How to Essentially Get a $60 Costco Membership for Free (7 Ways to Make it Happen)

August 9, 2016 by Kyle
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(Updated 1/23/19) My family loves to shop at Costco. In terms of savings, we basically get our Costco membership for free. From the Kirkland deals, to the giant play-structure that unmercifully snatched 3 days of my life, the Costco warehouse provides some great ways to save money.

Over the years I have discovered some out-of-the-box ways to save at Costco that can easily pay for your $60 gold membership in a couple short months.

These techniques essentially get you a Costco membership for free. Either by granting you access to the warehouse without having to pay for a membership, or simply by helping you save a quick $60 by shopping smart and getting discounts.

Here are the 7 ways that’ll basically score you a free annual membership to Costco.

How to Score Costco Membership for Free

Buy Kirkland and Easily Save $60/year

The Kirkland brand at Costco is pretty stellar, and by consistently opting for the in-house brand, your savings will easily surpass $60 annually.

As a matter of fact, many Kirkland products are actually manufactured by the popular (and expensive) name-brand. Here are a few to be aware of:

Kirkland Signature Craft Beer = Gordon Biersch: I love Gordon Biersch beer, and guess what, I love Kirkland craft beer too. Go figure.

Kirkland Signature Premium Small Batch Bourbon = Buffalo Trace: From Insider Louisville, “Kirkland is from Buffalo Trace and tastes like Jim Beam — a little bit, anyway.”

Kirkland Vodka = Grey Goose: The fact that we’re even having the conversation tells me to always buy the WAY cheaper Kirkland brand vodka.

Kirkland Scotch = Macallan 18: A great way to save money on a quality Scotch is to buy the Kirkland brand.

Kirkland Tuna = Bumble Bee: According to a bunch of Amazon reviews, Kirkland Tuna tastes just like, or better, than Bumblebee Tuna.

Kirkland Diapers = Huggies: Apparently the Kirkland brand of diapers is made by Huggies.

Kirkland Laundry Detergent = Good chance it’s made by Sun.

Gotta love the Kirkland brand. What are some of your favorite items?

See Also: 12 Things You Should Never Buy at Costco

Buy The Right Stuff

Perhaps the best way to make up for your $60 Costco membership is to buy the items that provide the most savings. Here are a few of the best Costco buys that are no-brainers.

Tires: Not only does Costco have excellent prices and instant rebates on tire brands like Goodyear, BF Goodrich, and Bridgestone, but they offer awesome add-on services.

These include lifetime rotation and balancing, lifetime warranty replacements, and nitrogen tire inflation which keeps pressure much better than air.

Wine: If you’re a wine connoisseur and buy at least 5 bottles a month, the savings on wine at Costco will quickly pay for your annual membership.

On average you can save $5 to $12 per bottle depending on the original price of the wine. Check out the Costco Wine Blog for terrific independent reviews of the wines found at Costco.

Movie Tickets: The best way to save on tickets to your local movie theater is to buy tickets from Costco.

You’ll find killer deals like 10-packs of AMC or Premiere tickets for $89.99 and a 10-pack at Cinemark Theaters for $84.99.

Nutella: At $0.18 cents an ounce, you’d be a fool to buy it anywhere else.

Amazon can’t come close at almost twice the cost. Walmart is a little closer at almost 25 cents per ounce.

Gift Cards: Costco has some killer deals on bulk gift cards with savings in the 25%-35% off range.

The gift cards typically come in 4 or 5 packs and make for great gifts for friends, teachers, stocking stuffers, and coaches.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Kirkland EVOO rates very highly and is 15-20% cheaper than the name-brand.

Keep in mind that the Kirkland EVOO that says “Toscano” on the label is the higher quality oil.

Pure Vanilla Extract: The Kirkland variety is the cheapest price you’ll find anywhere.

What items at Costco provide you with the most savings? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to my list.

Shop With a Costco Cash Card

While you must be a Costco member to buy or reload a Costco cash card, anybody can redeem one at ANY Costco location as well as at Costco.com (they’ll take an extra 5% when shopping on their website).

A fantastic way to shop at Costco, without dropping $60 on an annual membership, is to have a friend or family member, who is a Costco member, buy you a Costco cash card in the warehouse or online.

You can buy a card with a value up to $1,000 so be sure to get an amount that won’t require a reload for a long time.

This is also a great option for college students who doesn’t necessarily need to buy a lot of stuff in bulk as a cash card still provides a way to buy food, gas, and school supplies in the warehouse.

Also, I was informed recently by loyal reader, Bob J., that you can walk-in with a friend and immediately shop without a Costco membership.

