5 things I always buy at Costco because I know I'm getting the best deal

costco gas pump

Thearon W. Henderson/Stringer/Getty Images

If you have the Costco Anywhere Visa, you get 4% back on eligible gas purchases at Costco.

  • Costco is best known for bulk buying, but savings can be found on a wide range of products.
  • From the tire center to the gas pump to the snack bar, small savings of a few dollars here and there quickly add up to the $60 annual membership fee.
  • Be careful to follow your budget at Costco. Just like any other store, unplanned purchases can turn big savings into a big expense.
  • You can use the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi to earn 2% back on eligible in-store and online purchases »

Costco is one of the biggest retailers in America. With a cult-like following, Costco fans flock to the giant warehouse stores to stock up on bulk items, clothing, groceries, gas, and many other goodies.

If you like to shop in bulk, a Costco membership could pay for itself and more thanks to savings on many purchases you're already making. Here's a look at some of my favorite ways to save money when I head to my closest Costco store.
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Gas

Before even walking in the door, I often pull into the line to fuel up my car at the Oxnard, California location. While gas still costs us Californians a lot more than most people in the US, I usually get the lowest price around at Costco.

According to GasBuddy, as of this writing, the gas station closest to my house is charging $3.55 per gallon, though many area gas stations are charging around $3.65-$3.75. At Costco, I would pay $3.25.

Filling up my small Toyota Corolla gas tank, that would save me about $3 to fill up. Our family's minivan has a gas tank about twice the size, so we would save $6 by filling up at Costco.
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If you have the Costco Anywhere Visa, you get 4% back on eligible gas purchases at Costco and elsewhere up to $7,000 per year (then 1% back).

Groceries

Everyone has to eat, and cooking for yourself is usually much cheaper than going out. My growing family eats more and more as my kids get bigger, and Costco groceries are often very competitively priced compared to my local grocery stores.Bulk shopping isn't always cheaper, but it can be for many products. We also save big on kitchen staples like bread, milk, eggs, and produce. The biggest problem we run into is a lack of space in our fridge and freezer to hold everything after a Costco run. The way things are headed, an upcoming Costco shopping list could include an extra fridge/freezer for the garage.
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Tires

According to Clark Howard's Clark.com, most people save around $70 to $80 on a set of tires by shopping at Costco. A current offer on Michelin tires could save you a total of $110 including installation. That's nearly double the cost of a basic Costco membership saved in one purchase.

Standard installation at Costco is $15 per tire or $60 for the full set. But there are often discounts on that too, including the Michelin deal mentioned above. When you get tires at Costco, they include lifetime rotation and balancing, flat repairs, and air when your pressure is low.

Household essentials

Toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and disposable household products are often a bargain at Costco compared to the grocery store. While you may bring home twice as many rolls of toilet paper in a pack, for example, you'll pay less per roll with the bulk price.
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According to a Business Insider comparison, Costco is even cheaper than Amazon most of the time. And not just every once in a while: Costco was the winner about 80% of the time with an average 25.4% savings on household staples.

You'll also save at least 20% on average on baby, beauty, toiletry, health, and pet items. On Bayer Aspirin and Arm & Hammer liquid laundry detergent, Costco was more than 50% cheaper than Amazon.

Pizza

Most people don't think of the Costco snack bar as a serious dining option, but it ranks as the 14th biggest pizza chain in the US by the number of locations.
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Pizza costs $1.99 per slice, and those slices are pretty generous in size. I can feed myself, my wife, and two girls a meal for less than $10. When we hosted a birthday party at our house last year, we picked up a stack of the $9.95 whole pizzas.

Through its $1.50 hot dog and a drink combo, Costco sells more than 100 million hot dogs per year. That's four times what all Major League Baseball stadiums sell per year combined.

Costco is a great deal if you manage your purchases well

The only downside of Costco is that I often buy more than what's on my list when I visit. Going in for a free tire rotation could lead to more than $100 in purchases that I wasn't planning on first.
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But since most of them will go into my family's stomachs and most purchases are a pretty good deal, it's still a savings compared to buying the same items elsewhere.

As long as you don't let those unplanned purchases get out of control or bust your budget, Costco can save you a lot more than it costs.

Earn 2% back on eligible Costco purchases: Click here to learn more about the Costco Anywhere Visa »

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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