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Get the Most Bang for Your Buck at Costco

Get the Most Bang for Your Buck at Costco

When people find out that I have a membership to Costco (cost is $55 or $110/year), they often ask me if I find it worth my money, and I always tell them yes, because it really is! I used to think that Costco was only for large families, with lots of mouths to feed, but I soon realized that this is simply not true at all.

Costco is for people who love to stock up on items that have a long shelf life, and pay the lowest price for it. Sure, there are many things that Costco sells (cereal, health & beauty items, etc.) that you could get for free when you shop with coupons, but there are a bunch of other things that are actually a better deal at Costco than any other store.

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck at Costco

Some of my favourite Costco buys:

These are the items we buy most often…

  • Whole Almonds @ $16.99 (1.36kg)
  • Walnuts @ $17.99 (1.36kg)
  • Coconut Oil @ $17.99 (1596mL)
  • Spices @ As low as $2.99 for a big container
  • Baby Spinach @ $3.89
  • Quinoa @ $12.99 (1.81kg)
  • Agave 2-Pack @ $10.99 (736mL each)
  • Vanilla @ $7.49 (473mL)
  • Lemon Juice 2-Pack @ $3.89 (945mL each)
  • Cocoa Powder, @ $7.79 (700g)
  • Baby/Toddler Clothing – Carters Brand ($9.99 for 3-pack sets)

I have never been able to find those items cheaper than the prices at Costco. These are things that we use a lot of, so I always stock up when we go there (usually buying enough for 1-2 months).

Other great buys at Costco:

Some more deals you can find at Costco…

  • Milk
  • Olive & Vegetable Oil
  • Diapers & Wipes (Kirkland Brand is made by Huggies!)
  • Frozen Veggies
  • Bananas (unless there is a good deal to price match elsewhere)
  • Infant Formula
  • Postage Stamps
  • Mixed Greens
  • Frozen Berries
  • Photo Printing (usually)
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Fresh Flowers
  • Campbell’s Broth 6-Pack (especially when on sale!)

Things that are over-priced at Costco:

Although Costco is a great place to buy many things, there are a bunch of bad deals, too. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, these are the things you want to avoid when shopping at Costco…

  • Cereal
  • Razors
  • Condiments
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Paper Products
  • Fresh Meat (other than rotisserie chicken)
  • Eggs (unless they’re on sale)
  • Cleaning Products
  • Movies & CDs

Deals at Costco Canada

What about the produce?

Many people say that fresh produce is way too much money at Costco, but I disagree. Sure, a lot of it is, but oftentimes I can find produce at Costco to not only be cheaper than grocery stores, but of better quality as well.

Of course, the best deals are when produce is in season, and most times, you won’t know about the sale until you wander through the produce section. So, make it a point to check out this section before you leave the store.

Produce at Costco

I usually buy strawberries, raspberries, salad greens, blueberries, lemons, and carrots from the produce section of Costco. Of course, I only buy these items if they’re on sale for a good price (which they usually are).

What about toys at Costco?

Starting around early November, you will often find your local Costco full of toys, as people start buying Christmas gifts for the children in their lives.

Are these toys a good buy at Costco? Well, yes and no. You really need to know your prices in order to score a great toy deal at Costco. I found most of the toys to be overpriced, but there were a few great deals that I stumbled upon, including this one (only $22.99):

Costco Play Food

Ways to save money at Costco

In addition to their great prices, Costco has other ways that you can save on your purchases made there (some that they don’t tell you, and some that they do!).

  • All prices that end in something other than $0.99 are on sale, so watch for those.
  • Look for the asterisk sign (*) on the price tags – that means the item is being discontinued (which means great savings for you!).
  • Check out the pharmacy – they offer amazing prices! Tip: You don’t need to be a member of Costco to take advantage of their pharmacy!
  • Check out the sales before you shop. The person who greets you at the door will likely hand you a print-out of the current sales.
  • Know your prices on the items you regularly buy. Keep a price book.
  • Always keep your receipt, no matter what you buy. Costco’s return policy is amazing!

So, yes, I think Costco is worth it. If you’re disciplined enough to only buy the things you will use before they expire, and you shop with a list and a budget, you will do fine at Costco.

I shop at Costco about once a month to stock up sale items and to buy items we are running low on. Since my savings on those items are often significant (compared to grocery stores), the yearly membership fee is worth it to me.

I honestly don’t know how I lived without my Costco membership in the past!

Do you shop at Costco? What are your thoughts on the membership?

Comments

  1. Heather S

    I love my Costco Membership! I absolutely love their bread and fruits. They are so much fresher than the grocery store, and last longer. Their bread is fluffy, not stiff like at No Frills or Sobeys. I also find their movies are cheaper than other stores, especially for new releases. Add that 2% goes back towards my executive membership for every purchase I make, it only makes sense to buy my staples there each week. I find their milk, butter, sour cream, and cream are the same or cheaper than most grocery stores (except in extreme sales), so getting my 2% back on those items brings me closer to shopping there for no yearly fees.

    I also find that their organic meats are reasonable priced vs. grocery stores prices for organic meat. Maple syrup is an excellent price year round, and their sugar/flour is cheaper year round there too (even better when it comes on sale!).

    I am a seasoned sales/coupon hunter. I know my prices, and I still make Costco part of my shopping routine ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Kitty

    You forgot one thing – savings at the Costco gas station! I also love how I can use the same membership crossing borders. And with some of those “overpriced items” you’ve listed, they can be a good deal when it’s on sale that week. And other items say eggs for example, I always buy the 2 pack of 18 ct Omega 3 eggs b/c it’s cheaper at Costco for sure. But prices vary between provinces for sure so it’s not always easy to compare.

  3. Ali G

    If you watch for sales and only buy then I think even some of what you have listed as a bad deal can be a good deal. I buy Cheerios on the rare occasion they carry them (original ones not the sugary ones). They are usually the same price as No Frills or Walmart regular prices but it counts towards my 2% back AND I used the Costco Amex so it counts for that rebate too. Same for laundry detergent – I buy the super cheap jug when it goes on sale for $10. I can’t remember the brand right now.

    Overall I agree with your message: know your prices! That should always apply when shopping but particularly at Costco?

