Flickr: Mike Mozart

There's a Way to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

If you buy groceries or supplies in bulk, there's a good chance you have, or at least have considered a Costco membership. Costco prices for bulk items are pretty hard to beat at your average grocery store. But if you don't live near a Costco location or you're not sure the annual membership fee is worth it to join Costco, there's a way to basically get the Costco membership deals for free.

This method is completely legit, backed up by Costco itself, although you will need an assist from a current Costco member. The Costco Cash Card aka Costco shop card is a gift card that allows members and non-members to shop at any Costco location and there are no restrictions on what the Costco gift card can be used for. You can even use it at Costco gas stations. The only caveat is you cannot get cashback on the card.

How To Get a Free Membership to Costco

free membership at Costco


The card can only be purchased by a Costco member, but they can be loaded with up to $1,000, so if you have a good friend or family member with a Costco membership, you can take advantage of their membership and have them purchase the card for you. The card can be used multiple times and reloaded (you'll need the Costco member to handle that in person, too), so it's more or less like having a free membership at Costco.

You'll need to show the Costco Cash Card, instead of a Costco membership card when you enter the Costco Warehouse. You can also use the card online at, but if you're a non-member, you'll pay a 5 percent surcharge over the price advertised for members.

This method is probably best if you can only make it to the warehouse club once or twice a year. It's also great if you want to try it out and see if you would get your money's worth from either the $60 Costco gold star membership or the $120 executive membership.

If you want to become a new member, the gold star executive card is a good place to start. It works like a debit card and is good for one year. If you're more interested in a Visa credit card, you may want to try the executive. Executive members get perks like 2% rewards on qualified purchases from and Costco Travel.

Personally, we think the Kirkland Signature line alone is worth it.

Can Military Get Free Membership at Costco?

Unfortunately, there is no free Costco membership to members of the military, however, the store does offer their Executive membership for only $60, which is a savings of 50% on the membership cost.

There are a few other ways to save money shopping their lower prices without having a membership. You can buy prescription drugs at any Costco location or online without needing to be a Costco member; you can also get a flu shot or make an appointment for eye and ear exams. If you're a fan of Costco's food court, you can buy their hot dogs and pizza without being a member. You may also be able to buy alcohol without a membership; it varies based on state law, so check with your local Costco store.

Non-members can also purchase from Costco online, however, there is a 5% surcharge.