How To Get Free Costco Membership

Costco is arguably one of the top warehouse stores people usually go because of the various savings that you can get. If you are a frugal person like I am, it is almost a must to become a member.

Because of this, people are searching for ways to get free Costco membership or to get any kind of discounts  so they can test shopping at the store.

But a lot of people will argue and have ask this question:

“Is paying for the Costco membership really worth it?”

Three Types of Costco Membership and How Much Does It Cost

Before we explain how you can get the free stuff, let’s discuss first the three kinds of Costco membership offered: the Gold Star, Executive, and the Business. What’s good about the membership is that all Costco cards can be used WORLDWIDE and at So you may have membership here in United States and you can also use that  if you go to Costco Japan,  Costco Canada or Costco UK.

  • Gold Star – cost is $55 annually and the card can be used for personal use purchases only and you can add a member of your household as an additional card holder
  • Business  – Cost is $55 annually and the card can be used for personal, business, or resale purchases. Business identification (business license, resale certificate, or three pieces of business ID) is required when applying for a Business Membership. The card member can also add a member of his/her household as additional cardholder. In addition to this, Business members also may add up to six additional cardholders (add-ons) as Business Members to their membership at $55.00 each per year, which includes one household card per add-on.
  • Executive  – This is the highest type of Costco Membership offered at the warehouse club and this one cost $110 annually. The Executive Membership card can be used for personal, business  use or resale purchases  and you can also add a member of your household as an additional card holder. The extra advantage of this is that Executive Members earn a 2% Annual Reward on most Costco purchases with a maximum cash back of $750. Moreover, you can receive additional benefits on other member services such as lower prices on check printing, payroll services and identity protection; an account bonus for money market and online investing accounts; free roadside assistance for vehicles covered through the auto insurance program; and extra travel benefits.

Six Ways to Get Free Costco Membership

Just to let you know, Costco does not really provide free memberships but you can actually recover the full cost of memberships, thus, making this look as if you have gotten the membership for free. For the most part, Costco or other affiliates will provide some sort of incentives such as Costco cash card, cash back rewards, or third party coupons. This is how we can show you how you can get those incentives and cash back in order to offset the cost of Costco membership fees.

1. Get Cash Back from Executive Membership

As mentioned earlier, the Executive Costco Membership provides 2% cash back on most items purchased at Costco stores. Simple math tells us that if you purchase $5,500 annually, you’ll be receiving cash back of $110, thus, offsetting the cost paid for the membership fees. For smaller families, this may not be a good route if you can’t reach the break even point of $5,500.

2. Savings at Costco Pays For The Membership

If you buy often enough in bulk and with the instant rebate and coupons provided, the savings that you’ll get more than pays for the Costco membership.

  • Gasoline – In my area, the cost of gas at Costco is usually $0.30 cheaper. I have a 15-gallon tank car and I usually fill out every two weeks so in a month, the savings to me just with gas alone is $9 per month ($0.30 x 30 gallons per month) or comes out to $108 annually, which pays off my $110 Executive Membership!  Some of you probably fill out gas more often which yields to more savings. If you add the 3% rebate when you use the Costco American Express True Earnings card, you pretty much recovered the cost of the membership fees even if you have the Executive Membership.
  • Coupons and Instant Rebates – Costco have instant rebates and coupons as well that you can use. On average, I usually save around $10 per month with those coupons ($120 annual savings). If you buy big ticket items, of course the instant rebates are much higher. Examples are $60 instant manufacturer’s rebates on tires or $100 rebate on TV. Even the small coupons or rebates add up and can help you recoup the $55 Gold Star Membership easy!
  • Wholesale Savings – I think this is pretty much self-explanatory that you can save around 20% to 50% on your purchase when you buy in bulk and the savings varies on how big is the family. But if you add all of them up, you can at least get the equivalent of the cost of membership.
  • Store Gift Cards or Certificate – Most gift cards or certificates offer you 20% and people usually buy this not only as a gift but also for personal use. Lucille BBQ, Elephant Bar, California Pizza Kitchen, Coffee Bean cards worth as much as $100 only cost $79.99 at Costco. If you are already going to those restaurants anyways, why not stop by at Costco . During Mother’s day, we treat our mom to Lucille’s BBQ and spend $300 worth of food. Well, we only paid $240 just by buying gift cards at Costco. The $60 savings covered the $55 Gold Star membership.

