How to Score Deals at Costco Without a Membership


When it comes to scoring deals at bulk shopping havens like Costco, most of us assume the golden rule is you must be a member. But what if I told you you can enjoy some of those Costco perks without a membership?

Now, before we dive into the hacks, let’s talk about why Costco charges for membership in the first place. A basic membership costs $60 a year, while an Executive membership that gives you 2% cash back on purchases costs $120. The store uses the revenue from membership fees to keep its product prices low and make membership costs worth it for customers.

However, some people don’t live near a Costco and others may not want to buy in bulk regularly. If this sounds like you and a membership doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, there are still ways to shop at Costco without committing to a yearly fee.

1. Tag along with a buddy

First, the easiest loophole in the book is to shop with a friend or family member who already has a membership. Members are allowed to bring up to two guests per visit. This way, you get to roam the wide aisles of Costco, marvel at the gigantic packs of toilet paper, make your personal finances happy, and maybe even sneak in a free food sample or two.

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You’ll need the member to pay for your shopping at the checkout, but you can certainly hand them cash or reimburse them later.

2. Get your hands on a Costco Shop Card

Costco’s little-known secret weapon for non-members is the Costco Shop Card. Members can purchase these cards and give them to friends, family, or anyone they like. Here’s the kicker: if someone has given you a Costco Shop Card, you can shop at any Costco location without a membership. Just flash your cash card at the door and the register.

The catch? You’ll need to plan ahead and ask a member to buy the card for you. The card also covers gas and pharmacy purchases — talk about a backdoor shopping pass.

3. Savor the spirits

Depending on local laws, Costco’s alcohol section may be open to the public without a membership. Why? In around 14 states, regulations prohibit establishments from requiring a membership for alcohol purchases.

This means you can walk into Costco and buy your wine, beer, or spirits without any membership hassles. Just tell the door attendant you’re there to buy alcohol, and often, they’ll wave you right through. Always check your local regulations to see if this applies to your area.

4. Prescription savings and immunizations

You don’t need a membership to use Costco’s pharmacy services. This can mean significant savings on prescription medications. Additionally, Costco offers immunizations, which are often open to the public. It’s a smart way to keep up with health needs while also getting Costco’s low prices.

So there you have it, the inside scoop on navigating Costco without a membership. Whether you’re tagging along with a friend, wielding a Costco Shop Card, or just there for the cheap booze and health perks, there are several ways to enjoy the benefits of Costco without committing to a membership.

Just remember, while these tips can give you a taste of the ways Costco can save you money, a membership might be worth considering if you find yourself frequently wanting to access Costco’s full range of services and products. Until then, happy non-member shopping!

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