Costco vs. Target: Where Can You Get the Most Savings?

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  • Costco's bulk items are generally heavily discounted.
  • Often, Target will offer cheaper price points for games, housewares, and more.

Both retailers offer great prices. But here's how to strategize when doing your shopping.

If you live in suburbia, there's a good chance there's either a Costco warehouse location or a Target within 30 minutes of where you live. And if you're on a budget, both stores are a good option for buying essentials like groceries on the cheap.

But which store ultimately offers the most savings? It depends on what you're buying.

Costco is king for bulk purchases

Target does offer some items in larger quantities. But if you're loading up on bulk essentials, Costco is probably going to be your best source for the lowest prices.

Furthermore, Target generally doesn't offer produce in bulk (or at least not a very wide range of it, though some stores may stock more items than others). At Costco, you can buy many different types of fruits and vegetables in bulk. Since these tend to be expensive to begin with, you might run up less of a credit card tab if you buy produce in particular at Costco.

Look to Target for one-off purchases

It could make the most financial sense to purchase things like milk, eggs, and toilet paper at Costco. But if you're buying one-off items, like toys or clothing, then Target may be a better bet due to its larger and more consistent selection of those products.

While Costco will commonly have different seasonal items on offer in these and other categories, its selection of non-food and non-household essential items can be limited -- whereas Target will generally have a lot more choices in stock when it comes to things like toys and apparel. Furthermore, Target often runs specials on a weekly basis, and so if you track and research prices for larger purchases, you might squeeze out a better deal there.

What about electronics?

Here's where things can get tricky. Often, Costco will have the better deal on electronics, but if Target has a great sale, it might be your better bet.

That said, one benefit of buying electronics through Costco is that you'll often be eligible for an extended warranty on your purchase at no extra cost. So while that may not result in immediate savings, it could result in eventual savings if an item you buy breaks down the line and needs to be repaired or replaced.

Where should you do your shopping?

Both Target and Costco can be great places to shop for budget-conscious consumers. But before you head to either store, think about the items on your list. If it's mostly things like paper towels, bread, and vegetables, Costco may be your better bet. But if you need some new leggings for your kids, you may want to try Target.

Also, consider location. These days, gas prices are soaring, and so if your closest Target is five miles away and your nearest Costco is 15 miles away, you may want to favor Target for a smaller shopping list -- even if you know Costco has a lower price for some of the items in question. After all, it's not worth spending an extra $5 on gas to save $1 or $2 on your purchases. And it's probably also not worth spending so much extra time getting to and from the store for a very small list.

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