Costco is a majestic emporium.
But there are even more saving opportunities than you think. If you're ready to level up from Costco wholesale club member to Costco hacks guru, check out these 7 tips to save big on your next trip.
Know the Costco pricing codes.
There's a careful method to the Costco pricing system. Here's a breakdown to help you navigate the myriad prices.
Ending in $0.97: These items have been marked down from their original prices, which usually always end in $0.99.
Other odd pricing: Items ending in other odd pricing like $0.49, $0.79 or $0.89 are typically regularly priced.
Asterisk (*): If you see an asterisk in the upper right corner of the pricing, make sure to snag it if it's a favorite -- these are the items that won't be reordered.
Ending in $0.88 or $0.00: These are items that were marked down to get out the door faster.
Don't worry about the coupons.
Costco members know about the coupon books the store sends out every month. But if you're actually clipping them -- cut it out! These monthly missives simply list the deals and discounts available each month, but there are no longer barcodes on the back and they all say "Instant Savings" at the top. All monthly store deals will now be automatically applied when you check out.
Know the lifetime return policy.
Costco has a lifetime return policy with a few exceptions.
Their memberships: Included in the lifetime return policy. They will cancel and refund your membership fee in full if you are dissatisfied.
Electronics within 90 days: Returns are accepted within 90 days (from the date you received your item) for Televisions, Tuner-Free Displays, Projectors, Major Appliances (refrigerators above 10 cu. ft., freezers, ranges, cooktops, over-the-range microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers), Computers, Touchscreen Tablets, Smart Watches, Cameras, Aerial Cameras (drones), Camcorders, MP3 players and Cellular Phones (return details will vary by carrier service contract).
Diamonds: Returns accepted for diamonds 1.00ct or larger. Must have all original paperwork. You will receive a Jewelry Credit memo, and a Costco gemologist will inspect it within 48 hours for authenticity.
Cigarettes and alcohol: The store won't accept returns on these where prohibited by law.
Products with limited useful life expectancy: Such as tires and batteries, may be sold with a product-specific limited warranty.
Use Costco Cash Card to shop without a membership.
As glorious as a Costco membership is, it can definitely feel like a huge commitment. But you don't have to feel wholesale FOMO. Have a friend who is a member get you a Costco Cash Card. Although only members can buy or reload them, non-members can use them in-store or, if you want that 32-pack of Charmin to come to you, online.
Here are some other ways to shop without being a member.
In addition to the Costco Cash Card, there are a few other ways to shop at the store without forking out the dough for a membership.
Google Express: Join Google Express to get Costco delivered for $95 a year or $4.99 an order, plus 10% on your order. (The 10% fee is not applied if you are already a member.)
Optometrist: Non-members can get their eyes checked, although you need a membership to buy glasses and contact lenses.
Prescriptions: Costco has very competitive prices for prescriptions. This is great news for non-members, who can get prescription medicine and immunizations without a membership.
Alcohol & Cigarettes: Since many states have laws against "alcohol clubs," alcohol is often available for purchase to non-members.
Food court: You don't need a membership to buy food at the food court, so if your nearest Costco has an outdoor food court, or you can manage to get to the one inside, go nuts (and remember it's cash only).
Members get free health screenings.
Throughout the year, the store offers Healthy Heart, Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Lung Health Screenings that are free of charge to club members. View the schedule, broken down by state, on their site.
Members get free technical support on electronic items.
If you purchase an electronic item at Costco, you get free tech support. These items (ranging from TVs, computers, pressure washers and security camera systems) come with a technical support sticker right on the packaging. In case you missed it but still need help with a broken gadget you picked up, simply call 1-866-861-0450 anytime from 5AM to 10PM Pacific any day of the week (except holidays) to get assistance. Have your name, Costco membership number, item number, model, serial number and purchase date handy.