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Can Non-Members Shop At Costco Wholesale? Apparently, Yes. Here's How

However, the Costco gift card hack in many people's opinion is not a long-term, here's why.
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Tim Boyle
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Tim Boyle

A shopping hack that reportedly allows non-members to make Costco Wholesale purchases without paying for the annual membership fee is going viral on TikTok. The secret lies in the Costco Gift Card also known as the Shop Card.

If a person receives a Costco Shop Card as a gift or if a Costco member buys a Costco Shop Card for them, the card holder gets access to Costco Wholesale locations irrespective of whether they are a member or not, as reported by Fox Business.

Several social media users have long documented their successful trips to the store without being a member using the Costco Gift Card hack.

The hack appears to be trending on TikTok in recent months and has resulted in breakout searches for "Can you shop at Costco with a gift card?" on Googe Trends. However, the Costco gift card hack in many people's opinion is not a long-term thing but rather a way to get introduced to the whole system and see what membership will work for your needs. 

How To Enter Costco Without a Membership 

Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Tim Boyle
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

The first thing to note is that you need to befriend or know a member who is willing to help. It's important to note that only members can buy the gift card for non-members. This means that once the amount in the card is spent you will again need to ask your "member friend" to reload your existing one.

This whole process can be a little impractical and tiring in the long run. However, if you want to give the discounted Disneyland for adults a try and get access to its beloved Kirkland items then this hack is just the right thing for you. 

Should One Become a Costco Member?

Getty Images | Tim Boyle
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

This depends on a variety of factors and needs. However, if you are struggling to decide whether the $60 annual membership will be worth it, this gift card hack is the perfect way to find out and get a better idea of your shopping needs. 

Is there a Free Costco Membership or a Trial Period?

Getty Images | Chris Hondros
Getty Images | Chris Hondros

As of now, there is no free Costco membership, day pass, trial pass, or trial membership. However, there are a few ways to get a taste of the place before you decide on getting the membership. One way is to always tag along with your member friend as Costco's guest policy states:

"Anyone with a card can bring up to two guests to the Warehouse during each visit. Keep in mind that purchasing items is exclusive to Costco members."

The other way is to simply purchase the membership and give it a trial run as the Costco return policy clearly states "Risk-Free 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. On Membership: We will cancel and refund your membership fee at any time if you are dissatisfied."

So yes, you can always cancel your membership if you feel like you are not getting value from it.

Drawbacks of The Gift Card Hack

Many social media users have pointed out that non-members using a Costco Shop Card aren’t eligible for returns and "can't spend anything over the gift card" amount. Many TikTok users also shared how asking friends and family to reload the card or even purchase is a hassle. 

Costco regulars also said that such trips cause a lot of inconvenience to the cashiers and also hold up lines as it requires more steps to process. Non-members usually have to pay in cash at most Costco locations, a TikTok user added.

The comments section also displayed the general sentiment of people towards Costco memberships and how they feel it's worth the money. "I love Costco has been a member for over 15 years. Mom of two boys. worth it for me. wrote a user on TikTok while another user writes, "Costco membership isn’t that expensive and totally worth it!!!!"