People love going to Costco to stock up on their favorite items. The warehouses are always filled with people, especially over a weekend when they try and get the best deal they can. However, there is more to it than you think, and it’s not always the best deal after all. Here are some of the best and worst things to stock up on at Costco.
Bad Deal – Kirkland Laundry Detergent
Due to its lower price, Kirkland laundry detergent seems like a no brainer good deal. However, that’s not the case. While you will indeed be saving money when you buy it, the fact that it is a low-quality detergent means that it will damage your clothes, and eventually result in you spending more money to replace them. It’s also bad for the environment and has been linked to causing allergies as well as asthma and various other respiratory problems.
Good Deal – Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is an expensive item as everyone knows. Most restaurants offset this cost by using syrup that is filled with corn syrup. Sadly, this doesn’t taste anything like the real deal. However, Kirkland produces its own Pure Maple Syrup. What makes this so good is the low price tag and the large size of the bottle makes this a fantastic choice.
Bad Deal – Books
For all the avid readers out there, the only thing the Costco book aisle is really good for is browsing. Even though Costco’s prices would be lower, retailers like Amazon still remain your best bet. There are also many bookstores that specialize in used books which can offer you wonderful prices.
Good Deal – Toilet Paper
While the size of the rolls might be rather large and the 30-roll pack does take up a lot of space, this is still one of the best things you can buy. Not only is their toilet paper (and their paper towels) incredibly soft but they have a wonderfully low price tag. This is a buy you won’t regret.
Good Deal – Olive Oil
Since olive oil is used in most forms of cooking, it’s definitely something that you want to keep in your kitchen. Costco not only offers great value on their larger sizes, but their olive oil is extra-virgin, organic, and very high-quality. This makes it truly great value for money.
Bad Deal – Ground Coffee
For most people, it is almost impossible to start their day without a steaming cup of coffee. That’s why you might be surprised, and possibly even disappointed, to discover that buying ground coffee at Costco isn’t a good idea. While you can buy it in large quantities, you will unfortunately be sacrificing the taste. Once coffee beans have been ground the air they are exposed to will cause it to start losing its flavor and strength. For that reason, the large sizes are not such a great buy and you will be better served by buying a smaller jar.
Good Deal – Gas
Even if the only thing a Costco membership gave you access to was their gas stations, you would be well served in having a membership. The price of fuel at a Costco gas station is so good that you should ensure that you fill up while you are there.
Bad Deal – Kirkland Light Beer
Even though Costco offers their own Kirkland Light Beer, you would be better served by going for the bigger brand names such as Guinness, Corona, or Budweiser. The reason for this is because unfortunately, Costco’s brewing is sub-par, making this one deal you might want to pass up instead.
Good Deal – Frozen Fruits
Due to the fact that frozen produce can last for a long time, you might want to invest in a second freezer. The longevity of frozen produce makes it one of the best items to buy in bulk. Don’t only stock up on fruit, however. You might want to consider stocking up on vegetables too.
Bad Deal – Fresh Fruits And Veggies
We have to admit, this is a tricky one. While buying your family’s favorite fruits in bulk may seem like the best bet, the truth is, you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Especially in regard to fruits and veggies not in season, local grocery stores often have better deals.
Good Deal – Spices
Much like ground coffee, spices also don’t have a very long shelf life. While they don’t go bad, they will lose their flavor and strength over time. If you are like most people who only cook for 2 to 4 people, you might want to stick to buying the smaller jars of spices.
Good Deal – Vanilla
Although spices do lose flavor over time, vanilla doesn’t. Costco’s large size bottle of vanilla extract is definitely a good investment, especially to have in the pantry for spontaneous cookie baking!
Bad Deal – Tissues
While most brands do the trick for any old sneeze, a cold requires heavy-duty, good quality tissues. Although buying tissues in bulk is financially beneficial, you’ll be skimping on the quality. Kirkland tissues are quite thin and rough, the opposite of what a runny nose needs.
Good Deal – Tires
Not only will you score your winter and summer tires at a discounted rate, but you’ll also get high-quality service. This is the reason customers count on Costco’s Tire Centre for all of their needs. Even people who aren’t members chose the warehouse to buy their new treads.
Bad Deal – Soda
While you may want to buy your soft drinks at the same time as your other food, you’ll save money if you head to your local grocery store instead. The soft drink shelves always have sale stickers plastered on them, so keep an eye out!
Bad Deal – Diapers
Parents know all too well how expensive little ones are. Diapers alone can drain your wallet in seconds. While it may make the most sense to buy large quantities, the box can be quite heavy, and you’ll go through them pretty quickly. Amazon has awesome discounts on diapers, especially if you buy them in bulk. Free delivery also ensures you won’t have to lug the big box.
Good Deal – Breakfast Cereal
From adults to toddlers, everyone seems to love cereal. Costco has been one of the best retailers to purchase cereal for a while now, and that fact remains today. Popular brands like Post and Kellogg’s are offered at discounted rates, and the large boxes are hard to beat. Cereal has a long shelf life, so don’t worry about losing freshness. We do recommend, however, that you refrain from opening them until you intend to eat, otherwise they’ll lose crunchiness after a few weeks.
Good Deal – Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap brands like Kirkland and Vitawrap are a must-buy at Costco. You’ll be able to store these boxes away for years, and you’ll need to thanks to the enormous quantity! Not only does this paper work on almost every surface, but it is also the cheapest on the market.
Bad Deal – Shampoo Or Soap
Soaps and shampoos are similar to soft drinks in that they are almost always discounted at supermarkets. You shouldn’t pay full price for these products, and unfortunately, Costco doesn’t offer much of a discount. Buying during a sale at any other store is the way to go.
Good Deal – Oatmeal
Costco’s 60-packet of Instant Oatmeal is a way better buy than at any grocery store. On average you’ll save nearly $10 when buying this amount at Costco versus at your local supermarket. You’ll just need the space to store the big box.
Good Deal – Healthy Bite-Sized Snacks
Healthy food can be expensive and is therefore not accessible to everyone. Costco offers nutritious foods at low costs, especially their best-selling Aussie Bites that run $12 for 32 bites.
Good Deal – Cashews
Unfortunately, nuts are expensive wherever you go. Buying in large quantities can at least save you some money in the long run. Costco’s reclosable lid is a smart feature that ensures these cashews stay fresh for a long time.
Bad Deal – Condiments
Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise don’t really have a shelf life, they stay fresh and tasty practically forever. But, once opened, they do need to be refrigerated. Fitting these large containers in the fridge door will be a workout in and of itself.
Bad Deal – Salsa
This salsa jar Costco sells is definitely party size! The large amount makes it great for a get-together, but for the rare chips and salsa eater, the smaller jar is your best bet. Costco’s ginormous version will spoil before you get halfway through.
Good Deal – Snacks
Pre-packaged snacks are great for kid’s lunch boxes and for on-the-go people. Costco has everything you need, from the sweet to the salty, and everything in between. The big boxes are financially profitable and very practical if you find yourself stocking up on yummy snacks often.
Good Deal – Vitamins
Drugs and vitamins can be quite pricey, and we often pay for the brand name, when the product is the same as the store brand. Kirkland brand vitamins are the exact same as any other, you’ll just get them in a large bottle and pay half the price. Talk about a win-win situation!
Good Deal – Batteries
Most of us use gadgets powered by batteries daily. Unfortunately, this source of energy and power comes at a steep price. Next time you go to the warehouse, be sure to fill your cart with some Duracell batteries. Kirkland also has its very own batteries, and they’re actually made by Duracell.
Good Deal – Milk
If you and your clan can easily get through a gallon of Kirkland’s milk before it spoils, then go for it! If you see websites advising you buy elsewhere, it’s only because of the large quantity. If you know you’ll be able to finish it all, then it’s totally worth it.
