Never Buy These 6 Things at Costco, Experts Warn

Retail pros advise against making these shopping mistakes when looking for deals.

For some fans of Costco, shopping at the warehouse chain can be a little too tempting. That is, the sprawling aisles and impressive-seeming price points can entice shoppers into make bad purchasing decisions. But sometimes deals that look too good to be true actually are, which is why you shouldn't give in to every temptation. Read on to find out what retail experts say you should never buy at Costco.

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Sampled items

While the pandemic hampered the program, Costco's sampling opportunities are typically among customers' favorite reasons for shopping there. But beware of uncritically dropping these items into your cart.

"You might like that tasty morsel in the tiny paper cup enough to toss a case in your cart, but don't do so before reading the box," explains smart shopping expert Trae Bodge. "Prepared foods can often be high in calories, fat, and sodium, so get better acquainted before buying."


people with carts in Costco Wholesale. Costco is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership only

Similarly, Bodge advises, think seriously before buying bulk amounts of appealing snacks. "When you're strolling the aisles of Costco, those giant tubs of cheese curls or pretzels can be tempting!" she says. "These snacks are typically a good deal from a price perspective, especially if you have several people eating them at home or if you're planning a party, but if it's just you and your partner or roommate at home, they can go stale before you have a chance to finish the container or lead to overindulging."

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Baby supplies

man walking down an aisle at costco

While Costco prices on baby supplies may seem too good to pass up, "buying too many baby supplies can be a mistake," Bodge says. "Is your rapidly growing baby really going to fit that diaper size for the amount of time it'll take to reach the bottom of the box? Or how about formula? You feel like you're going through it like water until you realize that it's time to introduce solid food or your baby decides that they no longer like the brand you bought a case of."

Over-the-counter medication


Ask yourself whether those over-the-counter medications are really as good of a deal as they appear to be in the store. "That blister pack of two huge bottles of fish oil or multivitamins is a great deal, but before purchasing, give some thought to how quickly you will use them," Bodge says. "If several people in your home are taking the same supplement, do it! But if it's just you, those pills might reach their use-by date before you can use them all."

And then when you end up having to throw out a portion of the bulk-size bottle, you haven't saved anything in the end. "If you have a big family, or even chronic pain, then keeping a bulk-size bottle of things like Tylenol may make sense," says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with the shopping comparison site "However, if you're not taking it very often, then the odds are good that the medicine will likely expire before you use it all. And then you'll have to dispose of it, and you won't have saved much, if anything, in the long run."

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Glen Mills, PA/USA - March 6, 2020: Costco Wholesale in Glen Mills, PA.

Costco offers a book section, but experts advise it's far from the ideal place to shop for these items. "Costco generally has a small selection of books that cover a wide variety of genres, so it can be harder to find exactly what you're looking for," Ramhold says. "You're better off shopping dedicated bookstores like Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million, or even better, supporting small indie bookshops."

Name-brand items when Kirkland is available

kirkland peanut butter pretzels at costco
David Tonelson / Shutterstock

In Ramhold's experience, "the Kirkland Signature items are just as good if not better than their name-brand counterparts," she says, making them smart buys at Costco. "In fact, I'm still sad that our Costco stopped carrying Kirkland Signature chocolate hazelnut spread because it was leagues better than Nutella in my opinion. There are always rumors about who really makes the Kirkland Signature products, with some claiming various Kirkland products taste just like their name-brand counterparts. And that may be true, but all I know is that when given a choice I always opt for the Kirkland Signature brand over the name brand."

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Alesandra Dubin
Alesandra Dubin is a lifestyle editor and writer based in Los Angeles. Read more
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