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7 Things You Can Do at Costco Without a Membership

You can still get great deals without paying $60 for a membership.

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exhibitor of glasses consisting of shelves of fashionable glasses shown on a wall at the optical shop
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Check your vision

The opticians work independently of Costco Optical. Because your bill goes to them and not the store, you can get an eye exam without paying for a membership. But the glasses and contacts are owned by Costco, so you’ll need a membership to buy any of those. Though, you might just be tempted to sign up for one when you read these Costco shopping perks only members know about.

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Bottles of prescription medicine in a pile. This collection of pill containers is symbolic of the many medications senior adults and chronically ill people take.
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Pick up a prescription

Some state laws require Costco to allow non-members to use the pharmacy. Call ahead to see if your local Costco pharmacy is open to the public, then enjoy some of the cheapest prices on medication. If your store won’t let you in, you can still fill prescriptions online without paying any non-member fees.

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Shop with a member

Anyone with a Costco membership is allowed to take one or two guests with them into the store. As long as your friend is willing to pay for your items (you can always cover the costs afterward!), you can do your shopping by that member’s side. Keep your eye out for this price tag symbol that reveals it might be your last chance to get an item.

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Use a gift card

Even if your schedule doesn’t line up with your friend’s, a Costco member can still set you up to shop there on your own time. Anyone with a Costco Cash Card loaded with Costco money can use that card to get in and shop. Only members can buy the card, though, so you’ll need to have a friend pick it up for you. Find out more about how to use a Costco Cash Card without a membership.

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Buy alcohol

Certain state laws, such as California’s, don’t allow clubs to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone without a membership—and yes, that includes Costco and other wholesale store memberships. Check your state laws to see if that rule applies. Then let an employee know you’re only going to buy beer, wine, or liquor, and you should be allowed in to buy your drinks (though you can’t grab anything else while you’re there). Just don’t be surprised if you end up needing to get special permission from a manager. Before you head over, learn the secret code behind Costco’s prices.

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Grab something to eat

Regardless of whether you’re there to grocery shop or hit up the food court, you’ll need a Costco membership to get in the door. If you live in a warm-weather city where the food court is outside, though, you can pick up that $1.50 hot dog-drink combo without using a Costco card. Find out which items you should never buy from Costco.

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Shop online

Buying from costco.com means the store’s cheap items will be delivered straight to your door. You don’t need to be a member to add items to your cart, but you will need to pay a 5 percent non-member fee. Do a little price comparison to make before confirming your order to make sure the price is still worth it. Don’t miss these other money-saving Costco tips.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.