One of the best stores for saving money on the things you buy every day is Costco, but some people balk at the membership fee and wonder if shopping there really results in savings. It does, if you’re deliberate with your purchases.
For most of these strategies you do have to invest in the annual membership fee. Track your savings, and by shopping at Costco as often as possible, you’ll find that soon you make that money back and the membership fee has paid for itself. The smarter the shopper you are, the faster you’ll get your return.
We spoke with a group of former and current Costco employees on where to find the biggest savings to help get the most from your membership and they helped create the list below. Read on to learn the tips and tricks to get the biggest deals.
1. The Costco Cash Card
The Costco Cash Card is like a gift card. A member has to buy it, but nonmembers can use the card to gain access to the store and pay for purchases at the member price. Cash Cards can be loaded with up to $1,000 and can be reloaded by the member who originally purchased it. Ask for one for a gift, or ask a friend with a membership to by one for you and pay them back.
Groupon sometimes offers deals on Costco memberships and they have exclusive offers and coupons for specific items and services.
3. Buy Gift Cards in Bulk
Costco sells gift cards to restaurants, movie theaters, iTunes, and other services and attractions at a discount if you buy them in bulk. Pick up a pack and distribute them as birthday and holiday gifts or save them to use yourself. You’ll get the full value of the gift card at the reduced price.
4. Buy Kirkland Brand
Kirkland is Costco’s generic grocery brand but all the products in the line are produced and packaged by popular well-known name brands such as Bumblebee tuna and Huggies diapers. All that’s different is the label. And the price tag.
5. Store Your Bulk Foods Properly
Food waste is a huge budget buster. Don’t buy food in bulk just to let it go bad before you eat it. Buy containers and zip-top bags – from Costco, of course – so you can store foods for optimum freshness.
6. Buy Car Tires and Prescriptions at Costco
Costco is not just groceries. They offer the same tires as automotive stores at cheaper prices. And check out their other nongrocery items. From prescription drugs to home furnishings, Costco offers deal on everything.
7. Use Coupons
They don’t accept most manufacturer’s coupons but Costco does have its own coupons. Always check their website, app, and sales circulars for additional weekly savings.
8. Make Purchases That Don’t Require Membership
Shop at Costco for items that are discounted but don’t require a membership. The Costco Food Court and the pharmacy are open to everyone.
9. Buy Alcohol
In states that allow alcohol sales in grocery stores, Costco offers some of the best prices. Their Kirkland brand products are produced by big-name companies like Grey Goose, so you can be assured of the same taste and quality. And products sold under their own names are deeply discounted as well. Some stores allow alcohol sales to nonmembers, too.
10. Shop Online
Costco.com has more nonmember deals than the stores, although some purchases have a 5% surcharge for nonmembers. Even with that surcharge, however, many Kirkland products are cheaper than their grocery-store counterparts.
11. Share a Membership
Two members of a household who are over 18 years old can share one membership, cutting your fee in half and reducing the amount of time it takes to earn your membership fee back. The other person doesn’t have to be a spouse. Another family member or a roommate can share a membership.
12. Use School and Military Discounts
Students, teachers, and members of the military can get a discount on membership. Take advantage of this if you can. Sometimes you’ll find even deeper discounts in conjunction with Groupon.
13. Shop with a Member
Costco members may bring up to two guests with them per visit. The member has to make the purchase, but you can pay back your friend for what they bought for you.
14. Shop with the Costco Visa Card
The Costco Anywhere Visa card gives you 2% cash back on all your Costco purchases, essentially giving you a discount on your already discounted items.
15. Use the Costco App
The Costco app offers deals that aren’t found in stores or at the website, such as “Going, Going, Gone” discount prices and “Treasure Hunt” for products that are almost sold out. If you’re not a member, however, you’ll be charged the 5% surcharge.