6 Costco Shopping Mistakes That Cost You

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Your Costco membership can be a ticket to major savings when used smartly; but, with so many offerings available, it’s also easy to make money-wasting mistakes. This may mean overlooking certain savings or spending on items that just aren’t worth it.

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GOBankingRates spoke to shopping experts about some common mistakes you may be making while shopping at Costco. Here’s what they had to say.

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Buying Select Items in Bulk

When you buy items in bulk, the per-unit price is typically less than when you buy them individually; but, in some cases, buying in bulk can ultimately lead to wasting money.

“Produce, bread, baked goods and other perishable items may be a great deal, but only if you actually plan to use them up before they go off,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “If you don’t have a plan for 3 pounds of fresh broccoli or enough people to eat 12 Danishes before they spoil, then you’re better off shopping elsewhere for these kinds of things.”

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Assuming Everything Is a Good Deal

“While it’s true that shopping in bulk is very often a good deal, you shouldn’t just blindly assume that’s always the case,” Ramhold said. “Be sure to check unit prices of items before you buy something at Costco. In some cases, a sale at a big-box store one week might provide a better value than buying in bulk.”

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Skipping the Store Brand

Costco often has great deals on name-brand products, but you shouldn’t skip out on Costco’s store brand, Ramhold said.

“Hands down, Kirkland Signature is one of the most solid store brands out there, so if you aren’t shopping these items, you’re making a mistake,” she said. “In some cases, they’re name brands that are under the Kirkland Signature label because of agreements that Costco has made with the manufacturers; but, in other cases, these items are their own products. And in those cases, they’re often better than the name-brand counterpart.”

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Missing Out on Sales

“Costco has a lot of really great prices on items, but every month or so they have sales that offer up even better savings,” Ramhold said. “By taking advantage of these and stocking up during the sales, you’re maximizing your savings even more.”

Costco’s sales always include online-only deals; so, if you don’t check the monthly Warehouse Savings on Costco.com, it’s easy to miss out on these savings.

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Skipping the Gift Card Section

Unless you’re looking for a gift to give someone else, you probably skip over the gift card section — but this section offers some of the best money-saving opportunities you can find at Costco.

“This is a category that many people often forget about when shopping at Costco,” Ramhold said. “You’ll pay less than the face value of the card; so, even if you aren’t looking to gift them to people, it’s still worth getting them yourself because it means stretching your dollar even further.

“They’re available for restaurants and retailers, as well as for tickets for movies, concerts, theater shows and streaming services. Expect to save anywhere from $15 to $50 off the face value, depending on what you’re shopping for and in what amount. A pack of four $25 gift cards to Grimaldi’s (a $100 value) is $79.99, for example, while a pack of four $50 gift cards to Texas de Brazil (a $200 value) is $154.99.”

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Paying for Too Many Memberships

Costco allows its members to add an extra person each to their accounts as long as they are in the same household; so, if you’re paying for two memberships, this can be a big waste of money.

“My boyfriend and I both had our own Costco memberships before we discovered this hack,” said Laurice Wardini, founder of the shopping site ClothedUp. “If you have a parent or someone else with a Costco membership that might not be using their second spot, you can always ask if they can add you.”

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