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8 Ways You Can Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Costco is the best place to buy bulk items at discounted prices, but there’s one problem: you need a membership to shop there. They don’t offer guest passes, one-day memberships, or any kind of free trial, so how can you get that Costco experience without paying the membership fees first? Well, there are actually a few ways you can shop at Costco without a membership. If you find that they have everything you need, purchasing a membership will be the most convenient and probably the most cost-effective in the long run. Here are the eight ways you can access most of what Costco offers as a non-member.

1. Use a Costco Gift Card (aka Shop or Cash Card)

If you have a Costco gift card, also known as the Costco Shop Card, you can enter any warehouse and buy your favorite items. But there is one catch: only members can buy Costco Shop Cards and give them to others. So, if you have been gifted one, you can use it to shop at Costco or even purchase a yearly membership with it if you plan to continue going there in the future.

2. Shop With a Member

Costco members can bring two guests with them to warehouses, so if you know someone who is already a member, you can just go with them. The good news is that the guests do not have to be family members. Maybe you can even split the membership cost with two friends if you are all willing to shop together.

Costco members can also choose another person in their household to receive a free membership card. This free membership card is included in the regular membership fees but can only be used for individuals living in the same household as the primary Costco member.

3. Shop on

You do not need a membership to shop online at Costco, but you should be aware that non-members pay a 5% surcharge on most items. The only type of product not included in this 5% surcharge is prescriptions. Signing up on Costco’s website is free, but you may have a minimum order requirement to meet, depending on which delivery method you use. Also, Costco sells tons of member-only items that cannot be ordered online as a non-member, which are clearly labeled on the website.

4. Order Same-Day Delivery on Instacart

Costco uses Instacart for Same-Day Delivery, which means you can find your favorite Costco items on Instacart and order them without a warehouse membership. But this option is going to be a little bit costly. For starters, Costco’s prices on Instacart are higher than in-store prices. Additionally, Instacart has fees that will be added to cover the cost of personal shopping, like delivery and service fees. There may even be an extra charge if your order is too heavy. But still, this can be a convenient option for non-members, especially when in a pinch.

5. Buy Alcohol

In select states, you can buy alcohol at Costco without a membership. This is because certain states require stores like Costco to sell wine and liquor to everyone, not just the members. These include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Vermont

If you live in one of these states, you can go to the wine and liquor section of the store. Many Costco warehouses have separate liquor store entrances to make it easier for non-members to access.

6. Buy Prescriptions

You may already know that Costco Pharmacy often has competitive prices on prescriptions, and what’s even better is that you don’t have to be a member to shop there. They accept many forms of payment, including cash, debit cards, credit cards (Visa only), and Costco Shop Cards.

7. Use Optical Services

Most of Costco’s optical services are also available to shoppers without a membership. Anyone can book an appointment for an eye exam with one of their in-house optometrists. If you need contacts or glasses, you can get a prescription from the optometrist, but you need to be a member to buy them.

8. Eat at the Food Court

Anyone can eat at the Costco food court without a membership, but the problem is getting inside, right? Well, try using one of the tips I mentioned above, and once you’re in the warehouse, you can order from the food court without any trouble.

Some Costco locations in warmer climates have their food court outside the warehouse, so you don’t even have to get in. But just be aware, some Redditors reported that Costco started checking membership cards to enter outside food courts at some locations.

About the Author

Alex Burgess is a registered dietitian and content creator with over two years of experience. She loves sharing nutrition information and has a passion for studying gut health.

During her free time, she enjoys hiking with friends, cooking a new recipe for her family, or watching her dog frolic at the dog park.

November 12, 2022