The Workaround To Shop At Costco Without A Membership

Love it or hate it, grocery shopping is something we're all doomed to do. While you may grit your teeth at the thought of having to go out in public and show the world what you enjoy to consume, it can actually be a pleasant experience for some people. For example, if you're one to make your grocery rounds at Costco, it can be a fun outing. From its famed food court, highly discounted bulk items, and cheery employees, shopping at Costco has its perks.

According to Costco's website, upwards of 119 million people are Costco cardholders in 2022, averaging 65.8 million households doing their grocery shopping throughout the company's 500+ locations in the United States. And hey, we don't blame them. After paying the $60 annual fee as a member, it comes with a plethora of benefits. Because of its specialty discounted items that you can't find elsewhere, there are definitely some foods that you should always buy at Costco. And hello, the $4.99 rotisserie chicken? You can't beat it.

But what if you don't have a Costco membership? Unfortunately, even if you're curious about if the grocery store would work for you and your family, Costco doesn't offer trial memberships. You're either committing to the one-year membership or you're missing out. Or are you? There are actually some workarounds that allow non-members to shop at Costco.

The sneaky workaround

If you feel like you're missing out on all of the benefits when it comes to shopping at Costco but don't want to dish out the money to pay for an annual membership, there are some workaround ways to still shop there. According to Cheapism, the "easiest" method to shop at Costco without being a member is tagging along with a friend who is. Per Costco's website, each member is allowed to bring up to two guests into the store. 

While grocery shopping solo has always been a boring and mundane task, why not make it a fun outing with three of your friends — one being a Costco member — and all get your cheap and bulk groceries together? With this workaround, it's important to note that the friend with a Costco membership will have to pay for all of the items, but you can request that the cashier rings up two or three separate orders so you know what your groceries totaled to. 

Work it out with your friend and maybe give them a little tip for allowing you to use their membership perks.

Some other methods

If joining a friend for grocery shopping isn't your style or your schedules don't match up, don't fret. Another way to shop at Costco is by receiving a Costco Cash Card. According to CNBC, a Costco member can buy a Costco Cash Card — essentially a Costco gift card — that will grant non-members access into stores.

Additionally, non-members can also shop on Costco's website. This method isn't necessarily the best though, as non-members will have to pay a 5% surcharge on their total and prices online usually aren't the same great deals that Costco stores feature in-person (via CNBC). Also, while members shopping on the website can receive two-day delivery, non-member usually wait up to five days for delivery. The same goes for Instacart. You can pick out groceries at Costco and have someone deliver them to you, but you won't be getting the best Costco prices and you'll be paying service and delivery fees.

Trying to buy some alcohol? According to Clark, many states prohibit clubs or membership stores from selling alcohol to members only. Some Costco locations even have a separate entrance where liquor is sold, which can be accessed by non-members (via Go Banking Rates). The same goes for prescriptions, immunizations, and optical services. Because stores must adhere to equal access laws regarding health services, non-members are able to pick up prescriptions at Costco's pharmacy (via 20 Something Finance). While there may be a slight difference in price between members and non-members, prices are still fairly cheap compared to other pharmacy locations.