- Look for Costco prices tags that end in .97, .88, .00 — or ones that feature asterisks.
- These denote products that have been marked down or won't be restocked.
Costco price tags occasionally reveal deals that are hidden in plain sight.
Business Insider recently asked 38 Costco employees from around the country to share their best tips for getting the best deal, and several of these employees said that members should check price tags carefully when shopping.
Certain symbols and sales prices can signify which products are about to run out, which ones have been marked down, and which items the store is desperate to get rid of.
Once you know this subtle secret code, you can use it to shop smarter and find better deals at your local Costco.
Here's are some tips on how to read the price tags at Costco:
Asterisks indicate that the product won’t be around for long
A Costco employee of 15 months told Business Insider that seasonal items "that are the last quantities in stock are marked with an asterisk on signage." They added that such products "can be marked down quite a bit."
But, according to The Kitchn, asterisks don't necessarily indicate that the item has been marked down. It's just not going to be restocked — so, if it's a favorite, you should grab it before it's gone.
"Your favorite item may be seasonal, so buy it if you see it," one employee who's worked at Costco for 29 years told Business Insider.
Look carefully at sales prices ending in .97
An employee who's been with Costco for 12 years told Business Insider that items with a sales price ending in .97 are clearance items and have have been marked down from the regular price.
In an article for Tough Nickel, a website dedicated to frugal living, Lee Rapoport wrote, "Unlike all other retailers, Costco doesn't like you to know this, so they don't put the original prices with a slash and then the new price as many stores do."
The website Costco.97 notes that the clearance price could go even lower if the product has been sitting on the shelves for a while at this price. The way to tell is to look at the date code, usually in the bottom right corner of the price tag, and if the last time the price was updated was a few weeks ago, "there's a good chance another round of discounts are coming soon."
Sales prices ending in 9 — other than .99 — may or may not indicate a deal
Rapoport reported that most regularly-priced items have a sales price ending in .99.
But sales prices ending in .89, .79, .69, .59, or .49 can indicate a special deal that Costco got from one of its manufacturers.
The website Costco.97 reported that these sales items "may or may not be a good deal" and that they are "likely products new to the store that are being tested by the manufacturer, so they offer pricing that may be lower than what you'd normally see elsewhere."
Sales prices ending in .88 or .00 are likely manager markdowns
Rapoport wrote that sales prices ending in .88 or .00 indicate "manager markdowns."
Costco.97 also reported that these prices can mean the item is a sellable return, floor model, or one of "the last few units remaining that the manager is trying to get rid of."
A Costco employee of two years told Business Insider that a sales price ending in .00 designates products that Costco is trying to get rid of, "so buy up," they advise.
Costco 97 offers one caveat: "While you could be getting an amazing deal on these items, inspect them very carefully before purchasing as they could be damaged in some way or even missing a part."
Are you a Costco employee with a story to share? Email email@example.com.