While shopping at Costco can help you save on food, alcohol, tires, gas, and a lot more, there’s still one major hindrance why some would rather skip this store for somewhere else – the membership fee.
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Wouldn’t it be nice to get in the door at absolutely no cost? That’s what this list of ways to get a free Costco membership will help you do.
Do You Need a Membership for Costco?
Yes, you do. As of writing, the annual membership at Costco for an average family is $60, and $120 for an executive plan. Unfortunately, there is no Costco free trial membership, and there’s no Costco one day pass that will allow you to enter the store and shop even for a day.
However, it’s also true that several ways can be done that will offset the cost of membership and will give you access to shop in the store.
There are also items that you can buy inside even without a Costco day pass or a Costco trial membership. By doing these things or purchasing only the exempted items, you are basically getting your Costco membership for free.
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How to Get a Free Costco Membership
1. Offset the Cost of Membership
While it’s sad that there’s no Costco temporary membership or free trial, there are still different ways to offset the cost of your membership. If you come to think of it, the $60 or $120 that you will pay for the annual membership can be easily be gained back with the huge savings that you can take home from shopping at Costco.
One common way to offset the cost of membership is by buying Kirkland products at Costco, which are way cheaper than the popular brands. You can also take advantage of the low-cost fuel available at Costco, which is especially beneficial if you travel or drive often.
And since you also have to change your vehicle’s tires regularly, you can make use of your Costco membership to avail yourself of the excellent prices on trusted tire brands. These are just some of the ways that you can do so you can somewhat earn back the money that you’ve paid for your membership.
And of course, considering that the prices at Costco are cheaper than other stores, the savings that you will get each time you shop are more than enough to compensate for the membership fee.
2. Use a Costco Cash Card
You can save between 25% and 35% on gift cards to popular retailers by buying them in bulk. You can give these cards as gifts or use the cards by yourself. And if you don’t want to buy the cards in bulk, you can also check out discounted gift cards on resale sites like Gift Card Granny and Raise. The accumulated savings from using your cards could eventually commensurate with the cost of the membership. Costco cash cards can also be used to purchase at Costco even without a membership.
3. Shop as a Guest
You can get a Costco guest pass and enter the store as a guest if you come together with a member. Let’s say, a friend of yours has a membership card, then, you can ask him to shop along with you, use his card, and just pay for what you bought. If your friend wants, he can also use his Visa card at the counter, so he can benefit from the rewards of the purchase.
4. Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
By using certain credit cards, you won’t just be able to offset the cost of your Costco membership through savings, you can also get rebates in the form of bonus miles, points, or cash backs. Check out this article that I’ve found that talks about the best credit cards to use at Costco.
5. Shop Online at Costco.com
Anyone can shop at Costco.com, but you cannot redeem the “Member-Only Savings” offers and every item that you will buy comes with a 5% surcharge. Additionally, there are a lot of items and food that are not sold on Costco’s website.
If you are not going to spend $1,200 in a year on their site, shopping online can be a good option for you. By staying within that spending limit, you won’t end up paying more than the $60 minimum annual membership at Costco.
6. Use Ibotta to Get Rebates From Your Costco Trip
As I’ve discussed in my previous posts, Ibotta is a mobile app that gives you money just by taking a picture of your receipt. You can get anywhere from $1 to $3 back for each item with Ibotta. So, if you got $3 cashback on 20 items that would be a total of $60, which is equivalent to Costco’s Gold Star Membership.
7. Watch Out for Costco’s Monthly Coupon Books for Instant Savings
Every month, Costco would release a book full of coupons that you can use to rake instant savings when you shop. And you don’t even have to take the coupons with you to the register, because the coupon discounts are automatically applied at the checkout.
8. Purchase Exempted Items Without a Costco Membership
Certain items can be bought at Costco even without a membership. However, there is no list that enumerates all of these products. So, it’s better if you can call ahead of the store to check out what items you can buy without a membership.
Based on customer experiences, some of the items that can be bought at Costco without a membership are alcohol and prescription drugs. And of course, like what I’ve said earlier, you can also use Costco cash cards to buy items at Costco without a membership. However, you will need a member to buy the cash card for you because only a cardholding member can purchase Costco cash cards from the customer service desk.
9. Watch Out for Costco Membership Deals
Below are some of the membership deals that you should watch out for and you can redeem if you are qualified:
· Groupon Costco Membership Activation Certificate
By buying a Groupon Costco Membership Activation Certificate, you can get a $10 Costco Shop Card (Gold Star Member) or a $20 Costco Shop Card (Gold Star Executive Member).
You can purchase this online, and receive the activation certificate by mail. Once you have it, you need to go to any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco location to activate it in-store. And if you are torn between two memberships, I would recommend the Gold Star Executive Membership because, with it, you can receive an annual 2% Reward on eligible Costco purchases both online and in-store.
· Membership Discount for Military
Members of the military who are active and retired, veterans, as well as their spouse or dependents, are eligible for a $30 Costco Shop Card if they join as a new member.
· Membership Discount for Students
Students can enjoy a $20 Costco Shop Card if they join as a new Gold Star Member at Costco.com. To gain access and claim this offer, students need to join UNiDAYS or log-in. And to be eligible for this offer, new members must be 18 years old or older.
· Membership Discount for Teachers
Just like the military discount, teachers can get a $30 Costco Shop Card if they join as a new member. To claim this offer, simply verify your status through SheerID and fill out the required details in the request form.
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The Bottom Line
Whether it’s offsetting the cost of membership through savings and rewards, shopping along with a friend, or purchasing items that don’t require a membership, it’s clear that there are a lot of ways to getting the equivalent of a free Costco membership.
And if shopping at Costco is not enough for you to stack on your savings, you are free to check out my posts on how you can get free gas, free gift cards, and free Target gift cards.