7 Things You Can Buy at Costco—Without a Membership

published Apr 6, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Dreaming of a Costco shopping spree but not ready to commit to a membership? Fret not, friends. We did some digging and it turns out there are several ways you can score some of the perks of being in the Costco club–sans the membership card.

Here are a handful of hacks that still let you reap the savings at Costco without paying the yearly fee:

1. Alcohol

Believe it or not, certain state laws–including those in California and New York–don’t allow wholesale clubs to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone without a membership, including Costco. That means that you have the legal right to stock up on discounted liquor at Costco, no membership card necessary. Do yourself a favor and check out your state laws to see if the rule applies to you, and then let an employee know upon your arrival that you’re just there to grab some wine and beer on the cheap.

2. Anything online

Love the idea of getting Costco products delivered straight to your door, but lacking in the membership department? You can shop Costco.com anytime to get your paws on their discounts; you’ll just need to pay a five percent non-member fee for everything. Just make sure to do the math ahead of time to figure out whether or not the surcharge makes the price still worth it.

3. Instacart

If you aren’t already hip to grocery delivery service Instacart, now’s the time to smarten up. Not only can you get everything from stamps to soy milk delivered to your doorstep, you can order stuff from Costco’s grocery department without a membership. Just be aware that instead of adding a surcharge, the Costco items at Instacart are priced higher than they are at the brick-and-mortar store—and you’ll be charged a delivery fee.

4. Pharmacy items

Kind of like alcohol, some state laws require that Costco allow non-members to buy from the pharmacy. Call your local Costco ahead of time to find out if it’s open to the public and if not, no worries: you can still fill your prescriptions online without paying any additional fees.

(Image credit: Andriy Blokhin)

5. Eye Exams

Searching for an affordable eye exam but don’t have a Costco card? Good news: The opticians at Costco Optical actually work independently of Costco, which means your money goes to them (and not the store) and allows you to get an eye exam without a membership. However, any eyeglasses or contacts you might want to purchase from Costco Optical are owned by the store, so you’ll either need to find a replacement pair or sign up for membership for those.

6. Immunizations

In need of a flu shot but don’t want to wait for your doctor’s schedule to open up? Non-members are welcome to an array of immunizations, ranging from tetanus shots to HPV vaccinations at Costco’s pharmacy—no appointment or membership card required.

7. Food Court

When all else fails, you can always count on Costco’s outdoor food court to serve you regardless of your membership status. While you’ll need a club card to access the indoor food court at Costco, select locations in warmer climates sell foodstuffs – think hotdogs and fountain drinks – outside the store, so you can still score lunch on the cheap.