Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership?

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership?

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Can You Shop at Costco Without a MembershipCan You Shop at Costco Without a Membership

We have had our Costco membership for over 15 years and recently downgraded from the Executive Plan of $100 a year and 2% “cash back” to the $55 a year version since we were not spending enough to warrant the higher membership level.

Honestly, we use our membership to buy gas more than we shop in the store. Items we do buy there are paper plates, trash bags, rotisserie chicken, milk, eggs in bulk, and booze. Oh oh oh… and their huge bag of frozen corn. Love their frozen corn… it’s the best!

A lot of their items are unique to Costco or harder to find {Margaritaville flip flops for example} and they have their own generic line which is cheaper than the name brands they sell in the store and very comparable {Kirkland brand tequila is very good according to my tequila connoisseur friends.}.

We also picked up our AWESOME dining room table there on sale – it was regularly $999 in the store and we saved $250 on it. It’s a huge hunk of solid wood and we feel that we found a great deal on it.

Their meats are high quality and the prices are good. I do think their boneless skinless chicken is pricey and we no longer buy it there but when we need to buy beef or pork ribs, which is where we check first.

Another item I love buying with our membership are gift cards. If I know that we are going to eat someone I will go pick up a $100 gift card for $80. This comes in handy around the holidays especially when Bob is hosting events for work at restaurants.

Whether you are buying name brand or generic, your savings will vary over regular store shopping with some items up to 50% savings.

Reportedly 70% Costco’s profits are from their membership fees and are collected a year in advance. Brilliant! {Click here to read USA Today’s article on Costco membership fees.}

If you don’t need a membership, read on how you can use Costco to save money without buying a membership on services and  products. {Which isn’t a long term plan… just enough to test the waters to see if it’s for you.}


First, let’s talk about ways to get around of shopping at Costco without a card and then we will delve into the items and services that you can take advantage of that are in the store.

Go with Another Costco Member

This is the easiest way to be able to shop at Costco without a membership card. Each member is allowed to bring two non members per shopping trip but the member must be the one to pay – you cannot. What makes this plan better is if you both need some of the same items at are multi packs and you can split the cost if you don’t need more than one of the item. Show your appreciation by spending a few bucks at the food court and by them lunch!

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership
Shop With a Costco Cash Card aka Gift Card

You know that friend you just bought lunch for? Ask them to buy you a Costco gift card, which they call Costco Cash Card. This cash card opens the gates for you to shop in the store, online, and pump at their gas station.

Tip – have them buy the minimum, which is $25 per card. So, instead of buying $100 on 1 card, have it spread out over 4 cards and that guarantees you 4 shopping trips! Once you are at the store and shop, you give the cashier 1 of your $25 cash cards THEN pay the remainder with your debit card or cash.

From the website:

Costco has created another convenient way for members to pay for their purchases: The Costco Cash card.

You must be a Costco member to purchase or reload Costco Cash Cards.  Members and non-members may use the cash cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at or on Costco Cash balances may be used toward membership or merchandise.

The Costco Cash card features include:

  • A convenient payment option in our warehouses, gas stations, and
  • No expiration date
  • Are rechargeable at any Costco warehouse location
  • Can be purchased in denominations from $25 to $1,000
  • A supply card or gas card for businesses
  • A means to provide students with money for food, gas, or school and dormitory necessities, while being able to limit their spending
  • Balance can be accessed on, the warehouse “red kiosk” or by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card

Shop Online

If you don’t have a Costco membership or a Costco Cash Card in your hand, you can still shop online at

I love Costco furniture and our home has several pieces from there. If you are looking for a great deal on unique pieces, then this might work for you. But note, if you are buying a new patio set that is over $1,000 and it’s carried in the stores… just buy the membership because the savings is a wash once you add on the 5% surcharge for not being a member.


Now that you learned how to shop without a card for lots of items at one time, let’s take a look at specific items you can buy by just walking up to the door and say you needed access to buy.

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership


We buy all of Bob’s meds online in bulk but if we didn’t, we would probably send them to Costco.

Since prescription drug sale are highly regulated, Costco and other membership stores who have a pharmacy are required to allow access so consumers have the opportunity to buy at discounted rates without a membership.

When you arrive just tell the door checker that you are dropping off or picking up a prescription.


Insurance plans now cover the flu shot so you may not be looking for the “best price.” Regardless if you have insurance or not, you can take advantage of some of the cheapest immunizations at Costco.

Hearing and Vision Tests

Since the care for hearing and vision are independently owned, you do not have a Costco member you can take advantage of their reasonably priced tests for hearing and vision. But… a big but… but you cannot purchase glasses, contacts, or hearing aids without the membership. So while you save on the testing, you can’t take advantage of the savings for the items you may need.

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Costco Food Court

I have to admit… I have an addiction to Pepsi. I pick restaurants based on which soft drinks they serve. Costco carries Pepsi products so I will stop in and grab my $.67 fountain Pepsi even though I am not buying anything else!

Spencer loves their berry smoothies and their new BBQ sandwich is pretty good. But… who can resist the best churro in town for only $1!

Want to go grab a churro? You can without a Costco membership! Just tell the door attendant you are addicted to their churros.

If you are not familiar with their food court they have a limited but yummy menu serving pizza, berry smoothies, hot dogs, BBQ sandwiches, salads, chicken bake, and frozen yogurt.

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership


Costco is very well known for their amazing prices on wine, beer, and hard liquor. My rum loving husband was able to find one of his favorite brans for HALF of what he pays at the cheapest local store.

Now, keep in mind that this may vary from state to state but you can buy alcohol at Costco without a membership if you are of legal age to purchase. If you live in Nevada don’t get too excited because our state laws don’t allow it but you can if you live in California! Yep, just tell the person at the door that you are there to buy alcohol only and they should allow you through the magical doors.

Tobacco Products

Just like with the purchase of alcohol at Costco, if you are of legal age you should be able to purchase your items without a membership. Again, will vary from state to state depending on laws that govern the purchases of these types of items.

Do you have a membership to a warehouse? Which one, do you think it’s worth it, and what tips do you have for maximizing the benefits? Comment below.

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership