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For me, having a Costco membership is really a slam dunk. I pay $120 a year for an Executive membership, which is double the cost of a $60 basic (Gold Star) membership. However, my Executive membership gives me 2% cash back on my purchases, so it’s worth paying for the upgrade. And it’s worth paying for a membership in general because the amount of money I save during the year on groceries and household essentials well exceeds the $120 fee I pay to use the store.

But you may not love the idea of having to pay a fee for access to Costco. And look, I get it.

Most stores don’t charge you money just to walk in the door, so you may feel silly handing over $60 or $120 a year to Costco when all you’re going to be doing is opening up your wallet to pad its bottom line.

The good news is that you technically don’t need to be a member to shop at Costco. Here are a few options you have if you don’t want to spring for a membership.

1. Use a Costco Shop Card

A Shop Card is Costco’s version of the gift card. And having a Shop Card gives you access to any warehouse club store — even if you don’t have a membership card to flash at the door. You can use a Shop Card for any Costco item that strikes your fancy, whether it’s food, apparel, or electronics.

Now one thing you should know is that you have to be a Costco member to buy a Shop Card. But if a member decides to give you one as a gift, you can use it to gain entry to the store.

2. Shop on

When you visit a Costco location in person, you’re asked to show your membership card at the door prior to entering. But you can shop online as a non-member without a hassle.

There are a few catches, though. First, certain online items are marked as members-only, so those will be off the table if you don’t have a Costco membership. You’ll also face a 5% surcharge on your order as a non-member.

The reason? Costco uses its membership fee revenue to offset its costs and offer its amazingly low prices. So if you’re not helping to support the store, you’re going to pay extra.

3. Order through Uber Eats

Uber Eats recently announced that it will offer delivery from Costco as part of its lineup of services. This option may not be available at every store, though — you’ll need to check to see if your local Costco warehouse participates.

You do not need to be a Costco member to place an order through Uber Eats. However, members are eligible for a discount on the items they have delivered. And you should also expect to pay more per item if you order through Uber Eats, as opposed to shopping at Costco in person.

Clearly, there are ways to get around a Costco membership and still take advantage of the store’s offerings. But if you find yourself trying to shop without a membership on a regular basis, then it may be time to just — wait for it — get a membership.

If you spend $60 a year for a basic membership but save $15 every month by purchasing your groceries for less, you’re ahead by $120. Similarly, a single large purchase could put more than your $60 fee back in your pocket. So it pays to consider signing up for a membership if shopping at Costco is something you often have a desire to do.

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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale and Uber Technologies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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