Pssst, fans of bulk goods and seven-pound tubs of Nutella: You don’t have to be a Costco member to shop at the beloved retailer.
Although there are 532 locations across the country (and 767 worldwide), Costco can’t be everywhere. And even if your city does feature a warehouse, it may be inconvenient to make a trip there — or haul the often cartoonishly-sized products home.
But there are a few ways to take advantage of the store’s low prices without paying for a yearly membership. Many Costco goods are sold through the grocery delivery service Instacart, which doesn’t require a Costco membership to place an order. (You can see if Instacart is available in your area; a nearby warehouse is necessary to place an order for Costco items.)
Instacart sells Costco products including perishable goods and items from their Kirkland Signature brand, and works by sending personal shoppers to local stores to pick up your goods and deliver them to your home.
While the fee for delivery can be steep — it can vary between $5 to $15 for orders — there’s the option of joining Instacart Express, which comes with free shipping (including same-day delivery) for all orders over $35. You can choose a two-hour delivery window, even for same-day orders.
An Instacart Express membership costs $99 per year, and allows you to order items and receive same-day delivery from many other local retailers, depending on your location. An Express membership could be a good value if you need other non-Costco items delivered as well.
But if you want to avoid the yearly membership fee, Instacart Express offers a two-week free trial period with no delivery or service fees. You could try out the service, stock up on Costco goods during that period, then cancel your subscription before the two-week trial period is over.
Costco does note that Instacart prices may be higher than those in your local warehouse to account for service and delivery, but a recent search for a few items on both Costco.com and Instacart’s Costco page yielded the same prices for items.
While Instacart prices might be more expensive than if you simply went to the warehouse yourself, there is the added benefit of getting 20 cups of hummus, a dozen butter croissants, or a lifetime’s supply of toilet paper delivered straight to your door.
If you want to try some of the products Costco obsessives swear by, but can’t make it to the store or don’t want to commit to a Costco membership, this might be a good deal for you.
Costco’s own website also offers same-day delivery for perishable goods or household supplies with a delivery order minimum of $35. You must be a Costco member – paying $60 for a Gold Star membership or $120 for a Gold Star Executive membership — to take advantage of this service.
Of course, another way to purchase Costco items without a membership is to make a trip to a warehouse with a friend who is a member. Costco allows members to bring their children and up to two guests during each visit. But be ready to Venmo your buddy: Only Costco members can purchase items in the store.
You can also shop at Costco without a membership if you have a Costco gift card (called a Costco Cash Card). These cards can also only be purchased by members.
If you do commit to buying a membership, there are plenty of ways to save money every time you shop, from getting cash back rewards with the Costco Anywhere Visa card or by picking up one of their famously cheap rotisserie chickens.
Plus, there’s always the food court. Membership isn’t required to grab a slice of pizza, cup of soft serve, or the infamous “Chicken Bake” with three kinds of cheese and Caesar dressing. Sometimes, snacking is the best shopping.