Good Deal – Coffee Cups
It is advised to steer clear of individual coffee portions for environmental reasons, but they are rather convenient and economical for those who live on their own. Costco’s individual cups are quite inexpensive compared to other brands, and they taste just as good!
Good Deal – Rotisserie Chicken
Costco’s $5 rotisserie chicken is the company’s best-selling product, and it’s been that way for years now. The chicken is cooked and ready to eat, and its large size will be enough to feed the entire clan. If you have too much chicken and not enough mouths to feed, feel free to throw the rest in the fridge for a later date.
Bad Deal – Toothpaste
Toothpaste is one of those products that is almost always on sale. Although Costco does offer big tubes with a few tubes in a pack, you’ll score better deals in the supermarket or pharmacy.
Good Deal – Peanut Butter
Every member of the family enjoys peanut butter…even the dog! The family size jar will save you money, and ensure you never run out. Peanut butter never goes bad, and the same goes for almond butter….so stock up on both!
Good Deal – Bagels
Coscto offers their own brand of bagels…and they’re delicious! The 2-pack comes at a low cost and you’ll have a handful of flavors to choose from. Whatever you don’t eat within the first week of purchase can be frozen for a later date.
Bad Deal – Kirkland Almond Milk
Costco also has great options for those who can’t or choose not to drink milk. We do recommend, however, that you choose Almond Breeze almond milk as opposed to the Kirkland brand. Although Costco’s version is organic, it’s ingredient list is lacking and it doesn’t taste very good.
Good Deal – Tahini
Tahini makes for a great salad dressing, and it’s crucial when making hummus. Like many other things, the sesame paste is pretty expensive, so it’s a good idea to buy at Costco in bulk size. Be sure to keep it in the fridge after opening.
Good Deal – Bacon
Costco’s Kirkland sliced bacon surprisingly has a very good rating from customers. The only negatives noted were the amount you need to buy at one time. Not to mention, it has a great price no other store can beat.
Good Deal – Bacon Crumbles
While bacon is great, it’s also good to have bacon crumbles. They take no effort and can go on anything, transforming any dish to something completely different – in an amazing way!
Good Deal – Fresh eggs
There are two benefits to buying eggs at Costco – the prices are great, and so is the variety. “They have a surprising level of choice when it comes to eggs,” a customer said. You can find anything from conventional eggs to free-range.
Good Deal – Hot dogs And Soda At The Food Court
Pizza has been rated as the best item in Costco’s food court, however, there are a lot of regulars who think the hot-dog-and-soda deal is the best. The snack even has its own fansite. Not to mention, Business Insider has named it “the best hot dog in America”.
Good Deal – The Acai Bowl At The Food Court
Another food court item to buy at Costco for cheap is the acai bowl. It’s plant-based and only costs $5. What a bargain! People loved it so much that it made headlines in the summer all across the country.
Good Deal – Cheese
Costco’s cheese aisle is heaven for any cheese loves. They have a large variety, and of course, it’s all fairly priced. The amount you get for under $20 can easily feed three to four dinner parties over a couple of weeks.
Bad Deal – Signateur Gas Grill
While Costco does offer this gas grill for about half the price you’d normally pay for a Weber grill, people have said this one isn’t built so well. Not to mention, it could be hard to find replacement parts for it.
Good Deal – Organic berries
One exception from the fresh produce rule is organic berries. If they’re in season, you can find a great deal on the berries. Of course, berries have great health benefits, and they can be pretty pricey.
Bad Deal – Flour, Baking Powder, And Dried Yeast
Baking ingredients like flour, baking powder, and dried yeast have a limited shelf life. People have cautioned buying these items in bulk since they can go bad rather quickly. So skip the big purchase and buy them in smaller amounts.
Good Deal – Kirkland Organic Coconut Water
If you like drinking a lot of coconut water, you’ll want to get a 12-pack of Kirkland organic coconut water. It has a lot of five-star reviews online and is priced very fairly. This amount will keep you for a while, too.
