Analysis

One Reason Costco Will Never Accept Coupons

I’ve never been much of a coupon shopper. Sometimes I’ll hang onto the paper coupons I get at the grocery store checkout if they’re for an item I might want to buy (it doesn’t happen often), and I’ll stick them to my fridge at home. But then it’s a real toss-up as to whether I’ll actually remember to tuck them into my wallet for my next shopping trip.

If you’re a coupon fan, however, you’re probably the person ahead of me in line who whips out a pile of them at the register and knows how to stack them for even more savings. So it might bum you out to learn that warehouse giant Costco doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons. Let’s take a closer look at why — and learn how you can save money at Costco regardless.

Costco makes the deal for you — no coupon required

There’s really just one simple reason why Costco doesn’t accept coupons now and it’s unlikely it will in the future. Costco states plainly on its website, “Costco Wholesale doesn’t accept general manufacturer coupons for a simple enough reason: We distribute our own offers and savings to our members by mail and at our locations on many occasions throughout the year.”

In short: You don’t have to go out and look for coupon savings on the items you want to buy because Costco does it for you. In exchange for your annual membership fee of either $60 (Gold Star membership) or $120 (Executive membership), you get access to the deals Costco arranges with manufacturers via wholesale and bulk pricing.

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As an example, as of this writing, you can score a great deal on the Drayden Fabric Sectional sofa. It comes with an ottoman and two throw pillows, and it has wooden legs for a clean and classic look. The list price is $1,349.99 — but Costco members get it for just $999.99 between now and July 21. That’s thanks to $350 in manufacturer’s savings — it’s a coupon you don’t need to hunt down or clip, but get access to thanks to Costco’s dealings.

You can find deals on Costco’s website as well as in its monthly members-only Savings Book, which will come to you in the mail. You can also find it online on third-party websites.

So how can you save even more at Costco?

I’m glad you asked! Even though you can’t use your stash of coupons at Costco, there are still ways to lessen the budget hit of a Costco trip. Try these on for size.

Consider the Executive membership tier

Pay more for a Costco membership?! Depending on how much you spend at Costco, this could be a good move, since you get 2% cash back on most Costco purchases with the higher membership tier. If you spend at least $3,000 per year, that extra $60 will be covered by the cash back you earn. Spend more, and you’re money ahead.

Shop with a list

This seems like the easiest tip in the world to just throw out there, but trust me on this — a shopping list will make your Costco experience less expensive if you vow to stick to it.

Also, a list can help ensure you actually get everything you went to Costco for. It would be a bummer to fight that crowd and that parking lot, only to realize you forgot something vital and must make a second trip.

Buy in bulk strategically

Yes, Costco’s bread and butter are those bulk grocery deals. But be honest with yourself — do you really need a huge block of cheese? Or a giant jar of peanut butter? Will you finish these items before they go bad? If not, you’ll end up throwing away part of your purchase, which is the opposite of saving money.

I recommend taking inventory of the items you go through a lot of, and focusing your bulk-buying efforts on those. Failing that, get your perishable groceries at a regular supermarket (and be sure to use a great grocery rewards credit card), and turn to Costco for deals on furniture, electronics, and nonperishable items, like paper goods.

Costco has the potential to save you money on the items you’d buy anyway — and you don’t even have to risk paper cuts from coupons to get those great deals. What could be better than that?

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