Is Costco Overrated?

So after years of being told to go to Costco and how awesome it is, I finally bit the bullet, bought a membership and drove the ~30 mins to get there but was pretty let down to be honest. Barely anything in the fruit and veg section was cheaper than my local fruit and veg mart. The meat was also really expensive (20-30% more than local butchers), everything needs to be bought in bulk to be cheaper or match woolies/Coles sales e.g. 6 packs of Tim Tams for $12+ ~$2+ a pack but I don't really want 6 packets. In some cases, the specials were cheaper at Coles/woolies without needing to buy in bulk. $10 for a litre of kewpie sesame sauce is good, but again, I'm not going to finish a litre in time.

There are some positives though:

Definitely cheaper if you buy in bulk, have a large family and can finish everything without having to wait for sales
Some things are cheaper like the muffins
$1.99 hotdog and drink
Different variety of things than at Woolies/Coles

Overall, I don't think I'll be returning any time soon. I'm gonna get some shit for this but I still prefer the shopping experience at Coles/woolies. What are people's thoughts?

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  • Very overrated.

    Can generally get better deals on Amazon. Then you don't have to walk around with an oversized cart for an hour and line up at a checkout for another hour.

    • I agree although it's impossible to do all your grocery shopping at Amazon, only non perishable items.

  • +2

    How about a ‘Is Aldi overrated?’ poll too. Incredible amount of Aldi lovers on ozb

  • The Petrol is worth it for me.
    .220 unleaded and .210 diesel at the local. .184 unleaded and .170 diesel at Costco.

  • Costco ideally for bulk buying. Even though some of the items price are pretty cheap but I just hated paying a fee and waiting in a massive lines :)

  • +1

    People think Costco is a discount store so are disappointed to find everything is quite expensive.

    What sells Costco is the easy ability to buy in bulk. For a a house of 5 kids and 2 adults, buying high quality items in bulk is absolutely fantastic for us and where we win on it. Plus the cheaper fuel helps when we rock up.

    We've also been able to use our membership in the US and Japan so when we would go over to visit family in either, we flash our card and buy in bulk for our AirBNB.

  • In the current fuel costs, I can probably recoup the membership fee just by fuel savings alone in 4-5 fills

    • There's usually one of the local servos doing it cheaper than others anyway if you check online before filling up. And Costco is only useful and a meaningful saving if you actually live near a Costco or visit very regularly.

  • +2

    Overrated? How can you come to that conclusion in just one trip? There are lots of things that are good about Costco. Always keep an eye on catalogue deals (which happens once a fortnight). Qukes cucumbers for next two weeks are $6.99/kg. Much cheaper than supermarkets.

    Items I personally buy from Costco:
    Chicken breast/thigh
    Dishwashing tablets
    Red onion
    Readymade salads
    Some health foods
    Apple/Orange juice
    Bottled water
    Dog/cat food
    Kimchi noodles


    The best part is that they have 30 day price guarantee. If the item you bought reduces in price within 30 days, you can get the difference refunded.

    • Good point, but OP only likes generic stuff from Woolworths and Coles.

  • +2

    I joined and went 3 times during my membership as I was totally dissapointed by their pricing and for the items I buy, I could always get a better deal when on special at Coles, Wollworths or Aldi and without having to buy huge packages of each item.
    I think it's a waste of time and you end up buying far more than you need as that's the only option.

  • +1

    It's a matter of perspective. No where is going to be cheaper at everything. The premise of Costco is to be cheaper than the main supermarkets at their "normal" prices by selling in bulk. I know quite a few who keep saying Coles/Woolies is cheaper, but when pressed, it's usually when Coles/Woolies are on sale on those items. It's like trying to compare Brand named vs Home Brand. If you want cheaper in general but not really care about home brand or not….. Aldi is usually pretty good for one of the "main" supermarkets.

    • That the problem the selling in bulk mostly doesn't even beat the supermarket 50% off specials .
      But some yellow stickers item there absolutely kick the supermarkets a$$ .

  • +2

    I regularly buy Cheese, Eggs. Ham, Milk, Salmon Water from Costco.

    Party food like Sandwiches, Prawns, Salad platters are also good value and convenient. BBQ Ribs are very yummy.

    Seasonal products and specials, clothing, and shoes can be really affordable.

    I bough a Lifetime shed $600+ cheaper than a local supplier.

    A friend bought a QuickJack car lift, $1,000+ cheaper than a local supplier.

    So, depends on what you buy, $55 a year is peanuts. If you go twice a month, that's $2 a visit, the savings easily pay for the membership.

    I sometimes also return food I don't like, no issues, try that at Woolies. :D

    • +2

      what do you use salmon water for?

