A SAVINGS expert has revealed the seven crucial mistakes people at Costco make that may be costing shoppers hundreds of dollars each year.
Shopping at Costco is a great way to save money, but dumb mistakes actually do your wallet more harm than good, according to consumer analyst Julie Ramhold.
Some of these mistakes will likely result in you throwing away food that you couldn’t finish by the expiration date or not getting the most out of your membership before it ends.
However, there are some mistakes that most buyers are not even aware of.
Ramhold pointed to News of offers that there are two membership options for Costco shoppers to choose from from Gold Star to Executive Member for $60 and $120 respectively.
“The biggest difference in the benefits of the two memberships is that executive accounts receive a 2 percent annual reward on qualifying purchases from Costco, Costco.com and Costco Travel,” he said.
However, if you’re not spending enough for the reward to work, Ramhold suggests going for the cheapest membership.
“Executive members will also be able to purchase items for resale and receive more benefits and discounts on select products. Costco services.
“The good thing is you can try an Executive membership and then downgrade if you find it’s not worth it.”
Costco also makes it easy to drop down to the bottom tier, but many executive members find that if they spend enough money in a year, the cost of the reward certificate basically pays for the membership.
A Costco membership comes with two cards, meaning you can split the fare with a friend or family member, however, there’s a catch.
The person must be over the age of 18 and must live at the same address as you, which is great if you have a roommate or relative living with you.
If you don’t, Costco allows you to bring up to two guests per store visit, but the Costco member must pay for purchases.
Technically, you can split the cost of membership with a friend, but you can’t give them their own card.
However, it is possible to plan your shopping trips together and your friend can reimburse you for your share of the items.
COSTCO PRICE ADJUSTMENT POLICY
Cost will adjust the price of any item purchased at full price and recently went on sale both in-store and online, said personal finance expert and CEO of Fluent in Finance Andrew Lokenauth.
“If your item went on sale within 30 days of purchase, you can return the item or receipt and get a refund for the difference in price.”
It can be difficult to monitor Costco prices every time you buy an item, but doing so for larger purchases could help you save money.
PURCHASE OF FRESH PRODUCTS IN BULK
“It’s very tempting to stock up on fresh produce in bulk at Costco, but if you’re a small household or just don’t have plans on how to use it all, you may want to reconsider,” Ramhold warned.
Buying a lot of fruits and vegetables may seem like a good idea right now, but you’ll be wasting your money if you end up throwing that food away because it’s gone bad.
Ramhold suggests coming up with a plan before heading to Costco.
If you plan on eating a big salad every day and buying produce in bulk seems to make sense, be sure to ask yourself if you’ll be able to finish it all before it expires.
It can be good to split bulk food with a friend or family member so you can both take advantage of great prices and not worry about food waste.
ONLY BUY AT YOUR LOCAL STORE
While Costco stores are large and have hundreds of items to choose from, focusing only on what your local store carries could cause you to miss out.
“Costco.com has a ton of things that may not be in your local store, including different styles of clothing, food, electronics and more,” said Ramhold.
“You’ll get so much more out of your membership by shopping both in person and online; be sure to regularly check the ‘New Arrivals’ and ‘While Supplies Last’ sections of the website.
“They feature new products that the company has just started selling, as well as price drops on items that they may be trying to liquidate.”
IGNORE GIFT CARDS
This doesn’t just refer specifically to Costco gift cards, but to gift cards that are available to other companies.
“Costco offers discount gift card bundles, and depending on the restaurant or store, you can save 15 to 25 percent off the face value of the cards,” Ramhold said.
“For example, last year I bought $200 in gift cards for Texas from Brazil [split up into 4 $50 cards] for $150.
“It’s also not uncommon to see $100 worth of gift cards that cost between $70 and $80, depending on the restaurant or store they’re for.”
DO NOT USE THE RETURN POLICY
It’s not a good idea to abuse Costco’s generous return policy, but don’t forget to use it when you need it.
Costco sells large quantities of their food all the time, but they don’t want shoppers to think they can’t try new things.
That’s why the retailer allows shoppers to return anything at any time, including food that has been opened.
You can even return your membership, however there are a couple of exceptions, but Costco is known for its unmatched customer service.