Costco is filled with ways to save, but it’s easy to overlook some of the less-obvious perks.
If you are thinking about joining Costco — or if you are a member who simply isn’t versed in the lesser-known bargains to be found when warehouse club shopping — the following tips will help you wring more savings from your membership.
1. Consider an executive membership
If you frequent Costco or have a big household, don’t dismiss the executive membership just because it costs more upfront. While Costco’s executive membership ($120 per year) is twice as expensive as the standard membership ($60), executive members earn cash back on their Costco purchases.
The cash-back rate is 2%, up to $1,000 per year. So if you spend at least $250 a month at Costco — $3,000 per year — you would earn at least $60 per year in cash back, and the added cost of an executive membership would thus pay for itself. That’s like getting all the added perks of an executive membership for free.
2. Use Ibotta when shopping online
While Costco does not accept coupons, Ibotta, a free mobile app and browser extension, offers cash back on purchases from Costco’s website.
If you don’t already have Ibotta, sign up for an account and then download the app or extension. From there, select Costco from the list of retailers to see what cash-back offers Ibotta is offering for Costco purchases currently.
3. Browse Costco Next
Costco Next is a relatively new perk of Costco membership. The program is a partnership between Costco and third-party brands, which enables Costco members to buy items from those brands at deep discounts that are available exclusively to Costco members.
Briggs & Riley luggage and Dearfoams footwear are just a couple of examples. Check out the Costco Next website for more.
4. Fill your prescriptions
You don’t actually have to be a member to use Costco pharmacies, as we detail in “7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership.” But savings are savings.
So, find out whether Costco pharmacies stock the medications you or other members of your household take. If they carry a medication, call your nearest Costco pharmacy for prices. You may find lower prices than what your local pharmacy chain store charges for the same medications. For certain generics, you might find that Costco’s prices are even cheaper than your insurance copay.
5. Take advantage of free tech support
Costco members are eligible for free concierge services on electronics like TVs, computers and home security systems that they purchase from Costco. These free services include talking to technicians and getting troubleshooting help and “easy-to-understand answers to your set-up and product use questions,” Costco says.
6. Buy booze
Buying liquor at Costco or most any other warehouse club is generally a great way to save money. In fact, savings on alcohol are among the best reasons to purchase memberships at one — although you don’t necessarily need a membership for that.
As we note in “The 15 Best Things to Buy at Warehouse Stores“:
“The best thing about buying alcohol at a warehouse club is that, in some states, you don’t even need a membership. Depending on your state laws, you may be able to walk in and buy discounted libations without paying an annual fee.”
7. Scope out the ‘warehouse savings’
Costco offers periodic discounts — on top of its already low prices. The retailer refers to them as “warehouse savings,” but they are essentially sales.
Costco offers a new batch of warehouse savings roughly once a month. So, always check out the retailer’s Warehouse Savings webpage before driving to your local club or buying anything online.
You will also find warehouse savings marked on shelves in your local club, as pictured, although you will have to hunt for the deals if you don’t look them up online.
8. Buy tires
My family buys all of our tires at Costco, and we love that they throw in free balancing and rotation. Plus, instead of drinking stale coffee while waiting in a stuffy room for our cars to be serviced, we can grab a cheap bite to eat and cross several items off our shopping list.
9. Know the return policy
Costco has one of the most generous return policies around. So, if you’re ever unhappy with a purchase for any reason, at any point, you generally can and should ask for a refund or replacement.
There are a handful of exceptions to the policy. Check them out at the Costco website.
10. Buy discounted tickets and gift cards
Check out Costco’s gift cards and tickets webpage. You will find a swarm of savings on everything from restaurant meals to video gaming.
11. Feed your family dinner on the cheap
The Costco food court is a great place to grab an inexpensive bite to eat. Where else can you get a hot dog and refillable soda for a mere $1.50? My family of four likes to head there on Friday nights to enjoy a large pizza.
12. Book a vacation
Members can rack up savings when they book their getaways through Costco Travel. It offers discounts on:
- Vacation packages
- Rental cars
Executive members at Costco can save even more, earning an annual 2% reward on Costco Travel purchases.
13. Buy gas
Being a Costco member also pays at the pump. Many locations have gas stations that offer competitive prices. Some people buy a Costco membership for the gas savings alone.