All about Costco

Being a hop, skip and a jump away from Costco at North Lakes, we thought we would finally check it out to see what all the fuss was about.

From the crowds and busy car park, Costco North Lakes still looks as popular as it did when it first opened 4 years ago.  If you are going for the first time without an accompanying member, you will need to go to the Customer Service counter, via the right-hand entrance, to get a visitor pass (to then enter via the left-hand entrance).

Note as visitor, or a member’s guest, you will not be allowed to purchase anything, until you make the decision to become a member yourself.  See further down in this article for more information on becoming a member.

Is Costco right for you?

First of all when considering Costco as a shopping option, keep in mind they do not stock everything, nor all the brands you would be used to at Coles or Woolworths.  Plus it does not stock items in small packages.

So to get value for your annual membership fee, you need to:

  • be prepared to line up (though wait times are really not that long);
  • know it is not the one stop shop solution; and
  • plan your budget, pantry and storage to buy the bulk packaged grocery amount, to make the most of the savings;

What to look out For?

There is a wide variety of items at Costco, from jewellery, TVs, toasters, clothes, office supplies, hardware, toys, books and garden items, on top of your grocery basics.

Buy your own Giant Teddy bear, looking a bit drunk, for only $43.99.

They even have an Optometrist, sell prescription glasses, hearing aids (& do hearing tests there too), a mattress kiosk, a spa kiosk, a garden shed kiosk, a coffin & casket kiosk (I kid you not), and have a Tyre Centre outside.

Though to get bang for your buck, we have found the best savings are on Petrol (more on that one below), and followed quickly behind in the savings by buying meat in bulk, though you will need a big freezer to store it all.

Other grocery products are hit and miss, depending on your normal preferences.  Some examples we have found great savings on are Cheese Slices ($13.99 for 1.5kg), Nescafe Coffee ($15.89 for 650g), Free Range Eggs (30 for $8.99), Gluten Free Bread ($6.99 for 2x 500g loaves), Nuttelex ($4.69 for 1kg), Salad Mix ($3.99 for 350g), Sultanas ($8.89 for 1.25kg).  So this takes a bit of homework to work out.

About Costco Petrol

If you have a big car or 2 family cars, then you can save heaps on your petrol budget by filling up at Costco, with your membership.

Price savings on petrol can range from 10c-20c/litre cheaper than other local servos, with the example of the price of Unleaded E10 yesterday being 139.7c/l at Costco, and 152.9c/l at the Dakabin 7-11 Servo.

How the Costco Servo works, when you get to the bowser is you swipe your membership card first, then it will prompt you to swipe your eftpos card. After selecting your account, you will be asked to enter the maximum total you want to spend on filling or topping your vehicle up. With the Costco eftpos machine first testing that you have that amount in your account, before letting you proceed.

After you have finished and placed the bowser back, it will prompt to confirm you have finished, and only takes out that amount that you used, from your account balance.

Example, if you gave it a buffer of $60 to top up your Mazda 6, but you only required $50 worth of fuel, only $50 is taken from your account.

Important note though, because Costco does the account check on your card balance before letting you start pumping, you will have 3 transactions listed on your bank statement instead of 1.

The first entry will show Costco’s test to see if you have enough balance to meet the maximum total spend (eg -$60) ; the second entry refunding that test amount back into to your account (eg +$60); the third entry shows your actual spend on fuel, which was calculated at the end of the process (eg -$50).

Here is an example of $30 spent on fuel at Costco, with the circled amounts cancelling each other out.

So it may look bizzare initially, but nothing to worry about.

Costco’s Servo open hours are:

  •  6:00 AM – 9:30 PM
  •  6:00 AM – 7:30 PM
  •  – 7:00 AM – 07:00 PM

(Source: https://www.costco.com.au/warehouse-locations)

Becoming a Member

Once you have decided to become a member you will be required to complete an application form, (with appropriate identification), with a card produced on the spot with your photo, at the Customer Service Desk.

Membership costs $60/yr, with 2 cards issued per household. If you have a business, you can get your membership a little cheaper at $55/yr, but the 2nd card is only still available for a fellow household resident (who also has to show Id on application).

As soon as you have your card you can start purchasing, (including fuel as mentioned above). You will be required to show your card at entrance to Costco, then again at the checkout.

Note the person who is paying, i.e the minister of finance of your household will be the one asked to provide their Costco card at the checkout.

You are also allowed to bring 2 guests (additional to offspring) with you to Costco, so you can give them sneak peaks of what it is like. But it is all a big tease to your guests, because they aren’t allowed to purchase anything. So you will have to shout them a hot dog at the end.

Oh we nearly forgot to tell you about the yummy food, in store and after the checkouts.

The Food!

As you are shopping throughout Costco, well in particular in the food isles, they have taste testing kiosks, where they have selected some of their products and prepared sample servings for you to try. So it might be a sample of apple turnover, butter chicken (cooked), or chilli calamari chips (yes that exists, though probably not what they are called).

Then after you have tried all the yummy samples (and added the products to your trolley to cook up at home), after the checkouts you can buy lunch, dinner or dessert at really amazing prices. Eg a hot dog & refillable drink is only $1.99, or $2.99 for a large slice of pizza.

So if you’re thinking you can make the most of the Costco bulk savings, and want to become a member, I can guarantee you will never leave empty handed or with an empty stomach from Costco.

Where17-39 Cook Court, North Lakes.

Warehouse Open Hours:

  •  10:00 AM – 08:30 PM
  •  09:00 AM – 06:30 PM
  •  10:00 AM – 06:00 PM

(Source: https://www.costco.com.au/warehouse-locations)

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