Costco Hacks To Help You Experience The Wholesale Retailer At Its Finest

James Loftus - March 15, 2023

After over 45 years, Costco thriving, and it does so on the back of the very simple philosophy of offering its members the ability to buy all their favorite products in bulk, and to do so at the lowest prices possible. But there is more. Costco has expanded beyond milk, bread, meats and veggies; they offer everything from big screen televisions, to kitchen appliances, to clothing, and even auto and home insurance. You can take your car in for new tires, or even pick up a wedding ring for your future bride! You can order some new glasses, or pick up a medical prescription. And if you’re looking to get away from it all, feel free to stop by the Costco travel center where you can book your hotel, set up airline tickets, and even secure a car rental. With that in mind, here are 34 Costco hacks that are worth trying.

That’s right! You are seeing a wedding party at Costco

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Right when you think you’ve seen it all…When most people think of Costco, they look forward to purchasing items in bulk at affordable prices. But did you know that, for a price, you can actually hold your wedding reception there? While this might not be the extravagant reception at the high-end ballroom you dreamed of as a child, there is no shame in celebrating your wedding vows with fifty of your closest family and friends amongst the throngs of deal seeker, Costco members. And if you’re still hungry after dinner, you can simply walk right over to the concessions stand for one of their tasty hot dogs! What more could you want?

Get your free samples!

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Free samples are nothing new to the shopping game; people have been handing out free samples of every kind of food or dessert one can imagine for years, but there is usually a limit to the number of freebees one can grab up. Generally speaking, there will be a small sign on the representative’s table indicating “one free sample” per customer. But one again, Costco is not your average market, it is a heavenly place where the member is king, which means that there is no small sign indicating one free sample per customer, and the representative handing these little treats out will encourage your to stop by again and again as you shop.

Not hungry enough for a whole chicken, ask for half

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One of the beautiful things about Costco is that they are their to help you get exactly what you are looking for. Often times, when you go to the market, you can pick up a whole rotisserie chicken. But, in the instance that you’ve got a hankering for a rotisserie chicken, but do not have the appetite for a whole one, you can simply request that they chop that bad boy in half. Before you know it, they’ll present you with a nice “half-rotisserie” chicken, and you’ll be on your way!

Pizza, pizza

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Costco bills itself as the place to get bulk items at a cheaper price. And because it’s a giant warehouse covering thousands of square feet, you will build up quite the appetite as you hunt for your family packs of beef and chicken to go along with the your 36-pack of Coca-Cola. To help you satisfy your immediate hunger, Costco has a very cool food court with seating just outside the checkout area. There, you’ll be able to order up a variety of foods including pizza, hot dogs, French fries and drinks! And the best part is that the prices are cheap and you can order in advance!

And the bell tolls

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One of the great delights at Costco is the rotisserie chicken. They come out hot, fresh, and seasoned where you can just pop open the lid and pluck off a little snack right then and there. And while they are always fresh, there is a little hack to listen for when you want your rotisserie chicken right out of the oven. If you’re bumping around the isles, and you hear a bell toll, then you know that you can make your way over to the rotisserie department in time to get a smoking hot chicken as fresh as can be.

Members only please

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Not just anyone can walk in off the street and shop at Costco; you have to become a member. And of course, with every membership, there is an annual fee. In this case, it is only $60.00. And that $60 bucks not only gets you past security where you may roam free, it opens you up to some very nice deals. And if you become an “executive member” member, you can even earn cash back, negating the cost of the membership to begin with! It really is a no brainer!

Get it before it’s too late!

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It’s not always easy to focus on the little things, but often times, it is the little things that turn out to hold value. Such is the case here. In your visits to Costco, you’ve probably seen this many times, but thought nothing of it and moved on. The thing we are referring to is the small asterisk set up in the top, right corner of the price sign. If you notice this asterisk, know that it indicates a limited run for this particular product. This means that you might want to pick it up while you can, as it is about to go out for good, never to return.

Costco was ahead of the curve with the environment

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The environmental lobbyists have experienced huge wins in recent years. It used to be enough to have recycling containers next to your garbage, so that you could recycle your paper and plastic products. Then they upped the anti to include getting rid of plastic straws as they slip through the cracks of the recycling machines. And now it’s “bring your own bag” for your shopping. However, Costco has had this policy in practice for years. While the original motivation had more to do with keeping prices low rather than saving the planet, the end result is the same, and customers are fine with it.

