There are several products and services you can take advantage of at Costco—even if you’re not a member.
Almost any Costco member would tell you that the $60 annual membership is so worth it—buying wholesale saves money when shopping for a family, and you'll find usually-expensive healthy staples (like almond butter!) at ridiculously low prices. But if you've never shopped at Costco before, you may be hesitant to sign up for a membership, regardless of the store’s refund guarantee.
We recently discovered a way that non-members can shop at Costco for free, without having to dole out the cash for a membership—but it requires that you find someone who is already a Costco member. If you're still trying to explore your local Costco, but aren't friends with someone who can help you shop there for free, there are actually a few items and services for sale that don't require you to cough up the annual $60 fee.
Meals at the Food Court
You've heard that Costco has a legendary food court where shoppers can stop for a snack or quick lunch, but you may not know that the retailer is actually testing out healthier menu items. There are vegan and vegetarian options, and even a $5 Acai bowl topped with fresh granola and fruit.
Let the Costco greeter at the front door know that you want to eat at the food court, and they'll let you right in. A Costco customer service representative confirmed that you don't need a membership to eat at the food court—a good way to take a peek around the store if you're interested, too.
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You can shop for booze at Costco locations where state-issued liquor licenses say that all items must be available to the public. If you live in Arizona, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, and Vermont, you’re free to shop for wine, beer, or liquor without a store membership.
Many states require pharmacies to be open the public, so if you have a prescription from your doctor, you can bring it to Costco to have your medication filled. Costco also has a discount membership program for prescription medication that you can also join—it comes included with a regular Costco membership.
Health Services, Including Flu Shots, Eye and Hearing Exams
Because health services can't be denied to the public, Costco's pharmacy is open to anyone who wishes to visit—including when it's time for your annual flu shot.
Other health services available for non-members include hearing and vision exams. Costco's health professionals also provide a few health exams for free, including screenings for diabetes, cardiovascular health, and osteoporosis. You can see which screenings are available near you with Costco's health and wellness schedule, which is available right here.
A customer service representative confirmed that screenings and certain exams are open to everyone, but you'll need a membership (or a Costco Cash card) to purchase any of the medical equipment in stores, including eyewear or hearing aids.
The easiest way to shop at Costco without paying for a membership is to find someone who can buy you a Costco Cash card—but if you'd like to taste Costco's private-label brands firsthand before loading up a gift card, non-members can actually shop Costco's products online. Unfortunately, there's a 5 percent markup on all purchases made online, but the retailer won't bar you from making purchases without a membership. For those who are already members, tell your friends—this is the easiest way to "test" Costco for yourself.