10 Ways You Should Make The Most Of Your Costco Membership

Make the most of your wholesale membership with some tricks from TikTok.

It finally happened! You got your Costco membership! Awaiting you are wonders beyond your wildest dreams. But Costco can also be an overwhelming place. There's security at the door to ensure only members can enjoy the wonderland. There are aisles upon aisles upon aisles of things you don't really need, and the items you actually need are seemingly hidden in the strangest places. There are people swirling everywhere around you expertly filling their carts to the brim. It's a lot to take in, but with these tips from a fellow Costco newbie (me) and Costco-loving TikTokers, you've got this.

Come camera ready

Security at Costco is pretty tight. That little card that you've been craving? It includes your picture to make sure you are who you say you are and not some wholesale bandit. That means you'll need to get a photo snapped on day one that will be emblazoned on your Costco card for eternity (or at least until you need to get a new one). If you're a person who cares about such things, make sure you arrive looking sharp.

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Always get the Costco hot dog

The hot dog and soda combo at the Costco food court has been $1.50 for the last 36 years, and according to TikTokers like @humphreytalks, that won't be changing anytime soon. You're part of the cool club now, so you should absolutely take advantage of this deal. Plus, having something to snack on while you shop will keep you from hunger-splurging on a 150-pack of oatmeal that you don't really need.

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Use your first trip to take it all in

Yes, it's exciting to be here, but that doesn't mean you need to stock up on everything on your first trip. If you're going strictly on impulse, you might spend $400 on just snacks like @jackie_fern did.

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Instead, on your first visit spend time just walking through the aisles to see all Costco has to offer and write down items that look appealing to you before taking the plunge. When crafting your list, take space into consideration: Will you have room for everything in your cart, car, and, most importantly, home? Also, Costco won't bag your groceries for you—do you have enough totes or other receptacles to carry everything?

When you're done thinking through everything you need, you can section out the list into different trips. Just because you can get everything you'll ever need at Costco all at once doesn't mean you should.

Never Costco alone

Making a Costco trip by oneself is pretty daunting—that's probably why every card-carrying member is allowed to bring one guest along. Don't be afraid to go halfsies: If you're not already splitting the cost of the annual membership with someone, you can at least split the shopping bill with a friend. Many of the deals are packaged in pairs anyway (jumbo two-packs of things seem to be a Costco specialty), so it's easy to go in on items together and divvy them up afterward. Even larger bulk items like 24-packs of toilet paper tend to be individually wrapped within each giant package.

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Pay attention to the price tags

TikToker @james.lasvegas has plenty of useful Costco tips on his page, and this one might be one of the most important: Different signs at Costco subtly indicate different things about each product.

  • A green sign means that a product is organic.
  • An asterisk next to the price lets you know that an item will soon no longer be sold at that store, so if it's something you love, better stock up.
  • If the price itself ends with a ".99" that means that item is currently being sold at full price. I'd skip those .99 items and see if the price goes down on your next trip.

Think beyond groceries

We all know that you can get a giant pack of toilet paper, cheap rotisserie chicken, and boxes and boxes of snacks at Costco. But part of what makes it such a magical place is what the store offers beyond those staple items. You can buy furniture, clothing, computers, and eyewear at Costco, too. (Hell, you can even gas up your car, depending on the location.)

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@Costcohotfinds keeps an eye out for cool and unusual items spotted at the store and even provides the item number so you can find it at your local Costco. She's seen everything from hot tubs and greenhouses to children's play sets and patio heaters.

Embrace the Kirkland lifestyle

There's a reason Costco put all its eggs in the Kirkland Signature basket. The house brand has become nothing short of iconic, not just because of its recognizable label but because the products are actually good. TikTok user @Vasseurbeauty points out that there's a reason for that quality: The same companies that make major name-brand products also make many of Kirkland's items. The batteries, for example, are manufactured by Duracell, the diapers by Huggies, the vodka by Grey Goose—the list goes on. Before long, you'll forget those other, pricier brands even exist.

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Prepare for sticker shock on your first Costco run

Yes, the whole point of Costco is that you're getting things for cheap. But the reason you're able to get those great deals is by buying in bulk. There are not many Costco trips that end without the shopper spending $200-$300; our TikTok friend @leondenayoungblood spent close to $1,000 filling up three carts.

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While it might ultimately be more than you would spend on a typical grocery run, never forget to take into consideration the amount of items you're heading home with and how few future grocery runs you'll need. Heads up: Have that receipt ready as you leave. Costco associates double-check that baby against your cart to make sure you weren't overcharged for your items.

Keep an eye out for price matching

On top of Costco having one of the most generous return policies of any store (you can return pretty much anything), there's another pricing policy that makes this store superior. If you buy something from Costco, then go back a couple weeks later and find that the item is drastically cheaper than when you picked it up, fear not! Thanks to @erikakullberg we now know that Costco does price matching, and you can request a price adjustment for something you already bought as long as the price change occurred within 30 days of purchase. The refund comes in the form of a Costco gift card, not cold hard cash, but let's be real, you're only spending your money at Costco now anyway.

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Have fun!

Costco is like Disneyland for adults and should be treated as such. Make a whole day of it! Bring a friend! Eat a hot dog! Drink a soda! Take pictures! When you have a Costco membership, shopping is no longer a chore. It's now a magical experience. As long as you don't try to go on a Saturday.

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