Bob explained it this way, “The other day I went to Costco with my brother. who has a membership. I asked the person checking people at the store entrance if I could get in in order to buy a Costco gift card. I was directed to the C/S desk. I also asked if I could use it immediately and was told “Yes”.”

See Also: Skip the Membership: All The Stores That’ll Price Match Costco

Use an “Instant” Costco Coupon

Costco has gotten very smart when it comes to coupons and it’s a beautiful thing. Not only do you not need to clip Costco coupons, but you don’t even need to have them with you.

Their monthly coupon book has a bunch of killer coupons and the discount is automatically taken at the checkout register.

So even if you’re not aware that an item has a coupon available, you’ll still get the price reduction when checking out.

These coupons can easily help recoup your $60, often without you even knowing it.

Costco “Anywhere Visa” Pays Your Membership Fee

The math on this one is simple. If you shop at Costco and spend about $230 a month, your membership will be completely free. Just apply for the Costco Anywhere Visa card by Citi to make it happen.

Not only will you get 2% cash back at Costco, but you’ll also score 4% back on gas including Costco gas, 3% back at eligible restaurants and hotels, and 1% back on everything else.

Also, there’s NO annual fee but you’ll want to pay your balance in full every month or get hit by 15.49% APR.

Watch for Living Social Deals

Just recently, the folks at Living Social.com had a pretty killer Costco deal that easily paid the $60 membership fee in terms of savings.

For only $55, the deal gave you a 1-year Gold Star Membership ($55 value), a $20 Costco cash card, AA Batteries 72-pack ($18.99 value), Food Court Pizza ($9.95 value), Organic Tortilla Chips ($4.99 value), and if that wasn’t enough you got a coupon good for $25 off an order of $250 or more at Costco.com.

This deal expired a while back, but the reason I share this is because they will have it again and I want you to be ready to jump all over it when they do.

Subscribe to the Living Social newsletter and then you’ll see it in your inbox on the day it’s released to the public.

See Also: The Costco Return Policy: 7 Ways To Make It Work For You

Savings from “Price Protection” is Substantial

If you regularly take advantage of the Costco 30-day price protection policy, you can easily save your $55 annual fee. As a matter of fact, you’ll be playing with house money in no time.

Whenever you make a significant purchase, keep the receipt in your wallet or purse and check the price on subsequent visits over the next month.

When you see a lower price, just take your receipt to the Costco customer service desk and get some money back.

Lost your receipt? No problem as all your purchases are kept in the Costco system and can be pulled up with your membership card.

They’ll be able to easily access the amount you paid for the product and refund you if the price has indeed dropped.

See Also: 8 Brilliant Ways to Save Money and Time at Costco

Hopefully these tips will help you easily recoup your $60 Costco membership in a few short months. How do you save money at Costco?

BONUS #1: But I Want an Actual Free Costco Membership

Unlike Sam’s Club, Costco does not offer a free 1-day pass to check out the warehouse.

Well, actually they kinda do. To make it happen, just sign-up for a 1-year Costco membership and at any point, if you’re not completely satisfied, they’ll refund you the entire cost of the annual membership, no questions asked.

They call it their Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and all you have to do to get your refund is visit the customer service desk and let them know.

So in essence Costco offers a free 364-day trial to their warehouse. Not a bad Costco membership discount to say the least.

BONUS #2: Use the Ibotta App

It’s no secret that Costco doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons of any kind. But…a great workaround is to use the free Ibotta app on your smartphone.

Bonus: Sign-up now and get a $10 welcome bonus when you redeem your first Ibotta rebate.

The app has a ton of “instant rebates” good at Costco that can easily pay for your membership over the course of a year. Rebates on things you’ll be buying anyways like milk, eggs, fruit, produce, beer, and even health/beauty products.

All you have to do is shop like you normally would, scan your Costco receipt via the Ibotta app, and collect your rebate money.

Ibotta is one of my favorite apps and makes for a great money-saving companion whenever you enter the Costco warehouse.

Happy savings.


By Kyle James

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sollie davis
sollie davis

I was charged twice for membership. Need to take one of the $110.00 off.
Need a follow-up reply. 11/5/2016. Was made on line 11/4/2016.
Thanks Dorothy Davis

Bob
Bob

No one at Costco will see this.

Jack
Jack

Sssshhhhh. Don’t jinx it.

Jordan
Jordan

I work at Costco and I saw this lol. Stop in at your membership desk and they’ll fix ya up!

Nikunj
Nikunj

want to buy all stuff of my 1 year old daughter.

