I think you’ll agree with me when I say: Costco has become one of the most popular stores in North America. Not only are Costco stores some of the largest, but they are some of the busiest.
Chances are good that you if you’re reading this article, you either have a Costco membership or are considering getting one.
But did you know that there is much more to a Costco price tag than meets the eye? Costco uses special pricing codes on its price tags.
And here is the awesome part! You can unlock BIG savings if you learn how to read a Costco price tag like a Costco employee.
Intrigued? Well, in this article I’m going to show you how to get the best deals at Costco by teaching you how to decipher Costco price tags.
How To Get The Best Deals At Costco: The Secret Sale Items
At any given time, there could be a few dozen items secretly on sale in your local Costco store. These are items that are not advertised as being on sale, and there is nothing obvious on their price tag to advertise to the masses that they’re on sale.
So, how do you know which products are secretly on sale?
Costco company policy is to not discuss pricing policies. But, we spoke to a few Costco employees who have shared and confirmed Costco’s pricing policies. What did we learn? The key to understanding a Costco price tag is to look at the price itself.
- Prices that end in a 9 such as .99, .89, .49 etc. are regular everyday Costco prices. But if a price ends in a number other than a 9, you may have come across a secret sale item
- Prices that end in .98 indicate the product is on clearance at the store level
- Prices that end in .97 indicate a close-out markdown at either the store or national level in an effort to sell the product as quickly as possible. If necessary, the price will continue to be cut. However, the price will always end in .97
- Prices that end in .88 or .00 are manager markdowns at the local level. These are some of the best deals. They can be display goods or a few end-of-inventory items that Costco no longer wants on display. You will usually find products displayed in a special area of the store such as by the checkouts or entrance. The items on display are likely the last.
- In addition to the prices themselves, keep an eye out for an asterix or star (*) in the upper right corner of the price tag. If you see this symbol on a price tag it means the product on display is the last of the item and the item is not being restocked. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the product is being discontinued. The product could a seasonal item and will be brought back next year. You can always ask the membership desk if the item is being permanently discontinued.
How To Get The Best Deals At Costco: The Advertised Sale Items
Besides the secret sale items, there are also advertised sale items. These include:
- Instant rebates – Some instant rebates are advertised in the Costco weekly coupon books
- Energy rebates – These rebates are available on certain energy-efficient items at select times of the year. Energy rebates are funded by the Provincial and State Governments so they aren’t available in all areas.
How To Get The Best Deals At Costco: Other Forms of Savings
- Savings Apps – Unlike most stores, Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons. You can however use rebate apps to save. Cash back apps like Checkout 51 allow you to submit your Costco receipts and receive cash back on certain products. Once you accumulate $20 they send you a cheque.
- Generous Return Policy – If for any reason you are not satisfied with an item you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. There is no time limit to return an item and you do not need to produce a receipt to return an item provided that Costco has a record of the purchase on your account. There are a few exceptions where Costco returns are limited to 90 days including on certain electronics, computers, and major appliances.
- Price Protection – If the price of any item you purchase at Costco drops within 30 days of your purchase Costco will refund you the difference. Even if it’s beyond 30 days, you can return the original item through Costco’s generous return policy and then re-buy the same item at the lower price to realize the savings.
- Risk-free 100% membership guarantee – If for any reason you are not happy with your membership, Costco will refund your membership fee at any time.
- Executive Membership Perks – The Executive Membership is double the cost of the Gold Membership ($110 vs. $55) but it has plenty of perks that should make it a worthwhile upgrade for most people. One of the perks is 2% cash back on all purchases up to $750 a year. To justify the extra $55 cost you would need to spend $2750 during the year ($230 a month) at Costco. What most people don’t realize is that at the end of the year if your 2% refund is less than $55 Costco will refund you the difference. To get this refund you need to take your rebate cheque to the membership counter and ask for the refund.
Interesting Fact: Did you know that you don’t need to be a Costco member in order to use the Costco pharmacy?
If you don’t have a Costco membership you are still allowed to obtain prescriptions from the pharmacy in both Canada and the United States. The Costco pharmacy is one of the cheapest places to buy generic drugs and it has one of the cheapest dispensing fees. I’m sure this is welcome news for those without a medical plan that covers such fees.
How To Get The Best Deals At Costco: Start Saving Money Now
I hope you have enjoyed reading about how to get the best deals at Costco. I want to know what you think about the article. Also, please share any other tips or tricks you use for getting the best deals at Costco.
Now get your local Costco and search for the secret, unadvertised deals by using your new knowledge. I’m willing to bet you’ll never look at a Costco price tag the same way again.
Want an easy reference card to keep in your wallet or purse for deciphering Costco price tags? Then print off this cheat sheet.