The lines!

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If you are a Costco devotee, than you are familiar with what may be the more frustrating issue, the lines. While the average supermarket can have some long lines, the lines at Costco have achieved an almost mythical status. But it’s a giant warehouse that holds hundreds of people at a time, of course there are going to be long lines. Your best bet to avoid these extensive line of impatient Costco members is to hit the place up on a weekday, namely Monday thru Wednesday when people are less likely, or able, to get to the joint.

It’s movie time

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With yet another example of the greatness of this mega-warehouse, you can grab up movie tickets at a discount. Yes, that’s right! In addition to the many bulk-item bargains available, you can pick up passes for the newest blockbuster, and you can do so on the cheap, as much as 50% off. And this is available because you are buying movie passes in a bundle rather than individually. This means that you’ll have as many move passes as you like for the foreseeable future, all for much less than what you’d pay at the theater.

Don’t knock Costco’s Kirkland brand

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In recent years, everyone and their mother’s cousin has gotten into their own “name brand” business. Walgreens offers the “Walgreens” brand. Wal-Mart has “Great Value,” and even Kroger has it’s “Simple Truth” brand. But there is a general consensus that these “name brands” are nothing more than cheap imitations of the real thing, not so much with Kirkland. While it says Kirkland on the label, often times, these products are the real name brands with a Kirkland label, including Duracell batteries, Huggies diapers, Reynolds aluminum foil, and even Starbucks coffee!

The honorable Costco

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Have you ever bought something only to find out that, a week later, it has gone on sale at a great discount? This is infuriating to say the least, and something that occurs more than we’d like to admit. But no worries, you’re a Costco member now, which means that you’ve got perks. One of those perks is the ability to get the sale price even after you’ve already purchased the product, something that is simply unheard of in most stores around the country. Specifically, if withing 30-days of your purchase, your product goes on sale, Costco will refund the difference, no questions asked!

Free samples could lead to a busted wallet and a larger waistline

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Everybody loves free stuff and the executives at Costco know this very well. They understand that, the more of their free samples you take advantage of, the more likely you are to both buy the product you sampled, and continue to peruse the isles for more. However, while it may seem like you are coming out the winner in all of this, the truth is quite the opposite, because not only will you be snacking on samples that may be unhealthy like cheese and fatty meats, but you will then buy that cheese and fatty meats even though you had no intention of doing so. The end result is that you come out less healthy, and lighter in the wallet than when you first went in.

Just a couple of cents off might mean a world of difference

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It is very common to walk into a store of any type and see a sale price with a .99 in it. Everything is $19.99, $9.99, $4.99 and so on. But there is a slight trick that Costco makes use of, and if you’re a savvy, Costco devotee, this is something that you need be aware of. If you see an odd sale price number such as $6.97, this is Costco code for an actual sale price, not just a generic, phony sale price. And if you see something with an even stranger price such as $6.88, then you’ve come across an item that will soon be out of stock in the near future.

Looking to get away?

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Okay, so we’ve established that Costco is the place for those looking to pick up items in bulk at discount prices, but were you aware that they also offer travel services? Yep, that’s right! Costco has it’s own travel agency where you can book the vacation of your dreams, all while doing so for cheaper prices than one can imagine. For those looking to get everything at once, they offer complete vacation packages. Or, if you only need certain bits and pieces, they’ve got that covered as well. Book a flight, set up your hotel, and rent a car, all on the Costco Travel website.

Product limits? Not at Costco

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As consumers, one of the more frustrating things we run into is product limits. Open up your weekly circular, and you’ll see all these wonderful deals on the things you really need. Two for the price of one on your favorite cereal, and buy two, get three on that tasty Dr. Pepper. But before you get too excited, you peek down at the fine print which informs you that, rather than stocking up on cases of Dr. Pepper, you’re limited to one deal per person. Not so much at Costco, where you can roll out as much of that Dr. Pepper as you like, and nobody at the front door will stop you!

