How to Read Costco Price Tags to Find the Best Deals

Unlock hidden savings at Costco with these price tag secrets.

Woman shopping at grocery store
Updated July 18, 2024
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Costco is a favorite one-stop shopping center for many people. From saving on groceries to scoring deals on other products, there are plenty of ways to cut costs at the warehouse store.

And if you know something as simple as how to read the price tags, you could save even more.

To be sure, Costco itself has not officially stated how its pricing system works. However, employees and seasoned shoppers say the price tags themselves can reveal important information about a product’s value, how much of it is in stock, and other hidden deals.

The following are ways that price tags at Costco might reveal important information to shoppers.

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An asterisk indicates limited-inventory items

Adriana/Adobe veuve clicquot champagne on a costco shelf

This tag may not save you money, but it can help you make a more informed purchase. Tags marked with an asterisk indicate that it’s your last chance to snag the item. 

The full meaning of this symbol is not entirely clear, but it generally means the item won’t be in stock much longer.

According to The Kitchn, the asterisk mark on an item’s price label means it isn’t going to be restocked and doesn't affect the price. However, other shoppers and employees say that this logo indicates that the price will be lowered since it’s the last of its inventory.

There is no way to tell if asterisk-marked merchandise is discounted, but it likely does mean it will be gone soon. So if you’re on the fence about a purchase, this is the sign to make a decision soon.

Clearance items are priced ending in .97

mandritoiu/Adobe delaware costco store with napkins on shelves for sale

Costco.97 says that items that are on clearance are marked down in price at the judgment of local store managers. For example, this might include seasonal or holiday-related items, as well as those that just aren’t selling.

You will know this item is on clearance because the price tag ends in .97, as opposed to the standard .99.

These items are marked down on a store-by-store basis. So, keep your eye out, especially when seasons change or holidays end.

While other stores tend to have large sale sections, Costco incorporates these items with the rest of its merchandise, so you’ll have to really pay attention to find inventory on clearance.

Look for items priced .00 or .88 for deals

Adriana/Adobe woman standing inside store picking quaker oats from shelf

Another great Costco hack that can save you some money is to look for items with price tags ending in .00 or .88.

Double zeroes can indicate a few things. Some Costco experts state that this indicates a clearance item, specifically when it comes to clothing. 

However, it could also mean the merchandise is a return, a display model for the store, or something the local store manager is trying to sell the last few units of.

The same can be said for the .88 price tag indication. As with asterisk-marked products, act quickly when you see any items with these price indicators, as they will likely be gone the next time you visit.

That being said, check the item carefully before buying it. If it was a floor model or a return, there could be something broken, damaged, stained, or otherwise not ideal about its condition.

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Beware of price tags ending in nine

MelissaMN/Adobe costco store selling squishmallow toys inside

Costco’s standard items are priced with tags ending in .99, so you won’t find any special deals or extra savings there.

You may also come across labels ending in .49, .59, or .69, and so on. These aren’t deals, discounts, or clearance items either. They are simply standard prices.

Don’t ignore the price tag’s date

scandamerican/Adobe organic earthworm casting fertilizer packets for sale on store shelves.

The price isn’t the only number to look out for on the label. You should also make sure to check out the date, particularly for items priced ending in .97.

The date will be updated each time the price tag is. If its label ends in .97, and the date hasn’t been updated in a while, the price might be discounted by an even larger degree quite soon.

The same can be said for any item, though. If the date indicates an item has been sitting on the shelf for a while, and there isn’t an asterisk yet, keep an eye out for that merchandise on your next trip: There is a good chance the price will be reduced.

Keep an eye out for green tags

Kristina Blokhin/Adobe packet of frozen chicken thighs from kirkland signature brand

You may also notice different-colored tags at Costco, specifically in the food section. It doesn’t reflect anything about the price, but rather the item itself. The standard color for all tags at Costco is white, but organic food is labeled with green price tags.

That being said, don’t rely on price tags alone to tell if an item is organic or not. It may be the case that some items get mislabeled as white instead of green, but it’s very unlikely that the reverse will happen.

Bottom line

Tada Images/Adobe man with two full shopping carts after shopping at costco.

Costco can already be a little overwhelming with its wide variety of items. Knowing how price tags work can help you eliminate some confusion.

If you’re looking for a discount, use these pricing insights to score deals like a seasoned shopper. And remember that if you shop with a great rewards credit card, you can earn cash back or other perks on your Costco purchases.

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Lucy Clark

Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.