Shopping sleuth shares money-saving secrets of big box retailers

Photo (c) Virojt Changyencham - Getty Images

Did you know you don’t have to actually “buy” a full membership to shop at Costco?

If there’s a buck to be made, consumers can trust Walmart, Target, and Costco to make it. But, according to one big box shopping guru, if there’s a buck to be saved, consumers can get one back from the retail giants if they just pay attention.

When ConsumerAffairs lucked upon Kyle James at Rather-Be-Shopping, it was immediately evident that what he has uncovered is buried treasure, for sure. So good that he should rent out his services as a personal shopper.

Snooping and receipts = savings @ Walmart

“Did you know you can tell if a clearance item at Walmart is about to go even cheaper simply by looking at the price tag?,” James threw out as an example. And, according to one of James’ “anonymous” blue-vested Walmart employee’s tip, all you need to know to crack the price tag code is this:

  • Price ending with a 7 is typically the original price. Examples include $2.97 or $5.57. Know that you’re paying full price if you see a price ending in 7.

  • Price ending with a 5 or 0 is the 1st markdown price. Examples include $3.25 or $45.00. This price is better than the above obviously, but not the cheapest the item may potentially go.

  • Price ending with a 1 is the FINAL markdown price. Examples include $4.91 or $57.01. This is the holy grail at Walmart and is the cheapest price the item will go.

Another gem James says that Walmart has tucked out of the way are clearance deals. Yes, we know, clearance deals should be in the clearance section, but James says that’s not a guarantee – especially for consumer electronics.

“Instead, look down low in the glass cases/cabinets in your local Walmart’s electronics section,” he shared, saying he got this tip from a current Walmart employee who told him, “Most marked down, high-end electronics are held in cabinets near or under their respective items.”

Bonus hint: Most reduced items are not displayed and rarely have price tags.

When ConsumerAffairs asked James for an exclusive tip, he told us that any consumer can make money off their Walmart receipt just by using two cashback apps, Ibotta and Fetch.

“All they require you to do is scan your paper receipt once you get home and you'll quickly build up points depending on what you bought. You'll even get points on generic items like milk, bananas, and bread. I use them both consistently and turn my rewards into $100 Amazon gift cards every Christmas,” he said.

Ask Costco for what… a better price?

Not to be greedy, but ConsumerAffairs also asked for an insider tip for Costco shoppers. James said that members can actually negotiate a better price on some items.


“Have you ever seen the last of a particular item at Costco? Nothing left but the display floor model, which still works great, comes with the same warranty, but might have a scratch or a couple wear marks on it. Often you’ll find these in the electronics and computers section. They want to get rid of these things, and while they might already be marked down, there is still room to negotiate an even better deal,” he said. “Politely ask for 15% off and settle for 10%. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.”

And, lastly, a little-known Costco fact is that you don't have to be a full-fledged Costco member to actually shop there.

James said that he heard from a Reddit user that Costco sells gift cards that give non-members access to the store. “A friend can buy them for you and even reload them for you online,” he said, pointing us to this link where you do that. 


“Be aware that when using a Costco cash card you’ll be hit with a 5% surcharge on purchases from This applies to non-members only,” he cautioned.

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