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I mean, can you shop at Costco without a membership legally?

The short answer: Yes. But why would you want to? Maybe you’re not a regular shopper and don’t want to pay the $60-a-year Costco membership fee, or maybe you’re just curious about what non-members can and can’t do at the store.

Now I’m not recommending you totally avoid paying the fee, because in many cases you’ll save money if you choose to go the membership route (particularly if you want to shop online at Costco.com and avoid the 5% nonmember markup — I’ll get into that below). Plus, my personal experience is that the Costco membership fee is solidly in the “worth it” category.

Nevertheless, here’s how you can shop at Costco without a membership:

For more smart shopping tips and savings hacks, text HACKS to 57299.


1. Some states will let you buy alcohol at Costco without a membership.

A person holding a bottle of Kirkland brand Cabernet wine over a shopping cart.

It’s actually illegal to require a membership for alcohol purchases in select states, so if you live in one of the states we list below, you can buy alcohol at Costco even if you don’t have a membership.

To do this, you’ll just mention to the employee at the entrance that you’re there to buy alcohol. Some employees may not know that you can buy alcohol without a membership, so expect them to check with their manager first.

These states allow you to legally buy alcohol from Costco without a membership:

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

Related: To decide if getting a Costco membership may be worth it for you, here’s a peek at all the current Costco deals happening now.


2. Eat at a Costco food court without a membership at some locations.

A woman holding a beverage cup and a hotdog near the Costco food court.

It’s true — non-Costco members can eat at the Costco food court at some locations.

We found several Costco warehouses in Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York that said yes, non-members can eat at the food court. But before you go, call your local Costco and ask.

All of the locations we spoke with said you’d have to stop by the member’s service desk first and let them know you’d like to eat at the food court. A location in Jacksonville, Florida, told us they would give you a free day pass so you could order what you wanted from the food court, including Costco’s famous $1.50 hot dog combos or pizza.

TIP: If your local Costco’s food court is outdoors, it won’t require a membership.


3. Fill your prescriptions at the Costco pharmacy without a membership.

People standing in line at the Costco Pharmacy.

You absolutely can get your prescriptions filled at the Costco pharmacy without being a member.

Whenever you need a prescription filled, just have your doctor send it to the Costco pharmacy near you, and then you can pick it up like you would at any other pharmacy.

They can also fill pet medications that regular pharmacies might not carry.


Cost comparisons for Costco pharmacy:

Simvastatin, generic for Zocor, 10mg. 90 count, $17.99 – $27.79 (retail price)
Costco: Simvastatin, generic for Zocor, 10mg. 90 count, $11.79
Lisinopril, generic for Prinivil and Zestril, 20mg. 90 count $14.79 – $21.99 (retail price)
Costco: Lisinopril, generic for Prinivil and Zestril, 20mg. 90 count $9.99
Metformin, generic for Glucophage, 500mg. 180 count, $14.79 – $21.99 (retail price)
Costco: Metformin, generic for Glucophage, 500mg. 180 count, $9.99


4. Schedule your eye exam at Costco Optical, but you can’t buy their glasses or contacts.

The Costco Optical and eye exams center with customers shopping and waiting in line.

You can get a Costco eye exam at Costco Optical without a membership. But if you want to purchase glasses or contacts, you’ll need to be a member.


5. Use a Costco Shop Card to get in the doors and shop till you drop.

…Or until your Costco Shop Card balance is gone.

A Costco Shop Card, which is just another name for a Costco gift card, is the only way to shop at Costco without a membership. But there’s a catch. You’ll need a member to purchase a Shop Card for you. Venmo them back and voila! You’re a stealthy “Costco shopper.”



6. Shop online at Costco.com without a membership (but with a 5% markup).

A person holding a Costco.com online order box.

Costco.com allows you to buy most household items as a non-member. But there are two things you should know about Costco online shopping:

  1. You can’t get “member exclusive” deals as a non-member.
  2. You’ll pay more than you’d pay in-store because there’s a 5% surcharge for non-members.

This tip works best if you’re a buy-a-couple-things-a-year-at-Costco type of person. Otherwise, paying for a $60 membership will save you more money in the long run.

TIP: In the battle of Sam’s Club vs. Costco, it’s actually cheaper to shop at Costco online as a non-member. Compared to Costco’s 5% markup, Sam’s Club has a nonmember surcharge of 10% for online orders.


7. Get same-day grocery delivery through Instacart, but you’ll pay their fees.

A person delivering groceries

This might seem like semantics, but there is a difference between Instacart and Costco’s grocery delivery service.

If you’re a non-member, you can shop Costco.com and order same-day delivery through Instacart, but you’ll pay fees (Instacart is all about the fees). When members order same-day delivery directly through CostcoGrocery, they don’t pay these fees — even though the delivery is still done through, you guessed it, Instacart.

But the answer to the basic question “Can I get Costco delivery without a membership?” is yes. You’ll just pay extra for it.


8. Order perishables with two-day delivery at Costco.com.

You can order perishables at Costco.com and enjoy two-day delivery as a non-member. But yes, you’re gonna pay that 5% surcharge you have to pay when you buy other items online without a membership.

However, unlike the $75 threshold for standard two-day delivery, the threshold for frozen and cold items is $100. Below that and they’ll tack on an extra $10 fee. Here are the select items you can get for two-day delivery:

Related: So, which stores offer same-day delivery in 2023? Check out our full store list.


9. Fill up with Costco gas using a Costco Shop Card.

A person holding a Costco wholesale shop card in front of a gas pump

Can you buy Costco gas without a membership? Yep, here’s the trick — a Costco Shop Card. This is all you need to buy gas at Costco without a membership card. But a current Costco member will need to buy the Shop Card for you. (Just Venmo them and you’re all set.)


Bonus: Get a Costco price match at Kohl’s, Target, and other stores.

It’s true. Who needs a Costco membership when you can get Costco’s lower price on the exact same item at another store?

There are quite a few retailers who price-match Costco, and all you need to do is show them proof of price — not your membership card. The Costco Coupon Book from the mail or the website usually works as proof of price. The trick is finding the exact same item, in the exact same quantity. With electronics, it’s easy. With grocery items, it’s not so easy.

Here are a few stores price-match Costco:

Can You Shop at Costco Without a Membership?