Sure, you know you can get a meal's worth of free samples at Costco. But do you know where the best deals in the store are hidden? Can you decode the price tags?
Here's everything you need to know before your next shopping trip.
You can shop at Costco without a membership
All you have to do is elicit the help of a friend with a membership to get you a Costco cash card. You can shop with it at any Costco location, or online.
Deals are usually within the aisles
Regularly-priced items will be on the end caps. The real deals will be within the aisles and around the edges of the store.
Don’t worry about bringing those coupons
The coupon book is basically just a guide to what's on sale. The discounts will be applied automatically. No reason for you to clutter up your wallet.
Know how to read the signs
If the price ends in 9 cents (.59, .69, .79, etc.), it means the product is specially priced by the manufacturer.
Know when an item is marked down
If a price ends in .97, it means the price is marked down.
Grab seasonal items while you can
An asterisk on the top right of the price sign means the product is seasonal, so it may not be there next time you shop.
Know when something is standard price
If a price ends in .99, it means the price is regular price.
Know when something is priced for clearance
If the price ends in .00 or .88, it's something the store wants to clear out of inventory. It probably won't be around for long. Check these items for defects.
If you see a price drop, get an adjustment
Say you bought something last week, and this week you see it's on sale. You can bring your receipt in to get back the difference. Most Costco managers will allow you to do this up to a month after the purchase.
Costco's brand is basically name-brand
Sure, it says Kirkland, but sometimes Kirkland products are made by the same manufacturers of the name brands.
Costco strives to make Kirkland products "equal to or better" than brand name products, according to Costco's CEO.
You can buy a coffin at Costco ...
... and an engagement ring and a lot of other things you might not have thought of. If you're not sure what they offer, check the Costco website.
Get a discounted Costco membership
Most deal sites, like Groupon and LivingSocial, occasionally offer a deal on a Costco membership. Talk about deals on deals.
You can buy some things at Costco without a membership
Without a membership, you can fill prescriptions at a discount, eat at the food court, and in most states, buy alcohol at Costco without a membership. You can also get your eyes checked.
Seek out the returned items shelf
Items that are returned to Costco but aren't in the regular rotation of items the store is selling anymore are placed in a special section. You can find out-of-season items and out-of-stock items there for a fraction of the price that they were originally.
Most manufacturers' warranties on tech lasts a year. But if you get your tech at Costco, they provide a two-year warranty.
Free tech support
Members who have bought televisions, cameras, computers and the like at Costco can get free tech support for those items. Just call 1-866-861-0450.
Share your membership
Memberships come with two cards. Share the price of it with a sibling or significant other or someone else in your household.
The gift card section doesn’t just have gift cards
Here, you can get two-for-one movie theater tickets and discounts to local attractions. Gift cards are often discounted, too.
Get your ink cartridges refilled for cheap
If you have a printer, you can get your ink cartriges refilled at Costco for just $7.49.
You can always get a hot dog and a soda for $1.50
The co-founder of Costco has no plans to raise the price of its frank and unlimited soda deal, which is just $1.50 (and has been since the 1980s).
And if you really like those dogs, you can buy them in bulk in the store and make them at home.
Become an executive member
Becoming a Costco executive member means you'll get 2 percent back on nearly all purchases. So you'll need to spend $3,000 this year to make up for the cost of your executive membership, which is $120 a year. A regular membership is $60 a year.
Fill up on samples
Costco actually has a policy to encourage vendors to give out unlimited samples. So don't be afraid to go back a second (or third) time.
You can get books and movies the day they’re released
Costco usually stocks the shelves with new books and movies as soon as specialty stores.
Get your free health screening
Costco members can get free heart, diabetes, osteoporosis, and lung health screenings throughout the year. You can find the schedule here.
Check the price per unit to make sure you’re getting the best price
Costco also lists price per unit on their signs, and sometimes your local grocery store might be offering a better sale price on say, chicken breasts, that week. The PPU will help you figure that out.
Bring your own bags
Costco won't give you bags, but they'll give you boxes that are sometimes hard to carry or load in the card. Bring your own totes to avoid this.
It’s really easy to return something
You can return most items at any time without a receipt or even product packaging. But electronics must be returned within 90 days.
You can even return your membership
If for any reason, you're not happy with your membership, you can get your money back at any point.
Know the layout of the store
Listen, they don't call it a big box store for nothing. Costcos are BIG. Usually, the food and the non-food are on opposite sides of the store. In the middle, you can usually find snacks, clothes, books, media and seasonal items. And the deli and bakeries are usually located in the back.
Tie your grocery trips with your gas fill-up
Many Costcos have gas stations with discounted gasoline. If you need to fill up and realize you forgot your card, don't worry. An attendant will still let you fill up, but they'll jot down your name to make sure you're not taking advantage of the discounted prices without a membership.
Get a Costco credit card for cash back
The Costco Anywhere Visa will give you 2 percent back on Costco purchases. Other cards may also give you the same amount back at wholesale clubs, so you could also choose one of those.
Costco only accepts Visa or debit cards
Except for online where all cards are accepted.
Don’t miss the Costco roadshows
These are giant sample stations, with food and products being demo'ed. You can try a product out and purchase it, but it might not be in the store for long so don't forget to check the schedule.
Book your vacation through Costco
You can get great flight, car rental, hotel and package deals through Costco's travel site.