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If you look forward to Costco trips, but know it can be tough to get out of the store without spending $100 or more, listen up. There are ways to save at this warehouse store that don’t involve simply stopping at each of the sample stations instead of making lunch. Here are some tricks to help you maximize your Costco shopping experience.

1. Use Coupons

“The best way to keep track of [coupon] savings is to sign up for our weekly emails, and download the Costco app,” according to a Costco spokesperson. “Also, a customer should sign up for the digital edition of the Costco Connection which is also available from our app.”

If you forget your coupons at home, most cashiers will have copies of the coupons at the register and will scan them for you if you let them know, the Costco spokesperson confirmed. However, the spokesperson did point out that there are exceptions to the no-physical-coupon-needed situation, as “some offers for departments such as our Optical and Photo center departments may require a hard copy coupon.”

2. Watch for Seasonal Close-Outs

Costco often brings in merchandise early in anticipation of an upcoming season and, in order to make room for this new merchandise, they may mark down the items they want to clear out. For instance, Christmas items may even be marked down before the holiday season is over, as they want to make room for spring items. In the middle of the summer, you could see markdowns on items like patio furniture or water toys as they make room for fall items.

3. Use the Price Protection Policy

If you buy items at full price and they mark the items down later, you can go to customer service and get a refund for the difference. Note: The price protection policy is only valid if the item is in stock.

4. Look at Additional Member Services

Your Costco membership doesn’t just get you good deals on the items you buy in-store. Costco has an auto purchase program you can use to help you get a discount on your next car. (Costco says more than 400,000 people purchased a car through Costco Auto Program in 2014). In addition, Costco often has deals on auto services, insurance, movie tickets and theme park tickets. And you may even be able to use Costco to help you save on your next vacation, thanks to Costco Travel, which provides deals on flights, hotels, cruises and rental cars. Combine this with the perks you’re getting from your travel credit card and you may be heading out on your next adventure sooner than you expected. (Just be sure to read the fine print associated with any deal closely and to comparison shop to ensure you’re getting the best price you can.)

5. Buy Your Gift Cards at Costco

Costco offers regionally based discounts gift cards for a wide variety of products, which are usually sold for less than face value. So, if you frequent a particular coffee shop or restaurant, you may want to check Costco and see if they offer gift cards to these places, as you may ultimately save by buying some.

6. Consider Generic

Costco’s in house brand, Kirkland, is often as good as name brands, and comes with a price cut in most cases. Costco says that the Kirkland brand toilet paper is the brand’s best-selling item.

7. Look for Deals on Returned Items

When an item is returned, Costco may send it back to the manufacture or sell it to a third party. However, for those items not sold or shipped back, the store does devote a few shelves to them. The markdowns can be dramatic, so it’s always worth it to seek out these items.

Remember: You don’t want to overspend on items just because they may be on sale. Landing yourself in credit card debt simply to get items that were returned, or gift cards that you truly could’ve gone without, will not only add undue stress to your life but can also damage your credit. You can find out how your spending habits are affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: shaunl

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