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How can I save money when shopping at Costco?

To the point

Discover my best tips for saving money when shopping at Costco. You will also learn about the best credit cards for Costco!

You can save a lot of money when shopping at Costco. However, it is important to be aware ofthese different tips!

And at the end of the article, you will discover the best credit cards for Costco so you can replace your Capital One Costco card!

Which Costco membership to choose?

There are two types of membership:

Privilege Member Executive Privilege Member
Fees $60 $120
Free Household card Yes
2% annual discount Yes
Additional offers Yes
Bimonthly magazine Yes

Executive Privilege Membership gives you a 2% annual cash back on most of your purchases (up to a maximum of $1,000 – or $50,000 in annual purchases).

A Costco membership pays for itself if you spend more than $3,000 per year at Costco (a $60 rebate), and is fully refunded if you make $6,000 in purchases per year (a $120 rebate).

And anyway, you could get a refund of the difference between the $120 Executive Privileged Member card and the $60 Privileged Member card if you don’t think it was worth it!

If you do not expect to spend more than $3,000 per year at Costco, perhaps it might be helpful to ask a friend or family member to provide you with a Costco Shop Card.

Costco Membership

Make purchases without being a Costco member with the Shop Card

The Costco Shop Card allows anyone to shop at Costco, member or non-member. To purchase it, however, you must be a Costco member.

Non-Costco members must register for a one-day shopping pass at the Membership Counter each time they access a warehouse to use a Costco Shop Card.

For a Costco member, there is an advantage to purchasing a Costco Shop Card online: paying with a Visa credit card instead of a Mastercard! Read the end of this article to know more about this tip.

Costco purchasecard

What to shop at Costco?

Many people may think that Costco is only for large families. Indeed, everything you find at Costco is in large quantities.

However, if done properly, it is possible for even a childless couple to shop at Costco and still save money.

Long before we had our two children, Jean-Maximilien and I were already shopping at Costco. For example by buying meat and then separating it into freezer bags; the price per kilo is unbeatable and the quality is always great. It’s convenient for barbecues!

You can also shop for Kirkland’s products– Costco’s home brand – which has a great price-performance ratio. Very often, Kirkland products are backed by major brands (such as Duracell for batteries, Huggies for diapers or Danone for yogurts)!

If you can’t find discounts at the grocery store, Kirkland’s tissue boxes are of much better quality:

Costco handkerchiefs

Here are most of the products that are always cheaper in Costco stores than in grocery stores:

  • coffee
  • Nutella, peanut butter, jar of Bonne Maman jam…
  • cooking accessories (cooking paper, aluminium)
  • snacks and other sweets
  • condiments
  • cheeses (and for French people, that really counts!)
  • fresh pasta
  • butter
  • meat, fish (including salmon)
  • frozen salmon steaks
  • frozen fruit (useful for smoothies)
  • organic product choices
  • propane for the barbecue
  • diapers
  • medicines
  • printer ink refilling
  • glasses and contact lenses
  • gift cards (for Spas, some restaurants and especially for the Apple App Store)

Not to mention: gas at unbeatable prices!

On the other hand, there are some things that we don’t buy or hardly buy at Costco like:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables: there is simply too much. Better go to your local market.
  • snacks
  • soft drinks
  • detergents
  • cans and tins

In general, we avoid buying too much food (that cannot be frozen). Sometimes it’s best to pick up discounted items at your local grocery store!

Also avoid anything in the warehouse center: prices will often not be competitive! And avoid going with your children 😉

Locate Costco price tags

Only Costco experts – and employees – know the Costco price tag trick.

Costco price labels help distinguish real bargains from regular rates. Here are the 5 types of prices indicated by these labels:

Price Tag Meaning
xx.99 Regular price
xx.89 / xx.79 / xx.49 Lowest Costco Price
xx.97 / xx.88 / xx.00 Warehouse discount
(in order to liquidate the stock)
asterisk (*) Product that will not be renewed
(last chance to get it)

So, as long as you don’t buy products ending in $xx.99, you know you’re getting a great deal!

But sometimes, even products selling for $xx.99 are already at an excellent price compared to the competition!

Costco's 30-day price guarantee

How many times have you bought a product and then seen it discounted the following week?

Fortunately, Costco Canada proposes price adjustments: you can request a refund of the difference up to 30 days after purchase. To do so, go to the Membership Counter.

Buying online or from a Costco warehouse?

Costco’s website, Costco.ca, often offers the same products as in the warehouse (and there is even a new grocery section).

