Shopping Tricks To Maximize Your Costco Experience

Who doesn't love the incredible deals at Costco? But the warehouse can be so busy that finding the best bargains isn't easy. Luckily, some Costco employees and insiders have shared the secrets to make your trip more successful. From decoding the secret symbols on price tags to figuring out the best and worst deals in the store, these Costco hacks will save you time, money, and even sanity.

1. You Can Get In Without A Membership

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If you aren't ready for a yearlong commitment, find someone you know with a membership and either go shopping with them or get them to give you a Costco gift card. Then you can access the full store without any questions asked.

2. Missed A Sale? Don't worry!

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If you hate frequenting Costco or flipping through the fliers, don't worry, as you can still get the best deals. Costco honors price cuts for a 30-day duration if an item you bought goes on sale later. All you need to do is put in a simple request online.

3. Learn The Layout

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No Costco store is the same, and they also change item placements regularly. But here are some general rules to know: The clothing, gift cards, snacks, and books are always in the middle of the store; The bakery, deli, and produce are at the back; Food aisles and household items are on opposite sides. Remember these and you'll be successful every time.

4. Know The Meaning Of The Asterisk

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Have you ever noticed a tiny asterisk in the upper right corner of a Costco price tag? The asterisk is actually Costco's way of telling you that they won't get the item restocked. So, if you want it, you'd better buy it now.

5. The Gift Card Section Is A Hidden Gem

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Experts say the deals in the gift card section are incredible. From 2-for-1 movie passes to heavily discounted admissions to local attractions, Costco has it all. So, next time you're snapping up bargains in the store, be sure to check out the gift card section and see if there's anything worth taking advantage of.

6. Don't Bother Buying Brand Name Household Products

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While Costco has incredible deals on brand name goods, their discount brand Kirkland offers the result at a much lower price. Expert homemakers swear that the Kirkland toilet paper is better than Cottonelle and only half the price. Even the Kirkland bargain batteries are made by Duracell.

7. Fill Up At The Costco Gas Bar BEFORE Shopping

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Costco gas bar offers extremely competitive pricing, but the long lines can be daunting. So, to save both money and time, fill up your car before you shop. You would never have to worry about your frozen goods melting in the trunk while you're waiting.

8. Why They Check Your Receipt When You Leave

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You might think that Costco employees check your receipt and cart at the exit to prevent theft, but that's not the case. As it turns out, Costco does this for two reasons: First, they want to make sure that they stay on top of their inventory, and the receipt correctly matches the number of items you've bought; Second, they want to make sure that you're not overcharged or undercharged at checkout. Sounds kind of interesting, huh?

9. This Is The Best Time For Costco Bargain Hunting

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Costco always seems busy, especially on weekends and right before holidays like Easter and Christmas. Their staff has revealed that the quietest times to shop are Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, which means they're the perfect time to look for deals.

10. Never Buy Soda From Costco

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One of the few things not to buy at Costco is soda. Those in the loop reveal that most supermarkets call soda a "loss leader," meaning that they sell it way below cost just to attract customers. Although soda is cheap at Costco, they still sell it at cost.

11. Dry Goods And Frozen Foods Are The Best Deals

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Costco is great for stocking up on fresh produce or meat, but they aren't exactly door-busting deals. The non-perishable and frozen items are the best deals because, of course, they last the longest! Hopefully, this will make you feel better about buying that 1 kg bag of trail mix or 100-pack of Oreos.

12. Decode The Price Tags

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Like many other retailers, there's more to the prices than meets the eye at Costco. If a price ends in .97, then it means the goods are on clearance. If it ends in .00 or .88, then it means the Costco manager cut the price for some reason, like it could be the last batch, miss a box, or has pieces missing.

13. Don't Miss The $1.50 Hot Dog And Soda Combo

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Half the reason people go to Costco is to enjoy the super cheap jumbo hot dog and soda combo for only $1.50. Costco doesn't make a huge profit out of this, but they know it draws more customers. For many, having such a cheap meal on hand helps justify the annual membership fee. But if you still don't want to pay for it, there's one place at Costco you can enter without any membership or gift card.

14. You Can Fill Your Prescription Without A Membership

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You don't have to be a member of Costco if you want to fill a prescription at the Costco pharmacy. Just walk in and tell the greeter what you're doing, and he/she will let you pass. We're saying this because Costco pharmacy charges lower dispensing fees than any other drugstore, and you'll be saving money in the long run.

15. What You See Is What You Get

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It's common to ask a regular grocery store if they have more stocks in the back, but don't even bother if you're at Costco, as they are a warehouse store. There's no backroom hiding the best deals. What you see is what you get!

16. The Better Deals Are In The Aisles

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The goods in the front of the store and at the ends of aisles may seem like the best deals, but they're just there to catch your attention. The best bargains are usually found in the aisles, and you need to do some searching to find them.

17. Ask The Roadshows How Long They'll Be There

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Roadshows go in and out of Costco, and they stay for different durations depending on what campaign they're pushing. Brands like Lindt, Krispy Kreme, and even specialty items like bedsheets usually set up roadshow displays that last a few weeks max. If you're interested in the deal, either buy now or ask how long they'll be there.

18. Without A Membership, You Can Buy Alcohol There

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Costco's Kirkland-brand alcohol is one of the few things you can buy without a membership, but only in a few states. While Costco hasn't released an official list, there are some forums discussing the topic. The states mentioned include Arizona, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Texas  and so on. However, it's recommended that you call your local Costco first before making the trip.

19. Enjoy Costco Bargains At Home

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While Costco physical stores have almost everything you could imagine, their online stores have even more. Go to and you can find a $1,000 doomsday emergency-food kit, funeral caskets, and even coupons for local car dealerships. The best part? They ship these things to most states across the USA.

20. They Move Items For A "Treasure Hunt"

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Yes, that's exactly the word Costco uses to talk about the fact that they regularly move their stock around. What's their game? You have to scan a ton of items to find what you really want, and meanwhile, you're likely to make impulse purchases. If you're tired of searching, just ask an employee where your desired goods are.

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