What It Really Means If A Costco Price Tag Ends $0.97

Costco, while often hailed for being one of the greatest big-box stores in the U.S., is actually, well, full of secrets. The aisles aren't labeled so that customers are kept wandering and kept spending (via Cheapism). Most deals are found in the store's "center court," forcing shoppers to pass pallet upon pallet stacked with items they don't really need. And the $1.50 hot dogs? Those are just to get you through Costco's magical, spell-bounding doors, where you're bound to drop even more money.

The good news is that Costco has another well-kept secret, and this one will actually help customers save money. Chances are, you're already the kind of person that keeps an eye out for the best deal if you do shop at Costco, so let us clue you in!

According to Good Housekeeping, there's a highly specific code behind each item's price tag. Learning the proper way to read each one will save you big bucks in the long run, but here we're going to focus on the ones ending in $0.97.

At Costco, prices ending in $0.97 indicate that an item has been marked down

If you spot a price sticker ending in $0.97, that means the product is on clearance. Popular deal-spotter blog Costco97 explains that these are "special, limited-time deals created by local Costco store managers at their discretion."

Most often, that means you'll find this special price tag on older seasonal items that need to clear the shelves or just unpopular merchandise. If an item is cleared out, there's a chance it'll continue to be marked down further. If you're a regular shopper, it may be worth it to wait until the price sticker has both an asterisk on it and a price ending in $0.97 – that's when you're getting the best price possible. The asterisk implies that this is the end of the stock and more will not be re-ordered. So if you want the item, be sure to toss it in your cart that trip!

This Costco clearance hack is genius, but there is one caveat: The deals are store-specific, which makes hunting them down hard. Many in-the-know shoppers check Costco97 for weekly updates about potential clearance items, but that doesn't always guarantee the product – or the sale price – will be available in your local store. One Reddit user suggests searching the key term "whilesupplieslast" on Costco's official website instead. That way, you can get a better feel for the markdowns that will (hopefully!) line the shelves during your next weekend trip.