      • Left out a comma.

    • Me looking for long ago did you get that?.. things been outta stock for a while

      • That was early 2021. It's discontinued, probably due to stock shortage.

  • It's only really good if you live close and/or have a freezer. If not, shop at Aldi or for Woolworths/Coles specials.

    Chicken Thigh/Breast is $9.99 k/g
    If prefer free range chicken, it's about the same price as normal chicken from woolworths/coles

    The supersaver specials can be really good if you know what you are looking for e.g Omo Laundry Detergent is currently on half price at Woolworths for $6/L, where Costco had a special recently for $4.8/L, and I've got it even cheaper (in store day special) for $4.3/L.
    There was a really good special last year with Steggles Tempura Chicken Nuggets, and an okay one last week with Steggles Chicken Schnitzels but can't remember the prices at the top of my head, but I remember the nuggets were much less than the woolworths branded ones and better quality.

    Kirkland generally is good value.
    Their grainfree cat biscuits are (normal price) $4.3/KG whereas an equivalent grainfree brand, say Fussy Cat, with 30% off during their once in a blue moon special is $5.6/KG. They very recently swapped this out for a Maintenance Cat food which I got to suss out when I run out of what I have.
    I know other things like Maple Syrup, paper towels (I've been told), baby wipes, cheese, nuts, oils are decent quality for a cheaper price.

  • i'd go there to get food that reminds me of taiwan, but it wasnt as good as the taiwanese one, not as many freebies.

  • +1

    For American bbq cuts of meat it is much cheaper and generally better quality, particularly pork. Cheap fuel. Catering/party supplies is much cheaper. Sauces and spices are generally hugely cheaper although limited range. Electronics limited but usually cheaper.

    A better comparison is colesworth vs Aldi vs Costco. Aldi has some good deals too but more limited range than colesworth.

    Oh and peanut butter pretzels for the win.

  • +1

    Cosco is for people who want good deals, but don't want to put in the effort to ozbargain.

    You get some value for little effort, but you can get things cheaper elsewhere through ozbargaining

  • +1

    Petrol/Diesel + variety of items not found elsewhere

  • +1


  • -1

    Costco is for time poor rich people who want to do all their shopping in one place.

    Costco must be different in the US, because I find everything cheaper at Aldi, and I don't have to buy giant bags of it.

    I go there for the odd product where I am fussy about the brand, like 2L kikkoman soy sauce.

  • Not just the Costco, there are many more such overrated stores from the US.

  • +3

    Costco's been hyped up into something it's not.

    You do not go to Costco looking for something that can be purchased elsewhere (ie woolies/coles/kmart/aldi), expecting it to be cheaper because often it will not be.

    You go to costco for very specific quality items/services that you already know you want and can't get elsewhere. As well as when you need excellent after purchase/warranty service. To name a few:
    - Costco fuel
    - Tyres
    - Dumplings
    - Car jack
    - Ladder
    - Coconut rolls
    - Tub of garlic sauce
    - Gignormous teddy bear
    - American branded electronics
    - Kirkland dinner rolls or other kirkland stuff

    There is a catalogue that comes out every 2 weeks which will show you what special buys they'll have in the warehouse. This will save you from foolishly venturing into Costco. One does not simply go into Costco without a plan. You'll come out with a large bill, scratching your head and wondering if they've actually overcharged you.

    • Costco tyres are essentially a free annual valet service; instead of fighting for a park you rock up at the tyre centre, leave it for your free annual rotation and then an hour later your car is waiting for you right out the front…

  • I have a love/hate relationship with Costco.

    Love the quality of general items and that on some bigger things like say a TV you can just buy off the shelf knowing you wouldn't have got it much cheaper if you haggled at JB/GG. But if you try and shop there occassionally they are missing things you went there to get.
    The paying membership thing is a bit of a joke and I hate having to be checked by security everytime I want to exit (and getting to queue for the privelage)
    Also most the baked goods whilst seemingly good value are overloaded with chemicals and preservatives etc.

    The bulk thing is a pain as often leads to wastage as goods spoil before consumed… so even worse than a false economy

    What I do buy regularly

    30 pkls of Nu Water
    Kirkland toiletpaper
    Kirkland Maple Syrup
    kirkland Bagles or Muffins
    The dry pasta they stock
    tinned items (tomatos/corn)
    batteries (though admittedly not a great deal there)
    Cheese slices
    other smallgoods
    meat (if I can store it and the have it)

    few other bits.

    • Maple Syrup

      diabetes ?

