You Actually Can Shop At Costco Without A Membership — How?

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Shopping with and without a membership has different perksShopping with and without a membership has different perks

It’s a generally-held belief that shopping at Costco requires a membership to so much as browse its shelves. This comes with plenty of benefits but also costs $60 a year. However, it is, actually, entirely possible to shop at Costco without committing to a membership. How, and is it the better route?

In fact, non-members can do several things. They can eat at the food court, get hearing and vision tests, and even fill prescriptions at Costco’s pharmacy. If you know a member, getting in is easy since that member can bring in one to two guests. But you have another option if your friend is busy when you need to stock up on the big deals. Here’s how.

Consumers can shop at Costco without a membership with one tricky bypass

Typically a Costco membership is needed to enter the warehouse and buy from its shelvesTypically a Costco membership is needed to enter the warehouse and buy from its shelves
Typically a Costco membership is needed to enter the warehouse and buy from its shelves / Unsplash

Costco’s official website dictates that while you can use some amenities, “you must be a paid member to enter the warehouse and purchase any other items.” So, getting into Costco seems to require a membership from the start.

However, Marissa Laliberte over at Reader’s Digest has proposed a way to circumvent even this rule. Costco offers cards known as Costco Cash Cards. They’re gift certificates that act as a “convenient way for members to pay.” But, Laliberte proposes, you could ask a friend to pick you up one of these gift cards, which can amount from anywhere between $25 to $1,000 usable in Costco.

Having this card in hand, Reader’s Digest reports, should be enough to get you into a Costco warehouse without a membership. Keep in mind, only members can buy and refill Costco Cash Cards.

Is it worth it?

Becoming a member has other bonuses that may be worthwhile tooBecoming a member has other bonuses that may be worthwhile too
Becoming a member has other bonuses that may be worthwhile too / Flickr

The decision of which way to go with Costco membership will come down to each consumer and their individual needs. If using a gifted Cash Card will suffice, then that can be the end of it without the $60 yearly fee.

Costco does not offer a lifetime membership package to consumers. However, staff who have worked there for 25 years or longer are considered longtime employees and are entitled to retirement and severance benefits, in part in the form of a lifetime membership.

Costco Cash Cards may be enough to get into the warehouseCostco Cash Cards may be enough to get into the warehouse
Costco Cash Cards may be enough to get into the warehouse / Flickr

What exactly does membership get you, besides an easy, on-demand way to get into the warehouse and pay for goods? For one thing, the store’s website is accessible to all but only members avoid a 5% additional charge for online shopping. There are also items and sales visible exclusively to members.

Additional perks include at-home delivery and installation of major appliances as well as a two-year Costco extended warranty. If your shopping needs will likely see you benefitting from these deals, then a membership may be something to consider. If not, the gift of Costco Cash Cards are there as an alternative.

A membership is required to buy a gift cardA membership is required to buy a gift card
A membership is required to buy a gift card / eBay

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