At this point, Costco is pretty much synonymous with saving money. Did you know that you can save even more by using Costco pricing codes, though?
Costco pricing codes in Canada are hidden codes within the last two digits of the price tags at Costco, that explain whether or not the item is on sale and what type of sale it’s categorized as.
These price codes can help you determine whether or not you’re getting a deal on a certain item, so you plan your purchase and save money. Below, I’ll show you all of the secret price codes and share my personal shopping strategy, so you can try it yourself.
What Are Costco Pricing Codes in Canada?
Costco currently operates 108 stores throughout Canada. The wholesale retailer offers incredible discounts on everyday household items and electronics and is known for discounting items purchased in bulk (which is the majority of the products in the store).
At some point in recent history, somebody on Costco’s executive team had the smart idea to introduce pricing codes to create a sort of game for shoppers. A true test of loyalty designed to reward only the most loyal Costco customers…
Just kidding (sort of).
In all actuality, Costco pricing codes were probably developed to help store managers keep track of their sales and inventory. Nonetheless, Costco shoppers have taken these codes and used them to create their own shopping game.
If leveraged properly, these codes can be used to help you save even more money by taking advantage of flash sales and timing your purchase.
Costco pricing codes can be identified by looking at the last two digits of the price, where the percentile is denoted.
Here’s a quick table outlining all of Costco’s pricing codes:
|Item will no longer be stocked once it’s sold out
|Store manager discount
|Store manager discount
|Price ends in ‘9’
It’s a good idea to screenshot this chart to keep with you the next time you’re shopping at Costco. These pricing codes have been in effect for years and, to the best of my knowledge, still work today.
- Disclaimer – Periodically, the numbers in the table above are added to a product that’s not on sale or discounted. Most of the time, they’re applicable, though.
Costco doesn’t exactly have “secret” sales. However, the managers don’t always post a giant sign for every item that’s discounted or on sale.
Unless you’ve been monitoring the price of the same item over time or know about Costco’s pricing code system, then it’s easy to miss some of the best sales in the store.
In this way, I prefer to refer to them as “lowkey sales.” Ultimately, it all just comes down to being a smart shopper and learning the best times to purchase certain items.
Costco currently has five different pricing codes:
- * (asterisk)
- Ends in ‘9’
These codes aren’t listed on the product’s barcode. Rather, they’re input into the price of the item itself. Below, I’ll explain in further detail what each of these Costco pricing codes means, so you can determine the best course of action to take.
The * (asterisk) pricing code is used to denote items that will no longer be sold by the store. The majority of the time, the asterisk code also correlates with a major clearance sale.
This is probably the easiest price code to recognize, as you don’t have to look hard at the numbers in the price. Just look for the ‘*’ following the price.
Sometimes, the asterisk may be used in correlation with one of the other types of pricing codes that I mentioned. The asterisk is the code that I look for the most, as it typically denotes the best sales.
These are common to see at the end of the season or after the holidays when the store is trying to clear out leftover items that it won’t be restocking until next year (or perhaps, not at all).
Simply put – if there’s an item that you really want or need and you see an asterisk pricing code, take advantage of the clearance sale and buy it! It’s not going to get any cheaper, and the only way that you could save more would be to purchase the item secondhand.
The .00 Costco pricing code is used to denote a manager special. Managers could put an item on sale for any number of reasons, including:
- To promote it
- The packaging is damaged
- The item was previously returned and repackaged
- The manager needs to get rid of backstock
- The manager needs to meet sales quotas
Sometimes, managers will reduce the price of an item for a short period of time to get customers interested and make some initial sales. Other times, discounts could be applied to get rid of extra inventory or to sell goods with damaged packaging.
You always want to be aware of the latter.
If the packaging of an item is damaged, there’s a fair chance that the item underneath could also have been damaged as well. If you’re purchasing an item that’s being discounted as a manager special, always make sure to closely inspect the item to ensure that it’s in overall good condition.
A couple of scratches or scrapes on the box, but be wary of full punctures or stresses on the packaging that indicates the item was crushed under heavy weight.
Like the .00 code, the .88 Costco price code is used to indicate a manager special. To my knowledge, there’s no considerable difference between the two price codes. I imagine that the two denominators used to make more or less money off of the sale.
Perhaps an item may start at $15.88 before eventually being reduced to $15.00. Conversely, a $15.00 item might be further reduced to $14.88 in the near future.
When the price of an item ends in the number ‘9’ it typically denotes a manufacturer discount. These occur when the manufacturer contacts Costco and asks them to temporarily discount an item to increase sales.
To make up for lost money, the manufacturer typically compensates the retailer for the difference between the original sale price and the manufacturer’s discount.
Some examples of this pricing code include:
The number before the ‘9’ isn’t important.
Manufacturer sales can help you save a bit of money, but these sales aren’t always the best. In many cases, manufacturer sales occur before an eventual managerial discount (which is usually greater).
If the item is in high demand, then take advantage and make the purchase. However, if there’s plenty of backstock, then I would wait until the manager further reduces the item’s price.
The .97 Costco price code denotes a clearance sale. This price code is similar to the asterisk price code and shows that the store is trying to clear the item from store shelves.
The only difference between the two codes is that an asterisk code denotes that the item will not be restocked.
Items on clearance with a .97 price code are likely going to be restocked in the near future. Still, it’s a great time for frugal shoppers to stock up on essentials!
To wrap up, here are a few helpful tips and tricks you can employ to make sure that you’re always getting the best deal at Costco.
For the most part, Costco has a generous return policy. However, there are some rules that you should be aware of, such as:
- Diamonds take 2 – 5 days to return (the store must verify that the diamonds aren’t fake replacements)
- Electronics refunds must be processed within 90 days of the original purchase date
- Alcohol and cigarette sales are final, and neither can be returned
- Some items come from the store with a limited warranty
If you happen to see that the price of an item drops after you’ve already purchased it, you’re allowed to bring your receipt to the store and have the price adjusted.
The difference between the price you paid and the current sale price of the item will be credited to the card that you used to make the purchase.
If you’re a frequent shopper at Costco, this “hack” can save you a lot of money.
You just have to be willing to spend a few minutes standing in line at the customer service desk. Keep in mind that you’ll need your receipt to do this!
Are Costco Price Codes Legit?
When I first heard about Costco pricing codes, I’ll admit – I was more than a bit skeptical. I regularly shop at Costco when I’m home, and I had never heard about these so-called “secret sales.”
Then again – they wouldn’t be very secret if everybody knew about them, would they?
To start with, I did a bit of research through various internet forums and made a quick list of all of the pricing codes that I was going to try. Then, I drove down to my local Costco store and got to work.
My goal was to purchase at least one item showcasing each of the pricing codes to determine whether or not this whole game was legit. Two hours later, I had my cart full and started checking out.
As I was checking out, an older gentleman gave me a curt nod and said, “Ah.. I see you caught that sale too!” He was referring to the new smoothie blender I had in my cart.
He then went on to explain that the same blender cost $8 more the previous week and that he had been waiting to see the updated price code so he could grab it on a clearance sale.
So, as far as I’m concerned, Costco pricing codes are 100% legit.
Costco pricing codes are a great way to save money on items that you really need. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of purchasing items that you don’t really need just because they’re on sale.
Another great tip to maximize your savings as you shop is to use a coupon app to check for any discounts before you make a purchase. Keep on reading to see my list of the best coupon apps in Canada next!