How to shop at Costco for free - without a membership

How to shop at Costco for free – without a membership

We had a Costco membership in 2012 but for this year we decided not to renew our Costco membership.

The Gold Star Membership is available for individuals who want to purchase products mainly for personal use. and costs $55.00 annually.

I am going to show 3 ways that Canadians can shop at Costco without a membership (so you can shop at Costco for free).

1. Shop at the Pharmacy without a card to save with the lowest cost drug dispensing fees in Canada.

Did you know that you don’t have to be a Costco member to buy your drugs there!

Pharmacists are required by law to dispense medications equitably to everyone (to require membership would be discrimination).

If you do not have a Costco membership, remember, you can only buy prescriptions at Costco. Over-the-counter medications, vitamin supplements, beauty products, and other items in the pharmacy area are off-limits.

2. Use a Costco cash card.

The Costco cash card is a pre-paid card and you can use this to shop  at the store. What I like about the cash card is that it can be used by both members and non-members at any location in Canada. The amount that you can load the card for varies from a minimum of $25 up to a maximum of $1,000. The card does not have an expiration and is rechargeable at any Costco stores. You can access the balance by going to

How Can Non-Members Acquire One?

If you are not a member you cannot buy this card online (unless you see one on eBay). Have a friend with a Costco Membership pickup a $25 Costco Cash cards next time they’re in the store, or online.

Bring one of the Costco Cash cards with you into the store, using it to gain access at the entrance (usually need to flash the membership card).

Go to the membership desk and get a temporary membership card (one-day preview).

Shop for whatever you might need knowing there will be no additional fees or surcharges.

When you check out, make a partial payment with your Costco Cash card, and pay the remaining balance with either cash or your ATM card.

The main problem with this strategy is that when the card runs out of money, you cannot recharge it yourself, you have to ask the Costco member to do it for you.

3. Shop at for free! 

Did you know that shopping at their website,, is absolutely free and you do not require any membership at all!

They have some nice gift card specials and deals on tickets, gift cards, and Cineplex movie packages even.

Here is a nice Mother’s Day flowers for just $54.99!

costco deal

The online store for Costco is huge and the prices include shipping. One caveat, if you ever have any problems or need to return the product that you purchased, you will need to return to a brick and mortar store. So make sure you have a backup plan.

Do you have any other ideas on how to shop at Costco for free?

Steven Zussino

Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog,