10 Secrets All Shoppers Need To Know About Costco

Written by |

If you love to save a buck, then learning about new ways to save at Costco, or any other store for that matter, just never gets old.

We’ve got some tips and tricks to help you save even more!

This article was updated in April 2024 and I review it every 12 months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.

Money-Saving Secrets at Costco

1. Costco Has a Generous Price Adjustment Policy

A hand holding Costco receipt
Costco receipt (Dreamstime)

If you buy something at Costco and then it goes on sale within 30 days, you can take your receipt back and get refunded the difference. If for some reason the store won’t give you the price adjustment, just return the item and buy it at the cheaper price. For all of the details and to see any exclusions, check their price adjustment policy here.

2. The Store Also Has a Very Generous Return Policy

For electronics, it’s 90 days, but for everything else, it’s pretty much whenever you want to return the item. We’ve got a complete rundown of the return policy here.

3. You Can Get Cash Back on Your Purchases

Costco’s Executive Membership is the more expensive option — $120 per year versus the standard $60 per year — but it comes with some pretty great additional perks including 2% cash back on purchases. You can get up to $1,000 back each year, so if you’re doing a lot of shopping for your home or business, then the upgraded membership is probably worth it.

4. You Can Get Your Membership Fee Refunded

Costco membership prices
Costco membership counter (Dreamstime)

If you want to try out a membership and then decide that the savings just don’t add up for you, Costco will refund your membership fee. But don’t try to get sneaky: They’ll take your card back from you when you cancel.

5. Know How the Pricing Works To Get a Better Deal

At Costco, look for anything with a price tag that ends in 97 cents. That means it’s being sold below cost (i.e., you won’t find it cheaper anywhere else). 

Happen to see a price that ends in a 9? That usually indicates a manufacturers savings and will probably be marked down for a limited time.

6. A Price Tag With an Asterisk Means the Product Is Going Away

Price tags with asterisks mean an item will not be reordered. If you see the asterisk and there are a lot of the items in stock, wait until the price gets marked down to a 97 and then buy. (You’ll find most of the 97s and asterisks in the seasonal section in the back third of the middle of the store.)


7. Costco Accepts More Types of Credit Cards Online

costco website

Costco accepts only Visa credit cards and most PIN-based debit cards in-club. However, you can also use Mastercard, JCB or Diners Club if you’re doing your Costco shopping online. But note, if you aren’t a member, you may be charged an extra fee at checkout. Costco has a list of the cards accepted both in-club and online.

8. You Can Get Costco Prices With a Gift Card

You don’t necessarily have to be a member to enjoy Costco’s great savings!

If you have a friend or family member who has a membership to Costco, ask them to buy you a gift card. You can then use it to try out the store and decide if you want to purchase your own membership.

9. You Can Shop via the Instacart App Without a Membership

You do not need a Costco membership to shop the store on the Instacart app. You may pay a higher price as a non-member and you are not guaranteed same-day delivery. 

10. Kirkland Signature Gas Is Top-Tier but Low in Price

Costco gas is some of the best that you could buy for your vehicle. The gas that Costco uses is their Kirkland Signature brand and is also Top-Tier. You can learn all about the benefits of Kirkland Signature gas and what it means to purchase Top-Tier here

Final Thoughts

There are also several other ways you can shop at Costco without being a member. We’ve got a rundown of them here.

See all of the best deals at Costco here.

Article Updates
  • April 10, 2024: Verified current Costco secrets, added in Instacart info and Kirkland gas info.