(Updated 8/25/17) I recently stumbled upon a Reddit forum with some great advice for Costco shoppers looking to maximize their membership. Smart Costco shoppers have definitely figured out the best times to shop and how to smartly navigate the warehouse in order to save time and money. And guess what? They’re happily sharing the info with all of us so we can save money too. Here are the key insider tips when it comes to saving money shopping at Costco.
8 Ways to Save Money & Time at Costco:
1. Shop on the Right Day and Time
Avoid weekends as they’re typically a madhouse. The best time to shop, and avoid the crowd, is during the week about an hour or two after they open.
According to Cormath, a Costco employee, “In my experience it slows down a bit about an hour to an hour and half after open at my warehouse. Big rush at first then it dies down until people start getting off work.”
2. Short on Time?
A Reddit user by the name of Stakesandwich had great advice for those who are in a hurry when shopping at Costco. “I look mad, walk fast, and don’t go near the popular sample stations with the cart.
I know where everything is, I stick to the outside when possible, and if I need to squeeze between two sample stations to get something like cheese I leave the cart a row over and just walk through people.” Great tips.
3. Check out Google Maps for Specific Info
From another Reddit user, “While all the anecdotal times posted are helpful to grasp the gist of when to possibly go. I suggest you head to Google Maps on your phone, search your specific Costco and scroll down in the details area.
There will be a graph of the busiest times right there set to whatever the day is. Use that to adjust your times for when you find slow times to that specific store.”
4. Never Shop Alone
From Sadsauces, “I shop with two people at Costco, no exceptions. One person mans and drives the cart, maneuvering it into a good “dock” position in whatever section of the store.
The second person is a runner, fulfilling the needs of the almighty list. Get a friend and go.”
5. Looking for Free Samples?
The only reason to go on weekends is for the free samples as that’s when they’re in full-force. Just do it early in the morning if you can as the warehouse will be much less crowded.
Even better, try shopping on a Sunday morning. According to user 4077, “On Sunday mornings before Church lets out. Lots of samples and by the time I’m leaving, it’s starting to fill.”
6. Never Wait for Free Samples
According to Reddit user Thrashertm, “Protip #1 – don’t wait in line for a sample; it’s very gauche. Better to do your shopping and potentially circle back if you REALLY need a taste of that jalapeño popper.
Your time is worth more than 10 minutes standing in line. Protip #2 – you can hit up the samples more than once if you are nice to the samplers. The servers don’t care.”
7. Membership Not Required to Shop
From the same Reddit user quoted above, “You don’t need a membership actually. They sell gift cards, which can grant you access to the store. A friend can buy them for you and even reload it for you online – http://www.costco.com/cash-cards-gift-certificates.html”
Be aware that when using a Costco cash card you’ll be hit with a 5% surcharge on purchases from Costco.com. This applies to non-members only.
8. Eat The $1.50 Hot Dog Meal Before You Shop
The old adage of never shopping hungry absolutely holds true at Costco. Because of this, several Reddit users chimed in with the tip of stopping by the food court before you do your shopping and get your grub on.
By doing so, you’ll probably end up with less items in your cart if you have a hard time ignoring the growling coming from your stomach.
Ask the Reader: How do you save money at Costco and maximize your annual membership in the process?
By Kyle James
Photo by Mike Mozart.