5 Costco Shopping Mistakes to Avoid

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  • Costco is a great place to shop for quality items at low prices.
  • You could still end up regretting your purchases in some cases.
  • You'll want to be sure to avoid these Costco shopping mistakes, including choosing the wrong membership tier.

Don't go to Costco again without reading this.

Costco is a big-box store with lots of great features that members can take advantage of. You can score bargains on products, enjoy the samples the store has to offer, and shop for Costco's popular house-brand items.

While shopping at Costco can sometimes help you keep credit card bills down by allowing you to score deals, you want to be a smart buyer. And that means making sure to avoid these common Costco shopping mistakes.

1. Always defaulting to Kirkland brand products

Kirkland is Costco's house brand. In many cases, it is less expensive than name-brand alternatives. But that's not always the case. And while Kirkland-brand items are generally beloved, you can't necessarily assume that every single one is high quality.

To make sure you're truly getting the best deal, compare all of your options before you buy. Look at the unit price to really drill down into which products are the best bargain. And read reviews carefully before sinking a lot of money into Kirkland-brand items that aren't very good.

2. Choosing the wrong membership tier

Costco has several different membership tiers including Gold Star and Executive. Gold Star costs $60 per year while the Executive Membership is $120. The Executive membership comes with extra perks, though, including 2% cash back on qualifying Costco purchases up to $1,000.

This means if you spend $3,000 per year -- or around $250 per month -- at Costco, you would make back the extra $60 you paid for the Executive membership. If you spend more than that, the Executive membership would be a better deal for you.

3. Missing out on online savings

Costco runs monthly sales that reduce the price of items even further than their already-discounted cost. However, these sales aren't always available in-store.

There are certain online-only deals offered exclusively at Costco.com in most months as well. If you don't check the website or read over the members-only savings book carefully, you might miss out on some of the best bargains available.

4. Shopping on weekends

Weekends tend to be the most crowded time to hit Costco. Aside from the fact you'll be faced with long lines and will have to elbow your way through the aisles, you may also find that the deals are more picked-over than they would be during the week.

If you don't want to worry about the things you want being out of stock or the tables of sample food being empty due to too much demand, try to shop during the week instead.

5. Not taking advantage of Costco's generous return policy

Costco is great about accepting returns, even if the item is open or older. Although there are limited exceptions, such as a 90-day return window on most electronics and appliances, you can generally return just about anything you're dissatisfied with at any time. You don't even need a receipt or the original packaging for most items.

While you don't want to abuse this policy, you should take advantage of it if you purchase something that truly disappoints.

Now that you are aware of these common Costco shopping mistakes, you can be sure to avoid them so you make the most of your membership and score all the savings available to you.

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