 3. Third Party Offers and Incentives

If you do not know it yet, there are actually a lot of third party organizations that offer incentives when you sign-up for a Costco membership. However, the biggest Costco Membership discount is probably just $50 so if you get the Gold Card membership, you can offset the cost of that and essentially get the membership for free.

4. Get Cash Back from Costco American Express True Earnings Reward.

If you are a member of Costco, you should also try to get the Costco American Express True Earnings  card as this provide additional cash back to offset the Costco membership cost. At the end of the year, the cash back really add up and may end up making you money in the long run.

5. Costco Membership Money Back Guarantee

Costco has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their memberships. If you are not satisfied with your membership, you can get a full refund at any time. Some people have suggested to use the Costco card for the full year and right before you reach the 365th year, you cancel the card and then re-sign again. It’s a slick and dishonest way of getting a free Costco membership and it’s not really recommended. But hey, this is legal and Costco allows it so I guess you can do this if you wish. I just don’t understand why you would cancel this if you can get your money back a number of ways which I have stated above.

6. You Do Not Have to be a Member of Costco to Shop In The Stores

This is really a separate discussion so rather than repeat myself here and lengthen this article, I prefer to direct you to the article about: Don’t Have A Costco Membership? See How You Can Still Shop At Costco!

How about you? Do you have any ideas of how you can get free Costco Membership that are not mentioned here? Please feel free to provide this in our comment section.

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user image Coco

If you live close to a Costco store with gasoline station then you are in luck. I fill up my van with a 22 gallon tank every week. Costco is always twenty cents cheaper than any gasoline station in my area. I save at least $4 per week and $16 in a month for an annual savings of at least $180. I don’t really shop that much. I just use it to save money on gasoline.

So I do not understand those people who complain about the membership fees. I think it is well worth it even if you don’t shop at the store and if you just want to use it for gasoline.

And after filling up gas, I always stop by and by those $1.50 hotdogs and drink. So stopping by at Costco is truly well worth it just with those two items.

user image Marvin

Love Costco. With a newborn baby, diapers come and go like crazy. With Costco, we saved a lot of money with good quality. We buy either Huggies or Kirkland depending on whether they offer coupons! Costco is a big money saver.

user image Piolo

I love shopping at Costco. I’ve been saving a lot from eyeglasses and contact lenses. Costco has a lot of brand frames at very decent prices and the contact lens are so much cheaper plus I got additional rebates if I buy a whole year supply. Just with the glasses and contact lens, I saved an easy $100.

My last rebate was $115, woo hoo, and this pays for my Executive Membership already so I do not really know why people are so shortsighted in not giving up a few dollars to gain more in the long run.

Rotisserie chicken for $4.99, are you kidding me? Those are really good!

user image John

Does Costco offers free trial membership, one day pass, guest pass, discounts, coupon codes, etc? I can’t seem to find it in the internet. If you could direct me to it, that would be really helpful as I really want to try it first. It seems like it is a good idea.

user image Ces

They used to in the past but you will hardly see those free trial membership nowadays. The best bet is to give your local Costco store a call and find out if they do offer the free trial membership or one day temporary guest pass.

user image larry

If you have have the Costco Executive Membership plus the Costco American Express card you will get two rebate checks a year based on your purchases. One from Costco and one from American Express.

user image Ces

Very true and this is what we like about Costco. We got a nice Costco rebate check around $100 every year from the Executive Membership and this one alone already helped us recoup the cost of the $110 annual Membership (2% rebate on selected purchases – does not apply to items such as alcohol, cigarettes, gift certificates, gasoline, etc.) On top of that we received an additional $50 for using the Costco American Express card!. This one is more flexible since we get rebates on all our purchases and we got as much as 3% on gasoline!

user image Leonardo D.

If you’re not a member, ask a member to buy you a $25 Costco “Cash Card” Costco’s gift card. Show the Cash Card to enter the store. Buy all you want. At the register, pay with the $25 cash card plus use cash, a debit card or American Express card to pay for the amount over $25.
If your purchase is less then the $25 cash card, they will hand you the card back to use the balance in the future. Once the cash card is used up, they keep the card. The card never expires and there’s no fees for non-use. My friends ask me to buy them $25 and $100 cash cards all the time.

user image 6 W.

[…] some cases, some stores offer rebates on the member’s purchase shopping (for example, Executive Costco membership). In addition, if you apply for Costco American Express TrueEarnings, you get additional annual […]

user image Why B.

