You Can Shop at Costco Without Becoming a Member. Here’s How

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A man pushing a shopping cart through the aisles of a warehouse store.

Image source: Getty Images

Want to try Costco products but not join the club? This could be the solution. 


Key points

  • Costco is a warehouse club that offers discounts on bulk products.
  • You must be a member to shop at Costco in most circumstances.
  • If a Costco member buys you a Costco Shop Card, you can shop without being a member.  

Costco is a warehouse club that offers discounts on bulk purchases. This can help you cut grocery costs so you can put more money into savings or use it for other financial goals. Costco also has its own brand of products, the Kirkland Signature brand, which is very popular.  

If you want to shop at Costco, though, you generally must pay an annual membership fee to be eligible to buy items at the warehouse club. But this is actually not the case in every situation. In fact, there’s one way you can shop at Costco without becoming a member. Here’s how.

If you want to shop at Costco without buying a membership, there’s an easy way to do it — if you have a member who is willing to help you.

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See, if you have a Costco Shop Card, you are allowed to come into any Costco location in the U.S., Canada, or Puerto Rico and purchase items. And you are also allowed to purchase items online at Costco.com and Costco.ca. You do not have to be a member in order to make purchases at Costco with your Costco Shop Card.

What is a Costco Shop Card, exactly? It’s just a fancy way of saying a Costco gift card. So, basically, if you have a gift card to Costco, you don’t have to be a member to use it and you can take advantage of Costco’s low prices and get access to its beloved Kirkland brand items.

Now, there is a catch though. Only Costco members are allowed to buy Costco Shop Cards. So you would need someone who is a current Costco member to buy a gift card for you. And once you had spent the balance on your gift card, you would need them to get you another card or to reload your existing one.

Obviously, this is likely not a long-term solution, since you probably don’t want to hassle your friends and family with Costco memberships by asking them to buy you gift cards to the warehouse club all the time (even if you do pay them back). But if you’re hoping to just try out Costco to see if a membership is worth it or if you only shop there a few times a year for special purchases, then this could be a great option for you. 

Should you become a Costco member? 

Whether paying for a Costco membership is worth it will depend on many factors, including how often you plan to shop at the store and whether Costco’s prices on the items you regularly buy are discounted enough to cover the membership fee.

If you’re struggling to decide and you know a Costco member who is willing to buy a Shop Card for you, this can be a great way to test out whether membership is worth paying. You can get a chance to shop at the warehouse club with this approach in order to see if becoming a long-term customer is the right choice for you.

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