    Oh, and I often find their kids clothes are a good deal as are their yoga pants.

    • jo

      LOVE their yoga pants too. find I have to size up on their yoga pants but price is great and so is the cut.

  4. Lisa

    We buy most of our fresh meat there as the quality is much better than we can find in our local Zehrs/Loblaws. This is especially true for beef and pork.

  5. nicole cleaver

    Can anyone tell me what the dispensing fee for prescriptions is at Costco? thanks

    • Ali G

      It’s in the $4 range. I don’t remember exactly but it’s the cheapest price I’ve seen. The wait can be long though so if I’m filling a prescription for a sick munchkin I will likely pay the drugstore dispensing fee rather than waiting 45 min with said sick munchkin in tow.

  6. teachermum

    At an hour’s drive away? Not for me. And they don’t sell gas. I get my gas locally at Superstore where I get a 4c per litre coupon with my PC card. Both my brother and father have memberships at Costco though so I could tag along with them if I wanted.

    I did finally go with bro and sissy in law last year, they invited me fully knowing I would want to cruise the shelves. Sissy hadn’t in a while so she was happy I was the excuse! They know I bargain shop and I think were curious of my opinion. I did notice a lot of what they bought (much appeared to be the usual things they grab there) I would pay less for on sale.

    Most things (usually grocery type things, not the odds and ends that I’m sure do budgets in!) I can get better prices on, many even when they aren’t on sale. I was specifically looking at the shelf prices for just that purpose. The few things I did notice that were clearly better than sale deals, that we would regularly use, were:

    vanilla–hard to even find the real stuff in grocery stores let alone a bottle of any size–this could be THE best deal in the entire store! The tiny grocery store bottle would barely last a week in my house…if I don’t bake anything!

    organic coconut oil

    Kirkland toilet paper–cheapest deal but also extra points for the roll being so big!

    Kirkland brand of lactaid–about 1/3 the regular shelf price

    a huge hunk of parmesan–but not the other cheeses and I don’t buy grated

  7. Lori at Frugal Edmonton Mama

    I have to disagree about the meat at Costco, it’s the best quality and compared to when we buy it at Walmart (especially fresh chicken, yuck) the portions are better sized for a family, so I am using less and the quality is higher. Lately, there have been some great sales on spinach ($1.99) butternut squash chopped ($3.99) and the meat ($2.50-5) off making the high quality even more affordable.

    We do most of our big shopping there too, and weekly shopping and always get our membership for free ever year + money back with the executive membership. It’s worth it.

  8. sara

    I find Costco has the best selection and prices for gift baskets!!

  9. LisaM

    I don’t agree with one of the things you have listed to avoid – laundry detergent. I started a price book last year (thanks to you) and if you buy the Purex on sale it’s $0.07 a unit (150 uses for $9.99 last time I bought it). I’ve never been able match that regularly enough to make it worth while clipping coupons and waiting for sales at the grocery store.

  10. Susan

    I disagree at the razors. Every once in a while they have the fusion proglide razors sometimes $8 off for one razor and 6 blades so it works out to about $2.25 a razor even with coupons and sales we can’t get it for that price. so we buy a set everytime they have that sale. and you are right about holding onto your receipt. we bought a patio table late spring for $899 which we felt was a super great deal based on our shopping around. It went on sale a few weeks later and we got $200 gift card/ it was awesome. We buy the coconut oil there, it is for sure the best price. And if you need soy milk or almond milk their 6 packs are a pretty good price especially if noone has them on sale and their aren’t any coupons at that time. they also have an excellent return policy.

    Oh and swiss cheese. My husband goes through a pound a week and that is the best place to buy it.

  11. Sameen

    We buy natural laundry detergent called ecos from there. It does come on sale once in a while at canadian tire for similar price or close to costco price. So, we do buy our laundry detergent from there.

  12. Louise

    Greek yoghurt is close to half price at Costco. I agree with others who said that meat was a good buy because the quality is higher even if you pay more per lb and those who find good purer to be a good deal. I’m not 100% sure about everything we buy but if you buy a lot of whole food and cook from scratch you can often save on staples that don’t go on sale or have regular high value coupons (frozen veggies, oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, etc). Sometimes you can get a good deal, and we watch for them, but there are some things we buy at costco because it saves time & money to buy them once a month for a decent price than to gout out for them weekly and pay variable prices if we run out but can’t get to costco. We use points to pay for our membership. We are very careful about what we buy there, but often if we pay more at costco it is a choice because the less expensive of free alternative in the grocery store is no as high quality. One thing is for sure, processed and snack foods can run up your bill quickly. We have also gotten great deals on Adidas sports socks!

  13. Sandi

    Definitely check out the ECOS detergent. It’s HE. You use 1 ounce per load and 170 ounces is $17.90. It works out to about ten cents a load. I don’t think you could MAKE detergent for that price. And it’s so much better for you, your skin, your family, and the environment.

  14. Sandi

    and I’m another who pays for the executive membership and then I get enough back that it pays for itself. So, it’s totally worthwhile for me. I don’t buy big ticket items there usually (did get my vitamix there, but that was after significant comparison shopping).

    If you have pets, their Nature’s Domain dog food is rated really well and grain free. You can’t get quality grain free food for $1 a pound anywhere else.

  15. Olivia

    I shop costco from my faithful list of best priced items such as : breads, maple syrup, flowers, propane for BBQ, some clothing, supplements on sale.
    Some specialty items from their frozen appetizer section are so worth it.
    I find their nut containers such as mixed nuts, whole almonds pricier than on sale in grocery stores and Walmart.
    As mentioned, know your prices .
    As for returns, if you lost have your receipt, they have the information at their fingertips, no problems. Excellent return policy indeed.

  16. CMB

    love the maple syrup, wipes (when on sale), yoga pants, Carters clothing for kids and books are a pretty good deal sometimes too. Love the seasonal items such as the Xmas wrapping, it’s such great quality and the roll seems to last forever!

  17. Jackie

    Fresh flowers, oddly enough, are a great value and usually awesome quality. Batteries when on sale are unbeatable. Maple syrup, organic extra virgin olive oil cannot be found at a better price (at least not here in alberta). Chicken and other meats are a great deal especially if you make meals ahead. Silver Hills organic sprouted grain bread and much produce is a great deal.