[…] been busy the whole month from work and procrastinated on this errand. This is what I like about my Costco membership, taking advantage of the low cost and additional savings through the use of coupons and […]

user image Where T.

[…] Costco Cash card. In doing so, you can treat the equivalent offer you receive as a discount on the Costco memberships. Costco is smart enough to give you the cash card provided that you  only have to use it at their […]

user image las-vegas C.

On the other way to do it is to have someone buy a gift card “Costco Cash” for you and pay them back. They have to be a member, but you dont have to be one to use it. You can get them up to $1000 and they are refillable.

user image Don’t H.

[…] we talked about, some people still would not be able to justify coughing up that $50 or $100 for costco membership fees because they probably have a small family and bulk buying will cost them more (by throwing […]

user image Kelly

I had a membership for one year, won’t get another, products change, and they usually only have one flavor of foods like pop-tarts, my kids didn’t like the flavor they had. Once I got real good egg-rolls next time I went back they didn’t have it. If you don’t have insurance use the pharmacy without membership, if u have insurance check wat insurances they except,,ofcourse they didn’t even accept my insurance so I couldn’t even use pharmacy.

user image Michael

I got one of these AX card and American Express terminated my credit card because they had to reward me so much. It’s good if you don’t spend much, but once AX start to reward you a thousand of dollars a year they will cut you off.

user image Lindsay R.

i am young single mother trying to run her own business and take care of me and my children and being to get a chance to try it out for free would mean the world to me. and hopefully give a chance to saave money and actulally grow. and be able to afford a membership. i truly need help please help me

user image David R.

I’m bj’s member can I used my bj’s card at costo if not how mush is the start up member price, I was a costo member about 6years ago

user image SHIRLEY


user image yadvinder S.

hello,i want to apply for costco card at earliest in which there is 2 percent cash back is i have to go to the nearest store to apply.please let me know at earliest.

user image Dhiraj

This card is for those who have small stores or kind of busniess. Costco will save you less and you end up paying more. If you have to buy shampoo for instance, then you end up buying like 8 of them and each is around 1/2 litre. Now who is going to use 4 litre shampoo in a month unless you run a salon.What if I don’t like the product ?People spend more money at costco hoping to save but most of the stuff end up in Trash. Actually, these kind of stores are not at all for indivisual families of 4-6 members unless you have 15 -20 members.When economy is running so low and so many of us dont even have it really wise to store that much junk at home ? Buy fresh and eat fresh ….save money …

user image Cicek

You are totally wrong. I have 2 daughters and we save a lot. We use Nexuss which is an expensive shampoo in the stores but we pay only 20USD which we use for more than two months and the size is not so big… (Not 3 times bigger as a regular shampoo)

user image Alan B.

Someone above mentioned that one of the benefits of being a member of the Oregon Farm Bureau is that you get a free Cosco card. Are there any other associations for which a free Costco card is a benefit? (I was hoping maybe AAA or AARP, but no such luck for those two organizations.)

user image Mark

I love shopping at costco and I agree with paying the membership fee.

By paying the fee we shop with people that can only afford this membership. I usually see pleasant shoppers with good manners.

We must pay for nice things in life and those who complain should be shopping at 7-11 for free

user image Michelle

Something that not many people know… you don’t have to be a Costco member to purchase Rx at their pharmacy! It is open to the public. Just state at the door you’re getting a prescription, and you’re in. (but you will have to pay cash) I do that and it’s great! Low prices, no membership fees! . The way to go! BTW, you won’t be able to purchase anything else, but you can save a bunch on drugs.

user image JANET T.


user image Ces

As stated in the article, Costco does not really offer free membership cards. But if you shop there enough and buy certain items that provide substantial savings, you can pretty much recoup the cost of your membership. In essence, the cost of the membership turns out to be free

user image Peter V.

