How to shop at Costco without a membership

  • Costco is known for its bulk products and huge savings, but it’s a members-only store that costs at least $60 a year to join.
  • You don’t need to have a membership to make use of some of Costco‘s services, like eye exams and the pharmacy.
  • Sites and apps like Instacart and Google Express have also made it easier to shop at Costco without a membership.

Warehouse clubs like Costco are known for their huge savings and the variety of items you can buy in bulk.

To access all of the savings, you typically need to become a Costco member. The annual fee is $60 for “gold star” or business memberships and $120 for each of the two executive plans, which include extra savings and benefits like 2% back on purchases.

But there are ways to get around spending that extra $60 or $120 a year, including using a Costco Cash Card, buying nonmember items like alcohol, and eating at the food court.

Here are more ways to shop at Costco without a membership.


Use Instacart …

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Facebook/Instacart

Grocery-delivery services like Instacart make it easy to shop at Costco without a membership. The first order through it is free, and each shipment after that is a flat $5.99.


… or shop through Google Express.

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Google Express

Google Express is similar to Instacart, but it offers free delivery if you spend over $35.

You don’t need a Costco membership to use either grocery-delivery service.


Go with a member.

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Getty Images/Tim Boyle

Members are allowed to bring up to two guests with them when they go to Costco. Only members can make purchases, however, so you’d have to pay them back for whatever you buy on your trip.


Use a Costco Cash Card.

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Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

Only members can buy Costco Cash Cards, but anyone can use them at any Costco store in the US. The cards range from $10 to $100, with a $25 minimum if you buy one online.

You could also ask a member to buy you a $10 Cash Card in person and then complete the purchase with a debit card.

If you’re buying something with your Cash Card online, you’ll have to pay a 5% surcharge over the posted price.


Use a household or business membership.

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Getty Images / The Washington Post

If you live with a member or work at a company that has a membership, you might be able to use their member cards to shop.


Shop at Costco’s online store.

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Facebook.com/Costco

You don’t have to be a member to shop online at Costco, but without a membership, you’ll have a 5% surcharge.

But unless you spend thousands of dollars at Costco, the 5% surcharge can end up being less than the membership fee.


Buy alcohol.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In some states, alcohol sales can’t be prohibited through a club or a membership.

If that’s the case in your state, you can tell the Costco attendant you’re purchasing a nonmember product and be allowed in to buy alcohol.


Use the pharmacy …

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Facebook/Costco Pharmacy #1228

Like alcohol, prescription-drug sales can’t be limited through a club or a membership, meaning anyone can use the Costco pharmacy to fill prescriptions and buy over-the-counter medication, which could mean major savings.


… and other health services.

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Yelp/Costco Optical Vision Center

Though you need a membership to buy glasses and hearing aids at Costco, you can get flu shots and eye and ear exams without a membership.


Go to the food court.

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Hollis Johnson

The food court is open to members and nonmembers – and it’s super cheap. A large pizza is only $10, and a hot dog and soda combo is $1.50.