Costco Warehouse

Costco: Our best tips for saving money at the warehouse

To the point Check out our tips and tricks to save money at Costco. And the best credit cards for Costco!

You can save a lot of money at Costco warehouses. However, it is important to know these different Costco tips and tricks.

You’ll also discover the best credit cards for Costco in Canada. Remember that you can use any Mastercard in the warehouse.

Note, however, that no credit card considers Costco a grocery store. So you’ll always have the basic accumulation for the basic or “Other” category of your credit card.

Costco tips to save money at the warehouse

How much does a Costco membership cost in Canada ?

There are two types of membership:

Privilege Member Executive Privilege Member
Price $60 $120
Free Household card Yes
2% annual cash back Yes
Additional offers Yes
Bimonthly magazine Yes

*The cost of annual membership will increase from September 1, 2024. It will be $65 for Privilege members and $130 for Executive Privilege members.

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).

Costco Tip: You may be able to get a refund on the difference between the $120 Executive Privilege Membership card and the $60 Privilege Membership card if you don’t fit in!

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.

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Don’t forget! Your Costco membership card allows you to visit a Costco Business Centre, even if you are a private individual.

Costco tip: buy without being a Costco member with the Shop Card

With the Costco Shop Card, anyone can shop at Costco, member or non-member. To buy 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.

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

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What to buy at Costco?

Many people may think that Costco is only for large families. In fact, everything 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 children, we were already shopping at Costco. For example, buying meat and then separating it into freezer bags. The price per kilo is unbeatable and the quality is there. Practical for barbecues!

Costco tip: Buy Kirkland products – Costco’s house brand – which are a great value. Very often, it will be big brands that will be behind the Kirkland products (like Duracell for batteries, Huggies for diapers or Danone for yoghurts)!

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

Here are most of the products that are often less expensive in Costco stores than in grocery stores:

  • Nuts and oils
  • Flour, brown sugar, yeast, organic cocoa, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and powdered sugar
  • Snacks and other sweets
  • Cheese
  • Meat, fish (including salmon)
  • Frozen fruit (handy for smoothies)
  • Choice of organic and gluten-free products
  • Drugs
  • Gift cards (for spas, certain restaurants and regional activities)

Not to mention: gas at unbeatable prices!

Costco quoi acheter

On the other hand, there are things we don’t buy or buy very little of at Costco like :

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables: too much of them. Better go to your local market.
  • Soft drinks
  • Cans of food

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

Costco Tip

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

Costco tip: look for 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)

Costco Tip: As long as you don’t buy products ending in xx.99, you know you’re getting a great deal!

Nevertheless, even the products at xx.99 already have excellent prices compared to the competition!

Costco Warehouse

Costco tip: 30-day Costco price guarantee

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

Fortunately, Costco Canada offers a price adjustment: 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’s even a grocery section).

epicerie costco

However, prices will often be higher than those you can find in the warehouse, as they include delivery charges.

However, it’s an almost obligatory step when buying household appliances online! Costco’s prices are often very competitive for these reasons:

  • Delivery included ;
  • Basic installation included for some appliances ;
  • 2-year warranty included ;
  • Takes back old household appliances for recycling;
  • Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts when buying several appliances at once.
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The Costco Extended Warranty

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

What’s more, the extended warranty (up to 5 years) that can come in handy costs up to $129 for a TV.

garantie prolongee costco FR

Costco's Refund Policy

In addition, Costco is known for having the best refund policy in the country. This extends 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.

Shopping at Costco in the United States

Your Canadian Costco membership card allows you to shop at Costco in the United States (and around the world too!).

We’ve used it frequently in the U.S., particularly in Hawaii: handy for filling up with gas or buying camping gear.

By the way, the Canadian CIBC Costco Mastercard is the only Mastercard that works in a Costco warehouse in the U.S.! However, a foreign currency conversion fee of 2.5% is added.

Otherwise, you will have to pay in cash or with a Visa credit card. For this reason, we recommend paying with the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, which charges no foreign currency conversion fees.

