Love a Costco Bargain? Hate the Shopping Experience? A Costco Veteran Shares 7 Tips You Need to Know

Costco Wholesale


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Grocery Shopping

Off to the Races

Shopping at Costco can feel like a game of battle royale — you gotta have a few tricks up your sleeve to snag the best deals. Luckily, these seven insider tips from a Costco veteran employee of 17 years will set you up to navigate the big-box retailer's aisles like a pro, and emerge victorious every time. From learning how to take advantage of price adjustments to figuring out what price tags mean, these tips will help you save big and leave with a cart full of bargains. 

Related: The Big Differences Between Costco and

Costco Executive Membership Card

Get the Executive Membership

While the Executive Membership at Costco is a premium option that will run you $120 per year, it's worth considering if you want to maximize your savings, the insider says. While it costs twice as much as the standard Gold-Star membership, the card provides members with 2% cashback on most purchases, including at the pharmacy, tire center, and for the hearing-aid and optical departments.

Not yet a Costco member? You can apply here.

Related: The 5 Best Costco Copycat Recipes for Superfans

checking a receipt by analyzing the numbers, expenses and profits.

Use 'Price Adjustments' to Your Advantage

At Costco, the employee points out, you can take advantage of price and coupon adjustments if you purchase something at full value and the price goes down within 30 days of purchase. Bring your receipt to the refund counter and ask for the adjustment. Can't find the receipt? You can still give it a try by asking a team member for help. For online purchases, visit Costco's website under "rebates" to request an adjustment.

Related: Surprisingly Good Costco, Walmart, and Target Products

Bird's Nest Soup at Costco
Bird's Nest Soup at Costco by Gary Stevens (CC BY)

Learn to Decode Price Tags

Keep an eye out for price signs that have an asterisk in the upper-right corner, as this indicates that the item will not be restocked (so you can stock up on a long-lasting supply or find an alternative). If a favorite product won't be carried by your local Costco anymore, check with a staff member to see if any nearby warehouses will continue to stock it.

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Kirkland Signature Organic Blue Agave

Take Advantage of Costco's Own Products

Costco's brand, Kirkland Signature, offers products that are equivalent to most popular brands, the employee says. Since Costco offers a satisfaction-guarantee policy, you can return any Kirkland Signature item for a full refund if you're not satisfied with it. "To me, it's worth trying Kirkland Signature items," says the employee. 

Costco Wholesale Location. Costco Wholesale is a Multi-Billion Dollar Global Retailer

Keep an Eye Out For These Numbers

If you're looking for a deal, keep an eye out for prices ending in .97 or .00, as these numbers typically indicate a sale. Markdown prices also typically mean that the warehouse is clearing out inventory, or that the item is seasonal. However, remember that not all Costco warehouses will have the same sale items in stock, or at the same price

Close up of a person holding a fabric shopping bag

Bring Your Own Shopping Bag

Costco doesn't provide bags, so bring your own reusable bags to make your shopping experience smoother and more convenient, the employee says. Plus, opting for reusable bags is more sustainable for the environment. If you forgot to bring bags, don't worry — Costco offers boxes at store exits to help you pack your items.

Costco App

Download the App

Though many shoppers aren't big fans of the Costco app, the veteran employee still recommends downloading it before your shopping trip. It can significantly enhance your experience because it provides real-time access to sale items while you shop or even before you leave the house.  Furthermore, the app allows you to access your membership card — eliminating the need to carry a physical card — as well as receipts, online orders, and even your Costco Citi Visa card, if you have one. You can also keep track of any 2% reward balance through the app.