No Costco membership? No worries. Try one of these Costco hacks to shop at the warehouse store minus the annual membership fee (without breaking any rules).
Costco Store front with a design treatment
Credit: Adobe Stock / wolterke

As a 30-something Midwesterner—with a home in a city where nearly everyone has a vehicle, a partner or family and maybe a few extra closets— it's rare to attend a gathering where there's not at least one person who has a Costco tag on their keychain. Chances are high, actually, that some food or drink at said gathering is from the popular warehouse store. (That $5 rotisserie chicken is a pretty ridiculous deal!)

Home to epic deals on everything from gift cards and fitness equipment to wine and toilet paper, I can see why warehouse stores like Costco hold such appeal. But as someone who lives alone and need not buy in bulk, I have a hard time justifying the $60 to $120 membership annual fee. Plus, I tend to struggle with decision fatigue even at Target, so I can relate more with those who feel like shopping at these massive markets might trigger some serious anxiety.

Luckily, I've learned from my Costco-member friends that there are a few totally legal, Costco-cosigned "hacks" to shop there even without a membership. Read on for the dish.

3 Ways to Shop At Costco Even If You Don't Have a Membership

1. Use Costco Cash.

Part of the terms and conditions on a Costco gift card, AKA Costco Cash, explain that non-members are A-OK to use Costco Cash just like dollars at the checkout for any purchase. No membership card required! You can also redeem these gift cards online, so if you don't want to chance any awkward encounters at the checkout, you can fill up your e-cart instead. The only asterisk: The Costco Cash card needs to be purchased and refilled by a current Costco member, so you'll have to tap one of your neighbors, family members or pals to snag one for you (in an amount up to $1,000 at a time) the next time they visit to restock their own shelves.

2. Shop with a member.

While one additional household member only (who must be 18 years or older and live at the same address) is allowed to be listed as a certified user of a Gold Star Membership, two other guests can visit Costco with one member. While that member must be the individual checking out and paying for the products, according to Costco rules, a couple guests are more than welcome to tag along and reimburse your Costco-member buddy via cash, Venmo or Paypal. (Or, you know, a dinner party down the road!)

3. Shop via Instacart.

Admittedly, prices will be higher than if you have a membership card, but the Costco website itself approves non-members shopping their aisles using the Instacart app. The minimum purchase is $35. Psst…you can put those dollars to great use by investing them in the 10 best healthy snacks to buy at Costco, according to a dietitian!