10 Do’s and Don’ts of Costco Shopping

5 min Read

Laser1987 / iStock.com

Laser1987 / iStock.com

Savvy Costco shoppers utilize strategies specific to warehouse clubs to get the most bang for their buck. These strategies help customers save extra money and remind them it’s worth investing in a Costco membership. 

Follow these do’s and don’ts of what to do when shopping at Costco.

Do: Explore Costco Membership Options

More than 121 million shoppers have Costco memberships, giving them access to quality items and savings designated just for members, ranging from groceries to gasoline. Those interested in signing up for Costco memberships may choose a Gold Star Membership, Executive Membership or Business Membership. (The third option is available only for business owners.)

A Gold Star Costco Membership has an annual fee of $60. A free household card is included and membership is valid at all Costco locations worldwide. Households that invest in a Costco Executive Membership pay a $120 annual fee and receive a free household card and valid membership at any Costco location.

Both Gold Star and Executive Membership level members receive member-exclusive prices at Costco gas stations and the Costco pharmacy, plus a 90-day guarantee and free technical support on electronics and devices and same-day or 2-day delivery to receive groceries and other essentials.

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Do: Download the Costco App

Before you head out on a Costco shopping trip, download the Costco app. This allows you to house a digital version of your physical membership card (in case you accidentally leave it behind at home). 

Plus, app users can click the Savings Panel to view new and current Costco promotions, see the gas prices at their nearest warehouse locations, access receipts from orders and purchases and refill prescriptions through the pharmacy.

Do: Sign Up for Costco Emails

In addition to downloading the Costco app, signing up for Costco emails provides members with all the latest news, promotions and special offers available at their nearest Costco locations. Make sure to include your membership number and primary warehouse information when signing up so you will receive personalized announcements and news about recall information.

Don’t: Go Shopping Hungry

While this is a no-brainer when going grocery shopping, it’s especially important at Costco. Shopping hungry in a bulk warehouse can only lead to additional purchases you didn’t necessarily plan for and justifying the need because it’s a bulk buy for less. 

Curb any hunger pains you might have by eating before you head out. In a worst-case scenario, grab a Costco signature hot dog for $1.50 from the food court before you start shopping.

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Don’t: Buy Too Many Bulk Perishables

People love Costco’s bulk offerings, but practice caution if you’re purchasing fresh food items. 

While many of these items, including fruits and vegetables, are delicious and inexpensive, shoppers will need to eat anything with a shorter expiration date before it perishes. Otherwise, this leads to food waste and more expensive shopping trips over time.

Don’t: Grocery Shop Alone

Are you shopping for yourself? See whether you can get another person, like a family member or roommate, to come along. This gives Costco shoppers the opportunity to split packages with family members, roommates or friends and save up to 50% on anything they purchase. 

Solo shoppers also may consider splitting their purchases with other families, especially those that have children heading back to school, to further cut costs and make sure everyone gets the essentials they need.

Don’t: Make Impulse Purchases

It’s extremely easy to make impulse buys in a warehouse setting where everything is relatively inexpensive. Similar to shopping in any other environment, create a list before heading out and stick to it as much as possible. 

Shoppers who find themselves faced with a potential impulse buy, like a pack of Greek yogurt, should ask whether they plan to eat this yogurt every day. If the answer is no or even a half-hearted “I might eat a few of them,” skip buying in bulk and save it for your next shopping trip at a local grocery store.

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Do: Check the Costco Website

In addition to downloading the app and signing up for emails, savvy Costco shoppers struggling to find items at their local warehouse should visit the Costco website. You may be able to purchase items online that aren’t available locally.

Do: Purchase Kirkland Signature Brand

Don’t focus solely on name-brand items during your Costco shopping trip. Items with the Kirkland Signature brand are a great deal for the unit price and one of the easiest ways to save money on pantry staples and other household essentials.

Do: Stock Up During Sales

Shoppers who receive news about Costco sales events are well advised to shop online and at their local warehouse locations.

Add the start dates for the sales to your calendar and shop once sales begin to keep from missing out on these items before they sell out. Some products for sale may take time to be restocked, while others might not be restocked at all.

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