Costco is full of stuff you had no idea existed, but clearly cannot live without. What if you’re on the fence about paying $60 for an annual membership? Perhaps the bulk aspect has you concerned that you’ll end up wasting a lot of stuff. Or maybe you just aren’t sure if the savings is enough to justify the membership. If this is you, I have some good news for ya. I recently discovered a bunch of really cool ways to take advantage of Costco without paying a dime for a membership.
Here are the cool things you can do, and buy, at Costco without a membership:
1. Shop With a Costco Shop Card
If you have a friend or family member who’s a current Costco member, you can have them buy you a Costco shop card which can be used to buy all items in the warehouse.
This is a great option if you’re a college student or just want to test out the savings the warehouse can provide before diving in with an annual membership.
Just show the card checker at the door your “shop card” and you can shop in Costco and use the card when checking out.
Important disclaimer….you can only use the card once in Costco. So if you have a $100 card and only spend $30, they’re going to give you $70 cash back.
Conversely, if you have have a $100 card and spend $125, you’ll have to make up the difference with cash or debit card. Also, depending on the Costco, they may not let you buy the complete order and may ask you to put $25 worth of merchandise back on the shelf.
Members can reload money on the card only at the membership desk.
Bonus Tip: You can also use the card to buy gas at Costco stations as well as online at Costco.com.
2. Buy Prescription Meds from the Pharmacy
The pharmacy at Costco is available to members and non-members alike.
Just bring the prescription from your doctor, tell the card checker that you’re using the pharmacy and they’ll direct you where to go.
You can even get your prescriptions filled online and have them delivered to your home at NO extra cost.
The one down side is you won’t gain access to the Costco Member Prescription Program Discount Card which is only available to paying members.
The discount card will save you up to 40% on your medications so it may be worth joining for the savings it provides.
3. Get an Immunization Shot
Along with filling prescriptions, Costco also offer immunizations to members and non-members. Be sure to call your local Costco ahead-of-time as an appointment may be required.
If you don’t have medical coverage that covers basic immunizations and the flu shot, Costco has the reputation of being a very affordable option.
To save time, fill out this Immunization Consent Form at home and bring it with you.
4. Get Your Eyes Checked
Did you know you can get your eyes checked at Costco without a membership?
Most Costco locations have an independent optometrist in, or near, the warehouse who you can call and schedule an appointment with.
No membership is required, but you’ll need a membership or shop card to buy contacts and eyeglasses.
5. Buy Alcohol
Due to state laws, many states allow you to buy alcohol from “membership clubs” like Costco, BJ’s Wholesale, and Sam’s Club without a membership.
Currently, a Costco membership is not required to purchase alcohol in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Vermont.
6. Browse the Store Before Deciding to Join
If you simply ask the greeter/card checker at the door if you can walk in and peruse the warehouse they’ll send you to the membership desk.
Once you make it to the desk, you can pick up an application and get permission to walk around before signing-up.
This is a great way to see if the warehouse club is right for your needs before dropping $60.
7. Chow Down at the Food Court
If your local Costco has an outside food court you can absolutely take advantage without an official membership.
Makes for a great lunch stop for the $1.50 hot dog/soda meal deal or a couple slices of cheap, but quite good, pizza.
If your location lacks an outside food court, just tell the card checker you’re there to get membership information and head for the food court as well.
Be sure to bring cash as that’s all they will take.
8. Shop at Costco.com
So if you’re buying something over $1,100, you’ll want to buy the $60 basic membership, otherwise you’re losing money on the deal.
I’d also add that Costco has a great reputation for treating their employees well and offering excellent benefits.
They should be applauded for this and other companies should take notice.
Photo by Portal Abras.