  18. Rosita

    I only buy my chicken and fish at costco i know i can get better deal for chicken but t.he quality is so good…. Also i got the amex rebate card and i get back more than enough to cover my membership fee at the end of the year… No annual fee… So i think its worth it going to costco!

  19. HL Strong

    I too make a monthly trip to Costco. Best buys for me – sugar, white, brown and icing sugar. As I do a lot of baking, this is the place. Also, I buy the walnuts, chop and freeze in bottles. Keeps well for a year. Another great buy is the Palmolive dish soap – $6.77 for the 5 litre container. In the winter the big buy is black oil sunflower seeds for the birds. Less than $19. for a 40 pound bag. Costco membership is definitely worth the money.

  20. Angie

    I buy my milk fruit and veggies there love it. Have a gluten problem and Costco had been selling a lot more stuff at half the cost.

  21. HeatherDB

    I also try to limit my trips but when I go – I get the Kirkland brand Kcups, Rougemont Apple juice, and maple syrup for a friend. Those are the key ones.. now if only they had kept the self check out.. that’d be even better!

  22. Sylvie Daigle

    I wish we had a Costco near by. We would hanpve to drive 2 1/2 hours away to get to the nearest one so we don’t have a membership. I’ve shopped there before with my brother who is a member, i love this store, just wish we had one closer.

  23. Dawn

    You don’t need to have a receipt to return items to Costco. They can look up your purchase price on your account. We have returned a vacuumed that broke after 18 mths without the box or receipt. We were hoping for (but not expecting)an exchange but they gave us cash instead. Because of this we wait for items like small appliances and electronics to go on sale there.

  24. cliff

    From a guy’s perspective:

    Tires on sale include the instant rebate instead of a mail-in rebate. The prices for the tires are the lowest around too. The tire warranty is very good.

    BBQ propane is between $12 and $15 for a refill – better than anywhere else.

    COSTCO gas stations are usually 8 to 10c a litre cheaper than more than 5 km away. Funny, the gas from the other stations near the COSTCO gas station are always a little cheaper than the same stations a few km away, but COSTCO always beats them.

    We use the COSTCO Primus Unlimited Internet, Phone (not VOIP), and unlimited long-distance too. A savings.

    We got a Keurig there and although it was a bit more expensive, it included so many extras in the box that the value saved was many times greater than the price difference. Timothy’s K-cups work out to 50c each in the large box.

  25. Sharon

    Almond milk in the 9-pack is also a fantastic deal.

  26. debbie

    The giant jug of Kikkoman is outrageously cheap and soya sauce lasts forever on your shelf.
    Their vanilla on your list is PURE vanilla so people should note that.
    Worcestershire sauce &HP sauce can’t be found cheaper…their honey is an exceptionaly good price when you can’t find it on sale elsewhere.
    The La Perla chocolate/hazelnut spread is better way better quality than Nutella and cheaper than Nutella on sale.
    Their giant jars of Better than Bouillon chickenor beef stock base are cheaper than using the small ones from the grocery store and those rarely go on sale in the stores.
    Their Kirkland pure chocolate chips are better quality than Chippits and much cheaper,rarely are sale prices in the stores a better price
    The regular Balderson old cheddar blocks work out to be the same price per Kg as regular old cheddar in the grocery store but is very much a superior product and often is on special offer (those cheese storage bags keep it fresh in the fridge weeks and you can freeze chunks of it for casseroles etc).
    The Kirkland coffee is excellent and well priced when compared to grocery store non loss leader coffee prices
    The big bucket of MC Dairy kefir is the cheapest you can find it in Ontario.
    The high end, no additives, entirely whole grain breads, I can’t find them cheaper anywhere else.

    • debbie

      OH and their beef is AAA…which you generally don’t find in many grocery stores these days and their stew beef is AAA and exceptionally tender.

      • Louise

        Agree, sounds we have a similar shopping list!

  27. Rachel

    The fresh broccoli is a good deal It’s entirely florets and there is no waste. Just make sure it’s fresh looking.Romaine lettuce is a deal- six packs for a good price, better than the grocery stores. Also the French green beans are my favourite. Again, absolutely no waste and they taste great Almond butter is also much cheaper.

  28. Kerrie-Lee Britnell

    This past summer we purchased a mini refrigerator at Costco. When I was shopping there a week later, I noticed that it was on sale. I took my receipt in and they honoured the sale price refunding me the difference. The clerk advised me that they will do this for anything in the store for up to a year. I now carry my major purchase receipts with me and check when I am shopping to see if I can save more money !

  29. Sandra

    Costco over the counter pharmacy products are dirt cheap. 2×350 bottles of Kirkland extra-strength Tylenol for $6.99, Kirkland brand Advil is like $8.99 for 200 caplets, 81 ml Asprin is $4.99 for 365 tablets. My husband buys nasal spray at Costco…name brand one-half price of other stores. When we are in the usa we stock up on things like fish oil and calcium, way cheaper there than in Canada. Our Costco stores tend to clear out merchandise daily. When you walk in the door there are dollies full of reduced merchandise. My daughter-in-law scored some fantastic toy bargains in December. Gas is another bargain.

  30. Nicole

    In addition to everything you’ve listed as well as the comments from your readers, the other great deal at Costco is their movie passes for kids and adults! Can’t beat it!
    I have to disagree with your comments about purchasing meats, chicken and toys from Costco. Personally I haven’t been able to find a better quality on meat and chicken in the grocery store – and they do put their chicken and pork on sale! As for toys, sometimes the price might be a slightly higher, but it’s usually because there are extra included. Usually, I find the toys to be the same price or cheaper at Costco.
    Love reading your daily posts – keep up the great work ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Maegan Morin

    I love costco! I have shopped there for as long as I can remember and you can get some amazing deals! One thing that I always buy there is the Kirkland wipes. They truly are (in my opinion) the best wipes that you can buy and they are so cheap (even when they are not on sale).
    Another appeal of Costco for me is the fact that I live in a very small town and the closest one is almost 2 hours aways. Let alone any good deals on anything. So for things like diapers, even though they we rent always the best price, we could still get a descent deal and not have to worry about running out before we could go back.
    I LOVE Costco lol.

  32. Jennie

    I like getting vegetables there. The quality is so much better. I can get a bag of zucchini and know it will last more than a day or two (which is all we usually get when we buy it at the grocery store) and the bags of broccoli are wonderful. So easy to throw a handful in each of the kids lunches, or on the side of their plate for dinner (they won’t eat it cooked.) We get bags of brussels sprouts as well (I think they are $3.99) and they last several weeks in the fridge, and very rarely do I get any that are full of little bugs like when I buy them at the regular store. Roasted sprouts are super healthy and yummy.

  33. Barb Cook

    We buy our chicken, hamburger and stewing beef at Costco (among other things). The stewing beef is far superior to anywhere else. And I love that Costco will call you if you’ve purchase meat on which there is a recall because they have it all on computer. To me that is going above and beyond for customer service.

  34. Melanie

    Great tips! Really enjoyed this post, helps out a lot. Much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. jo

    perk that you can try some of their products before buying and the 2 to 3 year warranties on televisions is a bonus. great deals on bed and kitchen linens and towels which are good quality. constant turnover of new products. I do a big shop there about once a month for staples.

  36. Dianne

    If you have prescription drugs they have a very low dispensing fee at Costco compared to other pharmacies. I am not sure if it is the same in all provinces but it is in Alberta. The drugs are less too than most grocery store pharmacies. Just for comparison one was almost 37.00 at a grocery store pharmacy and 28.00 at Costco so it pays for your membership in what you save on just that one.

    • Shelly Vernon

      Costco’s pharmacy’s dispensing fee is only $3.99
      Compared to $11.99 at Shoppers drug mart and their
      Meds are cheaper too. With all the meds we get that pays
      for the Membership itself. You do NEED a membership to
      Get ur meds I know this because my membership Had
      expired and they wouldnt give it to me Unless I renewed it.

      • Olivia

        Sorry, by law, they cannot refuse to sell you prescription without membership. If it is over the counter meds, then that is different.

        • Aimee LeBlanc

          You can’t go in and buy Advil or whatever over the counter drug you want, buy prescriptions never need a membership.

  37. Heather

    We did all of the flowers for our wedding with Costco flowers. We only spent $110 for hydrangeas and roses. There were enough flowers to make 3 bouquets, and 10 center pieces with enough for the cake table. The flowers were fresh and BEAUTIFUL!

    • Jessica

      I was looking at doing the same thing! Had all my flowers priced out at just under $100. My MIL on the other hand said there was a florist in the family and we HAD to go there because it was disrespectful not go. Right now we are up to $410 for the exact same thing (2 bridal bouquets, 3 bridesmaid, 1 flowergirl). Needless to say I’m not impressed but not much I can do about it..

  38. Norma

    I don’t have a membership for Costco but it’s only because it’s so far away…..over six hours drive…..but there is talk that there is gonna be one nearer about one hour away, so if that happens then I will definitely obtain a membership…..and yes I do think a Costco membership is worth it…..

  39. Melanie G

    I disagree with you on the meat being a bad buy at Costco. It is one of the best qualities compared to other grocery stores. You get what you pay for. If you know your prices, you can sometimes get a great deal. They often have $5 off a package of pork or chicken as well.

    • OneThriftyDiva

      I agree with you. I think meat is an awesome deal at Costco. It’s far better priced than any of the grocery stores in my area.

    • Jessica

      +1. Costco is the only place I buy my beef. I cannot handle buying anything less than AAA beef (not a personal choice, my body rejects it, still not sure why the doctors believe its something they are given). Sure places like Extra Foods and Safeway have cheaper beef but again not AAA. Places that do sell AAA are often more expensive with sales than Costco regular price.

    • Crystal W

      I find the chicken at Costco is the best quality around. This is the only place that I buy chicken, even the frozen breasts are awesome! We raise our own cows for beef, but if would buy the Costco chicken before going anywhere else!

  40. Stephanie

    Flour is an amazing price at Costco. Way cheaper than the grocery store.
    Cheese can be a good price when it is on sale and so can bread.

    As for toys, one of the things to watch is that sometimes they will have ‘extras’ exclusive to Costco. For example, my MIL bought a Little People Castle at Costco this past Christmas. It was the same price as Toys R Us, except the Toys R Us version had only 2 princesses, but the Costco version had all the princesses.

  41. IvanaJ

    Books are an incredible deal at Costco, way below listed sticker price on back of book (comes in handy when you have a cookbook addiction). The Kirkland paper towels are incredibly strong and the rolls are huge and last forever. On top of all the great deals, Costco also has very stringent and high standards for any product they carry so you know you will have superior quality with the savings. They also have an exceptionally high turnover of product in warehouse so you know that you are getting very fresh and frequently replenished stock. I have NEVER ever encountered anything that was even close to being expired as I often do shopping in regular grocery stores (ahem.. Loblaws).

  42. Paul Skinner

    I really like Costco quality but something that bugs me is that is you see something you like you gotta buy it then because you’ll probably never see it there again. This makes it very hard to replace some things because there gone…

  43. Mimi

    You forgot to mention that gas is such a good deal at Costco. Here in Quebec, gas is usually 5-10 cents cheaper than any other gas station. Also, with the cashback on the 110$ membership, we never pay for our membership… We don’t buy that much (I find) but we get 125$ back in January and about the same amount with the AMEX cashback in June or July. Paying for membership at Costco is silly ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. helen pilecki

    I live in a small apartment so storage can be a problem. I manage to find space for the supplies I need. Cosco is a fun place to shop and I am always shopping for a bargain.

  45. christine

    I disagree about the eggs and meat not being a good deal. We bought most of our meat there. I believe it is great quality and i can separate and freezer it all in our batch and have enough to last us for months. The larger size of eggs is only available at a few retailers and it is never that cheap. I agree that you have to know your prices but it is great store and worth the membership.

  46. Cassie Howard

    When it comes to meat, I agree that the quality is higher, and if you want to purchase higher quality meat, Costco is a good idea. However, if you’re worried more about your budget, I would advise getting your meat somewhere else.

  47. Sylvia HIx

    I don’t understand why one must pay a “membership fee” to go in and buy stuff. I don’t have one near me, and don’t believe I would pay for a membership unless I could be proven to save at least the cost of membership per year. I just think it is another gimmick to make folks believe they are getting a better deal than those who just shop at a grocery store.

