CookingLight diet CookingLight diet

Costco doesn't offer trial periods, but there's a free—and legal—way to shop at warehouses without buying a membership.

Zee Krstic
July 03, 2018

We're often looking for the best deals on everything, from affordable groceries to deeply discounted cookware—and Costco usually has amazing bulk discounts. There’s just one caveat: Costco requires a membership card for all purchases, and the $60 plus in annual fees can often be a turnoff for shoppers who are trying to save money.

But while researching the best deals on kitchen appliances this month—Costco sells everything from fridges to dishwashers—I stumbled upon a little-known stipulation within the terms and conditions agreement of Costco's gift card, known as Costco Cash. Either the wholesale retailer has been trying to hide this from shoppers, or it's just a very well-kept secret, but the rules say that non-members are welcome to use Costco Cash at checkout for any purchase. No Costco card necessary!

I reached out to the customer service team at Costco to confirm: Could I, someone who isn’t a member at Costco, come into the store, load up my cart, and then pay with Costco Cash? Team members confirmed that I could. Even better? Non-members can also redeem Costco Cash gift cards online, so you don’t even have to leave the couch to shop Costco's best deals. So, in theory, you can purchase anything from refrigerators, to bulk ingredients, to items from Costco's signature private label brand, Kirkland, without being a member.

RELATED: Costco Is Bringing $5 Acai Bowls to All 50 States

The only caveat is that Costco Cash must be purchased and reloaded by an actual Costco member. So you'll have to find your Costco card-holding friend and beg them to pick one up for you the next time they head to stores… but what are friends for if not to help you save membership fees?!

You can load a Costco Cash gift card with any amount up to $1,000, and the card can be reloaded by a Costco member when you run out.

It's not the easiest way of essentially scamming the membership-only retailer, but it's a tried-and-true method for the casual Costco shopper who wants to see what exactly all the hooplah is about. Trust us—it's worth all the hype.