Shopping at Costco can save you money with most purchases but as you already know, you need to have membership for you to do so.
We have been a member of Costco since 1995 and have really taken advantage of all the savings because of buying stuff in bulk plus a few instant manufacturer’s rebate and coupons to add to that.
However, even with all the savings that we talked about, some people would still not be able to justify coughing up that $55 or $110 for Costco membership fees because they probably have a small family and bulk buying will cost them more (by throwing away the extras).
But if you still need to go shop at Costco, here are the few ways on how you can get around it:
1.Shop At Costco.com Website
If you do not know it yet, you can actually shop at the online store Costco.com even without the membership. Unlike the physical warehouse stores, the use of credit card to pay for purchases is not limited to just American Express as you can use Visa, MasterCard, or you can even have it billed. However, there is a 5% surcharge on your purchases if you are not a Costco member.
2. Use A Costco Cash Card
What it is
The Costco cash card is a prepaid card and you can use this to shop at the store. What I like about the cash card is that it is not limited for members as NON-MEMBERS can use this as well at any location in the United States and even at Costco.com.
The amount that you can load the card for varies from a minimum of $10 up to a maximum of $1,000. The card does not have an expiration and is rechargeable at any Costco stores. You can access the balance by going to Costco.com
How Can Non-Members Acquire One?
Well, this is the tricky part. If you are a non-member, you cannot just get one for yourself because only Costco members can prepay on the card. However, if you know a Costco member, you can ask that person to purchase one for you. This is good if you just want to try shopping at Costco without having to pay for the membership fees.
And if you do not know any Costco members, there are Costco cash cards that are being offered at eBAY but beware when you go this route since some of them may not be legitimate.
The Costco Membership card only allows up to a maximum of two people who live in the same household. So this is perfect for huge families to allow non-Costco family members to shop at Costco. As an example, you can have your kids shop at Costco or buy gas and limit their spending with the Costco cash card.
Caveats for Non-Members:
- Recharging the Card – When the card runs out of money, you cannot recharge it yourself. You have to ask the Costco member to do it for you. This is quite a hassle, in my opinion, and if you really like shopping at Costco, you might as well just purchase the $55 Gold Membership. It’s really a big inconvenience for you to be asking your friend or relative to recharge it for you every time it runs out of money.
- Return Policy – As great as the return policy at Costco, I think this only applies to members. So non-members may not be able to avail the same return policy that are reserved for the members. Unless of course you ask the member to return it for you.
3. Shop With A Costco Member
This is probably the most common one. Whenever I go to Costco, I always see non-members who are piggy backing on their friend’s or relative’s membership. Again, the caveat is you have to be with a Costco member and you can only pay by cash. If a Costco member is also shopping, the cashier will ring up your orders separately.
4. Items or Services You Can Buy Without The Membership
There are certain items at Costco that you can buy even if you do not have a membership. Alcohol and pharmacy are two common ones because these are mandated either by the federal or state laws.
- Alcohol – You would need to let a Costco employee that you are only purchasing alcohol. Usually, they would provide you a temporary shopping pass but it is only good for alcohol purchase and you have to pay in cash. This is a good way for non-members to take advantage of the wholesale alcohol prices that members usually can avail.
- Pharmacy – You do not need to have a Costco membership in order to purchase from their pharmacy centers.
- Optometrist – These are usually independent optometrist so you do not need to have memberships to see one.
5. One Day Free Shopping Pass or Trial Membership ( Update from Comments Below)
As mentioned in a comment by our readers, you can actually ask for a one day free shopping pass or trial membership. I don’t think all Costco stores offer this so the best bet is to call the warehouse store directly and ask if they offer this. One caveat is that they may charge non-member surcharge for the purchases. With online shopping, the surcharge is 5% so you can expect the same surcharge or even higher percentage at the physical locations.
- How to get free membership at Costco
- 5 Ways to shop at Costco without being a member
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- How to save at least 20% on your next restaurant and entertainment using Costco
- Costco American Express Card: A Few Things You Need to Know or Watch Out For
- Shopping At Costco: The Good and the Ugly
- Costco Return Policy: 5 Things You Need to Know
- Why Buy Tires At Costco