How To Shop At Costco Without A Membership

Travis and I love getting a good deal, and we’ve heard that Costco can be 50% cheaper than shopping at a non-exclusive grocery store.

According to, Costco membership fees accounted for 75% of Costco’s profit in 2014.  The fees cover a percentage of the cost of their products, which is how Costco is able to keep their prices so low.

In the U.K., you can purchase some items online without a membership, but you’ll be charged a 5% non-member surcharge:

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To avoid the non-member 5% surcharge, you could pay an annual fee for £15 to purchase products online.  That’s £15 more than I’m willing to spend, but it might be worth it for some.  Personally, I’d rather shop in-store anyway.  I’ve heard that you can can prescriptions filled and buy alcohol without a membership.  Booze and drugs …

In the U.K., to have an Individual Costco membership for shopping in-store, the fee is £25 a year, but you need to be employed or retired from certain professions.

To see if your profession is on the list, check out the screen shot below:

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You also need to go into the store and provide proof of your profession by way of an employee ID card, pay slip, or certificate of professional qualification.

I don’t have any of those things, and I haven’t tested showing my qualifications from the USA.  I don’t like that the deals are exclusive to certain professions, and I totally want in on the slashed prices.

How anyone can shop at in-store Costco, avoid the membership fee, and not be on the specified list of professions:

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If you have a friend who is already a member, you can give them cash and ask them to buy you a Costco Cash Card.  Even if the Cash Card only has £25 on it, you can spend more than £25 and cover the difference in cash.  I’ve not tested this, but I’m pretty sure you could take the £25 gift card, buy what you want and another £25 gift card so that you don’t have to rely on your ol’ friend all the time.  You could also have them purchase say a £1000 gift card as well.

One caveat with this hack is that on a mass scale (like, if everyone in the world cashed in on this deal) it would inflate the product prices since a percentage of the shoppers are not paying into the membership fee, which apparently is where 75% of Costco’s profit margin lies.   But, for the right person, this hack could be worth while.



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