The 12 Most Overpriced Costco Items You Should Skip

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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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