    • Jennifer @ Spend Less, Shop More

      Sylvia, I agree that the membership fee is off-putting. However, I went in last night to get a Costco card for the first time – I’m getting married out of town, and I figured out the discounted travel services would save me more than the membership costs!

      So I’m going to try shopping there for a year, and see if without the travel discounts, since I won’t use those all the time, if the cost is worth it!

    • Valerie

      Sylvia, I have been a member of Costco for 15+ years and there has never been a time where I think I got ripped off with the membership. Between the milk, cheese, produce, baking supplies, seasonings, and other random things, the membership fee is usually saved the very first trip (second trip for sure). I track my spending and prices at other grocery store and I know for a fact that Costco is cheaper on lots of items than other stores. It’s no gimmick.
      Also, like someone else said, their customer service/return policy is amazing. I bought a fruit tree in there four years ago and it died this Fall (tree was guaranteed). I took it out of the ground and took it back to the store where they gave me a full refund. That alone makes me much more comfortable buying big ticket items from there.
      $55 is a lot of money, but for my household, it is well worth the cost.

      • Laurie

        My husband upgraded our first year membership to $100+ option. We didn’t save the difference. I had the card and printed policy of a refund all ready to go in and argue my case, and before I could get there I received a refund check in the mail. Unasked for. I managed to lose it, and they credited the amount to my debit card at the customer service desk.
        Crazy amazing customer service.
        The real deals are the “exclusive to Costco” packages. American Girl dog with book, Keurig with a million starter coffee pods, doll house around xmas, furniture, and that blender I still lust for.

  48. Tamara

    Costco guarantees you will save at least your membership fee per year or your money back. They are hands down the best! We bought a Queen size posturepedic bed on coupon for a summer cottage. After one summer on it it was killing my back. The next summer they took it back! Two years old and no receipt (they looked it up in the computer). Seriously the best service!

  49. Richard

    Is the same true for those with a Sam’s Club Membership?

    • Elizabeth

      Yes, Sam’s Club is VERY similar. I LOVE my Sam’s Club and shop very close to how she does. Couponing is too difficult for me, but the savings I get at Sam’s really helps make my budget work best.

      • Laurie

        Sam’s Club is a good deal (and I think they carry Pampers and the other baby formula that Costco doesn’t), but it also has the bad karma of Walmart. I prefer Costco because of the fantastic employee benefits, like a decent wage.

  50. Tina V

    I find their bulk cheese WAY cheaper than the markets…I just bought frozen veggies(peas, broccoli, green beans) that we about a dollar cheaper than the stores…a big bag which was divided into 4 smaller bags inside) I find their cleaning supplies cheaper but then it’s all an opinion so… AND the thing I save on is gasoline (saves a lot). And one last thing…if you want a meal there the foos they have is not that bad price wise either…

  51. Sarah

    Chia seeds are also a lot cheaper at Costco.

  52. Rosemary

    Cassie – don’t forget about the $2 fancy latte or cappuccino in the food court! Vanilla beans are a steal and icing sugar is always a better deal than in stores. I will sometimes wait to buy an item when it is on special at Costco just because I know that if the purchase is a mistake or if something goes wrong they will never hassle me about a return.

  53. Nasly

    Hey there. I’m wondering Cassie, do you use the regular membership or the one that gives 2% back. I got the regular one after reading this and am wondering if it’s worth upgrading. Your two cents would be appreciated.

  54. Telina

    Can someone tell me, if you buy something and the next day you get your coupon book in the mail and the item is now on sale, can you bring in your receipt and get a credit for the difference?

    • Mrsupole

      Yes, if you bring in your receipt and it was less than two weeks since you bought the item they will “price match” the item. If it was more than two weeks they say you can buy the item at the sale price and then return it with your older receipt and they will give you a refund. But I think it has to be a non-pershiable item.. They are about the best place there is for refunds.

      Another way to not spend so much money is to not take a shopping cart inside with you or to only use cash instead of a CC or Debit Card. But you must leave the cards in your vehicle or it is too tempting to whip them out and use them. And anything ending with a .97 for their price means that item is at the lowest price possible, fantastic deals on these items. Tires are also a great deal if you buy the ones on sale! Many wines and other alcohol items are priced less than in the stores. Just know your prices. Soda pop is usually cheaper in the grocery stores.

      And I am so totally willing to pay the extra money for the meat because you are getting a higher quality and better tasting meat than you can buy in the grocery store. Everyone I know who eats Costco meat will tell you that it is hard to ever buy meat in a grocery store because it just does not taste the same and Costco meat is so much more tender. Gotta love that Costco meat.

      My Costco is 3 miles from my house and no matter when we go there, the place is packed. There must be a reason for it.

      My one complaint is that many things are seasonal and once that item is sold out you have to wait until they bring it back for the next season, if they bring it back at all. Also the plants may cost more but they last so much longer then plants bought at hardware stores, and if they die within a month or so then they will give you your money back.

      So many good things to say about Costco, and did I mention Vacuums, luggage, housewares, the list can go on and on….oh and they pay their employees better than most companies along with benefits, which is why they have such loyal employees.

      Definitely my favorite place to shop..

      God bless.

  55. Holly

    We love Costco. One year I figures out if the only thing I bought was my milk I would still save around $100 a year after my membership few. Another reason is because we love tillamook cheese and you can always find it there.

  56. Lynda G. Thompson

    I live alone and so does my downstairs neighbor. We are Costco buddies and we share. Love Costco, it works out great for us. We have a lot more this way without spending too much!!

  57. MaryAnn Rogers

    My sister and I share the card with the 2% cash back, and it pays for our entire membership every single year. And I usually get a few $ back on top of what our membership costs. I obviously wouldn’t make as much $ back if we didn’t share the account, so find someone to share with and it will be worth it!

  58. MaryAnn Rogers

    My sister and I (living in different households, each with our own families) share a Costco account/card. She and I have the $110 card that gets 2% cash back on every purchase. We have had this card for 6 or 7 years, and every single year we have earned enough cash back to pay for our entire membership. We usually even get a little extra on top of what the membership costs. So, essentially, we both get a free Costco membership. So find a family member to share your account, and UPGRADE it! You will have to pay the initial extra $, but after that you will either get a very discounted membership or a free one!

