Costco is filled with ways to save, but it’s easy to overlook some of the less-obvious perks.
If you are thinking about joining Costco — or if you are a member who simply isn’t versed in the lesser-known bargains to be found when warehouse club shopping — the following tips will help you wring more savings from your membership.
1. Fill your prescriptions
You don’t have to be a member to use Costco pharmacies, as we detail in “7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership.”
So, find out whether Costco pharmacies stock the medications you or other members of your household take. If they carry a medication, call your nearest Costco pharmacy for prices.
You may find lower prices than what your local pharmacy chain store charges for the same medications. For certain generics, you might find that Costco’s prices are even cheaper than your insurance copay.
2. Use Ibotta
While Costco does not accept coupons, the free app Ibotta offers cash back on purchases from Costco.
If you don’t already have Ibotta, sign up for an account and then download the app. From there, select Costco from the list of retailers to see what cash-back offers Ibotta is offering for Costco purchases currently.
3. Buy booze
Buying liquor at Costco or most any other warehouse club is generally a great way to save money. In fact, savings on alcohol are among the best reasons to purchase memberships at one — although you don’t necessarily need a membership for that.
As we note in “10 Best Buys at Warehouse Clubs“:
“The best thing about buying alcohol at a warehouse club is that, in some states, you don’t even need a membership. Depending on your state laws, you may be able to walk in and buy discounted libations without paying an annual fee..”
4. Scope out the ‘warehouse savings’
Costco offers periodic discounts — on top of its already low prices. The retailer refers to them as “warehouse savings,” but they are essentially sales.
Costco offers a new batch of warehouse savings roughly once a month. So, always check out the retailer’s Warehouse Savings webpage before driving to your local club or buying anything online.
You will also find warehouse savings marked on shelves in your local club, as pictured above, although you will have to hunt for the deals if you don’t look them up online.
5. Buy tires
My family buys all of our tires at Costco, and we love that they throw in free balancing and rotation. Plus, instead of drinking stale coffee while waiting in a stuffy room for our cars to be serviced, we can grab a cheap bite to eat and cross several items off our shopping list.
6. Know the return policy
Costco has one of the most generous return policies around. So, if you’re ever unhappy with a purchase for any reason, at any point, you generally can and should ask for a refund or replacement.
There are a handful of exceptions to the policy. Check them out at the Costco website.
7. Buy discounted tickets and gift cards
Check out Costco’s gift cards and tickets webpage. You will find a swarm of savings on everything from restaurant meals to video gaming.
8. Feed your family dinner on the cheap
The Costco food court is a great place to grab an inexpensive bite to eat. Where else can you get a hot dog and refillable soda for a mere $1.50? My family of four likes to head there on Friday nights to enjoy a large pizza — it’s only $10. However, selections might vary by location during the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. Book a vacation
Members can rack up savings when they book their getaways through Costco Travel. It offers discounts on:
- Vacation packages
- Rental cars
Executive Members at Costco can save even more, earning an annual 2% reward on Costco Travel purchases.
10. Buy gas
Being a Costco member also pays at the pump. Many locations have gas stations that offer competitive prices. Some people buy a Costco membership for the gas savings alone.
11. Get free health care screenings
Usually, Costco offers free health care screenings to make sure your family remains in tip-top condition. They include screenings for:
- Heart health
However, screenings have been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, you’ll need to be patient to cash in on this perk. When screenings return, you will be able to find a schedule of upcoming screenings on Costco’s website.