      • +1

        Not yet, but doctor says If I shop at Costco like this it's inevitable.

        luckily I don't eat that stuff 3 meals a day every day. (I have at least one salad a week)

        Forgot to mention that Costco sell large American clothes, so I can buy as new set of jeans and tops every 12 months for that size that I've gone up :P

  • +1

    Is Costco Overrated?

    Yep, Coles and Woolies sell stuff cheaper when on sale.

  • +1

    fuel savings is worth price of membership alone.

  • last I went I saw croissants in packs of like 20 for like $30 - and big packs of frozen US meat for more expensive per kg than similar quality from supermarkets

    I also saw a guy pushing a cart with like 200 toilet rolls

    so I guess if you buy toilet rolls in lots of 200 Costco may be for you

    if you ain't fulla sheet then maybe not

    if the average theoretical profit from supermarkets is 1% and you spend $80pa to be a Costco member I guess they've already extracted their profit from $8000pa of typical spend, or $154pw supermarket shopping

    but THEN their prices don't seem cheap to me

    so do I go there - no.

    except maybe once every 3 years when a friend member mentions something special - after which I go there, look around for something I want, and am invariably disappointed.

  • for me personally, I don't think it is overrated. although i live about 5 mins from a costco and get fuel there on the way to work. we buy quite a lot of stuff regularly - coffee, chia seeds, milk, chicken, bottled water, etc. but yeah you still need to be aware of pricing comparisons.

    I feel we get our membership worth out of the fuel savings alone, I remember last year there was a time when all other fuel was 40c cheaper than everywhere else (would be great if that was the case now).

    you can get a refund on your membership.

  • For me it is. Not because of price but the absurd weight and size of the items. I prefer to go with a friend who has a membership card rather than getting one and get what's required once in 6 months. Definitely, some obese people will benefit from this massive amount of junk food which they sell just as people in USA.

  • I am not someone who likes to buy in bulk. So it is not for me. I have been a member many times and rejoined about a month ago as it was the only way to buy a certain product (in a pack that was extremely good value).

    I can happily walk through Costco and leave buying nothing, but not many people seem to be able to do that.

  • Agreed on much of price saving except fuel in certain states (WA)
    Costco USA and Canada does offer good saving but not in Australia

    Costco has 90 Days return policy on Electronics including Smart Phones, Computers & TV and 12 months return on everything else. Purchase an iphone 13 128GB for $1,249 (same price) but I have the extra 90 days to return or price match if needed.

    Office Works is the only other retailer that accepts returns - change of mind.

  • I remember getting a membership solely to buy a tv that was $150 cheaper

    30mins away so I wouldnt make the effort for my normal grocery shopping

    If I was parent to teenage kids, I'd probably make the effort, savings would be good for bulk buy…. the whole point of costcos

    I have friends who have families, they use Costco for catering. ie platters

    If I lived closer it would likely be part of my routine to go and pick up things I know are cheaper, ie my friends frequently buy the 30 pack Mr Chen har gau for me

  • I stopped taking the op seriously when they freely admitted they can't find a use for 6 packets of Tim tams.

    Hint for the future op:


    • +1

      can't find a use for 6 packets of Tim tams.

      That were more expensive than buying them as single packets from colesworths

      • Barely.

        Either way. You don't disrespect Tim tams like that.

  • Everything at Costco seems cheap by placing expensive items at the entrance, ever noticed that?

  • I let my membership lapse a few years ago and haven't really missed it - there are unique things that are great value there, but as a single person there's not a lot of benefit you can't get elsewhere. I do miss getting the hot food though, I found myself going there just for that! I also liked looking around the random products in the centre area to see what was new and interesting.

  • +1

    I won't be renewing mine.

    I've found some bargains, shoes, clothes, desk chair, luggage etc from there but realistically its nothing I can't find by doing a bit of online shopping.

    If it was not a 30 minute drive I'd probably keep it and go more regularly.

    As others have said it's good for certain things and more expensive for others so you really need to be on your phone price checking everything you're buying or there's no point.

    I'm gonna go in and buy $200 worth of their food service foil and glad wrap before it lapses though, that shits good.

    • +1

      Yeah I guess this is my issue, for a membership fee, a travel for most, a massive warehouse where things are just put in pallets like Bunnings, and buying in bulk, I just didn't expect colesworth (this rip off duopoly apparently) to be comparable, if not cheaper. Ofc the reasons for the membership are completely different.

  • Mostly it's not worth it.

    However the booze is good value, generally they have some stuff that is very good quality for good price.
    The yum Cha stuff, the purple clumping kitty litter, the mochi ice cream, various ready made food stuff and home stuff are generally high quality for a good price considering they are some of the best available to buy.
    The meat is generally not too bad, they don't really stock cheaper cuts so you pay for the quality.

