The Hard Truth: No, You Can’t Get a Costco Membership for Free

Everyone wants a Costco membership. They have amazing deals and your bank won’t break a sweat, but is it possible to get a Costco membership for free? You probably believed in all those click-bait articles that promised you a free Costco membership only to be disappointed in the end.

So, let’s get past that hard truth first; No, you can’t get a Costco membership for free.

But wait! That doesn’t mean you have to be disappointed. There are many other ways to obtain Costco deals without spending a starting membership fee of $60 per year.

Before jumping into the juicy details of the “how”, let’s understand the “why” of not getting a Costco membership for free.

Why it’s not possible to get a Costco Membership for free

Costco’s policies are tight. That’s simply because membership is their business’ revenue model. You pay a yearly fee to Costco and in return they give you big discounts on everyday products. They make their money and you save a lot of money. It’s a fair deal.

According to Costco’s official website, the membership fee allows them to offset their operating costs and that’s how you’re able to get your hands on those great discounts. The membership isn’t binding, and as part of the Costco double guarantee, you can obtain a refund for your membership if you don’t like it.

It’s like a give and take relationship. With a Costco membership, you’ll have access to great deals that will help you recover the membership cost rather quickly. Having said that, a membership might not be suitable for everyone. Why? Terms and conditions. 

Maybe it isn’t the fee that’s stopping you from becoming a member after all. Another reason you’re stuck with no benefits from Costco is that you don’t meet their membership requirements, despite being willing to pay!

Costco membership terms and conditions

  • If you’re not from the United States, Puerto Rico, Canadian Federal, State, or Provincial governments, you can’t sign up for a Costco membership. You need a valid ID proof or a passport from these regions to become a member.
  • You can be a Costco member only if you’re 18 years of age or older.
  • Costco membership is subject to approval basis their privacy policies and other rules. Your membership application may be rejected at Costco’s discretion. 

Whether it’s the annual fee that’s keeping you away from Costco or you don’t meet one or more of the criteria mentioned above, you needn’t worry. There are many other ways to grab those deals!

Alternatives to a Costco Membership

Now that you understand the “why”, let’s get to the “how”. When something isn’t free, we all find ways to get the benefits without paying anything and it’s no different with Costco. No free membership, alright.

Let’s get those benefits at no cost then.

Costco Shop Card

Know an existing Costco member? Time to get in touch. They’re your gateway to the glorious Costco deals.

Ride pillion on their membership 😁

Get yourself a Costco shop card. Non-members can’t purchase this gift card. So, tell your “Costco member” friend to purchase it for you.

There you have it! A Costco shopping card without a membership.

But here are some things you need to keep in mind before sprinting through the Costco doors:

  • The Costco shop card has a minimum load of $25. You can load it up for a maximum of $2,000 if you want to go all out!
  • You can’t reload online. In fact, you, a non-member, can’t reload the Costco card at all. You’ll need to tell your member friend to go to a physical Costco store to reload it for you.
  • Don’t lose that card. If you do, the one who discovers it will go “finders, keepers!” You’ll then need another Costco shop card.
  • If you shop online at Costco via the Costco shop card, you pay an extra 5% surcharge. That’s over and above what members pay. So, it’s best to shop in-person at physical Costco stores whenever possible.

If all of this works for you and you know a Costco member, go get your Costco shop card now! 

Buy from

Physical stores are passé for many. That might not be true for Costco as their brick and mortar stores do have better deals and more products than their e-store.

However, for non-members, is one of the ways to grab cheaper products without a membership.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • All products are not for non-members. The ones not meant for you are marked as “Members only”.
  • The items might be discounted on but that price tag is still higher than the prices you find in physical Costco stores.
  • You’ll miss out on many other products as fresh or perishable items are not found on because your order might take several days to be delivered.
  • As mentioned earlier in this article, you’ll pay a 5% surcharge as a non-member when you checkout from Costco’s e-store. If you’re getting a good deal on an item, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Buying from Costco’s online store is a silver lining for non-members, if they don’t know an existing Costco member to get a Costco shop card from.

You can get a lot of great deals on some items and not to forget, some Costco exclusive items can’t be bought elsewhere.

Tag along with a Costco member

If a distant relative or a random acquaintance is a Costco member, it might be awkward at first but come on! Costco’s great deals can save you a lot of money.

And you’ll pay for your purchases to your friend so it doesn’t really matter if you’re tagging along.

According to their website, Costco members have the liberty to bring along two guests with them. While you can’t purchase items as a non-member, ask your friend to do so on your behalf. Sweet and simple.

