With Costco being a huge wholesale chain known for having great deals on common items, it’s no wonder that savings secrets have been scattered all across Internet blogs, news articles, and among Costco shoppers themselves. But which of these savings secrets will get you the most for your money? Be sure to jot down these 10 Shopping Secrets Costco Doesn’t Want You To Know!
10. You Don’t Have To Be A Member to Shop In-Store
Ever wanted to pick up some stuff at Costco without having to justify paying $60 for a membership? If you’re in a certain state, you may not need a membership at all to buy stuff at this massive wholesale chain. It does depend on what state you’re in, as Costco store policies vary from state to state; however, if you’re in Connecticut, you can enter Costco’s notorious alcohol section without needing to pay for a membership. Though we’re not sure why Costco allows this, it’s nice to know that you can pick up a notoriously cheap bottle of Kirkland wine without having to pay for a Costco card. If you’re looking to pick up some groceries while you’re at it, you can still manage to do this without a membership; members can buy non-members a Costco Cash card, which is a prepaid card that can be used to shop at Costco with or without a membership. If you can manage to get one of your friends with a Costco card to pick up a Costco Cash card for you, you can pretty much round out an entire wholesale grocery run in one fell swoop without paying for a membership at all. Be careful, though; Costco Cash cards can only be used twice a year. Since Costco usually sells everything in large quantities, you might want to use the Costco Cash to restock your pantry with all the necessities, which will save you a lot of trips to the grocery store in the long run!
9. Use Competitors’ Price Matching Policies for Deals
Another way to get a great deal on the stuff you need is by using Costco’s competitive pricing in other stores. An often-forgotten fact about larger department stores, like Walmart or Target, is that they’re willing to match the prices of competitors, which is great if you want to pick up groceries for less without paying an annual membership fee. All you need to do is look up the items you need at Costco, print out the prices, and show them when you shop at Target or Walmart. This way, you can get Costco prices without actually paying for a Costco membership, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to cheap groceries. This may sound slightly sketchy, but lots of department stores have a price match policy in place as a way to maintain a loyal customer base while offering their shoppers the best deals possible. Taking advantage of these price matching policies is especially handy if you’re shopping for fresh fruits and veggies; seeing as Costco isn’t known for having the most expansive produce section, you’re probably better off looking for your fresh foods at Walmart or Target anyway, since they have a better selection. Otherwise, it might be better for those who don’t need to buy things in bulk; seeing as Costco’s items all seem to be supersized, people who live alone – who likely don’t need to buy wholesale to begin with – can purchase items for low Costco prices without having to buy a membership by using this handy price match hack.
8. Use the Secret Word for Deals on Meat
Costco’s deli section is known for being cheap already, but you can maximize savings by using a secret word with your order. The word in question is “chub” – definitely not the most stylish way to ask for a discount, but a discount nonetheless. A Costco deli worker posted this savings secret on the Costco Reddit page, asking for a ten-pound chub is a surefire way to get a great deal on delicious, lean beef. The user wrote how Costco often sells its meat for $3.49 a pound, but asking for a “chub” will lower the price to $2.99 a pound while still getting you some quality beef. The chubs are apparently only five to eight percent fat, which means they’re great to buy if you’re looking for quality lean beef for a low price. Since Costco doesn’t display these inexpensive “chubs” in their deli sections, you can only get them by mentioning the word itself, making it difficult to find if you don’t know this handy secret. While customers were skeptical about this trick at first, many have posted online about their success in using the “chub” trick and have sworn by it as a surefire way to save money on quality meat at Costco. If you’re looking to buy ground beef in bulk – for the big game, a birthday party, or family barbeque – asking for a ten-pound chub might just be the way to go.
7. Listen For The Bell
If you’re looking to buy one of Costco’s famously inexpensive rotisserie chickens, make sure you wait until you hear the sound of the bell. If you’ve ever heard a bell ring out in the middle of your shopping trip at Costco and wondered what it was for, it actually signifies that a fresh batch of rotisserie chickens has just been laid out to sell to customers. Though it can be tempting to snatch one of these famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens as soon as you see one, it’ll be much tastier if you wait until the bell tolls; although these chickens sell quickly, being patient means you’ll get the freshest, juiciest chicken possible. Customers have raved continuously about Costco’s rotisserie chicken, making it a fan favorite among longtime Costco members nationwide. You might think that a $4.99 rotisserie chicken means something that’s stuffed full of chemicals and preservatives, but Costco has actually managed to keep their rotisserie chickens free of any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives – making them a lot more natural than some of the other chickens in the same price bracket. Seeing as they have their own Facebook fanpage, these cost-effective chickens are definitely worth a try. Check them out during your next Costco visit, but be sure to listen for the bell to ensure you’re getting your hands on the most delicious chicken possible!
6. Take as Many Free Samples as You Like
Costco’s food court is notoriously cheap. With their hot-dog and soda combo selling for only $1.50 and an entire pizza pie selling for $10, you can feed yourself and whoever is shopping with you without completely breaking the bank. However, if you’re wanting to maximize every penny of the food you’re getting out of Costco, be sure to take advantage of the free samples scattered around the store. Though the people working the free sample stands aren’t technically classified as Costco employees, the store has encouraged them to offer customers as many free samples as they want – which means, if you’re stingy about paying for food, you can take advantage of this policy by taking as many free samples as you want. Though we don’t encourage you do this at every free sample booth – especially the ones that are offering tastings of alcohol – it’s a fun way to snack while you shop without paying a penny. Though the free sample employees will see you coming back for more, online users who work free sample stands say they don’t mind a bit, as long as you use the proper etiquette of being friendly – and not taking the entire tray.
