing you’ll get, and prices ending in “9” but not .99¢ means they’re a manufacturer-exclusive deal. If things end in .00 or .88, store managers are ditching the products due to some kind of distribution error, and if you see an asterisk, that means Costco won’t be restocking the item.

Deeper Deals

Costco’s layout is incredibly strategic, and their entire presentation has a purpose. When you walk in, they have the newest and more expensive products on display, and this is because they see the most foot traffic here. But the further you go back, the better deals you’re going to find, and this is because they want you to venture deeper into the store. They also notably have an extensive bargain section in the middle area, in which they offer a wide variety at the lowest prices..

Book Bargains

Some things you just don’t think you’d go to Costco for, but if you haven’t shopped in their literary section, you’re definitely missing out. Not only do they carry bestsellers at nearly wholesale prices, but they also sell local authors and guides relevant to their respective areas, as well as plenty of specialty books that cover essentially every genre out there. They even have a more extensive selection online.

Brand Clothes

If you’ve never taken the opportunity to shop for clothes at Costco, you may be surprised at how many quality brands they carry. They have everything from Tommy Hilfiger to Calvin Klein and even Nike and some other sportswear. The trick for them is ordering overstock from these companies, who are likely converting over to the new seasons and looking to get rid of unsold products without taking a total loss.

Wine Treasures

Wine shopping at Costco is something of a novelty, because as the rumor proves true, the store stocks all sorts of wines from different ages at unbeatable prices. Oftentimes they’re mixed together, making it worthwhile for a shopper to search around, and even underneath for these bottles. It’s even been reported that wine connoisseurs have found collector’s wines worth thousands of dollars in their selection, making it especially fun if you know wines well.

Bring Bags

This one’s for the Costco rookies out there, but many who aren’t privy to shopping at this big box store will forget that they don’t offer bags at checkout, meaning you either take everything out as it is, or you bring your own bags to make life easier when you’re loading and unloading your car. Worst case scenario, Costco may have some cardboard boxes lying around.

Receipt Checks

One thing you’re going to have to get used to is standing in line before you leave the store, because employees are almost guaranteed to check your receipt before you leave the store. It’s mostly because they want to ensure inventory is exact, but also to double check you weren’t charged twice, or trying to steal anything obviously. It’s mandatory because they want to ensure the integrity of the store is retained.

Teddy Bear

Do you or anyone you know already own the giant teddy bear from Costco? The $399 bear is nearly 8 feet tall, and weighs close to 50 pounds, and some people swear that it cured their stress. Not only is the novelty item a beloved gift, but it’s become a wonderful item to donate to kids and families in need or who have fallen on tough times.

Free Samples

Despite popular beliefs and societal norms, Costco allows you to come back for as many samples as you want. As long as you’re not taking them all and preventing other customers from buying them, they could care less. After all, they want you to buy these products! The busiest time to catch samples is between 12 and 2 p.m. on weekends, when everyone’s there!

Non-Member Alcohol

Despite popular belief, you don’t necessarily need a Costco membership to buy alcohol in some states, and that’s also because they love the profit they make on these items. But truthfully, the main reason is that state laws after prohibition prevented certain states from forming exclusive clubs that only sold alcohol to its members. These laws are still relevant in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas and Vermont.

Home Financing

Believe it or not, Costco actually offers loans through its own business, CrossCountry Mortgage, and in some cases, local lenders. This is exclusive to members obviously, and features $250 Executive member fees, and $550 for Gold Star. Overall, in the lifetime of a mortgage, Costco members have saved about $7,000 on average, but that doesn’t mean someone local won’t offer a better deal.

Prescription Exemption

As everyone already knows, prescription drugs are very expensive, and the average American spends $1,200 a year on pharmaceuticals, over $250 more than any other country. But Costco luckily offers amazing deals on prescriptions, and the greatest part is you don’t have to be a member. Just have your doctor call your prescription to their pharmacy, and they do provide their competitors costs online.

Business Center

Costco uniquely offers a business center as a resource to small businesses and their wonders, and oftentimes these offshoots can feature a particular line of products garnered to the local needs. Whether it’s tools, appliances, or individually wrapped snacks, the Costco Business Center often is open earlier, draws unique customers, and allows for a better loading experience.

Eye & Ear Test

In the healthcare aspect, Costco is willing to let anyone take part in their services, and that stands true for the eye and ear center as well. Hearing tests at Costco are completely free, and the eye exams are cheaper than half the national average, making it not only affordable, but also convenient for those trying to save money or in a tough bind. If you want hearing aids and glasses though, you’ll need a membership.

Get Paid to Shop

Shopping for money is probably not something you’d expect to do at Costco, but if you have the Ibotta app, you’ll be able to earn cash-back rewards on nearly everything. Whether you’re saving a few cents on some produce or a few bucks on alcohol, it’s really convenient to have a reliable app that helps you earn in addition to shopping at a place that already is looking to save you money.

Delivery Options

Ordering things, and more recently groceries, has become a popular practice since the pandemic, and even more so because of the convenience of having goods delivered right to your door at the click of a button. It may be a bit more expensive, but the convenience can far outweigh the loss, especially considering it’s already cheaper than regular grocery stores.

Travel Services

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all, you find out Costco has an entire travel department, which is your one stop shop for all your expansive exploration needs. Whether you’re looking to renew your passport or book a rental car, the travel center has all your needs covered. They can even book hotels and cruises, and when your vacation is up, they have a whole photo center in which you can create souvenirs such as greeting cards or even mugs with your photos on it.

Prepared Foods

Like many grocery stores these days, Costco offers a ton of prepared, heat-then-ready meals that you can purchase and have prepared quickly for any occasion. The difference at Costco comes in the selection, which features a wider variety including more unique items like sourdough and quinoa salad, along with your typical chicken and veggies, macaroni and cheese, and of course, a variety of stir fries.

Brand Appliances

There’s a ton of gadgets available for every essential at home these days, and while you could wait for the occasional seasonal sale at the normal retailers, Costco often showcases premier brands like Cuisinart and Weber at great prices, and exclusive to the membership. This allows you to feel the savings directly as a customer, whereas you couldn’t ever get these products for cheaper prices elsewhere.

Avoid Weekends

Just like anywhere you shop routinely, avoiding weekends can save you a lot of hassle or headaches that often spawn from large crowds. Most people don’t have time to do extensive shopping during the week, and new sales are usually sprung up before the weekend to encourage members to get out quickly. If possible, try and stop by during the weekdays, especially if you can make it early in the week or during the day.

Free Wine Crates

Need a place to store all the discounted wine you just bought? Or do you have some other DIY projects at home that require some wooden crates. No worries, because Costco routinely gives away their empty wine crates for free! Just ask someone near the selection, or customer service up front and they’ll be happy to give you some!

Truffle Parmesan Seasoning

If you’ve ever tried a cult-followed seasoning from a specific store, you’ll be happy to know that Costco has one of their own. The Truffle Parmesan seasoning is the go-to for many shoppers, and compares similarly to Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel. You can purchase this in-store and online, but if truffle isn’t necessarily your thing, they certainly have many other favorites to choose from.

Famous Dave’s

While midwesterners may be familiar with the legacy of Famous Dave’s, many Costco shoppers were only first introduced to the brand when coming across their internet-famous spicy pickles, which truly are something to behold. Hailing from Minnesota, Famous Dave’s also sells a variety of seasonings, sauces, rubs, and other products perfect for grilling.

Grey Goose

We’ve gone on about wine and premier brands hidden behind the Kirkland label, but one of the most important items we need to mention is the vodka, which directly compares to Grey Goose. That’s right, the discounted house vodka has even passed blind taste tests compared with the top shelf brand, and customers often swear they’ll never pay market price again. And remember, you don’t even have to be a member to buy the liquor…

Seasonal Sales

Like any big box retailer, Costco has to continuously offer various sales throughout the year to keep members happy, despite already being a discount-focused store. But if you plan it correctly, you can save on everything you want ahead of time. Summer features many sales of items highly sought after in the winter like TVs and other electronics, while the winter months feature tons of outdoor equipment and furniture at an even cheaper price than usual.

Gift Cards

When you don’t know what to get someone for a birthday or other present situation, gift cards are always a safe move that allow freedom of choice that can be spent at their favorite place. However, Costco offers these common gift cards to national restaurant chains, movie theaters, and other retailers for a much cheaper price than the normal, especially if you buy the bundles which total to more spending money than you’ll have to pay.

Sheet Cake

Costco cakes are insanely popular for occasions that call for celebration, and that’s because they’re not only large enough to feed big groups of people, but they’re especially delicious. They’re not available at every Costco unfortunately, but if you call ahead, you can have as many as you need available for the next occasion without spending a ton of money.

Organic Options

While most people shy away from buying organic foods because of their high price points, Costco has strived to lower that burden by offering their own lineup of foods that won’t hurt the wallet. Considering items such as organic beef or produce, Costco ranks at the top of average prices compared to its other nation-wide competitors.

Real Coupons

Despite them having an app that keeps you updated on all the deals, consulting the physical Costco coupon book could save you even more money on items, including stuff that isn’t listed online. Think of it as a way to appreciate the traditional shopper who may not be as tech-savvy, or those who are willing to take the extra time to page through their advertisements.

Holidays Year-Round

Some people become annoyed when stores offer holiday merchandise when the seasons don’t line up, but for Costco, they’re basically telling you that these are the best deals you’ll ever get on these festive products. See Christmas in September, or Halloween in June? That’s your queue to take advantage of the best savings and not having to worry about it when the rush of the holiday season comes along.

Uh, Caskets??

Though it’s kind of bizarre, you can actually buy caskets at Costco for much cheaper than pretty much anywhere else, unless you know someone.. Prime Caskets stocks Costco’s inventory and offers them for much less than the $2,000-$10,000 average, retailing them for about $899.00-$1,299.00. From there, you contact them to make specific arrangements when the time comes, and then at least you can rest assured it wasn’t a serious financial burden.

Buy a Car

Since Costco seemingly offers literally everything else, it only makes sense that you can also buy a new car through them. The auto program allows you to even purchase a vehicle online, where you can research your car, see where it’s being sold, and after providing your membership info, you’re connected to the dealer at the membership price no matter what. You don’t even have to negotiate. They also can help you find replacement parts for 15% off.

Recall Alerts

Costco is not messing around when it comes to recalls, and they’re going to send you an email immediately notifying you if any of their products are pulled for health and safety concerns. Luckily they know what you bought according to your membership’s purchase history, and will inform you how to replace it and get a refund. They also have an archive of all their recalled foods that you can reference.

Wedding Supplies

Having a wedding or knowing someone who is? Costco could be your one-stop shop for all the necessities you need for the big day, and surely at savings much greater than what you’d get at your normal caterer, florist, or print shop. Whether you need invitations or a whole floral arrangement, there’s many options Costco offers in every department to help make a stressful time a bit more simple.

Theme Park Passes

If you’re a Costco member with kids, this one’s for you. You can score passes to major theme parks across the country for anything from 15-35%, and that’s huge when accommodating a whole family, especially if you need to travel and pay for lodging too. You don’t even have to be a member for this either, but you will be charged a 5% surcharge for the processing fee. This is one of the best, little-known hacks.