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15 Costco "Bargains" That Aren't Really Bargains at All

It's time to play deal or no deal.

Costco's savings are oh so sweet, thanks largely to the store's bulk packaging. Whereas other retailers have to spend more (and thusly charge more) on packaging smaller quantities, the wholesale giant cuts costs by selling everything on a larger scale. But while spending more to save more at Costco often works, there are also bad bargains hidden inside every Costco warehouse.

Some products simply shouldn't be bought in bulk, thanks to quick expiration dates. And others, well… their poor quality just isn't worth it, no matter how low the price. So, before you waste any more money, make sure to avoid the following bad Costco bargains at all costs.

Kirkland Signature Laundry Detergent

Kirkland Laundry Detergent {Bad Costco Bargains}

The complaints online about Kirkland Signature's Ultra Clean Free & Clear Laundry Detergent are never-ending. According to data collected by Consumer Reports, several consumers claim that the product leads to contact dermatitis, turns clothes green, and is destroying their machines. Yikes! To say that people don't recommend this "bargain" product is something of an understatement.

Frozen Produce

Frozen Fruits {Bad Costco Bargains}

People tend to buy frozen fruits and vegetables in order to cut costs and avoid decaying. However, freezing foods comes with its own issue: freezer burn.

"Oversized bags of produce may seem like a great idea, but every time you open the bag, the frozen food is exposed to fresh air and can cause freezer burn," Andrea Woroch, a money-saving guru, explained to Kiplinger. "I find it's better to buy smaller bags of frozen vegetables and fruit from a local grocery store and look for deals on the store brand to save."

Whole Grain Products


Whole grains contain oils that, after a period of time, will cause a product to go bad and make it inedible. So buying rice and quinoa in bulk isn't actually saving you money—it's potentially making you sick or causing you to waste food. You're better off searching for bargains on more manageable portion sizes at your local market.

Kirkland Toilet Paper

Costco Toilet Paper {Bad Costco Bargains}

When the experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute tested this toilet paper, they found that it was average—at best —in the softness, absorbency, and thickness categories. They also said the Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue "separated easily, which can certainly become annoying during use."

There are plenty of superior products out there at similar price points. The Member's Mark Ultra Premium Bath Tissue from Sam's Club, for example, has 4.8 stars on the company's website amid more than 1,200 reviews.

Fresh Produce

produce shelf {Bad Costco Bargains}

It only makes sense to buy fruits and vegetables at Costco if you know that you're going to use the entirety of your haul before it goes bad. Otherwise, you can just grab your goods at the supermarket and pay less for a smaller amount that you won't waste. It's a win-win for your wallet and the environment.

Kirkland Signature Coffee

Kirkland Coffee {Bad Costco Bargains}

One Reddit user wrote that Costco's store brand coffee beans "taste like a strong acid is dissolving my esophagus." Yuck! Needless to say, you should skip this supposed "bargain" and stick with the tried-and-true name brands instead.


ketchup {Bad Costco Bargains}

We hate to break it to you, but that ketchup you've had since last summer's barbecue is no longer safe to eat. Per the U.S. Department of Health, you should only be using bottles of ketchup for six months and jars of mayonnaise for two before throwing them away and replacing them.

If you're making sandwiches and french fries for dozens of kids every day, then you might just have a chance at finishing a Costco-size jar of ketchup before it expires. Otherwise, your money is probably better spent on a reasonably-sized container at your local supermarket.


Aerosol sunscreen application

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news again, but the ingredients in sunscreen that protect you from UV rays only last a few years. After that, the product is no better than your everyday lotion when it comes to preventing sunburn.

So that extra large spray bottle or tube of sunscreen you got at Costco is likely never going to be completely used up. Once again, you'd be better off with the regular size for a lower price.

Printer Paper

Stack of Printer Paper

Costco's printer paper prices are simply never going to beat those of Staples. Every year, the office supply store holds a few special sales in which each ream of paper is just $0.01. Comparatively, Costco typically sells their paper for what averages out to $7 per ream. Get ready to stock up at Staples instead!


Glass of Milk {Bad Costco Bargains}

Before you buy milk at Costco—or anywhere else, for that matter—think realistically about how much you're going to be able to use before it expires. Sure, the 2 gallon jug might be more milk for your money, but that hardly matters if you can't ever get around to drinking it.

Beauty Products

Woman Applying Makeup {Bad Costco Bargains}

Yes, beauty products also have expiration dates. Once you've opened your mascara or foundation, it's only a matter of time—usually between two to six months, according to Women's Health—before that product is no longer recommended for use.

Getting through a normal size beauty product in that timeframe is hard enough, but an extra large bulk one? Forget about it. When you end up having to throw out half of your makeup, that "bargain" you got will feel like more of a steal on Costco's part.

Kirkland Signature Light Beer

Kirkland Light Beer {Bad Costco Bargains}
Image via YouTube

While Costco's Kirkland Signature wine has something of a cult following, their light beer is another story. When reviewed by the brew critics on Beer Advocates, Kirkland Signature Light Beer earned a measly 2.51 out of 5 stars.

Consumers said it "tastes like battery acid" and that it's "a shame they even put the word beer on the can." Ouch! Look out for deals at your local liquor store or grocery store instead.

Olive Oil

olive oil

If stored properly, a bottle of olive oil can last for nearly two years. But even within that generous time frame, you'd be hard-pressed to finish your olive oil when you buy one that's two liters. If you end up throwing away half the bottle, you're not doing much saving at all.


Bowl of Cereal {Bad Costco Bargains}

Just because Costco sells your favorite brand name cereals doesn't mean you should buy them there. Cereal is one of those grocery store items that's always deeply discounted at the grocery store.

A box of Cheerios or Mini Wheats at Costco will rarely, if ever, have a price tag lower than the one at your local supermarket. Plus, if you know where to look, you can almost always find coupons for big cereal manufacturers like General Mills.


Cans of Soda {Bad Costco Bargains}

About those manufacturer coupons? Costco doesn't take them, so you're better off taking your business elsewhere when you're in the market for soda.

Even without your coupons, it's easy to score a better price on pop than what Costco's offering. Right now, for instance, a 12-pack of Diet Coke is on Costco's website for $5.79, but it's selling at Target for just $4.99. Better yet, you can get three 12-packs of soda at Target for $12, which averages out to $4 per pack. And if you do decide to grab a few things at Target, make sure you know these 30 Amazing Secrets Target Managers Don't Want You to Know.

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