5. You Can’t Use Manufacturer Coupons
As much as everyone who goes to Costco wants to save, you can save your energy trying to cut out coupons directly from your favorite brands – Costco won’t accept them. This may be a bit disappointing for people who are fans of extreme couponing, but it’s not the biggest loss when you know that Costco is already offering you a competitively lower price for buying things in bulk. Although sad news to hear, knowing that manufacturer coupons aren’t accepted may save you some time clipping them for your next trip to Costco (and the disappointment that comes with pulling up to the cashier with all your coupons, only to find out that you can’t use them.) However, Costco offers some good alternatives to using manufacturer coupons, which can bring down your grocery bill immensely if used correctly. Costco offers “warehouse savings books,” which are essentially weekly flyers that you’d find in any grocery store, allowing you to save big by shopping the deals featured that week. The best part of this is that you don’t need to waste any time clipping anything; Costco recently implemented a feature that automatically applies any coupons available to items in your cart, meaning you don’t have to hunt down a deal for whatever you’re buying. This saves you the stress and aggravation that comes with cutting out coupons, giving you freedom to think about all the good deals you’ll get on your groceries instead!
4. You Can Get Paid For Shopping at Costco
Even if Costco won’t take manufacturer coupons, you can still use apps to get a great rebate on what you spend in-store. Shopping apps like Ibotta or Checkout51 give you cash back when you buy from certain retailers, which can build up over time. These apps are especially handy to use at Costco, where you’ll more often than not be buying a lot of products to stock up your shelves at home. Since your total at Costco is more likely to be higher, a small percentage of cash back on a purchase will make more of a difference, allowing you to rack up savings easily. These applications can either be linked directly to your account with Costco, where cash back can be automatically applied when possible, or applied after you shop and take a picture of the receipt. If you’re not completely loyal to Costco, Ibotta and Checkout51 offer a ton of other retailers to choose from, allowing you to get cash back both in-store and online from places like Target, Walmart, and Stop & Shop. An Ibotta user cited using her cash back for her son’s college expenses, showing just how effective a bit of cash-back money can be. If you’re getting money back on certain purchases, you can keep your savings for what matters most to you. If you can remember to use these apps during your next grocery run, you can rack up a hefty amount of cash back to save for a rainy day!
3. Buy Your Soda Somewhere Else
This may come as a surprise, but Costco isn’t actually the best place to buy your soda in bulk. Though this store prides itself on having the best deals on foods and beverages, soda is something you’re probably better off buying at your local grocery store. The reasoning behind this is that grocery stores often mark their soda prices down immensely from what they’d normally cost, knowing full well that wayward shoppers looking for soda would be attracted to their low prices and become tempted to shop at their stores. This makes their soda prices extremely competitive, especially around holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. Since Costco is already known for having some of the lowest prices around, they don’t bother doing this, which means that buying soda from a Costco warehouse is likely to be a bit more expensive than buying it at retail price. If you want to save big on soda, try buying some in bulk during summertime sales at your local grocer and storing it in your garage or pantry – you’ll be saving big in the long run, and will likely have enough soda to tide you over until it goes on sale again. Costco may have the best deals in lots of other departments, but soda is something you might want to save for your next trip to the supermarket instead.
2. Kirkland Products Are Often Just As Good
You may oftentimes think twice about buying the generic store brand over the brands you know and love, but Costco customers have expressed their satisfaction and more with the Kirkland Signature brand for being just as good as whatever name brands they’re replicating – and for being much cheaper than their named counterparts. Some internet news articles even claim that Kirkland Signature’s items are manufactured in the same places as many of the brand-name items, but are sold to Costco for less, allowing them to make it cheaper for customers to buy. Even though the Kirkland Signature items are cheaper, customers swear by the Kirkland brand for numerous items, like olive oil, bacon, maple syrup, and even wine. If you buy a Kirkland Signature item, it’s more than likely to taste just as good as the original; however, there are known to be a few duds on the list, which is bound to happen when Costco’s home-base brand sells everything from running shoes to gasoline. Online reviews have mentioned that the Kirkland Signature brand of coffee leaves something to be desired, as does its laundry and dish detergents. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; with Kirkland making a cheaper version of pretty much anything, you can’t win ‘em all, can you?
1. You Can Return Almost Anything – Including a Membership
One of the things Costco has become most famous for is its generous return policy. The fact that Costco is so lenient with returns can’t help but make you wonder how they’re still in business, but it’s likely their stellar customer service that keeps customers returning for more. With one woman citing online that she was even able to return a dead Christmas tree, it’s clear that Costco places an emphasis on putting the customer’s satisfaction first. However, you may not know that this relaxed return policy can extend all the way to your Costco membership itself. If you’re unhappy with your Costco experience – or just don’t end up shopping there enough to justify paying an annual fee – you can let customer service know and they’ll give you a full refund for the price of your membership. This is great to know if you’re unsure about buying a Costco membership, because you can just get it refunded if you aren’t satisfied or don’t think you’ll need it anymore. Knowing that Costco can offer you a risk-free return if you’re not completely happy with your membership is reassuring enough to bring more people to their stores.