Mysterious Costco Code Really Exists

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Score some serious bargains at Costco by deciphering its simple pricing system.

If you’ve been drooling over a 70-inch HDTV at Costco, but don’t want to take the plunge and buy until you’re sure you’re getting the lowest price – you’re in luck.

It appears that the elusive Costco code that’s been the source of Internet chatter for years is a legitimate pricing system for the superstore that can be used to save you money.

Reuters explains:

Here’s how it works, according to Costco shoppers spreading the word online: If a price at Costco ends in .99, you’re paying full price. But if it ends in, say, a .97, it represents a deal with a special price decided by the manager. And if you happen to see an asterisk in the upper right corner of the sign, then the item is on its way out of the store — and probably at the lowest price you’re going to see.

Costco executive vice president and chief financial officer Richard Galanti told Reuters that the price coding does in fact exist, though it’s not nearly as secret as it may seem.

“It’s more for efficiency, for the employees,” Galanti says. “It’s not any sort of secret agent stuff. But you see it on a blog and people think it’s a secret. It’s just a way of moving some merchandise, to help the forklift operators and the stocking clerks.”

Kyle James of told Reuters that other stores also use an internal pricing system that can benefit customers who manage to crack the code. Click here for James’ list of price tag codes he’s discovered at a number of popular retailers, including Gap, Home Depot, JCPenney, and Target.

James even provides an option to print a cheat sheet for your wallet or purse, so you’ll have easy access to potential savings when shopping.

CBS 11 News in Dallas said it learned a lot about decoding price tags in the month it spent monitoring sales and talking with sales associates at a number of popular retailers. Here’s what it found:

  • Sam’s Club. “Look for anything with a 1 cent on the end of the price,” CBS said. That’s an indicator that the item has been discontinued and is selling for cheap.
  • Kohl’s. If an item says “great value,” it’s on sale for only one or two days, so you need to purchase it right away if it’s on your shopping list.
  • Sears. Watch for price tags ending in 88 cents, CBS said. That indicates the price won’t go down further.

Do you have any tips for decoding price tags or saving at your favorite stores? Share your tips below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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