Shopping at Costco always seems like a treasure hunt. Plenty of bargains can be found, but if you don’t buy them when you spot them, they may be gone when you return.
Amid all of those bargains are some tactics the membership club uses to get members to spend more. If it seems like every time you walk into Costco that you can’t walk out without spending at least $100, then you may have fallen victim to its enticements.
Here are five ways Costco tries to get you to spend more:
Buying Stuff In Bulk That You Don’t Need
We know how those jugs of olive oil can look enticing when you’re pushing a huge shopping cart by. If you cook with olive oil almost daily it can like a deal you don’t want to pass up.
But do you really need two liters of it? Or the oversized bags of fruits and vegetables, large containers of milk and two dozen eggs?
Everything has a shelf life, even olive oil. If you don’t have enough people in your home to eat all of that fruit you just bought, or you won’t eat a huge bag of spinach within a week, then you’re throwing money away.
Freeze what you can, but know that the quality of frozen food will degrade over time too.
Wandering Aimlessly For Treasure
Like any kind of shopping, having a list and knowing what you’re shopping for before you enter the door is key to saving money.
This can be difficult at Costco. Its stores are huge and sturdy walking shoes are needed to make a complete circuit to see everything you want to see.
Shopping at Costco is a natural treasure hunt, with incredible deals on things you didn’t even know you needed before you got there unveiling themselves in any aisle. The layout is designed to get you to walk by prominent displays again and again while on your way to staples such as water and toilet paper in the back corner.
Another tactic is to move common items every few months so you have to search for them. You’ll then pass by high-money items again that will raise your interest.
Don’t fall for it. Stick to your shopping list.
The food court is an obvious place to stop and take a break. The food and drinks are cheap for a reason: to get you to stay. If you can put this off until after you’ve checked out, you’ll save money.
Other rest areas are put up next to areas that aren’t selling so well. Lawn furniture, couches, recliners and other samples of furniture you can buy are often put in the middle of the store to give you a place to sit down for a few minutes and get our energy back before shopping again.
Lawn furniture will likely be next to other seasonal items such as gardening tools and outdoor lighting fixtures. If you’re not going to buy a lawn chair set, then maybe a garden gnome will interest you.
Americans love to find the best deal on a gallon of gas, even if it means driving across town to get it.
Costco often beats other gas stations in pricing, and offers the same quality gasoline that name-brand gas stations do.
Saving a few bucks to fill up your gas tank is enticing. And since you’ve waited half an hour in line to get gas, and you’re already next to the Costco parking lot, what’s the harm in stopping in at the store to have a look around?
A lot if you don’t have a shopping list.
Making You Think You Have to Be a Member
A Costco membership card is needed to get in the front door and to check out at the register. Without one a customer service representative will have to look up your membership number and give you a one-day card for your shopping trip.
But there are workarounds that Costco approves of as a way to let non-members see inside and shop so that they hopefully become paid members.
Household members such as family members or roommates can get a free “household” membership card as long as one person at the address is a paid member.
You can also go with a friend and use their Costco card to shop. Each member can bring two guests per visit.
However, non-members can’t pay for their purchases. The member they’re with must pay, and you can pay them back later.
Another workaround to joining Costco is to get a friend who is a member to buy you a Costco cash card. Give them $200 cash, for example, and they can buy you a reloadable $200 Costco card that’s the same as cash in the store. You don’t have to be a member to use it, and it can also be used at the Costco gas pump.