Costco has developed quite the following over the years, with nearly 100 million members who loyally pay an annual subscription to receive exclusive club prices.
And while Costco is famous for offering bulk items at a price-per-unit that most retail competitors cannot match, some shoppers may be wondering if they can apply coupons to make those wholesale prices even lower.
Here is what I discovered!
Does Costco Take Coupons?
Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons—the kind typically found in newspaper inserts or downloaded from the Internet. However, Costco does offer its own coupon savings to members through mailings and in-store booklets, often for discounts greater than those offered by the manufacturer.
While declining to accept manufacturer coupons may be frustrating for some Costco shoppers, the reality remains that a manufacturer coupon is unnecessary in attaining extraordinarily low prices when shopping at Costco.
In fact, even without the use of manufacturer’s coupons, there are several ways that shoppers can stretch their Costco dollar to the absolute maximum.
Why Doesn’t Costco Accept Manufacturer Coupons?
Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons for greater autonomy in pricing its items.
When offering a coupon, many manufacturers will simply include the price of the coupon in the item’s price when supplying retailers.
For example, if a laundry detergent company plans to offer a $.50 coupon for the purchase of its product, it will simply charge the retailer $.50 per unit more than its wholesale price.
The retailer will still make the same margin. Still, the manufacturer makes a greater profit during a coupon campaign due to those buying the detergent without a coupon paying the $.50 higher price.
To avoid this pitfall and ensure that all Costco shoppers achieve the lowest possible price, Costco simply avoids manufacturer coupon programs.
By buying at the lowest possible wholesale price, Costco does not have to inflate what they charge on items to make up for a manufacturer coupon program.
How To Get Coupon Savings At Costco
Although extreme couponers may not be able to clip from their weekly newspaper inserts and apply the discounts at Costco, there are several ways Costco members can add to their savings on the store’s low wholesale prices.
These special offers will typically provide savings of between $2 and $4 per unit—much higher than the standard $.50 or $.75 savings offered by manufacturer coupons.
Costco also occasionally offers to buy one, get one coupon or special combo deals, such as buying a certain item at full club price leading to subsequent savings in a related product.
Costco store coupons are regularly mailed to members as new offers become available, or a coupon booklet can be requested at the customer service center in-store.
Coupons can either be clipped from the Costco booklet or downloaded on the Costco app. However, since 2014, most locations automatically search for store coupons when a shopper’s membership card is scanned, adding an extra layer of convenience.
Note: It is important to note that most Costco store coupons are only available in-store and cannot be applied to online orders, so be sure to read the offer’s fine print.
Download Cash Back Apps
Cash–back apps have increased in recent years and are a great way to save a little extra on shopping trips, with Costco being no exception.
Cash–back apps offer dozens of digital rebates that work kind of like coupons in reverse. While traditional coupons apply a discount before checkout, shoppers using cash–back apps will pay full price for the item at the checkout, receiving cash for their purchases after offers loaded in the app are verified on the final receipt.
The following breakdown explains how Costco shoppers can save more on their trip using a cash–back app:
- Browse the app for offers. While there are typically dozens of cash-back offers for specific products, there are also a handful of “any item” discounts, such as $.10 cash-back when purchasing any brand of peanut butter.
- Load the desired offers to the app.
- Purchase the product at Costco, checking on the app to ensure that the correct item size and quantity have been purchased. Sometimes, two or more of the same item must be purchased for savings to be realized.
- Using the app, take a picture of the Costco receipt.
- Scan the barcodes of the matched items to have cash uploaded to your account.
While most traditional coupons only let you apply the coupon savings to one item, cash–back apps typically allow you to use the offer up to five times, a further benefit to those shopping at Costco, as buying in bulk is the name of the game.
The most popular cash–back apps are Ibotta and Checkout 51. Fetch Rewards is another popular app that can be used at Costco. It scans receipts and automatically finds matched offers, crediting your account in points.
These points can then be redeemed for gift cards or subscriptions when accumulated in sufficient quantity.
Know Which Items Are On Sale At Costco
As couponing is all about saving money, it behooves the Costco shopper to know which items are on sale. This can help him or her stack the savings when using Costco store coupons and cash–back apps. Costco items are typically priced as follows:
- Items ending in .99 are priced as normal.
- Items ending in .97 indicate a national markdown. This means that the item is offered at a discount in all Costco locations nationwide.
- Items ending in .00 or .88 represent a clearance item. This is a store-specific discount and represents a major buying opportunity, especially if you have a Costco coupon or cash-back rebate to pair with it.
Keep Shopping, Even After You Buy
While couponing can be a bit time–consuming, it definitely pays off to stay on top of offers—especially when shopping at Costco. Costco will give you a cash refund if a price drops on an item within 14 days of your purchase.
For example, if you bought a pair of Kirkland jeans for $39.99 on March 1st and the price dropped to $35.00 on March 10th, you could bring your receipt to the Costco store where you made the purchase and receive $4.99 in cash!
Applying Costco Coupons Without A Membership
Although 100 million members would agree that the price of a Costco membership ($60 per year for the most basic plan) is well worth the club pricing, those who do not shop at Costco with great frequency may feel like the membership fee offsets the low cost. If this is the case for you, consider using a Costco Shop Card to make your purchases.
While people paying with cash, credit, or debit must have a membership to make purchases at Costco, those using a Costco Shop Card do not need to have a membership to shop and enjoy the low wholesale prices.
A Costco Shop Card is essentially a Costco gift card, available in denominations starting at $25 all the way up to $2,000.
While a member would have to buy the shop card for you, once you have the card in your possession, you are free to shop in any Costco and even use the exclusive store coupons, although as a non-member, you would need to actually clip the offers and present them at checkout.
To learn more about how to save money at Costco, you can also see my comprehensive guides on Costco EBT discounts, Costco veterans discounts, and Costco senior discounts.
Costco does not accept manufacturer coupons. However, it does offer its own selection of exclusive in-store coupons. In addition, you can use cash–back apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51 to get some savings after the purchase, making Costco’s famously low wholesale prices even lower.