If You See This Tag on Your Favorite Costco Item, Stock Up Now

Did you know that Costco has a secret price-tag code for sales? Here's how to decode it—and save big.

Have you ever wondered why Costco’s prices seem so … random? While Costco is known for offering ridiculously good deals on wholesale items (and very cheap gas!), the prices never seem to make complete sense. Why is it that some prices end in “.99” while others end in “.97” or “.39”? And is there any significance to that little star in the corner of the tag? Well, here’s the skinny: Costco’s prices may seem arbitrary, but they’re actually anything but. In fact, this is one of Costco’s best-kept secrets, and it should absolutely be something you pay attention to the next time you make a trip to the warehouse.

Similar to Target’s price-tag code, Costco also has a system it goes by to notify retailers (and employees) of special deals happening within the stores, without having to overtly advertise these deals to their customers. All it takes is understanding the numbers that each price ends with so you can stock up on those items—at the steepest discounts—before they’re gone. Here’s what you need to know.

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How to understand Costco’s secret price-tag code

@superunsexy? 9 Costco SECRETS that only Employees know! Use these shopping hacks to save money!♬ original sound – Sean – Super Unsexy

Thanks to a genius video posted by the TikTok account @superunsexy, Costco’s secret price-tag code has been revealed—and it’s a lot easier to follow than you think.

Here are the price-tag codes you need to keep in mind the next time you’re shopping at Costco:

  • A price ending in “.00” means the item is on a manager’s special, and it’s the lowest price that it will ever be. Translation: If you see this code, it’s a great time to buy!
  • If you see a price ending in “.97,” the Costco item is on sale. And it’s not just any old sale: As the video says, “consider it as clearance.” When this number appears on a usual item you buy, it is a literal sign to stock up because the prices are super low.
  • Prices ending with “.39” or “.49” also signify a deal, but these items are typically marked down by the manufacturer of the product, not necessarily Costco.
  • What about a price ending in “.99,” which tends to pop up a lot? This is the standard Costco price. Sure, you’re probably still getting a good deal compared with a traditional retail store, but the item is being sold at the regular Costco price and hasn’t been marked down further.
  • And then there are the price tags that have a star at the top right corner, also known as “the death star.” This item is on its way out and won’t be restocked. That’s right: Costco won’t be getting any additional shipments of this product, so grab it now while you can.

So what should you be on the lookout for? Here are a few things you’re not buying at Costco—but totally should.

What do the dates on price tags mean?

While certain numbers and symbols (like the death star) are significant for understanding Costco’s prices and deals, something you shouldn’t worry about is the date on the bottom right-hand corner. According to this TikTok creator—who verified his information with Costco employees—that date simply denotes when the price tag was printed. It won’t affect your shopping experience, so don’t pay any attention to it.

What if an item goes on sale after I purchase it?

Customers shop for clothing at a Costco store in Novato, CaliforniaJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Kicking yourself for not waiting for the price of those praline pecans to go down? If you’re shopping at Costco and realize an item you recently purchased went on sale, don’t fret—you can still take advantage of that deal. Under Costco’s Price Adjustment policy, members can get a refund to match the sale price within 30 days of purchasing that item. Just be sure to notify Costco customer service within the promotion time limit, as well as within 30 days of purchasing that item, to make the most of that sweet, sweet deal.

Do any of the price-tag codes affect Costco’s return policy?

Nope! When an item goes on sale, it does not mean you can’t take advantage of Costco’s incredible return policy. No matter what you buy and what’s on the price-tag code, you can return the item and receive a refund. Just be aware that if the item was on sale, you will receive a refund for what you paid—even if that item is back at full price when you return it.

However, Costco does have a few exceptions to its return policy, in general. If you purchase electronics, diamonds, cigarettes, alcohol, products with a life expectancy (like batteries) or tickets for travel or events, there are specific policies in place for those refunds. Be sure to read through Costco’s Return Policy if you need to return any of those items so you don’t encounter any unwanted surprises.

Next, find the hidden membership perk at Costco that can save you money on tickets to concerts and sporting events. Yes, you read that right!


  • Costco: “Price Adjustment – Costco.com Orders”
  • Costco: “What Is Costco’s Return Policy?”

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a journalist and content strategist with a main focus on nutrition, health and wellness coverage. She holds an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a Nutrition Science certificate from Stanford Medicine. Her work has been featured in publications including Taste of Home, Reader's Digest, Bustle, Buzzfeed, INSIDER, MSN, Eat This, Not That! and more.