A piece of advice: If you’re a frequent shopper, don’t annoy your “member” friends or family all the time. Their shopping frequency might not match yours.

In that case, going for a Costco Shop card or buying from Costco’s online store might be more suitable options.

You don’t need a Costco Membership for these items

The ways mentioned above are great ways to enjoy the benefits of Costco without becoming a member.

But did you know that there are products at Costco that can’t be “members only” products?

Well, according to some local, state and federal laws, these items can’t be gated behind a paywall.

Check them out:

  • Alcohol: Raise a toast to some of the best deals and lowest prices on alcohol at Costco! All of that without the requirement of any membership. But it’s limited to only states where local laws prohibit a company to levy membership charges for alcohol.

You’re in solid luck if you’re in one of these states — California, Colorado, Arizona, Hawaii, Delaware, Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Massachusetts, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Texas.

  • Prescriptions or/and vaccinations: If you have a prescription form a medical professional, you can walk straight into a Costco store and pick up your meds at the best prices! No need for a membership, whether you buy your or your pet’s meds online or in-person.

If your flu shots or other vaccinations are due, Costco can’t say no to you because you’re a non-member. You can take advantage of the low prices at Costco on all your necessary shots.

  • Costco’s health screening services: Another great way to save money is by using Costco’s health screening services. Some of these services are absolutely free and don’t require you to be a member.
  • Eye check ups: While you can’t buy glasses at Costco if you’re not a member, you can certainly get your orbs checked by a Costco optometrist at a lower than usual cost. This service is available at all in-person Costco stores.

All these benefits can stack up your savings manifold. As a non-member, you enjoy all of that but as a member, you surely get a massive lift that saves you even more money every year.

For those who can obtain a membership, it’s always the best option.

Many other stores have good deals on the same items, what’s such a big deal about Costco? Let’s compare some things that will answer that question. 

Costco Vs Other Stores

All other stores like Walmart, Aldi, BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Trader Joe’s have great deals too. Costco isn’t the winner in all departments but wherever it wins, it wins big.

If you’re a new member or an aspiring member, it’s good to know what you’ll save more on and what isn’t the best thing to buy at Costco. 

Let’s find out what items are not just a great deal but quite a steal at Costco.

  • Eggs: The price per dozen is about $1.74 which is cheaper than Walmart, Trader Joe’s and Aldi. You need to buy the 24 pack for this deal but it’s worth it for those who consume eggs on a regular basis.
  • Almond milk: If you’re a vegan, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Almond milk costs 99 cents per quart. That’s less expensive than other stores. However, Costco sells almond milk in bulk. You’ll have to purchase 12 quarts at a tIme.
  • Drumsticks: Drumsticks are just 99 cents per round. That’s lower than Walmart, Aldi and Trader Joe’s.
  • Kirkland Signature organic quinoa: You need to buy this item in bulk but when we do a per unit comparison, it costs you just $2.66 per pound. That saves you almost a dollar when compared with the price tag of $3.49 per pound at Trader Joe’s.
  • Kirkland Signature walnuts: They come in three pound bags, each priced $10.99. It’s  $3.66 per pound. That’s a whopping $4 less when compared to the price of $7.49 per pound at Trader Joe’s.

These are just some of the items that can make a huge difference to your bills when bought in bulk.

Costco is also known to have the best prices or deals on diapers, batteries, gift cards, kitchen furniture, kids’ clothes, kitchenware, food court items, olive oil and cereal.

Here are some items you may want to skip because Costco doesn’t give you much of a price advantage on them—spices, books, laundry detergent, canned goods, soda, flour, nuts and seeds, coffee, beauty products and electronics.

Also, Costco isn’t always the greatest option when it comes to items like meat, milk and some fruits like pineapple.

And even with the items you’re saving money on, you need to buy them in bulk from Costco. This means you’ll have to check if you’ll actually need those many units of a particular item. 

Well, you can’t have it all. So, it’s best to compare prices of what you use the most round the year and see what makes more sense for you. A Costco membership or buying from Costco via a member?

Try Costco First

We’re clear on one thing. There’s no such thing as a free Costco membership. Don’t get scammed, don’t get lured by those clickbaits.

As for trying out Costco using other means, get the Costco shop card or purchase their items online. You’ll get an idea of whether Costco deals work for your needs or not.

This is the best thing to do before jumping to conclusions based on other people’s opinions.

Some love it while others dislike Costco. It all depends on whether it meets their requirements or not.

A Costco Membership or a Costco shop card forever?  You do you.

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