7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Costco shopping
Photo by dennizn / Shutterstock.com

Americans love Costco. The warehouse chain has more than 94 million card-carrying members.

A membership with Costco is not free, but here’s a little secret: It turns out you can enjoy some aspects of Costco without paying for a membership.

Consider some of these methods that allow anyone to shop at Costco:

1. Shop online

Anyone can shop Costco.com, although there are two hitches for nonmembers:

  • You will be charged a 5% surcharge, so you’ll pay 5% more than the product prices you see on Costco’s website. Generally, the only exception is for prescription drugs.
  • You cannot redeem the “Member-Only Savings” offers.

Additionally, some items sold in Costco clubs — like many foods — are unavailable on Costco’s website.

Still, if you prefer to shop online or you spend less than $1,200 a year at Costco, paying the nonmember surcharge might make more sense than buying a membership. As long as you spend less than $1,200 a year on Costco’s site, the 5% surcharge would amount to less than the cost of a $60 annual membership.

2. Use a gift card

Costco gift cards are known as Costco Cash Cards. They have no expiration date and are available in amounts from $25 to $1,000.

Only members can buy Costco Cash Cards or add money to them, but anyone can use them as payment.

Specifically, according to the card terms, this means “non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online.” The 5% nonmember surcharge will still apply to online purchases, however.

If you don’t shop at Costco often, a Costco Cash Card might make more sense than a membership card. So, consider asking a friend or relative who is a Costco member if they’d buy you a card and let you pay them back or pay them upfront for it. You may also be able to find these in online gift card marketplaces like Raise.

3. Go as a guest

Here’s another option for folks who want to shop at a Costco club but won’t do so often.

Costco allows members to bring up to two guests every time they visit a club. Only members can purchase items, but you could offer to pay back the member you accompany for anything you pick out.

4. Use a Household Card

If you live with a Costco member, you might be able to get a free membership card in the form of what Costco calls a “Household Card.”

Costco’s individual membership comes with one membership card for the primary member as well as one free Household Card. The latter card can be used by anyone who is over the age of 18 and lives at the same address as the primary member.

Costco’s Business Membership also comes with one free Household Card for every paying member, meaning the primary member and any add-on members (aka affiliates).

5. Use a delivery service

Some third-party delivery services, such as Instacart and Google Express, will pick up what you want from Costco for you and bring it to your home. There’s no waiting in line and no membership necessary on your part.

These services aren’t available in every city and generally aren’t free, though. On top of the cost of your purchases, you’ll usually pay a delivery fee, presumably a tip and possibly an additional fee if you are not a Costco member.

6. See the optometrist

In need of an eye exam? Nonmembers can see on-site optometrists at Costco clubs.

Nonmembers cannot purchase optical items, however. So, it might be wise to first check out “Lookin’ Good! How to Get a Killer Deal on Eyeglasses.”

Not all Costco clubs have optical departments. Visit the “Find a Warehouse” page to look up specific locations, and click on “Store Details” to find out whether a location has an optical department.

7. Buy prescription drugs

Prescription drugs are the one exception to Costco’s 5% surcharge for nonmembers who order online.

Additionally, nonmembers can generally use the pharmacies in Costco clubs. Just note that this can vary from state to state due to differences in state laws. Costco states that pharmacies are open to nonmembers “where required by state law.”

Also, not all Costco locations have pharmacies. So, nonmembers might want to call ahead before using a brick-and-mortar Costco pharmacy for the first time. Again, visit the “Find a Warehouse” page to find out whether a location has a pharmacy.

If your prescription drug costs are limited to copays and you don’t frequent Costco, you’re probably better off using your nearest pharmacy. But if you pay out of pocket for prescriptions, compare what you currently pay with what Costco charges for your medications.

Costco pharmacies also carry medications for your pet.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less
4 Streaming TV Services That Cost $20 a Month — or Less

Here’s how to ditch cable and satellite TV — and save a bundle — without giving up your favorite shows.

10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon
10 Things You Should Never Buy on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Secrets to Keeping Your Brain Sharp as You Age
5 Secrets to Keeping Your Brain Sharp as You Age

Forget young at heart — science says these tricks will keep you young in mind.

Have You Heard of This Best Place to Retire in 2020?
Have You Heard of This Best Place to Retire in 2020?

The best place to retire in America is one you likely are not familiar with.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon
10 Things That Really Are Free on Amazon

These freebies are available to anyone — no Prime membership necessary.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already
11 Disgusting Household Items You Should Toss Already

Never keep these items past their prime.

18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
18 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze — and How I Freeze Them
10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze — and How I Freeze Them

How many of the foods have you thought to put in the freezer?

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.