8 Expert Ways to Save Time and Money at Costco

By Kyle James on 15 February 2016 1 comment

Whether you're a longtime Costco member, new to the club, or simply considering a membership, there are ways to make your money go further in the warehouse. Here are eight such tips that will help you walk out of your next Costco shopping trip with more of your hard-earned money. (See also: These 6 Costco Items Will Easily Cover Your Membership)

1. Know Which Kirkland Products Are a Must-Buy

There's no arguing the fact that the Costco Kirkland brand provides an excellent value on many items. But did you know that some Kirkland products are actually made by a name-brand manufacturer and simply repackaged, providing the best bang for your buck? Here are a few to be aware of.

Kirkland Beers

On the West coast, these bottles of beer come from a brewery in San Jose, CA named Hopfen and Malz Brewing Company, also known as Gordon Biersch. East coast stores get their beer from Matt Brewing and Central states stores get there from Minhas, depending on the variety. By purchasing them with the Kirkland label, you'll easily spend a third less compared to similar craft beers.

Kirkland Tuna Fish

Apparently their canned tuna is made by Bumble Bee, making it a great value.

Kirkland Bourbon

The Kirkland variety is cheaper and made by Buffalo Trace specifically for the Costco warehouse.

Kirkland Batteries

Rumor has it that these batteries are actually manufactured by Duracell. Whether that's true or not I can't verify, but the fact of the matter is they often out-perform the name-brands and are significantly cheaper.

2. Start at the Back the Warehouse

While this tip may take a little getting used to, on your next trip to Costco, try putting on your "blinders" and head straight to the back of the warehouse. Costco always puts their best bargains at the back of the store, along with the outside walls. They do this knowing you'll have to walk by a bunch of irresistibly cool (and full-priced) items to get there. Avoid the temptations by working your way up to the checkout aisles last. (See also: Rules You Must Follow When Shopping at Costco)

3. Shop Without a Membership

If you know someone who already has a Costco membership, ask them to pick up a Costco Cash Card for you. While you do need to be a member to buy and reload these cards, you can use them to shop to your heart's content without a membership. Cards can be purchased in any amount from $25 up to $1,000, can be reloaded at any Costco location, and never expire. You can also conveniently use the cash card on Costco.com. This is a great option for college students as it allows them to easily limit their spending, or those who simply want to test out the warehouse before becoming a paying member. (See also: 7 Things Non-Members Can Get at Costco)

4. Get 2% Cash Back

The Costco Anywhere Visa Card has replaced the Costco Amex, and with it comes better cash back benefits for Costco members. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases, but it doesn't stop there. You also get 4% back on eligible gas worldwide (for the first $7,000 per year), 3% back on restaurant and travel purchases, and 1% back on all other purchases.

5. Always Refill Your Inkjet Cartridges at Costco

New inkjet cartridges can be really expensive, even at Costco. Instead of buying brand new ink, take advantage of Costco's refill service and save a lot of money. You simply bring in your empty cartridges and Costco will refill them starting at only $7.49, which in many cases equals savings in the 70% range. (See also: 10 Things You Didn't Know You Could Buy at Costco)

6. Snag Big Christmas Toy Deals

Starting in November, Costco consistently sells toys for 30%–50% less than Amazon. For example, last year both retailers sold the popular Singing Olaf (Frozen) plush toy at Christmas. While Costco sold it for $14.99, Amazon sold it for twice that amount at $29.99. Also, Costco sold popular Lego sets for $13.99 while Amazon sold them for over $20. While the toy selection at Costco is definitely smaller than other stores, the products they do stock are sold at a major discount.

7. Avoid Aisle Endcaps

When shopping at Costco, the products on the aisle endcaps usually aren't a great deal. Typically these items have the largest profit margins, are full-priced, and are being pushed heavily via free samples. Try not to be tempted by the tasty samples and eye-catching displays. Instead, walk past these endcaps quickly and head for the real deals.

8. Don't Forget Their Price Protection Policy

While most Costco shoppers are already aware of their lenient return policy, many have no idea that they also offer a 30-day price protection policy. If the price of any item drops within 30 days of you purchasing it, simply bring in your receipt and they'll happily refund you the difference. If you lost your receipt, don't fret — just head to the customer service desk and explain the situation. In most cases, they'll be able to verify your order on their computer system and refund your money accordingly. This policy is especially useful when buying seasonal items, which are eventually reduced in price at the end of the season to make room for new inventory. (See also: 15 Things You Should Buy at Costco)

What unique ways do you save money on your trips to Costco?

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If you get the executive membership you get a 1% rebate each year. It's always covers the cost of the membership, making our membership free.