Often, rates will be higher than what you can find in the warehouse.

However, it is a quasi-obligatory passage for the purchase of household appliances! Costco’s prices are often very competitive, and the warranty included is superior to what is offered elsewhere.

The Costco Extended Warranty

The advantage of shopping at Costco for your appliances: there is often a 2-year warranty included. Ditto for televisions!

In addition, the extended warranty (up to 5 years) is often very affordable (between $29 and $99 for a television).

Costco's Refund Policy

Costco is recognized for having the best refund policy in the country. It goes up to 90 days for most products, even electronics! Clothes can be returned within 30 days.

This refund policy even extended to 2 years a few years ago, but abuse has forced Costco to lower this to 90 days. It’s still very generous when you’ve made a mistake on the purchase of a television or video projector…!

Shopping at Costco in the United States

Your Canadian Costco membership card allows you to shop at Costco in the United States.

We’ve used it frequently in the United States, especially in Hawaii: handy for refueling or picking up camping gear!

However, you will have to pay in cash or with a Visa credit card(and not Mastercard like in Canada). To do this, choose the Scotiabank Passportâ„¢ Visa Infinite* Card which does not charge any foreign currency conversion fee.

Using any Mastercard credit card at Costco

You may have received the flyer for the Costco Mastercard at the checkout or in your mailbox.

This card may seem advantageous to you at first,but it only offers a return of 0.5% on the first $3,000 of purchases and then 1% in Costco warehouses and in all stores (except 2% on gasoline and 3% in restaurants). In addition, Costco has decided to end its partnership with Capital One in 2021.

Please note that you can use any Mastercard at Costco! On Costco.ca, you can use both Mastercard and Visa.

Below, you will find a selection of the best credit cards to use for your purchases at Costco.

If you want the complete list per program (AIR MILES, Cash Back, travel points, hotel points), see this article on the best credit cards for Costco.

The Best Credit Cards For Costco

To shop at Costco, we recommend one of these cards Mastercard credit cards, depending on the points you would like to earn.

AIR MILES: the best AIR miles credit cards for Costco

Our choice of Costco Mastercard credit cards to collect AIR MILES miles is the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite®* Mastercard®*.

With this credit card you earn:

  • 1 mile for every $12 spent at Costco
  • A great welcome bonus
  • An excellent travel insurance

Travel Points: the best credit cards for Costco

The BMO® World Elite®* Mastercard®* is a great way to earn travel points for all your purchases at Costco.

With this credit card you earn:

  • 2 points per dollar of purchases at Costco
  • A great welcome bonus
  • First-Year Free
  • 4 passes to the airport lounges
  • An excellent travel insurance

If you would like the no annual fee version, you can choose the BMO® Rewards® Mastercard®* wich has a great welcome bonus.

Otherwise, here are several other MASTERCARD credit cards that offer very interesting travel points:

A good credit card for Costco.ca

The Scotia Momentum® VISA Infinite* card is a great way to earn cash back for all your Costco purchases. You can use it for all your Costco.ca purchases.

And you can buy a Shop card that you can then use in the warehouse! Convenient if you don’t have a Mastercard credit card!

With this credit card you earn:

  • A welcome bonus
  • First-Year Free
  • 1% per dollar on Costco purchases
  • 4% per dollar on purchases in grocery stores and on recurring payments
  • An excellent insurance

Other best credit cards for Costco stores

For Costco customers, there are many other credit cards available:

  • cashback
  • hotel points
  • Aeroplan points
  • AIR MILES Reward miles

To see the best, go to this article on the best credit cards for Costco.

Frequently Asked Questions about Costco

Where can I use my Costco membership card?

Your Costco membership card can be used at any of Costco’s 700+ warehouses worldwide and online at costco.ca.

What are Costco's business hours?

On Costco.ca:

  • select Find Warehouse
  • choose your warehouse to know its opening hours

Can a non-Costco member accompany me to the warehouse?


Costco members are allowed to bring up to two guests every visit. But only Costco members can make purchases.

How do I return an item to Costco?

You may return an item purchased from the warehouse or at Costco.ca to any Costco warehouse for a refund. The return of the item must be done:

  • within 30 days of the date of purchase
  • in its original packaging
  • with the receipt from Costco

If you don’t have a receipt, Costco will be able to trace your purchase through your Costco membership card.

How do I contact Costco?

Call 1-800-463-3783 or visit Costco.ca. Member services are open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

What's the best Costco credit card?

There are many credit cards you can use to pay at Costco. Check out our ranking of the best credit cards for Costco.

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