  59. Crystal

    I have to disagree about the eggs. a 24 pack of organic eggs there is a STEAL. It costs $1 more than the 18 organic pack at safeway, and is at least $2 less than buying 2 12 packs at trader joes (where I used to buy my organic eggs).

  60. souroush

    I actually have never paid more then 4 dollars for anything at carters. Here they have osh kosh which has carters bbrand.i purchase items that will be going put of season and purchase the size my child will be wearing the next year. I have saved a ton of money on my son’s clothing items.

  61. brooklynn

    Unfortunately I have to disagree with the fresh meat not being a good price. You are paying fir the quality at costco which carries only AAA. Many other grocery stores carry only AA so thats where the price difference comes in.

  62. Stephanie

    No need to save a receipt… Costco will look up your previous purchases for a return or price adjustment when you present your membership card at customer service.
    & they have the best return policy ever- no receipt required and no time frame! (I’ve returned an item bought on clearance 4 months earlier without a receipt & got a full refund).

  63. Cathy

    I always used to buy grocery store meat but then it was convenient for me to just buy the chicken thighs at costco on my lunch. Awhile ago I bought grocery store ones and they were horrible. It feels like the dog should be eating it and not me!!! So now I won’t buy it anywhere else. It’s i think $5.69 a kg all the time for it so that’s a good price considering the taste is 150% better!!!

  64. Georgia

    Gas prices at Costco are great. Now that you can use any MasterCard for gas or in the warehouse –great!

    Car rental prices from costco.ca is a good deal, we have found.

  65. Em

    Hi, nice article! I also have to disagree on the eggs, on most days XL eggs will be cheaper on Costco regular prices than most grocery stores special, with a few rare exceptions.

    The regular price of the Meat, based on same quality will also be cheaper per kg at Costco than in most grocery store specials. The chicken might be cheaper somewhere else when there is a special, but I rarely find the same quality elsewhere, except in butchers and specialty stores that are usually more expensive than Costco.

    I also love buying the frozen Shrimp, it’s so much cheaper per Kg than in most places, and the fresh Atlantic salmon is as well cheaper than the same quality one found in the fish markets we have around here.
    Regular Costco price on butter, sugar, Cream Cheese, Hummus, Cereal, Lactose free milk, smoked salmon, tortillas, pita bread, cakes and deserts are also cheaper than most regular specials on other grocery stores.
    Laundry and Cleaning products are absolutely worth it when you get them on special, which is fairly often. I always compare Costco special prices with other stores regular prices, and in most cases Costco wins or costs the same. Bacon, butter are as well always cheaper at Costco, as well as my Van Houtte coffee.
    The things I never buy on Costco are produce, because we buy fresh local or organic. We never buy electronics or everyday cheese and most canned goods because we often find cheaper elsewhere.

    But the pharmacy alone makes our membership worth it, because we need prescription meds regularly. We get back more than the $50 difference for the executive membership every year.

  66. Jenny

    I don’t feel you can compare costco meat to grocery store meat, the quality, the processing, the cleanliness of the packaging plants, etc. all well worth the few extra $.

  67. Ann Enderson

    I gave some Costco diapers to my SIL and she thought they were the best diapers.

    Thanks for sharing your analysis of which items at Costco are a good deal. I appreciate reasoning and list of good/bad buys.

  68. Kristine

    I think you forgot electrics ands all appliances. I find that often it is the best deal in town and Costco carries the higher end of all of them. I won’t buy electronics at Wal. Mart because to get those low prices companies lore the quality of what they provide to that chain. As always, you need to know prices, but you can get amazing deals.

  69. Tracey

    Don’t forget the warranty on electronics is amazing. 5 years for 99 dollars on a TV over 1000 and the cover power surges.

  70. Mx

    I’ve been shopping at Costco for over 20 years. A few things I’ve learned: If they discontinue a product, Fill out a request in the comments/suggestion book. (Usually kept near exit). Then lobby your friends to request and sometimes they’ll bring the item back.

    If you can’t find what you want in stock the customer service group will check all other local stores to see if they have stock. And don’t wait to return to buy more of that new thing you got, since a lot of product is seasonal you may not be able to get more.

    I cannot express how much I appreciate their product quality analysis before they carry a product. And the customer service! A few years ago my Costco prelit Xmas tree stand broke when I was setting up the tree. I took the stand to Costco since there were no replacement stands in the universe. Costco would have replaced the entire tree, but they were out of stock. They pulled up my purchase history and offered a full refund on my 3 year old tree. I declined their offer because I really like my tree. They gave suggestions on where I could go to fix the stand and that’s what I did. But seriously, who else would offer the replacement or refund?

    I stock up shop with the monthly coupons. I find a lot of the Kirkland brand products great, can’t figure out who manufactures each of their products, but the quality is comparable to brands on their shelf.

    My siblings used to roll their eyes at me and my Costco praise…until they got a Costco of their very own. ๐Ÿ™‚

  71. Beverly Turgeon

    I have to agree with previous commenters on eggs.

    Other not mentioned:

    Christmas Trees!! 29.99 for a beautiful fresh 7 ft. Frazier fir?! Yes!

    Just got 2 phones at Christmas time for my daughter and myself and not only did I get a better deal than going to AT&T the customer service was amazing (the amount of time spent getting the particulars worked out was worth it and I can say hi to Anthony when I’m in there and he actually remembers me). Plus $50 Costco cash card for each phone PLUS a bonus pack on each phone with an extra charger, car charger and a car mount!

    Most of the time laundry detergent is cheaper on Kirklands brand (which is awesome) unless of course you come upon a great deal at your local grocery or Target.

    I always buy a pineapple when I’m there….$2.99 AlWAYS

    Organic mixed greens HUGE container for $4.99. Can’t come close at the grocery.

  72. JMyers

    I actually disagree when we shop at Costco here in the maritimes we stock up on Tide and Tide pods because they are a far better deal at Costco then any sales we get.

  73. Ina

    i buy my Gluten free items at Costco got my son who has Celuac that I can’t find anywhere else. So it is worth the membership just for those items alone.