Here’s another option: Before you leave on your trip, purchase a Costco Purchase Card in Canada with a Mastercard or Visa credit card. Then use your Costco Shop Card at a Costco warehouse in the United States. Conversion to U.S. dollars is instantaneous and free of charge.

Costco Business Centre

Costco for Business is open to all Costco members! Even people who do not have a business.

In Quebec, there is a Costco Business Centre in Saint-Hubert and another in Anjou.

Facebook group on Costco

To find out what’s going on at Costco stores in Quebec, check out the Facebook group Les Accros du Costco. Almost 400,000 subscribers comment on new items, discuss discounts, post their finds and ask questions.

Costco Executive Coupons

They are mailed out a few times a year.

Costco coupons for Executive members are also available here on the Costco website or at the warehouse customer service desk.

Costco mobile application

The mobile app keeps everything in one place:

  • Digital membership card to be shown at checkout or entrance;
  • Receipts for warehouse and online purchases ;
  • Store like on the website;
  • Check discount balance ;
  • View the latest offers.

It is available on the App Store and Google Play.

Costco remise exécutif

Using any Mastercard credit card at Costco

Costco tip: you can use any Mastercard in Costco warehouses! Then, at Costco.ca, you can use both Mastercard and Visa.

Costco is not considered a grocery store! So, you won’t get the accelerated credit card accumulation of supermarkets, if any.

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.

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.

Discover below a selection of the best credit cards for your purchases at Costco, such as :

In fact, the BMO® AIR MILES® World Elite Mastercard is the only one with a special category for warehouses or wholesale clubs.

A good credit card for Costco.ca

The CIBC Dividend® Visa Infinite* Card is a great way to earn cash back on all your purchases at Costco. You can use it for all your Costco.ca purchases.

The trick is to buy a Shop card, which you can then use in the warehouse. Handy if you don’t have a Mastercard!

With this credit card you earn:

  • A welcome bonus
  • First-year annual fee rebate
  • 1% per dollar spent at Costco
  • 4% per dollar of purchase in grocery stores and on gas
  • Excellent insurance

Costco tip: how to use an American Express credit card for Costco purchases

American Express credit card holders can also shop at Costco (in a way).

The Instacart website includes a large majority of grocery chains, including Costco. Costco offers on this site the products found in its warehouses and delivers them to your home, but at an additional cost.

Instacart accepts American Express cards for purchases made at Costco and even accepts non-Costco customers!

On the Instacart site, you select the items you want, buy them using your American Express credit card, and they’re delivered on time.

With this trick, you can earn 5 times the points for the American Express Cobalt® Card and Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card! In fact, Instacart is considered an eligible grocery store or food delivery service.

epicerie costco instacart

However, the cost to use this service is higher than a store purchase.

Here are the disadvantages of Instacart:

  • High service and delivery costs
  • Cost of purchases not included in the calculation of the 2% cash back for executive members
  • Item cost approximately 10% more than in the warehouse

To lower the cost, Instacart has an Instacart Express subscription for $99 per year. This eliminates delivery charges and reduces service fees.

Costco tip: Instead of signing up for a $60 or $120 Costco membership, you can sign up for Instacart Express. It can be useful for people who want to save time, while making the most of the return on their American Express credit card.

Bottom Line

Many seasonal items are so popular that they go off the shelves very quickly. When you see them, enjoy them now! If not, they may not be there the next time you visit.

Happy shopping!

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

How to buy at Costco without being a member?

Yes, it’s possible! With the Costco Shop Card, anyone can shop at Costco, member or non-member. To buy 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.

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.

How do I get the Costco Executive Coupon Booklet?

They are only for Executive members:

  • Received by mail
  • Warehouse customer service counter
  • On the Costco website

How do I subscribe to Costco?

There are two ways to purchase a Costco membership:

  • To the customer service department of a warehouse
  • Online, on the Costco website

Who owns Costco?

Costco was founded by Jim Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman in 1983.

Costco’s main shareholder is The Vanguard Group.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Caroline Tremblay
I'm Caroline, a loyalty program specialist! I use my points to travel more often and at a lower price with my spouse and our two children. I'm passionate about writing about the latest rewards news and how to put more points in your pocket.

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