Costco is a frugal shopper’s paradise. With the right strategy (and coupons), you can save a whole lot of money on your grocery bill every month.
Most people avoid shopping there because they think they need to commit to $60-per-year memberships in order to gain access to the store. But that’s certainly not the case - there’s a simple workaround that will allow non-members to take advantage of the store’s unbeatable deals without falling into the store’s bad graces (because it completely condones it).
Typically, non-members get access to Costco by tagging along with a friend who’s a member, since members can bring up to two guests into the store at a time. However, this is a nuisance because you’ll always need your friend present with you when you want to go. Non-members could also shop online on Costco.com, but they would end up paying 5 percent more than members and wouldn’t have access to the exclusive deals.
The aforementioned workaround lets non-members shop at Costco without being a guest. Like any other store, Costco offers its own gift certificates, which can be given to anybody. These Costco Cash Cards, which are primarily intended for members, can also be used by non-members as well, according to the fine print.
All you need to do is ask a friend who’s a member to get a card for you the next time they’re at Costco and fill it with your money. You can get put anywhere from $25 to $1,000 on each card, so you can load amounts according to your own budget. You can use the Costco Cash Card to get into the store and shop as if you were a member.
The only tricky part is refilling the card, since only members are able to do that. The store apparently also tracks visits on their system now, according to a Costco employee, and they may limit non-members visits to two a year. So, If you plan on making Costco your regular store for grocery shopping, you might be better off getting a membership instead. However, for one-time shopping here and there, using Costco Cash Cards is a great option.
If you're okay not setting foot in the store, you could always try Google Express - there's a 10 percent "access" fee if you're not a member, but you'll have access to Costco's full line-up of products.