  74. linda

    I love costco.
    We bought most of our produces there,
    Cat litter (50lb for 7.99),
    Rotisserie chicken
    hummus(when sale)
    And so much more lol
    Hemps heart (14.99 for 800g–grocery store has 200g for 8.99)

  75. Teri M

    I really have to agree with Brooklynn the meat at Costco is top quality. The steaks my god the steaks. BTW My auntie just told us a trick for saving on Steaks … buy the Beef Tenderloin and slice it into Steak size portions. We’ve bought the tenderloin for roasts and it’s delish next time we make the 45min drive to Costco we’re going to buy a couple tenderloins one for roasts and one for steaks.
    Also we’re eating out of our freezers right now to clear them out. We have an upright (worth every penny) and two apartment size. Once the freezers are cleared we want to make a trip to Costco to buy ingredients to prep slow cooker freezer meals. I’ll be checking my unit price on the produce then because it won’t go to waste.
    As I’m rambing on I’d like to say that a quality meat slicer is a great investment for your kitchen. We’ve done OAMC cooking for a few years now and it’s great for prepping your veggies in big batches. Easier to clean then a food processor as well. I used to be a kitchen gadget junkie but now I HATE single use items. Anyone that buys a 9.99 Banana Slicer is crazy. Don’t get me started on those garlic tubes I do the same job with the palm of my hand (which I got from my parents for free!). A KitchenAid mixer is pretty but I gots my handheld mixer for a couple hundred less. We now try to only buy solid one piece utensils like http://www.amazon.ca/Amco-8796-Stainless-5-Piece-Utensil/dp/B002YKVM92/ref=sr_1_10?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1426957789&sr=1-10&keywords=utensils because two piece ones always seem to break at the handle. The Rock frying pan from Starfrit is the best frying pan I have ever used in my life. You can fry up the bacon and slide it out onto your paper towel. Then pop the pan back on the stove and fry the eggs up as well (with no Oil/Pam). They slide out as easy as the bacon. Walmart sells them in sets of two for about $30 on a regular basis. I want to switch up our pots to the Rock as well I’m just watching for a good sale. Okay need to stop rambling now.

  76. Shala

    Costco is for single people! I can go one time per year and buy laundry, kitchen, and cleaning supplies etc. then I only have to shop for fresh items. If you’re busy this will save you time and money. You never run out of essentials, budgeting is simplified, and you stay organized.

  77. Lindsey

    100% agree with you. Good follow up to article.

  78. Silvia

    We do love Costco and shop there quite a bit. We also decided to get the more expensive membership for $110 which gets us a 2% cash back on all purchases and by the end of the year when membership renewal is due, the check usually covers the entire amount.

  79. Marie M

    I also have to disagree with you regarding the meat. While (at times) it might be more expensive it is such a high quality (meaning less shrinkage, less fat, etc.) that in the long run, you do save money! Also, if you’re up to doing a little bit of work you can save even more. We love their pork loin boneless roast. I can’t recall the average size but when I do my own “butchering” we get at least 5 chops, enough cubed pork for 2 dinners of stir fry AND an actual roast (if I don’t cut it up for even more chops). It takes me all of about 15 min. to do the cutting and packaging and we’re set for at least 4 dinners and 2 lunches (using leftovers).

  80. nina

    I agree on the meat. It is far better than we can get anywhere. The bulk veggies are hit and miss..

  81. Sandi Matusak

    I checked the price on a prescription for myself that costs $180.00 for 3 month supply at Sam’s Club. I called Costco and bought it there with my membership for $46.50 for 3 month supply. I was shocked !!!!!!

  82. Chloe

    we buy our dog food there! Costco has their own brand of “Natures Domain” grain free dog food. We get our dog the salmon and sweet potato flavor for $32 for a 35 lb bag… We were paying $55 for a comparable product at Pet People. The savings in dog food alone pays for our membership after 3 months. Love you Costco!!!

  83. Michelle

    I wish there was a Costco in Wyoming. Always shopped in Washington, had three within 30 miles of me.

  84. Mary

    Gas is cheaper. Tires are cheaper. Prescription glasses are cheaper. Hearing aids are cheaper. Alcohol is cheaper. I love Costco. If you buy a large ticket item, it’s definitely worth the top membership card.

  85. Holly

    i heard that if your refund check isn’t enough to cover your membership they will pay it for you.

  86. Elke

    Good article, but I must disagree on a few things.
    When you say don’t buy meat as its more expensive, Costco meat is triple A, most stores are only double…
    Laundry soap is a great deal, you must look at the size.
    Kirkland product is made by the big manufacturer , ie batteries are Duracell , garbage bags are made by glad, the list goes on…
    Razors I would say are a good deal as well…. where can you buys a 20 pack for that price.
    Tires alone will pay for your membership…..
    yes watch for things that end in 97 they are clearing it out.

  87. Ann

    I agree that you have to be a smart shopper. I know many people like the meat, but I get a better deal buying my beef by the side from a client of mine ( I know not everyone has that option). I do buy cereal there, when it’s on sale. I don’t think you can beat under $5 for a double of the large box of cereal from the regular grocery store. I don’t do apples, because we have several orchards near us, but I get bananas and some other produce. Overall, I’m very happy with the membership.

  88. Meg

    The meat thing might depend on where you live. I live right outside Washington, DC and per lb. many of the meats are less than I can find in my local grocery store. Plus there is the quality issue…the meat and much of the produce is of much higher quality because Costco has the pick of the litter since they buy so much.

  89. Melissa

    Enter your comments here. (required)

  90. Gillian

    For those items where coscto is more expensive I find the quality is often significantly better, particularly regarding produce.

  91. Missy

    I make quite a bit of lamb stew and Costco is by far the cheapest for me to buy lamb. I can buy a lamb leg for $4.99/lb but never find it cheaper than $7.99/lb at any of the grocery stores around. But, I do agree that chicken and beef are usually cheaper elsewhere…especially if you watch for sales.

  92. Kelly

    If your rebate check is less than $55 they will downgrade you give you back your $55. They only give you the difference because you still have to pay for the gold star membership which is $55. Unless you cancel your membership altogether then they will refund the whole $110 executive membership fee.

