One of the best things about Costco is juxtaposed with one of the worst: its low price tags on bulk items mean you can save your family money on each shopping trip. But the wholesale chain is able to keep most prices low in the first place due to its ever-rotating stock, which means your favorite items may not be around for long. And while it's always a bummer to head to Costco for a few specific items only to find they've been sold and replaced by new products, there is, according to financial site Tough Nickel, a way to tell if your favorite products will be there next time you shop: by looking for a secret-ish code on their price tags. In fact, knowing Costco price tags' hidden meanings can also help you figure out whether you're really saving money as you fill your cart.
Costco price codes seem straightforward, but there's actually a whole science behind the way the wholesale retailer classifies their prices. But thanks to this guide, you'll be in the know just by looking at the last two numbers in all Costco prices. Here's exactly how to become a Costco price-tag ninja and save some serious change when you buy in bulk for your family.
What It Means When a Costco Tag Ends in .99
If a Costco price tags ends in .99, it's a full-price staple item (for now). If your favorite items end in .99, you may not be saving money, but you can let out a sigh of relief that they'll most likely still be around the next time you shop.
What It Means When a Costco Tag Ends in .00 or .88
If a Costco price tag ends in .00 or .88, it allegedly means that stock of the item is low or someone has returned the item, and the inventory is probably limited to what you see in front of you — if you are interested in the item, a .00 or .88 means the manager has marked it down in store to get rid of it, and it's time to grab it!
What It Means When a Costco Tag Ends in .97
If a Costco price tag ends in .97, it could be an amazing discount (though, it could also be as small as a $1 discount). Typically, these items are marked down as "Manager Specials" and won't last for too long at that price (especially if it's a clearance item). In these cases, you can ask the manager for the original price to see what it was marked down from. If there's still a ton of stock and the discount is new (check the date on the bottom right-hand corner to see when the item was last marked down), there's a chance it could be further discounted in time, but it's a roll of the dice for sure.
What It Means When a Costco Tag Ends in .49, .89, or .79
If a Costco price tag ends in .49, .89, or .79, it's another good time to throw it into your cart. These prices indicate a special promotional offer straight from the product's manufacturer, according to Consumer Reports.
What It Means When a Costco Tag Has an Asterisk (*)
If a Costco price tag has an asterisk on it, no matter what the cents are in the price, it means the item is on its way out, probably won't be restocked, and could even be discontinued. The price likely isn't going to get any better, so if you want it, grab it before it's gone!