Consumer Alert: Costco price codes cracked? A TikToker says he’s done it

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Costco fans are so loyal they have their own Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts. So, it’s no big surprise that one TikTok user spends so much time in the warehouse, he claims to have cracked the Costco price code.

Ryan Quinlan’s TikTok video has gotten more than 1.3 million views, and lots of publications are writing about him.

And he says he has the key to Costco pricing, so you can know if that good deal is the best deal. And lots of folks are listening, in part because Costco has lots of Costco-holics.  It’s the third largest retailer in the world with more than 800 warehouses across the globe., and they’re huge. But surprisingly, Costco only have 4,000 SKUs — that’s short for stock keeping units. Compare that to 30,000 at most grocery stores.  Company leaders say it limits its products so it can stock only the best quality and value. And like all warehouses, its business model relies more on membership fees than product mark-ups. So often the deals are pretty good, but Quinlan says he knows how to tell if you’re getting the best deal. 

Quinlan says if the price ends in 99 then it’s full price. But if it ends in 9, it’s a store manager deal that’s unique to that store and it likely won’t last long. if the price ends in 49 or 79 it’s a manufacturer’s special offer, often because it’s testing a product. If it ends in .00 the price is low and it’s also low in stock so you should jump fast. Lastly, if you see an asterisk beside the price,  the item has been discontinued and the price is rock bottom.

I reached to Costco and I got crickets, no response. But I’ve scored Costco fan pages called Costco Fans and Finds, and it seems many Costco-holics agree with Quinlan.  Super fans have also created a website where they post the best deals along with a clearance calendar, so customers know when items are likely to go on sale. It seems Costco superfans enjoy posting about Costco as much as shopping there.