  93. Elyse

    We buy our ground turkey at Coscto. When you look at Target, the grocery store, etc. the ground turkey is $4.99 a pound when I shop at Costco it is 2.99 per pound! You can also find pork shoulder for around $1.60 something a pound!

  94. Rebecca

    We have found that our Executive Membership pays for itself and then some. We try to buy big ticket items there like rugs, cameras, appliances, etc as well as gas for the car and other misc items like clothes, bath towels, etc.. Since the products they carry are usually quality items at great prices with great return policies, I am happy to check there first when shopping for, well just about anything! It’s nice to get that rebate check every year and know that means my membership is FREE.

  95. Dona

    A few more cost saving products from Costco: I purchased a sectional sofa, guest bedroom queen suite of furniture, including mattress, master bedroom king bed frame, 2 HD televisions and one console, set of French chairs, online from Michigan for set-up and delivery in our vacation home in Florida. The furniture was “white-glove” service included in the price, which means they set up and placed all furniture to your specifications. Very cost effective compared to the local furniture stores. Also, I use the online floral delivery option to send bouquets as holiday presents, very healthy savings there as well. Travel packages and car rentals are a bargain, too. Always compare several travel sites, and Costco.com travel is great. My niece booked her honeymoon to Greece and said everything was flawless.

  96. Jaimee

    Awesome tips! My cousin is expecting his first baby, and I didn’t ever think of Costco as a place to get baby stuff. Although I do love buying my meat at Costco. It can be pricier than some other grocery stores, but Costco often sells restaurant grade meats that are hard to find anywhere else. So you’re paying a premium for premium!

  97. Juniper

    Oops, I was talking about the postage stamps. LOL

  98. Erin

    love costco! Would also add the bakery as a plus. I was going to do my wedding cake out of the red velvet sheet cakes but last minute changed my mind. I still get party stuff or holiday items there and it’s a great deal. We also checked out costco travel and was $1200 thru Costco vs travel agent for the same line item. Costco even included room n some other upgrades! (Less options than an agent, but great deal if there is one you like thru Costco).

  99. Pora

    Love love love Costco..yea there are items that are priced to high but if you’re buying by the bulk you have to look at it in quantity so to me the price per pound..oz..etc is really worth it…especially with all the kids we have lol…bread…rice..toilet paper…paper towels…milk..bananas..kitchen towels…rugs…flour..sugar..all my go to’s super cheap n I’m so content with quality with costco it’s always abt the quality…detergent is also good I find…but the Kirkland pods aren’t as good stain fighters as the Tide but still you can’t get that price for Tide anywhere…as is for everywhere we shop it’s unfortunate we have to go here n there to get certain items but everywhere we can save a buck we usually do so..it’s basically to your liking n preference but we Love Cistco

  100. Viktor

    Costco, BJ, etc. are only for the rich and wealthy. I’d love to see your store receipts to see said savings. Sure you can get bargains….for USPS stamps. The rest of the store is overpriced. It is ridiculous to pay for shopping. You are not saving anything. You are not buying anything for no discounted amount. It’s all a phsycological game. You are paying the same amount for the same money, plus a membership.

  101. Justine

    I know you said cleaning products were not good deals. However I find the Lysol wipes to be a great deal. I also find Kraft Parmesan cheese to be a great deal because even when its not on sale it costs the same as a small container at the grocery store.

  102. Angela

    Costco is one of y favorite place to shop! Big family or not!

  103. Jamie

    Make sure you get the full benefits of your membership! They offer checks at remarkable prices, car rentals, vacation deals, business deals, and more! They have flyers on the front end and you can research other perks from your membership at Costco.com

  104. Jackie

    Check the medications too! The off-brand bottle of 250 for the same as a 32 blister pack in a normal store. I stock up on things I use a lot: Ibuprofen, allergy meds, and cold medicine.

  105. Maverick

    I am disabled and get social security. I am also a bachelor and I find Costco to be the best and most convenient place to get everything I need for the month. For $50 I buy a bag of pancake mix, syrup, popcorn, and chicken breast. In addition, I eat a hot dog and pop at the food court for $1.50. Since I switched to Costco I now have a savings account and a retirement fund. Cheers!!

  106. Alexandra D.

    I know a lot of times people think that fresh meat products are pricey at Costco, however if you play your cards right and check the store often you will get great deals on chicken, pork etc. Over the winter I bought the big pork loins for 10-20$ a piece, took it out of the packaging, portioned it and stocked the freezer up. We do the same with chicken thighs, we get the regular ones for 99 cents/lb, learned how to debone and skin them so instead of paying 2$/lb for boneless, skinless thighs we pay half and do it ourselves, portion them and stock the freezer up. I purchased some chicken one time from our local grocery store and it had a very bad smell not to mention the overall texture when we cooked it. I will always buy meat at Costco because I know it’s quality and most importantly it’s fresh! I have yet to find an issue with the meat I purchase here.
    Lunch meat is great and affordable, eggs are a great deal, yogurt, pineapples $3 for a big one, better than in most grocery stores, toilet paper when on sale, paper towels especially the Kirkland brand (find them to be even better and cheaper than Bounty) and the list can go on and on. We are also lucky that the store by us has a license to sell liquor inside so the Costco prices for wine, beer, liquor in general are great! I get the same bottle of wine that at the liquor store is 13$ for around 8-9$.
    Clothes, depending on what you’re looking for can be a great bargain too and they are high quality. I get my husband’s dress socks here and I paid 7$ for 4 pairs and they last for years. Even he was saying that the longest lasting socks have been the ones from Costco.
    My mom and I share a membership and we are currently on the executive plan. This last year we made 160$ back so it paid back and some.
    Another great thing we learned is booking vacations and car rentals using Costco. Great experience, affordable pricing and I am sure there’s some incentive going back to the membership as well.
    It’s not that I want to brag about the store but I have to say it’s a great deal for most items that we buy. And everyone that shops here need to be assertive too because yes you can go in and spend $100 on junk, or you can actually buy what you need, think it through and make a great deal.
    Good luck!

  107. Lianne

    I have to say you are wrong about the meat not being a good deal. it may be a bit more expensive or the same as other stores but the quality is superior. the cuts are thicker on their pork chops and steaks. You get what you pay for with meat and theirs nothing worse than trying to eat a steak full of gristle.

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