10 Valuable Secrets Costco Employees Aren't Telling You

Costco wholesale storefront in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

BING-JHEN HONG/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Costco employee stocking shelves

Costco Is Transparent ... Mostly

Though Costco is pretty upfront about its business practices and has a largely positively reviewed workplace (credit the above-average starting pay and excellent benefits), which can't always be said about other retailers, there are some little details the warehouse club mega-chain doesn't advertise, even to members. 

Abusing Costco Return Question

Your Ridiculous Return Can Be Rejected — and Your Account Flagged

Yes, Costco has a generous return policy — but abuse it at your own risk. While some employees remembered rejecting returns of months-old salmon and 15-year-old treehouses, Reddit's u/fullmanlybeard recalled flagging the account of a repeat offender: "When I worked there a woman would bring in a bag of oranges where two or three were bad and the rest were gone. This happened every month or so. After about six months her account was flagged and she was given a choice to return her membership or accept the fact that oranges go bad if you don’t eat them fast enough."

costco membership
Walker A./Yelp

You Can Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Yes, you can shop at Costco if you aren't willing to cough up for a membership (though you should). Not only is a decent amount of product offered online to non-members, but you can also buy in-store using a Costco gift card (though a member will need to top it off when it's empty). 

Costco Price

The Pricing Numbers Have Meaning

The prices may be low, but some are lower — and you can tell if you know the codes. Items that have prices ending in .99 aren't discounted, but .97 is discounted from the regular Costco price. 

Furthermore, any price that ends in 9 that isn't .99 is a manufacturer deal, so prices ending in .59, .69, .79, and .89 are also reduced. And finally, keep an eye out for prices ending in .88 and .00. These are store manager markdowns, and often used to clear out merchandise quickly. 

Oh, and that asterisk you might see on the price tag? Stock up, because that item won't be reordered.

Costco Offers Seasonal Jobs

The Best Time to Get a Job Is Before the Holidays

While the holiday shopping season may not start prior to Halloween, chances are your local Costco is looking to staff up in October — and solid performers may have a shot at getting a permanent staff position after the holidays. It should be noted there isn't an option for most people to stand around and wait for tasks — you need to be in hustle-mode if you do get hired, seasonal position or otherwise. One employee said he lost 30 pounds in his first year working at Costco.

Checkout at Costco

Working Sundays is Worth It

One full-time worker makes $27.20 an hour, except on Sunday, when he makes Sunday Premium Pay, when he gets $40.80 an hour (or time and a half). And if you want to take a lot of time off? After the holidays, there's a three-month (January-March) window when you can take "winter leave." While you won't get paid unless you dip into whatever PTO you have, you can take three months off unpaid and still have a job when you get back.

Costco Employee Talks Cheap Clothes

Ask About Sales on Clothing

Want T-shirts? Maybe pants? An Austin, Texas worker, while pointing out that every Costco is different, says his Costco regularly puts sale items on a table, and if you walk around your store you might find something similar. If his Costco is any indication, that's not a bad idea because he has gotten some great deals

Costco Worker Praises Pay

You Can Make Great Money at Costco Without a Degree

While one grad school-educated school teacher quit her job to work at Costco and ended up not only loving it but making more than she had as a teacher, a stellar starting salary isn't the end of the road. Costco promotes from within, and it isn't unusual for a 20-something-year-old store manager to be bringing in $90,000 or more.

Costco Worker Shops

Costco Employees Are Customers, Too

This worker broke down all her Costco buys on TikTok, and she shops where she works for good reason: Employees get 2% back on purchases and a free membership.

No Commission at Costco

Costco Employees Don't Get a Cut, Ever

Even if you sign up for a Costco credit card and a worker explains every benefit to you, that Costco employee won't make money from the deal. Costco workers don't get commissions, no matter how nice they are.  

Self-Checkout Ruse at Costco

They Don't Check Your Receipt Just to Stop Thieves

Yes, Costco employees look over your receipt as you leave to make sure you're not taking off with a 4K television you didn't pay for. But one former employee says it's also to make sure you aren't being charged for stuff you didn't buy. 

Just don't try to squeak through self-checkout using someone else's membership, as they just might try to help you by swiping your card — and checking to see if you match the photo.