    For us the cat litter alone made the membership worth it as the quality to price ratio was probably the best. 23kg for like $25, as good as tidy cat which is a similar price for 7kg. However they currently don't have it in stock and I'm not sure if it's supply issues or permanent. Everything else was just nice to have.

  • +1

    As a 2 person household we found stuff often expired before we got to use it. We also ended up spending more because of the "oooh look at that let's try it factor". I will consider getting a membership again when it is time for new tyres because the price and service can't be beaten. Also I finally after ten years need more of the ziplock bags they sell in bulk.

    And the reason you can get bulk deals at the Australian stores now is because Costco came here and they had to compete so we should thank them for that.

  • Yep agree it's overrated - there are some savings at times but after being a member for 3 years I find it's not worth it.

    We often buy in bulk but Costco makes it ultra bulk and then I find we don't often use all of an item before it goes off and we have to throw it out so all in all not cheaper in the end.

  • Kirkland toilet paper is the best!

  • At least their stock is current.

  • Agree. I don't find it that cheap either.
    For $80, you don't get much at all compared to Coles or Woolies unless you buy in bulk, but I don't want 72 slices of orange cheese.
    It's good for catering parties and the hot food out the front.

  • I found a dehydrated mangoes to be the cheapest in Australia, and even though my membership ran out their fuel was always $0.15 to $0.30 cheaper than elsewhere especially premium

  • Costco was offering 100% satisfaction guarantee, but they changed it in recent years.

  • You probably missed the best years of Costco by waiting so long though, IMHO. Their prices have effectively doubled over the last 11+ years I’ve been a member.

    For example: a 2-pack of olive oil remained similarly priced, but about 5y ago, they separated the 2-pack into two and kept the price unchanged.

    There are other such examples, I’m sure you’ll hear from this community about as well.

  • +1

    its great for those who eat too much or over consume in general.

  • The Free Range Eggs are the best bargain imho.

    Bought 36 pieces of eggs for $8.99, compared to 12 pieces for $5 - $6 at Coles/WW or even $4.99 at Aldi

  • +1

    I've been a Costco member for years. I don't think it's overrated. As some people have pointed out, it's not just about price, it's about the quality. While not everything is cheaper, the price and quality represent great value.

    There are often good deals to be had. Clothes especially seem to be really cheap (including brand name clothing). If you live close to a Costco, fuel is also significantly cheaper than other petrol stations. You can make your membership fee back in fuel savings in a few tanks (depending on your car).

    Where you are forced to buy things in bulk, you can split it with family and friends.

  • costco is pretty good for cheaper milk, imported stuff from asia.. (the korean mart nearest to me sell china seaweed, while costco is from korea)
    fuel from costco is subsidised/ cheaper due to timing…

    all in all, it's fun place/ good if u buy those imported items..

  • Costco here is very expensive compared to ones in US where lot of products are at sale simultaneously and you will not find them cheaper elsewhere. This is not the case for Costco here.

  • An opinion piece in The Age about this topic

  • I've had a membership in the past but let it lapse a few years ago after moving which meant our nearest store was 50km away. My time is worth more than that, even with the fuel and any other saving.

    My parents worship at the altar of Costco and drive 45 mins each way to go. They are retired so time is less of a commodity and make an outing of it. They have lunch there, ensure they fill at least 3 x 20L jerry cans along with the car whenever they go and also have a chest freezer so are happy to go for bulk food/pantry items.

    Apparently Costco are very competitively priced for hearing aids if you're in the market and don't have health insurance cover for them.

    Overrated - yes, but still might be worth the trip if the store is conveniently located or you've got some time to burn.

  • +1

    First time shopper at Costco. It's okay. It's my fault for expecting more,tbh. I'll definitely go back to take advantage of my membership.

    Pizza was nice.
    Kirkland bottled water is cheap.
    Not much fruit and veges
    Didn't find much variety regarding chips,spices, cereals.(only two American brands)? Lays & Ruffles. No garlic salt or powder.
    Clothes are super expensive.

    I like that you can buy cooked porn ribs in the hot section (I didn't try it myself)

    • +2

      I like that you can buy cooked porn ribs in the hot section (I didn't try it myself)

      Is the hot section is where they have all their "R" rated goods?

      • +1

        Lmfao!!! it took me a minute to understand what you meant. 😂😂🤦🤦🤦

  • Worth getting the membership just for the cheap fuel. But there are some items that i regularly buy which i find to be much cheaper than elsewhere in bulk i.e. frozen blueberries, spinach

  • +1

    Saw an interesting article today that coles are introducing some bulk size items now too

  • I go for cheap fuel, and to feed the kids cheap lunch when Im near one. I only really buy a handful of key items that normally can only be found at costco..

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