7 Costco Secrets That Everyone Should Know (Even Non-Members)

Costco Tips

Even though I’ve been a Costco member for many years now, it seems like I’m always learning something new about shopping there! In fact, just earlier this year I shared some of what I’d learned in a post about the “hidden” benefits of your Costco membership.

And in today’s blog post, I have a new batch of Costco tips and tricks to share with you! To be a bit more specific, I’ll be sharing a list of 7 interesting facts and tidbits I’ve picked up about various aspects of shopping at Costco.

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Costco Tips

While Costco’s low prices are reason enough to shop there, these tips will help you make the very most of the experience! (And don’t worry, even non-members will find plenty of useful information here!)

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7 Surprising Costco Tips You’ll Want To Know About

Costco Tips

1. Their Rotisserie Chickens Are A Steal

As surprising as it might sound, one of the best deals Costco offers storewide is on rotisserie chickens. (Rumor has it that they knowingly sell rotisserie chickens at a loss to draw in customers and increase sales.)

Rotisserie chickens at Costco usually weigh at least 3 pounds and cost around $4.99. While grocery stores sell rotisserie chickens at a similar price, those chickens tend to weigh considerably less (usually around 2 pounds.)

Costco adds salt, sugar, cornstarch, and other seasonings to the chicken, but they don’t use preservatives, MSG, or artificial colors or flavors. I always grab a couple when I go to Costco because they’re great for easy lunches and quick dinners.

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Costco Tips

2. Their Price Tags Can Tell You A Lot

The price tags that Costco displays by each item contains valuable information that can be useful to you as a shopper. Here’s a quick guide to interpreting the price tags:

  • If a tag has an asterisk (*) on it, the item is being discontinued at that location. (If it’s an item you like, you may to stock up while you can!)
  • If the price ends in .97, the item is on clearance.
  • If the price ends in .00 or .88, the item is discounted or on sale.
Costco Tips

3. It’s Supposed To Be A Maze

Do you feel a bit lost and confused in the deepest reaches of your local Costco warehouse, like you’re trapped in a labyrinth? You’re not alone, because it’s essentially a labyrinth by design!

Costco doesn’t display a lot of directional signage and they frequently rearrange their inventory, which means you end up walking through more aisles to find what you’re looking for. The more you wander, the more likely you are to pick up a few extra things on your way to find vinegar than you would have otherwise.

Costco Tips

4. You Can Get Discounts On Past Purchases

Don’t you hate it when something goes on sale a week after you bought it at full price? One of the benefits of shopping at Costco is that you can take advantage of new discounts for up to 30 days after making a purchase!

For example, say you bought an Adirondack chair at Costco two weeks ago, but noticed today that it’s now on sale for $30 off. In this case, all you would have to do is bring the receipt to customer service and they would issue you a $30 refund! (This also applies to Costco.com purchases.)

Costco Tips

5. Non-Members Can Shop There

Some Costco services don’t require you to be a card-carrying Costco member in order to take advantage of them.

For example, non-members in California and Connecticut are free to take advantage of Costco’s notoriously low prices on alcoholic beverages. And no matter what state you live in, non-members can get prescriptions filled at Costco pharmacies!

Another way you can shop at Costco as a non-member is by using a Costco Shop Card. While the cards can only be purchased and reloaded by a Costco member, but they can be used by non-members to shop in Costco stores or online.

Costco Tips

6. You Don’t Need Coupons

Costco used to send out real-deal paper coupons to its members, but not anymore! The advertised discounts are now applied automatically when you buy something from Costco, both in-store and online.

Costco Tips

7. Pay Costco Prices Outside Of Costco

You don’t have to be a Costco member to enjoy their low prices! All you have to do is find a good deal on their website, print it out, and take it in to a store that offers price matching (like Target, Walmart, or Best Buy).

If the store has that item and offers price matching, you can buy the item there for the same price as you would pay at Costco. It’s an easy way to enjoy warehouse savings even if you’re not a member of one!

Costco Tips

Do you know any game-changing Costco tips, or tips about warehouse shopping in general?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • My sisters family goes to Costco for their toilet paper. It’s a little thin- but they have kids who use an insane amount. We also have one friend who goes to Costco because she didn’t like the receipt checking at the door at other places.

  • I was happy to see that someone below mentioned that they remove the chickens that haven’t sold within a few hours. In some places, I have been concerned about that! Many years ago, I did get sick from one of these things. NOT fun! But they are SO handy and I recently found a little cookbook about 100 ways to use a rotisserie chicken! A few of my favs are “White Bean Chicken Chili” and the “Chicken Tacos”. Yum! God bless everyone!

  • Fantastic! We gave up our Costco membership a couple of years ago, and have not yet regretted that decision. In a few months, we are moving, and we were thinking we might need to rejoin … but I love the idea of a Costco Shop Card!!

    The rotisserie chicken is definitely a steal. Beyond delicious.

