16 Reasons You Should Stop Shopping at Costco (#13 Is a Dealbreaker)

The retailer is beloved by millions, but it might not be the right fit for you.

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Updated July 18, 2024
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Millions of people love Costco. Shopping at the beloved retailer is one way to save money on groceries and other goods.

However, Costco might not be the right choice for everyone. Here are 16 reasons you shouldn’t shop at Costco.

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You don’t need a jumbo pack of everything

Adriana/Adobe organic whole cashews for sale

One great Costco hack is to buy in bulk to save money. However, this doesn’t always work.

For example, do you really need 300 paper plates, 4.5 lbs. of chocolate chips, or five tubes of toothpaste?

Costco’s bulk packaging can easily lure you into buying larger quantities than you need, causing you to allocate too much of your budget to items you will never fully use.

You can get cheaper options elsewhere

sitthiphong/Adobe Cashier wearing apron at POS

Surprisingly, it’s not always more economical to buy in bulk at Costco. Often, the price per ounce at Costco is similar to what you would pay in a traditional grocery store.

In many cases, waiting for a good sale at a normal grocery store can save you money compared to buying the item at Costco.

The discounts don’t always justify the membership

Andy/Adobe costco gold wholesale membership in hand

Even the cheapest Costco membership is $60. That means you have to save that much money on Costco purchases before you break even on the membership cost.

If you don’t shop often at Costco, it might take a while before you spend enough to get to that point.

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The food might go bad before you can use it

Adriana/Adobe costco kirkland signature organic ground beef

Perhaps you can get a great deal when you buy 10 pounds of potatoes or purchase cheese in 2.5-pound bags.

However, if your items go moldy or sour before you can eat them, you haven’t really saved any money.

You don’t have the storage for extra items

andov/adobe woman storing frozen food in freezer with containers

If you’re in a small apartment, you might not have room for all the bulk purchases you would make at Costco.

If you simply don’t have space, your $60 membership fee might be better spent somewhere other than Costco.

You are not into brand names

Refrina/Adobe kirkland signature hard seltzer mango can

Costco sells many generic items under its Kirkland Signature brand, but for many other products, only name-brand choices are available.

If you don’t care about brand names, you might get better deals by shopping for generic brands at a traditional grocery store.

You prefer self-checkout

polack/Adobe check out with cashdesk worker

If you don’t love chatting it up with the cashier, know that many Costco locations don’t offer self-checkout or express lanes.

That means you are stuck waiting in line like everyone else.

You struggle to maneuver huge carts

Tada Images/Adobe shopper pushing a cart loaded with bath tissues

Costco has two sizes of carts: huge and huger.

Smaller folks or those who have trouble steering a massive shopping cart will find maneuvering through a Costco warehouse — which averages 147,000 square feet — challenging at best.

You have children

виктория тараник/Adobe little boy plays with toilet paper

There’s something to be said for entertaining your little ones with a ride on a double-wide silver chariot, stopping for free samples as you cruise through the aisles.

However, some parents find fighting through Costco with kids to be a nightmare. After all, there is more room for them to run, climb, and hide in a warehouse.

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You hate long lines

Gorodenkoff/Adobe supermarket checkout counter

In a normal grocery store, you can avoid getting in a line behind customers with full-to-the-brim shopping carts. But at Costco, that’s everyone.

The lines can make Costco shopping trips longer than usual.

You dislike the samples

Robert Kneschke/Adobe tasting of Beyond Meat burger patty

Getting free snacks while you shop can be a perk, but it can be a drawback too.

Those who are watching what they eat or simply don’t want to interact with pushy salespeople might just as soon avoid Costco’s sample-dispensing crew.

The receipt inspectors bug you

StockPhotoPro/Adobe woman checking the grocery receipt

Costco staff members check your receipt at the door. That might deter some theft, but it doesn’t improve the shopping experience.

No one likes to feel interrogated when they leave a store with their purchases. The receipt inspectors are another reason some might choose to skip Costco.

You don’t have a Visa

sdx15/Adobe smartphone screen with visa logo

Paying with a MasterCard or American Express? If so, you’re not shopping at Costco.

Costco doesn't accept those forms of payment. Instead, you'll need to use one of these credit cards for Costco shoppers or these payment methods:

  • Cash
  • Checks
  • Costco Shop Cards
  • Visa

Costco also accepts EBT cards, FSA and HSA debit cards, in its pharmacies, optical, and hearing aid departments.

Costco does accept MasterCard for online orders.

Bottom line

jetcityimage/Adobe costco wholesale location

Meal planning and shopping during sales at your local grocery store are easy ways to spend less on food without wasting hours at a warehouse buying it. You will find a greater variety of food and brands — including generics — at your local grocer.

Even if you have a large family, you don’t need an expensive Costco membership to save on groceries. So, keep more cash in your wallet by purchasing items at your local grocery store instead.

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Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.