Alexandra
Alexandra

I had a friend buy me a pre-paid card at costco. When I used it, the cashier didn’t know what to do since I wasn’t a member, and the customer service person came and said they would honor it this time , but not again.

ppp
ppp

I have the membership. I bought costco gift card from the website by using discover card so that I get 5%(they dont take discover in store), I only gave the gift card to the cashier, she said I normally need the membership card as well.

smn
smn

If you don’t have an actual Costco membership – you cannot shop there outside of the pharmacy

Rob
Rob

Not accepting a gift card to your store is illegal. I don’t think there is an exception for membership stores, but I haven’t read the entire gift card law. They don’t get to decide what ever they want. They may be breaking the law.

Kimberly W
Kimberly W

Just 1 more Kirkland item to add to the list. I worked for Sunsweet Growers and we packed prunes for Kirkland /Costco. Kirkland has high requirements for the processing of their prunes so not only are they great tasting, but they are seriously high quality!

kristi
kristi

I went there a few months ago because of a $200 Costco giftcard my brother got me. The cashier refused to let us use the giftcard, so eventually we just bought a new membership to purchase the stuff already in the cart – shopping with twin toddlers & I already told them some stuff was for them. Anyways, we haven’t been back about 3-4 months, so went back to “return” the membership and it was the worse experience ever. I think their 100% satisfaction guaranteed is a load of crap.

smn
smn

It’s because you have to have an actual Costco “membership”

Rachel R.
Rachel R.

Whether or not you save enough to make it worth the membership fee (not to mention the extra shopping stop whenever you shop) depends a lot on the kinds of things you buy. If it’s not a year you need tires, you’re not a big alcohol drinker, you don’t eat a lot of processed food, and you don’t have much of a budget for nonessential purchases, it’s iffy. (That’s true of the other warehouse stores, too.)

John
John

Has the policy of non-members being permitted to shop? I recently joined Sam’s with a $20 gift card. The first time I went to the register I accidentally submitted the gift card – the cashier declined it and informed me she needed the membership card. Is that by-pass membership maneuver down and out?

Connie
Connie

I currently have a Costco membershiip card. Can I obtain a card for my cousin who is now living with me?

ppp
ppp

if he is living with you, you actually can get another card for him for free, as long as you can proof his residency like the address of his bank statement

bruce
bruce

I think the 110.00 member is a scam to get 2.00 back for every 100.00 you spend.
sams club lets you go for one day and buy and see whats it like. costco does not but they say if your not happy you get your memb back. I would like to try it to see if i like it it to me is a money scam. any costco company have comments get in touch

Cookie 4U
Cookie 4U

I believe your right about the 110.00 membership I don’t see the return in it and it is about to become $120.00.
I belong to BJs club I pay $40.00 for a 15 month membership not a 12 month like Costco.
My brother belongs to Sam’s club he pays $45.00 a year but they give him a $20.00 gift card to spend in store. So I don’t see what the big attraction is to Costco unless you are a employee in which case your membership is free.

Jimbo
Jimbo

You are way off base on your comments. For whatever its flaws (and I don’t think there are many), Costco is both an awesome place to work (vs. other retail) and an awesome place to shop, both in an absolute sense and an in-comparison-to-other-warehouse-clubs sense. There is no comparison in the customer experience, savings and guarantees at Costco vs. the other other warehouse clubs. The annual Costco membership fee, even with the occasional increases, is an incredible value vs. what you receive. Finally, how can you possibly prefer to get one free shopping day at BJ’s (to see if you like it) vs. getting up to 364 free days of shopping at Costco, IF you tell Costco that you didn’t get your money’s worth (which I would say is virtually impossible) before your membership year is up. IF you could only choose one warehouse club, Costco would be the only way to go. I urge you to try it. Peace.

Masha
Masha

I would disagree. I switch between Costco and Sam’s Club every year (I get a Groupon or the like for the membership which makes it cheaper, and you can’t be a current member to get those, so I ping pong back and forth each year.)
Both stores are in about the same proximity to me, so distance is not an issue. But honestly I so much more prefer my Sam’s club experience than Costco. I get the same stuff at both stores. I find their brand names to be comparable in the things that I buy. All the external brands are the same at both stores. Sam’s has this new(ish) scan and go feature which is AWESOME! but even if I don’t use it for whatever reason and use an actual check out….hardly ever, the lines are a fraction on those at Costco. It’s so much easier to get in and out of Sam’s with the same selection of goods at the same prices. Sam’s is owned by Walmart and thus many prefer Costco because they don’t like that… I don’t care. I like the ease of shopping Sam’s offers. One thing I like at Costco, and this is the first time in I don’t know how many years when I wish I had my Costco membership active is the Travel discounts because Sams’ shut theirs down. (it used to be better than Costco’s.) Yet for everyday shopping I vote Sam’s hands down. Also Sams’ not takes both Visa and Amex where Costco only Visa (last I shopped there)… I prefer to use my Amex most of the time.

