8 Easy Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

Looking to get around the proof of membership requirement at Costco?
Updated May 8, 2024
Fact checked
costco wholesale storefront in kaohsiung

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Membership fees make up almost 75% of Costco’s profits, so it makes sense that the warehouse club giant has launched a new campaign to prevent non-members from skirting around the system.

Even with these new measures, it’s still possible to shop at Costco without a membership card. Here are some great Costco hacks so you can do so.

Earn 2% cash rewards at grocery stores and Costco

The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card(Rates and fees) is a powerful rewards card that allows you to earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases — including on groceries, even at warehouse stores like Costco.

New cardholders can also earn a one-time cash rewards bonus — $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months!

If you’re looking for a powerful rewards card that offers an extended intro APR period, look no further, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card checks that box too!

This card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable). Which is great for someone who wants a break from high interest rates, while still earning rewards.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply for the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card now.

Use a Costco digital card

Rafael Henrique/Adobe costco shopping cart and logo

This hack is for members only. Rather than needing to carry your physical Costco card to get into the warehouse — you can download the Costco app and get a digital card.

Your digital card can be used in the warehouse and at the gas pump. You may be asked by a warehouse employee to show your digital card just like your physical card upon entering.

Use a Costco Shop Card

Kenishirotie/Adobe holding a costco gift card

This works like a gift card but must be purchased by an active Costco member. Once you have the Shop Card, you can enter the warehouse store and shop like a regular member. Shop Cards purchased online are limited to $500 each. You can reload Shop Cards at any warehouse location for up to $2,000.

You can also use Costco Shop Cards at the Costco gas stations and take advantage of the discounted pricing. You will need an attendant to authorize the purchase first, but then you can pay with your Shop Card.

Shop with a Costco member

yooranpark/Adobe people with carts in costco

According to Costco.com, members are allowed to bring up to two guests with them while shopping at the warehouse. Only Costco members will be allowed to check out, though.

If you’re planning out purchases, you’ll need to make arrangements with your family member or friend, either by having them pay and then you pay them back or by bringing cash.

Stop overpaying when you shop online at Costco

Shopping online has its perks. It's super convenient, but it can be time consuming to find the best deals. Instead of hunting for coupon codes (that don't always work!) and opening tons of browser tabs comparing prices, you can try Capital One Shopping.

Capital One Shopping makes saving money effortless. Just add the browser extension and when you check out, it'll scour the internet for coupon codes to help you save cash. And before you check out at 25+ major retailers, Capital One Shopping will notify you with a friendly pop-up if the item you're buying is available cheaper somewhere else.

Capital One Shopping is free to use and won't show you ads. Add it today and stop overpaying!1

Get Capital One Shopping now

Shop online at Costco.com

Koshiro/Adobe costco icon on iphone screen

Costco allows non-members to shop on its website. Non-members will be subject to a 5% increase in prices, and they won’t be able to access “members-only” items. Just be aware that Costco’s online prices may be higher than what you would pay in the store, even on identical items. 

Buy alcoholic beverages

Adriana/Adobe veuve clicquot french champagne

Local laws in some states prevent Costco from limiting alcohol sales to just its members. When you head to the checkout, you’ll need to let the cashier know you are not a member and are only purchasing alcohol. You might need supervisor approval, so it may take a few minutes to complete the sale.

Here are the states where you can buy alcohol without needing a membership card:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Vermont

Use the Costco Pharmacy

MelissaMN/Adobe costco pharmacy

Non-members are welcome to use the Costco warehouse pharmacy for their prescriptions. Costco also offers online pharmacy options, where you can order online and have the medication shipped to your home.

Standard shipping is free, which is a great option if you don’t want the hassle of heading into the warehouse.

Make an appointment at the Costco Optical Center

Production Perig/Adobe testing new glasses with optician

Anyone can make an appointment with the in-house optometrist at Costco, members and non-members alike. Costco also accepts most optical insurance plans. However, if you get a new vision prescription and want to buy new glasses or contacts, you’ll need a membership card.

Use Instacart

sdx15/Adobe Instacart logo on phone screen

Instacart is a shopping and delivery service that non-members can use to get same-day purchases delivered from Costco without needing a membership. This option isn’t available for alcohol or prescription purchases.

Instacart prices are typically higher; some items are 15% or more than in-store pricing. You’ll also pay a service fee and delivery fee charged by Instacart. Plus, you’re asked to tip your delivery person. You’ll get your Costco order delivered right to your front door, and this is the only same-day grocery delivery option at Costco for both members and non-members.

Bottom line

jetcityimage/Adobe costco wholesale

While it’s possible to shop at the warehouse without a membership card, you may be limited in the offerings available to you or subject to higher prices. Costco does not offer free shopping passes or a day pass for you to “try before you buy.”

But Costco has a satisfaction guarantee on everything it sells, including memberships. If you’re not happy with your membership or any other product, you can return it for a full refund. And when you shop at Costco, don’t forget to use the right cash back credit card.

Lucrative, Flat-Rate Cash Rewards


Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Current Offer

$200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months

Annual Fee


Rewards Rate

Earn 2% cash rewards on purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt