The 12 Most Overpriced Costco Items You Should Skip

SAVING & SPENDING - SHOPPING
Not every bulk buy from Costco is a steal. Here are some items you can get a better deal on elsewhere.
Updated April 9, 2024
Fact checked
Costco Wholesale store at sunset

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Costco is known for its buy-in-bulk discounts and warehouse savings, but it would be a mistake to believe everything on its shelves is offered at an automatic bargain price.

To make the most of your Costco membership without buying into expensive downsides, we recommend taking the following 12 items off your list entirely. You’re almost guaranteed to find them at a better price at other stores.

Earn 2% cash rewards at grocery stores and Costco

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) is a powerful rewards card that allows you to earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — including on groceries, even at warehouse stores like Costco.

New cardholders can also earn a one-time cash rewards bonus — $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months!

If you’re looking for a powerful rewards card that offers an extended intro APR period, look no further, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card checks that box too!

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply for the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card now.

Milk

Elena Medoks/Adobe a glass of milk

Costco’s best deals stem from its bulk-discount pricing model: When you buy a large number of goods at wholesale prices, you avoid pricey mark-ups and can pocket the savings. Alas, individual units sold at warehouses don’t come with the same savings, including perishable individual products like milk.

Depending on where you are in the country, a gallon of Costco milk costs nearly double that of a gallon of milk from Walmart.

Shredded cheese

lisa870/Adobe pile of grated cheese on cutting board

How fast are you planning on eating that massive bag of Costco shredded cheese? Hopefully pretty quick, or else the bag will start to mold, which effectively means throwing money down the drain.

If you’re gearing up for a cheese-heavy feast, you’ll probably be getting a deal on Costco’s buy-in-bulk bags of shredded cheese. Otherwise, you’ll save more by going with a smaller bag from a typical grocery store that you can use up within a short period of time. Alternatively, grab a huge Costco bag of cheese — just make sure to freeze whatever you don’t use within a week or so.

Fresh vegetables

exclusive-design/Adobe colorful shot of vegetables and fruits

Costco’s fresh produce can seem like a bargain when looking solely at the volume ratio to price. But unless you’re planning to eat that entire three-pound bag of green beans within the next five to seven days, you’ll probably end up throwing away most of the bag when it starts to rot.

Unless you have concrete, immediate plans for those buy-in-bulk fresh vegetables (like an upcoming holiday celebration), stick to Costco’s well-priced frozen vegetable bags instead.

Stop overpaying when you shop online

Shopping online has its perks. It's super convenient, but it can be time consuming to find the best deals. Instead of hunting for coupon codes (that don't always work!) and opening tons of browser tabs comparing prices, you can try Capital One Shopping.

Capital One Shopping makes saving money effortless. Just add the browser extension and when you check out, it'll scour the internet for coupon codes to help you save cash. And before you check out at 25+ major retailers, Capital One Shopping will notify you with a friendly pop-up if the item you're buying is available cheaper somewhere else.

Capital One Shopping is free to use and won't show you ads. Add it today and stop overpaying!1

Get Capital One Shopping now

Sugar

Cozine/Adobe Close up  of sugar cubes in wooden spoon on table

Pantry staples like sugar and flour are expected to last a long time, so they’re often sold in bigger bags, even at standard grocery stores. As a result, you shouldn’t expect to find huge savings on bulk pantry staples at Costco. A ten-pound bag of sugar, for instance, might be cheaper at Walmart compared to the same product at Costco.

Cooking oil

Quality Stock Arts/Adobe pouring cooking oil into pan

As soon as you break the seal on a bottle of olive or canola oil, you have a few months to use it up before the oil goes rancid. Unless you cook with large amounts of oil on a daily or weekly basis, Costco’s huge oil bottles might go bad faster than you can use them.

Diapers

vchalup/Adobe Diapers

Depending on the brand, you could save some money buying bulk diapers at Costco rather than smaller boxes at Walmart or Amazon. But make sure you check the per-unit price when buying diapers — some brands are cheaper on Amazon compared to Costco’s generic Kirkland brand.

And make sure to account for how quickly your baby grows. You could move out of the newborn diaper size before finishing out that entire 200-count box of Costco diapers.

Books

motizova/Adobe hardback books

Remember what we said earlier about how individually priced items aren’t always the greatest deal at bulk warehouses? The rule applies equally to paperback books as perishable produce. While you might find a bestselling book at Costco for a reasonable price, you’ll get a better selection of books online or at your local bookstore.

Bananas, avocados and peaches

hanna_photo/Adobe dozen of yellow bananas scattered over brown background

Many fruits continue to ripen well after they’re picked, which means you’ll have to eat them quickly to enjoy them before they rot.

Unless you’re feeding a big household, it’s hard to power your way through several pounds of Costco fruit — especially since one ultra-ripe piece of fruit hidden in the massive bag can spur the rest of the bag to ripen faster.

Diamond engagement rings

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe luxury diamond engagement ring in jewelry box

Don’t get us wrong — Costco’s diamond engagement rings can be a great choice for a couple looking for a fast, affordable, and high-quality ring option. But since Costco doesn’t specialize in jewelry, you’ll have to perform most of the research yourself to ensure you’re getting a high-quality diamond that’s actually worth the price.

Plus, you won’t get the resizing guarantees or free lifelong cleanings you’d get from an actual jeweler. You’d have to pay for those services yourself, and the costs can add up over time.

Get a protection plan on all your appliances

Did you know if your air conditioner stops working, your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover it? Same with plumbing, electrical issues, appliances, and more.

Whether or not you’re a new homeowner, a home warranty from Choice Home Warranty could pick up the slack where insurance falls short and protect you against surprise expenses. If a covered system in your home breaks, you can call their hotline 24/7 to get it repaired.

For a limited time, you can get your first month free with a Single Payment home warranty plan.

Get a free quote

Holiday decor

sonyachny/Adobe christmas decor small houses and trees on white background

Holiday decor isn’t usually available year-round, so there’s a sense of urgency to snap up decorations as soon as they hit the shelves. But make sure to compare the costs of fake trees, Christmas lights, and holiday garlands before buying them at Costco. Many customers report paying much more for holiday goods at Costco than they did at non-warehouse stores like Home Goods.

Spices and seasonings

Alexander Raths/Adobe herbs and spices in spoons

The faster you use ground spices, the better the flavor quality will be, so buying a massive bottle of cinnamon or nutmeg is rarely worth it. Feel free to stick to buying smaller bottles of spices and seasonings at your local grocery store rather than Costco.

Ground coffee

Аrtranq/Adobe ground coffee pouring into a portafilter with a grinder

Kirkland Signature coffee has a great flavor and is sold at a reasonable price, but ground coffee doesn’t keep nearly as long as whole beans do, and the loss of flavor is super noticeable over time. In other words, if you value your coffee’s quality, don’t buy ground coffee from Costco (though it could be a good pick if you have a big group of adults to caffeinate in the near future).

Bottom line

andy/Adobe Costco card goldstar member

Your Costco card can help you secure big savings — but only if you know how to capitalize on the best deals while passing on less-than-impressive prices.

Remember that comparing the cost of items at different stores to find the best price is a crucial part of bargain hunting, so determining items to snag at Costco (and which to find elsewhere) will help you avoid throwing away money at the wholesaler.

Rocket Money Benefits

  • Helps to find and cancel subscriptions
  • Slash your monthly phone, cable, and internet bills
  • Save an average of up to $720 a year

Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt