Huge Mistakes Everyone Makes Shopping At Costco
Nobody really needs to be told how to shop,
But when you shop at Costco, the rules are
As a card-carrying member, you’re probably
paying for a ton of benefits that you might
not even know you get.
You also might be making incorrect assumptions
when it comes to the items you select.
Here are some huge mistakes you could be making
while shopping at Costco.
Costco has two options when it comes to personal
memberships, Gold Star at $60 and Gold Star
Executive at $120, and if you haven’t upgraded
to Executive yet, you’re missing an opportunity
to recoup some, or all, of that annual fee.
While it might sound a bit counterintuitive
to pay twice as much for the same access into
the warehouse store, depending on your spending
habits, it could be well worth it.
At the Executive level, you receive two percent
cash back on most purchases.
According to Costco’s math, if you spend $500
a month, or $6,000 a year, you’re looking
at a rewards check of $120, and in effect,
getting your membership totally free.
The more you spend, the more you get back,
up to $1,000 a year.
Even if you don’t come close to that maximum,
anything over $60 in rewards is money back
in your pocket.
As a safety net, if you take the plunge and
don’t spend enough in the first year to come
out ahead, Costco will make up the difference
by ensuring that first check is at least $60.
So what are you waiting for?
Go upgrade that membership.
Spoiler alert: Costco’s layout is confusing
They want you to get lost in their labyrinth
of tempting bargains so you spend all the
Think about it… you shopped at the warehouse
store just last week, but somehow the layout
is very different this time around.
According to one former employee who posted
on Quora, this dipsy-doo switcheroo is no
“I worked for Costco for 13 years.
They purposely move products around to different
locations and are constantly rotating a certain
percentage of their inventory to new products.
This creates a ‘Treasure Hunt’ experience
as you shop and helps you discover new products
that you may not normally see on your shopping
In other words, you’re much more likely to
impulse buy this way.
More tricks the retailer uses?
The fresh food is all located at the back
of the store so you’re forced to walk past
all those amazing deals and hopefully put
them in your cart.
Costco also forgoes any aisle signage, another
effort to get you to peruse all the products
and buy what you see.
If you don’t want to spend more than you planned,
don’t let their layout lead you astray.
It always seems to happen… at least one
of the items you bought on your last Costco
trip is now on sale, and you’re kicking yourself
for missing out on the savings.
The good news: There’s a store policy that
works in your favor here.
The bad news: You have to stand in the return
line to take advantage of it.
But thanks to Costco’s price adjustment policy,
the wait can be well worth it, because the
store will refund the difference between the
price you paid and the sale price of any items
within 30 days of purchase.
When it comes to whether you need the original
receipt, some stores require it while others
Your best bet is to stash those slips away
for a month and check out the prices of your
recent purchases next time you shop.
You might be in for a hefty refund.
If you’re not buying gift cards at Costco,
you’re doing it wrong, plain and simple.
These prepaid cards for restaurants, coffee
shops, movie theaters, and other attractions
aren’t just a good generic gift option, they’re
a gift you should be giving yourself, too.
But why would you bother to buy a gift card
Why not just pay the restaurant directly?
Because you’re leaving money on the table,
See, Costco sells $100 gift cards for these
establishments at a sizable discount, typically
a 20 to 25 percent savings.
Since you were going to spend $100 on movie
tickets eventually anyway, you might as well
just buy the gift card and keep the $20 to
$25 in your pocket.
This system makes sense on any goods or services
that you use consistently, or even a one-off
night out to a nice restaurant.
Hey, nobody can fault you for saving a few
bucks on date night.
Although it might seem like a great deal,
not every bulk buy ends up being a money saver
in the long run.
“An entire case of cream of mushroom soup
Dammit Costco, you’ve done it again.”
Not all grocery items last forever, even those
canned, dried, and bottled.
Take condiments, for example.
While the six-pack of ketchup bottles might
seem like a bargain, you have to remember
that the tomato-based product only keeps for
six months once opened, and one to two years
Similarly, you only have a few months to use
up that giant jar of mayo, barbecue sauce
only lasts about five months after opening,
and some hot sauce brands recommend finishing
a bottle within six months.
When it comes to canned and dried goods, you’ve
got a little more leeway, but there’s a limit
Dried pastas give you one to two years shelf
life, and while white rice keeps for up to
five years, brown and wild rice only keeps
for up to eight months in the pantry.
As for canned goods, acidic products like
tomato and citrus will only keep for about
18 months, while most other products hang
in there for up the five years.
When it comes to the fresh items, you’ve got
to be even more careful.