Disarray by design

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If you’ve ever visited a Costco on a Saturday afternoon, you will be very familiar with the photo above. Long and incongruent lines filled with tense shoppers all jockeying for position for the quickest path to the checkout. If you come upon one of these long lines, chances are you will retreat back into the store and do some more shopping until the lines ease up. And it’s not only the checkout, Costco has a reputation of being a bit discombobulated in its warehouse layout, and that is by design. The more you have to search for products, the more products you will see, which might spark an impulse buy. Get it?

Ah, those pesky expiration dates

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So, while it is very wise to take advantage of Costco’s “buy in bulk” philosophy; this does not hold true for everything in the store. There is absolutely nothing wrong with picking up six boxes of cereal, but the same cannot be said for six, giant watermelons. Grabbing up three cases of coke is always a good idea, but three cases of bananas, not so much. If not obvious already, the point is that there are perishable items such as fresh fruits and vegetables, that have a very short shelf-life, so buying them in bulk will be more of a waste than a bargain.

Ready to eat meals

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We are all on the move; time is valuable. That means that there will be times when we need pre-prepared meals to get us over while we are trying to get through the day. This may come at no surprise, but Costco offers a wide variety of meals that are set up and ready to go for those who are always on the go. Whether it’s a complete salad, or tasty shrimp ready for the picking, Costco will help keep you moving so that you’ll be able to take care of things without worry.

Costco is more than just buying in bulk

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As we’ve mentioned more than a few times, people recognize Costco as the place to buy items in bulk at discount prices. However, there are other attractions that draw consumers in, namely the ability to pick up some of the more high-end, name brand products, also at a fantastic price. For example you can get appliances from Ninja, Cuisinart, and General Electric. They even sell large ticket items including refrigerators, stovetop ovens, microwaves, and washers and dryers. And as always, you will find it difficult to find a price lower than what Costco offers.

Gift cards galore

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Looking to get that special someone the gift of their favorite coffee? Costco has you covered. Have a friend who just loves them some ice cream? Costco has you covered. Looking to get your buddy a bacon, egg, and cheese on a croissant? Costco has you covered. Costco offers a wide variety of gift cards for anyone and everyone. They make great stocking stuffers at Christmas, or work as a nice, out of the blue, surprise for you friends and family.

Home and auto insurance, really?

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Yes, really! Costco has become much more than the place for groceries in bulk, it has even gone into the insurance business. If you are a home owner, or are just looking for a better insurance rate for your car or truck, simply stop by the insurance desk. There, you will meet with a representative from the very reputable Ameriprise insurance agency who will provide you with a wealth of options to safeguard the valuables in your home, and the vehicles in your driveway.

Filler her up!

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Running low on fuel, Costco has you covered. And as with everything else Costco related, you will be saving money big time. And not only will you be paying less at the pump, the same holds true at their auto service center where you will get discounts on both parts and labor. Costco also reports that Gold Star, Business, and Executive members can save as much as $500 per use! And not only will your automobile receive care from highly trained service techs, but they will be using factory OEM parts as well, meaning that your car will get exactly the parts the manufacturer intended.

Get that tech!

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In addition to the mountain of grocery products, appliances, and even clothing, Costco offers their members big tech. By big tech, we mean big screen televisions, laptop and desktop computer. And if you cannot live without a smartphone in your hand, they have a wide array of the top selling brands including Android, Apple, and Google devices. And if you buy a television at Costco, they offer a set up and installation service for an additional fee. This way you don’t have to waste your time untangling wires and programming apps, and instead, you will be enjoying your favorite Netflix shows on the quick.

Sweet tooth anyone?

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Now it’s very common for markets to have bakeries these days, but Costco’s offering is not your average bakery. They go above and beyond to find some of the best baking talent so that they can deliver some of the most high-end baked goods around. And again, they do so at discount prices that are simply hard to beat when compared to other market bakeries, or the mom and pop shops. The next time your in house, drop by for some delicious pastries or a scrumptious cake.


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If you’re ever on the West coast of the country, and you find yourself at a famous “in ‘n’ out” burger, you can order your burger “animal style”, a secret code that is not on the menu and that will guarantee your meat to be on the raw side. Feeling under the weather, stop by Starbucks and order up a “cold buster/medicine ball,” another secret item made up of tea and herbal remedies. And if you’re at Costco’s meat department, order up some chub, a pre-processed, lean meat that goes for around 50 cents less per pound.