Good Deal – Verka Organic Yogurt
You can buy a 64-ounce tub of Verka organic yogurt for just a bit more than you’d pay for a 16-ounce yogurt at the grocery store. Surprisingly, this product has a long shelf life, and the taste is comparable to other whole-milk products. This yogurt was given a good rating from the Cornucopia Institute, which promotes family farming. While you have other yogurt choices at Costco, this is the best one.
Bad Deal – Las Fortunitas Tortilla Chips
If the Costco near you sells Las Fortunitas chips – those that come in a bag the size of a garbage bag – skip them. This isn’t because of the price. The bag costs less than $6, which is an incredible deal. It’s not the taste either – these chips are good. It’s because you most likely will never finish the whole bag. Even if you buy them for a party, you’re probably going to have half of the 5-pound bag left-over. On top of that, Fooducate gave these chips a B-minus rating since they contain hydrogenated oils.
Good Deal – Kerrygold Butter
There are several brands of butter sold at Costco, and the organic Kirkland brand is one of them. If you want high-quality butter, foodies have said to prefer Kerrygold. It’s made with milk from grass-fed cows.
Good Deal – Kirkland Vodka
While buying any kind of alcohol at Costco is good, you get the best deal for vodka. Costco’s house-brand vodka is good enough that some people think it might be Grey Goose undercover. There are even sites that did a taste test of Costco vodkas against some name brands, and Kirkland’s French vodka came out on top.
Bad Deal – Hearing Aids
While hearing aids are a big expense, they might not be covered by insurance. Well, Costco sells them for cheap. Even though they have a good price, you should think twice about buying a hearing aid at Costco. People have reported that some of the branches have poor service. Not to mention, some locations might not have the correct equipment to properly adjust the hearing aid. Cheap hearing aids are definitely not worth the money if they don’t work well.
Good Deal – Prescription Glasses
Buying prescription eyeglasses can be expensive, especially if you need special lenses of any kind. One solution to this problem is buying glasses online, but getting the fit and correct number can be a problem in that case. Costco’s optometry department is actually a good solution for this problem, believe it or not. You can have your eyes tested in the store or bring your prescription from somewhere else. Also, if you don’t have insurance, Costco Optical could be your best bet. Costco members also get special online discounts for glasses and contact lenses.
Good Deal – Wedding Floral Arrangements
Costco has been recommended for couples who are both adventurous and money-concious. You can buy bouquets of flowers and even full wedding arrangements to make your wedding a memorable occasion, all while saving money. Costco’s flowers can cost around $449.
Good Deal – Luggage
While their selection might not be so large, Costco does have good quality suitcases for great prices. In fact, Clark Deals has included Costco on its list of places to shop for luggage bargains. It also suggested you keep an eye out for monthly coupons that could save you a lot of money.
Bad Deal – Name-brand Clothing
When you see designer clothing at Costco, beware. It’s most likely to be lower quality than what you’d find at the original store. The chances are that the manufacturer cut corners for its Costco offering. If you like the clothing you see, buy it. Just don’t expect the quality to be the same as the brand name. You might get better name-brand bargains at stores like Marshalls.
Good Deal – Shirts And Pants For Work
While designer clothing might not be a good thing to buy at Costco, regular work shirts and pants are actually a favorite among customers. On the Red Flag Deals forum, one commenter said: “All my work shirts are Kirkland shirts. High-end tailored shirts aside, I think the Kirkland stuff is the best value on the market, just as good quality (sometimes better) as what you get at The Bay or mid-range stores.”
Good Deal – Athleisure Clothes
If you’re looking for clothing to wear to your yoga or spin class, or if you like wearing athletic clothes for the stylish aspect, you should check out Costco. One blog, Tough Nickel, said the options at Costco are a great bargain.
Good Deal – Underwear
Even though there were some reviews complaining about the problems with the elastic on Costco’s men’s briefs, most were more than happy about the comfort and prices of Costco’s underwear. The reviews on Costco’s site are five stars for the most part.
