LM Otero/AP/REX/ShutterstockA Costco membership sure has its benefits (like these hidden Costco perks, just to name a few). But those of us who haven’t decided to commit to the $60-a-year membership yet can still take advantage of those unbeatable deals. And the store totally condones it.
Sure, you could stock up on items costco.com, but non-members pay an extra 5 percent and don’t have access to the members-only sales. You also probably already know Costco members can bring up to two guests into the store to take advantage of the big-box deal. Of course, that leaves the obvious problem of relying on that friend to get you in. If you do your shopping Monday mornings but your friend can only go on the weekends—when you’re totally booked—you’re out of luck. Thankfully, there’s another sneaky way to get into the store without a membership and without being a guest.
Like most stores, Costco offers gift certificates in the form of its Costco Cash Cards. The thing is, it can’t control who those cards go to. The superstore touts the cards as a “convenient way for members to pay,” but the small print allows non-members to use them, too. Just ask a friend to pick up a card for you (using your money, of course) and you can get anywhere from $25 to $1,000 in store credit to spend at Costco. With your Costco Cash Card in hand, you can get into the store and do your shopping just like any other shopper, without tagging along with another member. (While you’re there, keep an eye out for this Costco price tag symbol that signals you to stock up.)
The tricky part is that Costco only allows members to buy and refill the cash cards, getting your hands on one gives you the flexibility to shop on your own time. If you plan on shopping there often, the cost of a membership is probably worth it. But if you just need to stock up for a one-time event, a cash card could save some major moolah—especially if you pair it with these tips for saving money at Costco.
Keep in mind, too, that even without a cash card, non-members can fill prescriptions, get their hearing and vision checked, and eat at the food court. Score! Still, even members shouldn’t waste their money on these things you should never buy at Costco.