Go in without a plan and pay the consequences

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One of the traits that makes Costco such a great opportunity for those looking to buy in bulk is the sheer size of the place. But this is also a trait that can get you, the average Costco devotee, into trouble if you’re not careful. Before your next trip to the mega-warehouse, make sure you map out a plan of action. This means that you create a list of exactly what you need, and you do not deviate from it. Failing to do so could result in mindlessly wandering the many vast isles, and tossing all kinds of crap into your cart that you have no need for.

Hold onto that receipt

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Costco is always looking out for the satisfaction of its members, and their very generous return policy is just another example of this. The company guarantees your satisfaction on just about every product in the store, with a few exceptions of course. For example, you cannot buy tires for your vehicle, drive them till they are bald, and then return them. Nor can you buy a battery and return it five years later after it’s died. Other restrictions include, diamonds over 1.00 ct (Yes, Costco sells diamonds). Cigarettes, booze, and airline tickets.

Of course there’s an app…

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Everyone and their mother’s, uncle’s pet hamster has an app now, so why not Costco? And with the app, affectionately known as Checkout51, you will be able to obtain savings on top of savings on top of savings. All you have to do is scan your purchase receipt into the app, and viola! You will receive money back of certain purchases on top of the already amazing discounts in the first place. If you want to save even more, there are additional apps on the market that work seamlessly with Costco, enabling you to stretch your savings above and beyond!

Coupons schmoopons…

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Remember the days when you would sit at your kitchen table that was covered with the weekly circulars full of coupons to clip? Well, as far as Costco is concerned, those days are over. They still have their weekly circulars showing what’s on sale, but no longer are your required to waste your Sunday morning with your trusty scissors, clipping away. Instead, Costco has implemented a new computer system that will automatically provide you with those sale discounts upon checkout. Yes!

Yes, they have sales!

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In walking the isles of Costco, one is amazed at the large quantities that go along with the low the prices. But did you know that Costco also has sales on top of the already unbelievably low prices? Yep! The trick is to know when their sales pop up, which, according to some, only happens during certain days of the month. These deals also run for a limited time at that. To make things a bit trickier, the company doesn’t post the sales on its website until the day of, but they will send out a mailing a week before to give you a heads up, so keep your eyes peeled.

Looking for a bargain, stick to the outer regions of the store

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Certain areas of real estate at Costco come at a high premium for vendors. But “those in the know” understand that, if they want the best bargains, they need to stick to the outer edges of the warehouse. This is not by coincidence, but rather by design. The thinking is that the center isles of Costco are always going to receive the heaviest traffic, so items in these regions can be priced higher. And the areas down in the back corners will naturally receive less traffic, so the less expensive products are on display there. So, if you want a real bargain, make the trek to the back corners where good deals await.

There was a time when Costco only accepted AMEX, meaning you had to have financial game

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While Costco seems like the company of the people, that wasn’t always the case. For years, if you wanted to shop at your local Costco, you needed possess one of those premium American Express cards. Just to qualify for an AMEX meant having a credit score in the high 700’s, and a strong, annual income to boot. Such requirements made a Costco membership a pipe dream, but that all changed around 2016 when this warehouse, megastore began to accept your run of the mill Visa card as well, enabling many more to shop for their items in bulk while saving money.

Don’t forget those frozen foods!

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Shopping for frozen foods at your regular market means that you will be able to pick up what you need for those days when spending hours preparing a complex meal is simply not an option. However, often times, the portions in these frozen dinners are a bit on the smaller side, leaving much to be desired; this is not the case at Costco. Behind these oversized freezer doors, you will encounter a plethora of oversized frozen meals that will be enough to satisfy even the most demanding of large families, and once again, all at a very inexpensive price.

Having second thoughts?

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One of the advantages of having a membership to a store versus not having a membership to a store is that, as a member, you are more likely to be treated with greater care and respect, because, after all, they want to keep you as a member for years to come. With this in mind, Costco has one of the best returns policies on the market today. This means that, outside of alcohol and tobacco, just about everything is returnable, no questions asked. Compare this to the generic supermarket that rakes you over the coals simply for wanting to return a gallon of spoiled milk.