Unless you’re feeding a large family, it’s
probably best to avoid things that ripen or
spoil too quickly, like peaches or a tub of
Buy fruits and vegetables that last, like
apples and carrots, and take advantage of
produce that can be refrigerated, like avocados.
This also means the freezer section is your
friend and so are individually-wrapped snacks.
A ginormous bag of something will likely go
stale before you get to the bottom, but tiny
single-serve bags won’t.
For household items like toilet paper, if
you have a place to store the dozens of rolls,
go for it.
But when it comes to giant bottles of bleach
and bulk disinfectant wipes?
They actually lose their effectiveness if
stored for too long.
So unless you run a cleaning service, that’s
probably not the best buy for you.
The competitive prices on electronics is probably
enough to convince you to buy your next TV
or laptop from Costco.
But when you make the purchase at the warehouse
store, it comes with another benefit you might
not know about: The Costco Concierge Service.
This service, which applies to most major
appliances and electronics, comes with two
One: Free technical support.
Experts are available seven days a week to
help you with initial set-up and troubleshooting
and will definitely come in handy when you
Two: It extends the manufacturer’s warranty
of the product to two years from the date
Since most items typically come with a one-year
warranty, this is huge.
A whole extra year of protection, free of
Now that’s savings.
As you wander up and down the aisles at Costco,
it’s hard to miss all the Kirkland-brand products.
And if you’re skipping over them in favor
of their brand name counterparts, you’re making
one of the biggest Costco mistakes of all.
First things first: no, Kirkland doesn’t always
win when it comes to product comparisons.
Consumer Reports indicated that though less
expensive, the private-label toilet paper
and facial tissues ranked lower than national
brands when it came to quality.
But plenty of the other Kirkland products
are cheaper, consistently outperform when
it comes to both quality and taste, and in
some cases may even be manufactured in the
very same factories as national brands.
Just a few of the areas where Kirkland can
brag: The store brand has beaten Oscar Meyer
in the bacon game, is one of the few imported
oils that met international and U.S. standards,
and has even bested Grey Goose vodka more
than once in blind taste tests.
Even Kirkland batteries, though they might
not last as long, come out ahead thanks to
the value provided by the low price.
In other words, don’t be a brand snob, you
could end up paying more for an inferior product.
Aside from merely telling you the price you’ll
pay for an item, Costco’s price signs have
a hidden meaning, too.
You’ll need to pay attention to get the best
deals, and most importantly, to know if your
favorite item is about to disappear forever.
If the price ends in .99 or .98: This indicates
a regular retail price, and probably doesn’t
translate to any huge savings compared to
If the price ends in .89, .79, .69, .59, .49,
.39, .29, .19, or .09, this indicates Costco
got a manufacturer’s deal, meaning they can
offer these items at a steeper discount than
If the price ends in .97: This indicates your
These are items that need to go, and are priced
at a discount.
If there happens to be an asterisk in the
upper right corner of the sign, act fast and
stock up, because this means that the product
is likely going away for good.
You just have to keep track of your numbers
if you really want to succeed.
You might assume that the prices of items
inside the Costco warehouses are the same
as the prices on Costco.com.
But you would be wrong.
That’s why it pays to sign into the cyber-verse
and check the online price before you buy.
Every so often, in addition to the monthly
coupon book, members will receive another
booklet of sale items, but this one is for
online purchases only.
If you don’t get the mailer, you can check
the current offering at the Exclusive Online-Only
page of Costco’s website.
While some of these items are truly only offered
online, like bathtubs or sinks, you’ll find
that others are actually available in the
store, but the catch is, even if you can buy
the item in the store, the sale price won’t
You never know what you might save on: maybe
it’s $20 off a set of sheets or $100 off a
piece of jewelry.
The bottom line is: If you can afford to wait
a few days to get the item, shopping online
can save you some serious money.
Here’s the greatest Costco hack of them all:
Don’t pay the membership fee, but take advantage
of the member benefits, at least some of them.
As a non-member, you probably don’t realize
all the perks you’re missing out on.
Have a prescription to be filled?
That slip of paper will get you in the door
to get to the pharmacy, no membership card
While you’re there, you can also get free
health and wellness screenings, and even flu
Just want to buy some booze?
In 16 states you can do so without a membership,
just tell the employee at the door that’s
why you’re there.
Same thing goes for the food court, but if
it’s located outside, you don’t even need
to worry about getting in.
Even a regular ol’ shopping trip is a possibility,
as long as you have a Costco Cash Card.
You can use it to gain entry to the store
and even pay for your items.
Costco, officially hacked.
Check out one of our newest videos right here!
Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
places to shop are coming soon.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.