Folks, the idea is simple: by charging a membership fee, Costco is able to keep its costs down and pass the savings along to you, by charging low prices for your goods (and many services). Its not a gimmick. If you don’t think you are paying to shop at other stores, think again: they lure you in with loss leaders and then overcharge you for other items. They get their money from you either way. If you want to overpay, then go to regular retail stores. If you want to save, then go to BJ’s, or Costco where you can save. You don’t have to be a business or a large family either – as most of these membership warehouses have optical and pharmacy where anyone can save. All in all, its a great way to save money. Hint: get the Executive membership.

user image Ces

Nicely explain and totally agree. The idea is to pay more upfront but save money in the long run or save money now but lose money in the long run. Talk about ounce wise but pound foolish.

user image Michael

it depends how you look at it. it’s not high normally bacause the prices are sometimes 50% off compared to other stores. if your total purchase in the year is less than $90, it won’t work for you though! most people buy thousands of dollars from costco and with 2% they make more than paying the membership!

user image lisa

I saved $139 on my new perscription lenses at Coscto. Other optical stores wanted $199 just to replace my antiglare lenses with my new script and Costco only charged me $65. That is a big savings in one shot. Also most prescriptions are a lot less than other places. But what I love the most is the unique food items not offered other places and certainly not at that discount.

user image Sean

I can’t justify paying Costco $50 for the right to shop at there store. You can get the same deals or better at other stores. All of the other so called services I can get through my credit union or work. People need to wise up and stop paying the membership fee and watch how fast they drop it.

user image Kimberly W.

Many health care offices are advertising for the new cosco for people with low income. It is up to cosco to approve or not.
applications end the day after thanksgiving. hope this helps

user image EVELYN R.


user image laura

another way to do it is to have someone buy a gift card “Costco Cash” for you and pay them back. They have to be a member, but you dont have to be one to use it. You can get them up to $1000 and they are refillable.

user image Skeptic

Everyone should get the $100 executive membership and take all the advantages offered. Before 365th day, you call to cancel the membership and get a FULL refund. Apply for another card right after that. It’s a fair game. They offer it, you should take advantage of it.

user image Mark

Since when is it ok for us to pay a company in order to shop at their store and pay them again for product?
What is this a cover charge?

user image albus

Our local costco has an offer where if your rebate is less than $50, they will give you the difference — so you always get $50 – if you get the executive. So if you’re getting the gold star, you can upgrade for free.

user image t G.

the bills do not have to go to the primary card holders address. When you sign up for the amex, if it is not at the time of sign up is where you put your mailing address. all the employee who still has to do is change the address with amex, not costco. costco’s rule is the card holders must be in the same household, but rarely checks the info.

as far as other things with the executive membership, costco will gaurantee the additional $50 to upgrade. even if you don’t spend enough to get the $50 back, just go to the customer service counter with the check that you have received and tell them that this wasn’t worth the money, and they will take your refund check and give you the $50 back that you paid to upgrade. You will be down graded to a goldstar or business member again, but can apply the $50 to upgrade again. THIS MUST ALL BE DONE PRIOR TO YOUR ANNIVERSARY.

user image Kerry M.

Having non-household members sign up as household members can be risky and. according to Costco’s own rules, against the rules. Consider the case of a fellow employee, responsible for arranging for a Costco representative to come to the workplace and sign folks up.

Said employee (known as the first employee) offers to another employee (the second employee)–‘hey, we’ll sign up and split the $50 membership fee.’ The Costco representative breaks the rules by not requiring proof of residence from the first employee.

The second employee decides to sign up for an American Express Card. Unbeknownst to him, so does the first employee. Shortly thereafter, the second employee changes his mind and cuts up the card when he receives it. He does not call or write AMEX and convey this decision.

Because the second employee (just to be clear–the first employee has her own card with its own PIN) is the primary, guess where the AMEX bills get mailed to? And who the late fees are charged to? And whose credit is destroyed?

What a nighmare–just because the second employee was a ‘nice guy’ and didn’t realize that saving $25 would cost him his credit rating. No, he just thought that the first employee would ‘take care of it.’

I’m not personally involved in this mess except as a friend, trying to assist the second employee as he drafts a chronological account for the lawyer he’s hired. If any one has any ideas to help this poor guy, give me a holler!

thanks for listening…

user image Kelli

your article came very in handy, thanks. I have always considered getting a costco card, but never did it. My mother would tell me it is a waste of money, that it doesnt make sense to shop there because you get only one or 2 items unless you bring a lot of money. i have 3 litte boys under 6 years old and a few weeks ago i brought a friend to costco (she has the card) and i spent 275.00 on food (enough to last 2+ weeks) and diapers, baby wipes and pull ups. I was so impressed at how far my money went. I am going back today and as you suggested i am buying the 50.00 membership for now.

user image virginia F.

i would like to have a costco card that is free. i have the membership that coast $100.00 a year along with my granddaughter. we dont use it that much.she dont use it at all. i live alone andwould like to find out if i could get a free costco card.