If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably found yourself thinking, “Wait… I have to buy a membership just to shop at Costco?” For some people, that system works (and it definitely earns you loads of savings), but if you want to shop at Costco without becoming a member, keep reading!
Can You Shop At Costco Without A Membership?
The answer to this question is tricky. Technically, shoppers cannot enter a physical Costco location to shop unless they have a valid membership. However, there are a few loopholes.
The most straightforward loophole is the Costco guest policy. The guest policy allows shoppers without memberships to enter with Costco members, but the catch is that only Costco members are allowed to make purchases. So, as long as you go with a friend who’s willing to go in on the cost and then sort out finances later, you’ll be able to shop at Costco without a membership.
And yes: Costco does check member IDs at the entrance when shoppers enter.
One loophole that works in some states is heading to Costco to buy alcohol. Because it’s illegal in states like Massachusetts, California, and Arizona to require a membership for alcohol sales, Costco stores in these states and others allow non-members to purchase beer, wine, and liquor.
Here is a list of all the states that allow alcohol purchases at Costco without a membership:
- New York
The other major loophole for shopping at Costco as a non-member is shopping online. Anyone can shop online at Costco.com regardless of whether they’re a member or not. The only drawback for non-members is that they are charged a 5% surcharge on their purchases. You also have to sign up for an account, but entering a membership number during the signup process is optional.
How Much Is A Costco Membership?
When it comes to Costco memberships, shoppers have a few different options: Gold Star, Executive, Business, and Business Executive. Prices vary depending on the level.
Here, we will go over the four membership levels, their costs, and their benefits.
- Gold Star ($60/year)
Gold Star is the basic Costco membership that allows shoppers to shop online (without the 5% surcharge) and enter Costco locations to shop in person. Members receive two member cards which can be used by you and one other person in your household if you have a gold star membership.
- Executive ($120/year)
Executive members gain access to Costco Warehouse locations and Costco online, and they also receive a 2% annual reward on qualified purchases. Executive members also receive discounts on Costco services and a subscription to Costco Connections magazine.
- Business ($60/year)
Costco Business members can shop online and in-store for resale purposes. These members can also add other people to their membership for $60 per person. This membership level is best for small business owners, particularly restaurant and café owners or anyone needing to provide food and essential items to customers and employees on an ongoing basis.
- Business Executive ($120/year)
Finally, the Costco Business Executive membership is just like the Executive membership, with the added benefit of being able to legally resell the items you purchase at Costco. For business owners who want to earn 2% back on their purchases (up to $1000 per year) and who regularly utilize Costco services, this membership level is a great option.
All Costco memberships offer access to valuable savings everyday and include a 100% satisfaction guarantee, meaning that if you are not completely satisfied with your experience as a Costco member, you can request a refund for your membership. So, all things considered, signing up for a Costco membership is relatively risk-free.
Does Costco Offer Membership Discounts?
According to Costco’s website, they do not offer free or discounted memberships of any kind for any reason. However, the company assures its members that the cost of their membership will be recouped quickly in the form of savings found while shopping at their stores and online.
Does Costco Have A One-Day Pass?
Unfortunately, there is no official one-day guest pass program for shopping at Costco. They do not offer trial memberships either. However, their memberships have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you buy a membership and decide it isn’t quite working for your needs, you can request a refund.
6 Ways To Shop At Costco Without A Membership
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of shopping at Costco, we’ll give you a simple list of the five best ways to shop at Costco without a membership.
- Shop online – Anyone can shop at Costco.com regardless of whether they have a membership. Non-members are charged a 5% surcharge.
- Use a Costco Shop Card – While Costco doesn’t offer day passes, they do sell their version of a Costco gift card. Any Costco member can purchase a Costco Shop Card and gift it to a non-member. Shop Cards can be used to shop and purchase items at any Costco Warehouse location.
- Use the Costco Pharmacy – If you’re looking for somewhere to get your prescription drugs, don’t worry about having to sign up for a Costco membership. The Costco Pharmacy is open to everyone regardless of membership status.
- Visit Costco Optical for an eye exam – While you do need a Costco membership to purchase eyewear or contacts from Costco Optical, you do not need to be a member to make an appointment with an eye care specialist.
- Go with a friend – While you won’t technically be able to buy anything yourself, going to Costco with a friend who has a membership is a great way to get in the door. And if you’re lucky, your friend will be able to purchase your items for you.
- Use a delivery service – Some delivery services like Instacart and Google Express will shop at Costco for you regardless of whether you’re a member. Just know that these services are not free and that you might be expected to pay an additional fee on your Instacart order if you do not have a valid Costco membership.
What Is Costco’s Guest Policy?
According to Costco’s official guest policy, “members are welcome to bring children and up to two guests into the warehouse.” It’s important to note though that only Costco members are allowed to purchase items, including groceries and food court items like pizza and hot dogs.
Can You Use Someone Else’s Costco Card?
If you’re shopping in-store, there are a few ways that you can use someone else’s Costco card. One way is if you live in the same household as someone with a Costco membership and can provide proof that you share an address. Costco members can also add a second shopper onto their membership by name.
Another way to shop at Costco without a membership is if you work for someone who has a Costco Business membership. Costco Business members can add other people to their membership for $60 per person.
As far as shopping on Costco.com goes, anyone is welcome to shop regardless of their membership status. However, non-members are charged a 5% surcharge on purchases. The company is good at enticing customers to become members!
Can you go to Costco as a guest?
Yes! Costco has a welcoming guest policy. Any Costco member is welcome to bring in up to two adult guests per visit (guests under 18 are always welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult). However, guests are not allowed to make purchases.
Can you still shop at Costco if you forgot your member card?
Unfortunately, you will be expected to provide proof of membership upon entering Costco. But don’t worry. Even if you forget your membership card, you can provide your ID to guest services and they will provide you with a temporary card for your shopping experience.
Can you get a Costco membership online?
Yes! You can purchase a Costco membership online by clicking here.
How much is the Costco membership fee for seniors?
Unfortunately, Costco does not offer any form of senior discount on its memberships or on any of its products or services.
How do I get a free Costco membership?
There is no official way to get a free Costco membership. The only way to do this would be to become a household member with someone who pays for a membership or to be gifted a membership by a friend or family member.
While Costco might seem like a stickler for its memberships, their system seems to be working quite well for them. Costco customers are famously satisfied with the savings they receive on their purchases, and the company always seems eager to keep its customers happy. We hope this article helped clear up some of the mysteries around shopping at Costco without a membership!