The Best Times to Shop at Costco — If You Want to Avoid the Crowds or Eat All the Free Samples

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Alastair Wallace)

When do you usually go to Costco? Right after work? Every other Sunday? Whenever you actually have a free 15 minutes and happen to be on the right side of the highway? Obviously, there are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to figuring out the best time for you to hit the warehouse store.

If you’re trying to avoid the crowds, stock up on free samples, or get the best deal possible, though, we’ve got some suggestions for you.

If you … want to avoid the crowds.

To see as few other people as possible, plan on going during weekday mornings. Even around 11 is fine — just get out of there by 12 because that’s when the lunch rush starts to come. Yes, there’s a lunch rush of both shoppers and food court patrons. If you can’t get there then, go between three and five, which is between the lunch rush and before the post-work shoppers.

If you … want to eat as many free samples as possible.

Want to get a free lunch out of the trip? You’ll find the biggest selection of samples on Saturdays and Sundays. (Of course, that’s also when you’ll find the biggest crowds.) “On the weekends, go right around 1 or 2 because all shifts are out at that time. If you don’t feel like you have eaten a full meal through sampling, you’re not doing it right,” says an in-the-know Redditor.

If you … want the best deals.

Okay, this one is kind of tough to pinpoint — because every day is a good day to shop at Costco. There’s no official “markdown day” like at lots of other stores. There is, however, a price adjustment policy. If you buy something from the warehouse store or online, and the price of the item gets lowered within 30 days, you can get a refund for the difference. So the best time to shop for a deal is technically within the next 30 days after you’ve bought something. (FYI: The rotisserie chickens are always $4.99.)

Got any other timing tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!