7 Ways You Can Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Being a Costco member is about to become costlier. So be sure to consider these alternatives before you buy or renew a membership.

7 Ways You Can Shop at Costco Without a Membership Photo by Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.com

Being a Costco member will soon become more expensive.

The wholesale club will hike the price of every membership it offers in the U.S. and Canada starting June 1. Individual, business and business add-on members will pay $60 instead of $55 per year. Executive members will pay $120 instead of $110 per year.

While an extra $5 or $10 a year might not seem like much, the pending increases make this a good time to evaluate whether a membership is truly worth its cost to you.

So we’ve rounded up seven ways that you can shop at Costco without needing a membership.

1. Shop online

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

  • You will be charged a 5 percent surcharge, so you’ll pay 5 percent more than the product prices you see on Costco’s website. The only exception is for prescription drugs.
  • You cannot redeem the “Members-Only Savings” offers — dozens of deals worth hundreds of dollars — that Costco issues each month.

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 percent 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 “… nonmembers may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online at Costco.com.” The 5 percent 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 if you paid them back or paid them upfront for it.

3. Go as a guest

Here’s another option for folks who want to shop in a Costco club but don’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 picked 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 a spouse, domestic partner or anyone who is over the age of 18 and lives at the same address at 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.

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