Good Deal – Flu Shots
Customer reports have found that Costco has the lowest price for flu shots. If you’re paying for the shot yourself, Costco is a great place to get it. You can also get other shots there, including those for pneumonia and HPV.
Good Deal – TVs
If you have your eye on a specific TV you’re looking to buy, you might not find it at Costco. If you’re flexible, you can probably find a set that will work for you at Costco. When you buy a TV there, aside from getting a great price, you get an extended two-year warranty.
Good Deal – Golf Balls
When you think of buying golf gear, Costco probably doesn’t come to mind. However, since the warehouse came out with a Kirkland-brand golf ball. golfers have been pretty happy. In testing Kirkland balls, Golfalot has found that they compare well with premium golf balls.
Bad Deal – Electronics
You can never know what you might come across while browsing at Costco. Even though most shoppers go there for groceries, it won’t be long before they get distracted by the sections of books, clothing, accessories, and more. However, the electronics section is without a doubt the most difficult section to pass by without looking at a few things. While all those flashing lights on the TVs, the best vacuums on display, and all those appliances look amazing, they’re normally not. Researchers have found that other electronics stores that don’t require a yearly membership offer better deals for the same exact products.
Good Deal – Nuts
Luckily for Costco shoppers, the warehouse store has pretty much any kind of nuts you can possibly want. All of them also come in gigantic packages. However, whoever knows a little bit about nuts knows how expensive they can be. At Costco, they’re reasonably priced and come in resealable packages to keep them fresh.
Bad Deal – Kirkland Signature Paper Towels
Just like buying a pack of 30 toilet paper rolls, you’d think buying paper towels in bulk is a good idea. In some ways, it is. But if someone is buying a pack of 30 Kirkland Signature Paper Towels, that might not be a good idea. According to a study done, Kirkland was third out of the four brands tested. In addition, in a Consumer Reports study of the top five paper towel brands, Kirkland was dead last. Their paper towels are too thin to clean up tougher messes.
Good Deal – Pills
For both prescription and over-the-counter pills, your best bet is Costco. Consumer Reports has done a study comparing prices at 150 pharmacies across the United States and found that Costco was the obvious best choice in terms of price.
Bad Deal – Sunscreen
Sunscreen will only last up to three years before losing its effectiveness. If you buy a multipack from Costco, be sure to check the expiration date and know that you’ll be able to use it up in time. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money away.
Bad Deal – Disposable Razors
Despite the fact that it seems like buying a big box of disposable razors seems like a great deal, you can actually find better prices at Walmart than Costco. While Costco sells 14 Kirkland razors for $23 ($1.64 per razor), you can find 10 Gillette disposable razors at Walmart for $7.97 ($0.80 per razor). That’s almost half the price!
Good Deal – Uncooked Cookies
Not many people know this, but at Costco, you can buy cookies and other uncooked pastries for much less money. Go to the bakery counter and ask them for a box – they’ll gladly give it to you. Doing this will save you a whole lot of money. A box of 21 cookies normally costs $7.99, but if you get a box of uncooked cookies, you can get as many as 120 for $22.99!
Bad Deal – Rice
Many shopping experts have said that Costco is not the best place to buy rice, especially Jasmine. When one frequent Costco shopper did some research, she realized that the rice sold at her Costco was as much as 35% more expensive. This was compared to the same product sold at a local Asian market. There were some cases in which the same amount of rice was $40 at Costco while it was just $14 at a small shop.
Bad Deal – Dried Pasta
While buying dried pasta at Costco won’t make you lose all your money, there are better places to go to get better prices for pasta. According to comparisons, Walmart and Trader Joe’s both have pastas that cost less at any given time.
Bad Deal – DVDs
If you’re still buying DVDs for some reason, just avoid doing so at Costco. Unsurprisingly, Amazon beats Costco when it comes to DVD prices. It doesn’t hurt that they also ship the discs directly to your house.
Bad Deal – Gel Dishwasher Detergent
On Consumer Reports, it’s been said that “The Kirkland Signature Gel is one of our lowest-rated detergents.” They continued: “It struggled with dishes, pots and pans, and resistance to water spots.”
