SKIP THE ANNUAL FEE
When it comes to savings on household goods, groceries, and more, Costco has always been a winning solution in terms of slashing costs. Shopping at warehouse clubs is often cheaper than shopping elsewhere, and Sam's Club, Costco, and the like provide exceptional membership benefits. But what if you don't have a membership? There are still ways to land discounts at Costco without paying the annual fee.
SHOP WITH A MEMBER
Perhaps the easiest way to shop fee-free is to visit Costco with a member. The member has to pay for your items at checkout, but the cashier will ring up two separate orders. Just have cash or a check ready for the member upon leaving the store.
USE A COSTCO CASH CARD
Another option is to buy Costco cash card denominations up to $1,000 while at Costco with a member. Only the member can load the cards, but then you can use them to enter the store and buy items without an escort. This is especially helpful for big-ticket purchases such as a TV, so you don't have to pay a membership fee for just one item.
USE A BUSINESS ACCOUNT
If your employer has a Costco business membership, lobby to be one of the two people whose name is on the account. While you'll get stuck with a few office supply runs, you may also be able to use the card for your own personal savings.
In about a dozen states, alcohol sales cannot be prohibited through a club or membership. Check the laws in your state and, if it's allowed, explain to the door attendant that you are buying non-member goods. This can be a handy way to slash the cost of alcohol for parties or other events.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HEALTH SERVICES
Costco makes non-member allowances for health services such as optical exams and hearing screening. However, if you need to buy glasses, contacts, or hearing aids, a membership is required. Find a member willing to purchase and be reimbursed for these items or use a loaded Costco Cash Card.
Non-members can shop on Costco's website to take advantage of the warehouse club's bargain prices on certain items. Gift cards, for example, can be purchased at a discount online without a membership. Currently, it's possible to score $100 in Cold Stone Creamery gift cards for $70. The disadvantage is that non-members may be hit with a 5 percent surcharge on some orders.
ENJOY THE FOOD COURT
A Costco membership is required to get in the door and into the food court at many Costco locations. Yet in warmer climates where the food court is outside the store, food can be purchased without a membership. Costco is known for serving pizza, hot dogs, and other treats for less than $5.
BUY A MEMBERSHIP
Although you can shop Costco without a membership, the $55 fee for a basic Costco membership may be worth the money if you expect to shop at the warehouse club regularly. Pro tip: Be on the lookout for deals on membership through outlets such as Groupon.