+ Add Chrome Extension

Back to Blog Home

How to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

monster1991 profile picture
May 16, 2016 · 50.2k Views

DealsPlus Facebook DealsPlus Twitter 

There are many perks to shopping at big box warehouses like Costco but for those (like me) who only picks up a few items in bulk every couple of months, an annual membership may seem pricey/excessive. Plus, with recent news of Costco raising membership prices, the following options below may look way more appealing.

As a non-member, you can wander to your local warehouse and enjoy the following for free:

  • Food Court Foods - You really can’t beat that $1.50 hotdog and 20oz drink combo

  • Prescriptions - Costco has some of the lowest prescription drug prices nationwide!

  • Alcohol (may depend on certain states, save yourself the trip by calling your local Costco and confirming with them before head in)

  • Hearing and Optical Services - Get a free hearing test (by appointment)

  • Immunization Shot

  • Browse the store to compare prices or window shop (just tell them you’re heading into the food court and then proceed to explore and snag those food samples)

However, if you’re in need of bulk groceries, frozen goods, electronics and etc, here’s a few ways you can get the best of what Costco offers without a membership.


1. Shop with a Costco member

You’re probably thinking “duh!” but this IS the easiest way to shop at Costco without a membership. Just tag along with your relative or friend the next time they make their Costco run and pay them back for your portion of the purchase. Easy peasy.

Reminder: bring cash, use a bank service like Chase Quick Pay or use a digital wallet service like Venmo to pay your friend/relative back. Costco will not accept alternate form of card payments outside of their Costco Visa credit card (formerly American Express).


2. Get a Costco Cash Card

What is a Costco Cash Card? It’s just a Costco gift card. You can have a Costco member purchase/reload the cash card for you up to $1,000 where you can then shop at Costco with the cash card with no membership required. Not limited to their warehouses, you can also use your Costco cash card at the Costco gas station (known to have some of the lowest gas prices locally) and Costco.com. This also makes for a great gift for college students!

Need to see how much you have left? Check your Costco Cash Card Balance here.


3. Shop at Costco.com

You may not be able to shop at your local warehouse BUT you can shop at Costco.com without a membership card. Certain popular bulk savings may not be readily available to you so we recommend running a quick price comparison on Google before committing to your purchase (prices can often be found lower at Amazon or Jet.com). Also, please note that the only downside of purchasing at Costco.com sans membership: select purchases may be marked for a 5% surcharge.


4. Use Instacart

For those who don’t know what Instacart is, it’s an on-demand delivery service. You can download the Instacart app and shop at Costco via their app and have your items delivered within an hour. No need to leave the house and no membership needed. Plus, you’ll get free delivery on your first order of $10 and over on Instacart! Plus, save an extra $5 to $10 off your first order with Instacart promo codes.

Currently, Instacart only operates in select cities. Check to see if your Instacart service is available in your area and give it a try! 


5. Consider Alternate Warehouses

If Costco membership is too pricey or if there’s no Costco in your location, give one of these alternate warehouses a try!

  • Boxed.com - Boxed is an online warehouse that boast bulk savings and up to 80% off retail with free shipping on your order of $50 or more. Best of all, no membership fees and you get free shipping no minimum + 15% off your first purchase.

  • Sam’s Club - Walmart owned membership-only warehouse club. Sam’s Club membership will run you slightly lower at just $45 per year.

  • BJ’s Wholesale - Another membership-only chain warehouse, BJ’s operate solely on the East Coast (and Ohio) where membership runs you $5 less than Costco at $50 per year and you have the option to add on a free second card for a household member of your choice.

  • Honorable Mention: Although not a warehouse, when we ran a price comparison check we found that some bulk items purchased through Jet.com has the same if not lower prices than Costco. Plus, no membership needed at Jet.com and you get 15% off your first purchase with free shipping on orders of $35 or more. 


Are There Costco Membership Deals?

The answer is YES. However, they are far and few in between. There have also been countless membership package deals offered at lower prices on popular e-commerce marketspace like Groupon and Livingsocial. Here are a few examples of past offers below:


From Livingsocial: Costco membership with a bonus $20 Cash Card for $55 + Free Apple Pie, Rotisserie Chicken, One 38-pk of Two Ply Bath Tissue and 3 months of identity protection service


From Groupon: 1-Year Sam’s Club Membership + $20 Gift Card + Free Fresh Food Vouchers for just $45


From Groupon: 1-Year Membership at BJ’s Wholesale + $25 In-Club Gift Card for just $35


screenshot-www.dealsplus.com 2016-04-28 09-39-56.png

These offers are rare and only comes around once or twice a year so keep up to date with us by registering as DealsPlus members! You’ll receive updates on the best daily deals and sales straight to your inbox.




monster1991 profile picture
I wanna be the very best like no one ever was. Couponing is my real test, to cut them is my cause. I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Each store to understand, the discounts that's inside.
Dondizzle88Sep 01, 2016
You still need a costco membership to get costco gas! You can only give a costco member a cash card!
SDfranke347May 19, 2016
Costo , i Love Costo, thanks OP
yshwang23May 17, 2016
I didn't know about Gift Card & Instacart.
TLWisnerMay 17, 2016
Just buy the membership - it is one thing which will truly pay for itself quickly, even if you do not have a big family. Costco blows Sam's Club out of the water.
yshwang23May 17, 2016
You are right. Savings on gas alone, Costco membership is worth it.

Related Stores

Popular Articles