Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

Need to stock up on paper towels? Can’t start your morning without having a stash of bagels on hand? Want to buy cheapest hot dog and a 20-ounce soda combo on the planet? There’s only one place where you can have it all: Costco.

The world’s best bulk superstore is a great place to fill your house with all of the essentials and to discover exciting new products at a steep discount. But not every trip to tis warehouse wonderland can be a pleasant one.

Sometimes we leave the store with a bigger dent in our wallet than we planned, or we have to push our carts past hordes of other deal-hunters. But there are some things to keep in mind to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible. Here are nine mistakes you should avoid when shopping at Costco.


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Going On The Weekend

If you’ve ever tried going to Costco on a Saturday afternoon, this mistake should be a no-brainer. The busiest days at the warehouse are Saturday and Sunday, and the crowds hit their peak in the early afternoon. While Costco is constantly restocking, they may run out of some household essentials if you shop during the weekend. Instead, try shopping on weekdays if you can.

Eating At The Food Court After Check Out

The Costco food court is laid out like the gift shops at the end of amusement park rides—you have to go through the entire process before you can shop. But that doesn’t mean you should save your slice of pizza until the end. In fact, it’s smarter to eat before you shop.

This helps you avoid shopping on an empty stomach, which will prevent unnecessary snacks from ending up in your cart and lower your overall bill. Another, more practical reason you should eat at the food court when you first arrive: you don’t have to maneuver a cart full of items while you’re enjoying your $1.50 hot dog combo.

Shopping Without A List

Costco is the ultimate destination for stocking up on essentials, but it’s also a wonderland for discovering things you never knew you needed. But to keep your eyes on the prize and reduce your bill, you need to have a game plan before heading to the warehouse.

That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a new product or two, but knowing what you actually need to buy will help streamline your shopping experience.

Buying Produce

Unless you’re preparing for a massive gathering that requires a pallet-full of vegetables, you should probably avoid the produce section. The large quantities of fruits and vegetables are more than most households can go through before they spoil.

So before you reach for the massive container of raspberries, be realistic and make sure that you won’t end up throwing most of them out. Certain products from the produce section allow for more leeway, like potatoes, because they stay good for longer. But in general, shopping for fruits and vegetables at Costco is a mistake.

Not Buying Gift Cards

You may think gift cards are reserved for birthday gifts and raffle prizes. But at Costco, it’s basically free money. Most of the gift cards sold at Costco are priced at a 20 percent discount. That means you can buy a gift card valued at $100 for just $79.99.

Not only does Costco offer gift cards for national chains, they also stock ones from local small businesses and for travel. So if you play your cards right (pun intended), you can enjoy Costco-level deals and discounts outside the warehouse.

Exclusively Buying Name Brand Products

Familiar name brands promise reliable quality and can be sold at low prices at Costco, but that doesn’t mean you should always reach for them. Kirkland Signature, Costco’s private label, often sources products from some of your favorite manufacturers—including those popular name brands.

Kirkland’s aluminum foil is made by Reynolds, so you’ll get the same quality at a lower price. Their private label coffee beans? Those come from Starbucks! You can still be brand loyal AND enjoy a good deal.

Choosing The Wrong Membership

At face value, the difference between the standard Gold Star membership and the Executive membership is just $60 more in annual fees. But, if you’re a Costco regular, opting for the lower cost membership may actually be a mistake.

Executive members earn 2 percent on Costco Purchases with extra benefits. So every year, you’ll receive a certificate with a rebate that you can use to buy more items. And if you shop at Costco for your household needs, that can be a substantial amount of money.

Shopping Online

Sometimes if you’re not in the mood to commute to Costco and deal with the crowds, it’s tempting to just shop on their website. But in most cases, that’s a mistake you should avoid. Prices on Costco’s online shop are higher overall to factor in shipping and handling. And you can only avoid a delivery fee if your shopping cart reaches a certain threshold.

Beyond the higher prices, you’ll also miss the sales available at your local warehouse. Depending on what’s in stock and what’s popular near you, managers can place certain products on sale that you can’t get for the same price online.

Only Shopping At One Location

Even though each Costco warehouse consistently offers all the things we know and love, like delicious baked goods, household staples, and food court treats, they’re not all the same. Individual stores choose their stock based on local demand, the overall size of the warehouse, and other external factors.

That means that two different Costcos may offer special products that the other may not have. You may automatically visit the warehouse closest to where you live, but it’s a mistake to not consider all of the other Costco locations in your region.

Do you have any Costco shopping tips? Share them in the comments!

Headshot of Gabby Romero

Editorial Assistant

Gabby Romero is Delish’s editorial assistant, where she writes stories about the latest TikTok trends, develops recipes, and answers any and all of your cooking-related questions. She loves eating spicy food, collecting cookbooks, and adding a mountain of Parmesan to any dish she can.


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