P.S. Just an FYI this is for anyone shopping pharmacy. Costco and then Sams’ have the lowest prices on Pharmacy prescription. However, by law you don’t need a membership to shop either of the pharmacies. So if that’s what you need to save on, head on over, no membership needed. (CVS is the most expensive pharmacy in the nation in comparison.

Margarita febles
Margarita febles

Very un happy experience at the costco al lantana fl,i stop at the service desk to find out the price for the member card,the person who take care me vas very hostil n rude,i look at my daughter and said wao
I have sams card they always nice

Jack Ceang
Jack Ceang

Totally BS. $55 is $55. You can get things on sale at many other stores at even cheaper price. This only makes sense if you are busy and only shop at one or two stores.

Tim
Tim

•Members and non-members may use the Costco Cash Cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and online at Costco.com.
•Non-members will be charged a 5% surcharge over the member’s posted product prices (except for prescription drugs) when purchasing on Costco.com

Mazzy
Mazzy

We just didn’t find the membership fee worth it. Not a great selection of quality, reasonable food or products for a financially conservative, small family. We didn’t see great price savings.

The prices might be ok on some items, but there is a LOT of stuff I would never buy, especially at the quantities required. It is either junk food or very high-end furniture or something we would never buy in the first place. Plus the environment, pushy sales, and careless/grumpy help is depressing.

I’m glad the company is suppose to treat their employees better (which is why we tried it in the first place), but I don’t care to have my fresh fruit pulverized at the checkout.

The one thing we did like was the frozen fruit and vegetables. We are so lucky to have a lovely, large grocery store, Woodmans and then there is Target and vitacost.com and bobsredmill for everything else.

We once bought a blender at Costco (it wasn’t a Vitamix). It was junk. We ended up returning it and bought a great Oster w/a glass container at Target for less. I’m not sure how they get their non-signature merchandise, but if you see something and do your homework you’ll find that no one wanted the product in the first place.

I would have liked to have tried their optical dept, and I would have liked to have tried their travel services. But with places like kayak, expedia, priceline, orbiz, travelocity, etc, etc.,I always found great deals without paying $60 for the pleasure.

I looked at their insurance, but no savings. I couldn’t find any real savings. I personally feel that the days of these warehouses are numbered.

Search for Clorox and Woodman’s. Clorox refused to allow Woodmans to sell larger sizes of their product, which you could find at Costco which is only 2 miles down the street. A lawsuit was brought against Clorox. Is our membership fee at Costco going to bullying companies like Clorox to sell only to them, which ultimately hurt the smaller local guys trying to compete. Woodmans can do business without a membership fee, but Costco has to put up walls to limit competition.

Randy Chambers
Randy Chambers

I used to shop at Costco until they went up on their membership to 60 dollars so we had to go to Sams membership at 45 because we are seniors on a budget.Your company may want to think about us seniors bec San’ s has.

vincenzo miale
vincenzo miale

I missed sam closed, compare benefit sam and cotso, in credit card and visa sam was 100% better, on sams can use any credit or visa, sam’s card free exchange rate whe travel, cotso NO, sam’s allows pay bill locally COTSO no ,cost money 49 cent stamp, gasoline 5% member 55, problem can discuss locally, cotso everything on line, wasting my time

Denise Casados
Denise Casados

How about the hearing center?

Jerry
Jerry

Amazing price for hearing aid batteries- 48 @ $8.49. Just this 1 product pays for the membership fee.

Jen
Jen

We have saved many times the membership fee by buying prescription glasses at Costco as we have 2 kids who wear their glasses as well as 2 adults. Buying one pair of glasses at the optometrist easily costs $100-300 more than our insurance would pay. Last time I bought from the optometrist, my one pair of glasses were $300 out of pocket; I got 2 pair (including 1 pair of prescription sunglasses) at Costco this year for under $175. My kid wanted a pair of frames that were $250 at the optometrist, and insurance only covers $100 of that. Kids’ frames run $40 to $60 at Costco – good luck finding any frames at an opticians for under $100. Adult frames I think are mostly under $80, they have a few designer pairs behind the glass for more They often have buy two pair (for the same person), save $30-40 coupons.

Your experience may vary but I saved the membership fee alone on one pair of glasses for myself.

Kyle Parish
Kyle Parish

There is another way that wasn’t mentioned. You can order most stuff on costco.com with or without a membership.

 
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