Curious About Costco? 10 Ways to Maximise Your Membership

Costco, the American supermarket giant, is making its way across Australia, having just opened its seventh store in Adelaide.
We’ve put together our top ten ways to maximise your Costco membership and make sure your next visit to the wholesale giant will leave you with more dollars back in your pocket.

Are you a Costco rookie? Then you probably don’t know that to take advantage of the incredible warehouse prices you must sign up and pay for membership. Paying for membership to spend more money may seem like a ridiculous concept at first but our shopping experts [AKA mums] have worked out that it’s very, very worth it. Just follow these top tips and start saving!

Firstly though, here’s 5 quick pointers to set the scene:

  1. Membership is either $55 for a business or $60 for an individual and is valid for 12 months.
  2. Members receive a personalised membership card which you MUST bring with you each visit. You’ll have a photo taken which will be checked at checkout to confirm you’re the member so there’s no sneaky card swapping.
  3. If you want to check out the store without joining, take photo ID to the membership counter to get a visitor’s pass (which only allows you to look, not purchase)
  4. All purchases will be allocated on file to your membership so returns are easy! Lost the receipt? Don’t panic!  Simply  bring in the return and they’ll look up your purchase history to provide the proof of purchase. Easy!
  5. All payments by credit card  must be made by a card held in the member’s name, otherwise they can refuse to serve you.
Now to the great stuff! Plan properly, shop wisely and you will easily save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year when you shop!

The Top 10 Costco Tips

1. Research, Research, Research!

Do your research.  Before you shop for the first time, walk around and check out the prices of items.  Be aware of unit pricing and how the size and prices in Costco compare to other supermarkets or wholesalers.  Smartphones enable you to check prices online while you are in the Costco store, so make the most of them by checking against supermarket and online prices.  My favourite apps for this are Big W app, Amazon, Colesonline and plain ‘ole Googling!  Costco sells everything from milk to a $699,999 diamond ring (the ring includes flights to New York to pick up the ring by the way), and everything in between.   And no, you don’t have to buy all American brands to be able to save money.  Our local Adelaide store has plenty of SA and Australian made products.

2. Know the Code

Learn the Costco clearance codes.

  • Anything priced ending .99 is a regular price.
  • Price stickers with a * means the item is discontinued.
  • Prices ending .97 are reduced to clear.
  • Prices ending in .79 or .49 or similar are a manufacturer deal.
  • Prices ending in .00 or .88 are either returned items, manager markdowns or ‘one left’.  These will often be on trolleys around the store

3. Uncover the Treasure

Check their ‘treasure hunts’.  These are the items that aren’t stocked all the time and  are scattered throughout the store. They’ll usually hold great saving and will disappear as quickly as they arrive, so grab them when you see them.

BONUS TIP: You can even make money by selling these items online as they can be at a significant discount to RRP.

4. Divide and Conquer

Team up with a friend to buy in bulk, and split purchases.  Buy what you use every day, or non perishable items.  Toilet paper, nappies, pet food, cleaning products, sauces, garbage bags, you name it. Spend up now to save down the track!

5. Fill Up The Tank

Check petrol prices on a website like www.motormouth.com.au before you make a drive to Costco just for petrol.  You can even sign up to a daily fuel alert email.  We’ve seen as much as 30c per litre difference in prices at the pump at Costco compared to other metropolitan stations. It pays to fill up if it’s worth your while! Many travel to the Costco fuel outlet just to fill up, that alone is worth the effort with significantly reduced fuel prices.

6. Extended Warranty with a Twist

Use your Costco membership and 100% satisfaction guarantee like an extended warranty on items that tend to break right after the warranty expires.  As long as you have maintained continuous membership, you can return an item at any time.  So if your TV or remote stops working 1 month after your warranty expires, you can return it to Costco for a refund.   If you’re not sure if membership is for you, they’ve got you covered there too.  You can join up, then get a full refund on your membership if you find you’re not satisfied!

7. Know the Sales

Maximise your membership by knowing what other items are for sale: Tyres, Birthday cakes, platters, cigarettes, petrol and gift vouchers for movie tickets etc.

8. Food to Go

Buy yourself a hotdog and drink deal when you arrive (only $1.99).  Free drink refills means you can fill up before you wander the store, and fill up again before you leave!  Take home a pizza, pre-made salads or even a roast chicken (1.4kg Roast chicken for only $6.99!)

9. Shop Around the Globe

Since your membership is valid world-wide, check out the store at your destination for discounts on tourist spots, accommodation etc.  For example, you can check out items available at the US store on their website (www.costco.com). There are an amazing array of theme park entries and deals that will save you big bucks on your overseas holiday.

10. Connect Locally

Join or follow a blog (eg www.loadedtrolley.com.au) or social media group for your local Costco store.  You’ll find that your fellow Costco members love to share information and product reviews.  You can post questions about certain items, and they’ll even post when they find amazing clearance items or other treasures.   Eg Costco Adelaide Customers and ‘Costco in Brisbane Australia’ on Facebook.


Avatar of Rebekah

Rebekah Bholanat is a married mum of 3 with qualifications in Finance and Investment. Rebekah works part-time as a Banking Advisor and enjoys writing and helping to organise fundraising as a part of a community theatre group, the Ethelton Entertainers. She's most recently created the Costco Adelaide Customers Facebook Group after the recently launched Adelaide Warehouse opened in 2014.


  1. Avatar of Sammy

    Great article thanks Rebekah. I’d just like to point out for people in Adelaide that Costco Adelaide is open to the public also 🙂

    • Avatar of Sammy

      I should have said, obviously the public can’t buy, but they can look first!

        • Avatar of Katherine Michell
          Katherine Michell Reply

          All costcos on i think mon-thurs do a visitors pass so you can have a look around u camt buy but u can look

    • Avatar of Natalie

      I don’t think it is anymore Sammy. Initially they allowed non members in but I’m pretty sure they’ve stopped that now.

  2. Avatar of Louise

    I visted Adelaide Costco last week and lots of people were walking in without membership & just being told they could look but not purchase.

  3. Avatar of Bam Beeno

    And don’t forget, rampant wasteful consumerism is always available in bulk. With extra plastic.

  4. Avatar of Jarrad

    Couldn’t give a fly f about Costco, there’s plenty of good local stores here in adelaide that I’d rather support than an American based shit heap

  5. Avatar of Akka08

    Found it for Day 23. COSTCO already in Queensland. Generally cheaper petrol.

  6. Avatar of Beat Odermatt
    Beat Odermatt Reply

    Only very stupid people pay money to be allowed to shop. Costco is a great idea to liberate stupid people from their money.

  7. Avatar of celebrate labour day sale

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  8. Avatar of Odel

    Hi everyone,

    I found the products on Costco aren’t the same as in other stores. For example comparable same products were low quality in Costco compared to Chemist warehouse (ie: Toothpaste, Brushes). And the savings are quite minimal. If you live next door to Costco then its okay to shop there perhaps. But soon as you started travelling for Costco shopping over 5Km, then the worth goes close to a zero when compared to traditional Woolies or Coles. Also the fresh produce (Fish and Vege) are much cheaper in the Paddy’s than to Costco, also not to mention less chemicals and fresher. Costco produce I found to be fresh looking but when you eat you can feel something is not right – smell and taste is awkward. Not all the products, but I found for some fresh produce that’s the case. Anyway I’d say give a go, but you can get you full refund back of the membership if you don’t like. I personally gave up though.

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