Bad Deal – Canned Goods
You aren’t going to find the best deals on canned goods at Costco. Other stores sell the same canned goods for anywhere from 20% to 40% less per unit – especially when there is a sale going on at the time.
Bad Deal – Body Lotions
Again, using coupons is key when it comes to saving money on your favorite lotions. If you wait for the best coupons and the right sales, you’ll easily be able to get the same lotions offered at Costco for a lower price at other retailers.
Bad Deal – Protein Bars
If you haven’t even tasted Costco’s signature brand protein bars, why would you want to buy 40 of them and risk not liking them? Not to mention, Costco sells their protein bars for about $1 per bar. If you buy Pure Protein bars in bulk on Amazon, you can buy them for less at just $0.90 per bar.
Bad Deal – Whole Grains
Did you know that whole grains contain oils? They can be found in the grain’s bran and germ and can make them go bad quickly. The same goes for nuts and seeds. While the oils are removed during the processing of grains like white rice, they stay attached to the grain and can make them go bad.
Bad Deal – Jerky
Since beef jerky is preserved with salt and other spices, you’d think it stays fresh for a long time, no? Well, no. The snack, whether it’s chicken, beef, or turkey, has to be refrigerated after opening. Most jerky packages say that it should be eaten within three days of opening and stored in the fridge. Even in the refrigerator, jerky will only last about a week or two. For this reason, you’re better off sticking to smaller packages.
Bad Deal – Hummus
Unless you plan on throwing a party, you won’t need as much hummus as a Costco-sized tub will give you. Get a smaller sized container from a traditional grocery store in order to prevent food waste.
Bad Deal – Printer Paper
If you don’t print a lot at home or if you’re shopping for your office, office supply stores usually have better deals on paper than Costco. You can find paper and supplies for rock-bottom prices at stores like Staples with good coupons or during back-to-school time.
Good Deal – Gift Cards
At Costco, you can find gift cards for major retailers at a 15%-30% discount. You might also be able to find a deal on two different gift cards together. Whether you’re looking to buy someone a gift or need a gift card for something else, this is a great way to save money.
Good Deal – Wine
Over the years, Costco has gained a reputation for selling high-quality wines at lower prices than other retailers. The store even has its own signature Kirkland label that is produced by many renowned wineries.
Good Deal – Meat and Poultry
At Costco, the club price is lower than the supermarket’s normal price and the grade of beef is higher as well. Also, if you buy a large amount of meat, you can always divide it all up and then freeze it in portions for later.
Good Deal – Kirkland Animal Crackers
If you’re feeding your kids or just looking for a tasty snack, Kirkland Signature Organic Animal Crackers are great. They come in a 64-ounce barrel for $9.99. Other supermarket chains sell the same product for the same price, only you get 4 ounces less.
Good Deal – Kirkland Honey
At Costco, you’ll find its Kirkland Signature brand 100% U.S. raw, unfiltered honey in 3-pound jars. They cost only $8.99. At other places, you can find 2-pound jars of raw, unfiltered honey for $12.99.
Good Deal – Kirkland Italian Sparkling Water
If you enjoy sparkling water, you might often go for the classic San Pellegrino. However, Costco stacks cases of its Kirkland Signature Italian Sparkling Mineral Water right next to Pellegrino for a reason. There is no major taste difference, only a price difference. A case of 24 16.9-ounce bottles of Kirkland sparkling water will cost you $12.99 while a smaller case of Pellegrino will cost $16.99.
Good Deal – Kirkland Vitamin Water
You might not know it, but the fruit-flavored, no-calorie and mineral-rich Kirkland Signature Vita Rain Zero are incredibly similar to Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero. Both are sold at Costco, mind you, but there is practically no taste difference. Of course, there is a significant price difference. Kirkland’s 24-count variety pack of 20-ounce Vita Rain Zero costs $9.99. A case of Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero cost $15.99.