    • LOL!!! That’s what I used to do when I would go to Sam’s club! I always thought I was going to save SO much money…’til I got to the checkout! :-(

  • 2 more Costco tips for you!
    Eye care
    1. Contact lense prices are the lowest I’ve ever found. You can use an outside prescription and order them online. They don’t accept insurance but the prices are cheaper than when I DO use insurance benefits @ my doctor/retailer. Last year the prices were $40/box for regular contact lenses and $50/box for Toric lenses — and these aren’t Store or off-brand, I bought Biofinity Toric lenses.
    If your preferred retailer/practice price matches, have them price match for you. Pearle Vision is my dr’s retailer, so I have them price match when I use insurance. In March of this year (2021) I bought a year supply (2 boxes each eye = 4 boxes total) for a TOTAL (incl tax and such) of $94 out-of-pocket! That is a STEAL since I have astigmatism in both eyes and Toric lenses are always more expensive. The regular price ranges anywhere from $150-$225 Out-of-pocket with insurance benefits and without price matching.

    2. Photo printing is also the cheapest I’ve found thus far. I’ve used the 1¢/print promo @ places like Walgreens or the Free prints pay s/h from Shutterfly, but Costco has beat both of those. It’s especially easy to upload and place an order. They also offer different sized prints as well as gifts that can be made for special occasions.

    I lied – one more tip! lol

    3. Their business/commercial products and services are available for everyone. Business printing (business cards, flyers, postcards, etc) as well as commercial sized products, dispensers, kitchen wares, etc can be purchased at Costco business warehouses and/or online! :)

  • Costco’s Roisterer Chicken is absolutely one of the best buys. To select the chicken most recently removed from the roisterer, check the green label on the packaging. A time stamp is used to rotate chickens; chickens not sold within 2 1/2 hours are removed from the case.

  • At our Costco we can also order bank checks. This is the same place that our bank gets them, and they are like half
    the price. Didnt see this mentioned, maybe many dont know it.

  • Watch for circulating stock, and make your Costco trip BEFORE your weekly grocery store run. Costco often brings in brands that aren’t commonly sold there, and you wouldn’t think would be available. They are able to get it at lower prices as a way to help boost product sales once it’s gone from the warehouse (you buy it at Costco, you like it, there’s no more at Costco so you find it at a regular store and pay full price bc you want to keep eating/using it) which means if you find something not usually offered, stock up bc it’s unlikely they will get more in! It’s a catch 22, you may find that organic Danimals yogurt for the kids at a fantastic price, but once they’re sold out you’ll be back at Kroger’s paying 5.99 for a 12 pack of that same yogurt *sigh*

    Also, pet meds! Everyone knows the human medicine is cheaper, but not many think to fill their pets RX’s there. We have a pug (the breed is terribly unhealthy and needs lots of vet care) who we need to get meds for a couple times a year. Got a bottle of antibiotics that 4 other places wanted between $50-$69 for, spend $21 at Costco to fill! We ALWAYS fill all 3 of our dogs’ medicine there now.

  • I believe you’re right…never having shopped either (or not in a long time) I suppose it’s easy to confuse the two. I did look around a Costco once but didn’t see enough that I was interested in to make a membership worthwhile.

  • Good ideas.
    The only one that I disagree with you on is the chickens. I can buy 2 whole chickens from Costco for $13-14 that are twice the size of the rotisserie ones and not so much salt! Roast them up, I Spatchcock them and you’ve got some good chicken!
    Once you start doing this, you really notice how small their roasted chickens are. Don’t get me wrong, still a good deal compared to what other places charge and definitely convenient.

  • I wasn’t aware of getting the current price on an item previously purchased. I had bought a Gopro from Costco for $389, then over a month later, it went on sale for $70 less. My friend told me and I went in and they gave me back the difference! Way to go Costco! That’s also another reason to buy some items from Costco, I understand they stand by the products they sell. I read if the Gopro was a lemon, you could return it for a refund. Thank you Jillee for all the tips !!!

  • Just saying…Walmart doesn’t price match in my state of Oregon. They will however give you the price that is on Walmart.com Sometimes you can find a better deal there and not at the store.

      • They’re 9.99$ in Washington! It’s amazing how much the price of food has rocketed over the past 5 years!

    • I bought a deep freezer to keep these pies in the house as long as possible. My son would beg me from Jan to Sept to get him another, but not a single Poe frozen of fresh would stack up! Add the Land O lakes 3 pack of whip cream on top and it’s the best part of the holidays (something about the super rich unsweetened whip makes it incredible)! The flaky crust, the “just enough but not too much” seasonings and sweetness of the filling, totally worth stocking up on (the checkers think I’m mad when they see my 12 pies every time I come in lol).

  • Go early and eat lunch at the cafe before shopping the $1.50 hot dog and refillable drink special. It’s cheap and fills you up so that you don’t buy as much when you start shopping.

  • Kirkland Maple Syrup is the best! Compari tomatoes are wonderful also. OTC drugs like Nasacort at the absolute lowest cost. Costco has recently started selling kettle-cooked potato chips–the challenge is to eat them all!

  • At Costco you don’t need your receipt to return a product. They have all your purchase in their computer. A few years ago I exchange a product that I bought in Canada and exchange it in the US no problem.

  • If you are going to get a item from the food court, pay for it as your checking out then go to the special line at the food court. It’s for pre-payers and you don’t that to wait in the long line at the food court.

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