With great prices, bulk buys, and other awesome deals, Costco is a great place to shop if you’re looking to save money.
To shop at Costco though, you need a membership. And it costs $60 for the year.
You may be wondering if there’s any way to get a free Costco membership.
Perhaps you’re on a budget, or just don’t want to have to pay for a membership.
Now, I’m going to level with you here; Costco does not hand out free memberships. In fact, it doesn’t even have a free trial membership (although there are ways to shop at Costco without a membership!).
Does that mean that you can’t get one for free?
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All you need to do is offset the membership cost.
Since $60 isn’t too crazy an amount to pay, you can easily offset that cost using a few simple hacks…
What will I learn?
Free Costco Membership
Here are simple ways to get a Costco membership without paying the membership fee.
1. Use a discounted Costco gift card
You can get gift cards at a discount on gift card resale sites. On these websites you can purchase a gift card for less cash than it’s worth.
For example, you could get a $50 Costco gift card for just $40. While you’ve only paid $40 for the gift card, you still have $50 to spend at Costco, meaning you’ve already offset your membership cost by $10.
Here are some places to find discounted Costco gift cards.
2. Get rebates from your Costco trip with Ibotta
If you’re not using Ibotta already, you really should be!
As I explained in detail in my Ibotta review, Ibotta is an app that gives you money when you upload a photo of your receipt.
It’ll give you rebates for shopping at all sorts of different stores, including Costco of course, and for purchasing a variety of products.
How it works is simple:
- You open up the app and browse offers.
- You choose the ones you want.
- Purchase those items when you’re at the store.
- Upload a photo of your receipt as proof of purchase
- Get paid.
You can get anywhere from $1 to $3 back for each item with Ibotta.
I’ve even seen rebates higher than that!
This means that if you got $3 back on 10 items at Costco, or any other store, you could make $30!
That’s half of your membership paid for already.
- Join Ibottta here.
3. And use Checkout51 for even more rebates
Checkout51 (review) is another app that pays you for uploading your receipts.
There’s no reason you can’t upload your receipts to both Ibotta and Checkout51 and get double the rebates.
Checkout51 works in the same way as Ibotta where you get rebates when you purchase qualifying items and upload a photo of your receipt.
You can find rebates of between $1 and $3. Again, you could easily make $10 to $30 and offset the cost of your Costco membership.
- Join Checkout51 here.
4. Get free cash for a Costco membership with Swagbucks
Another way to get a free Costco membership is to use Swagbucks.
Now, Swagbucks doesn’t hand out free Costco memberships directly.
But, you can easily make the money on there to pay for your membership.
Swagbucks gives you points called Swag Bucks or SB when you complete tasks that you likely do anyway, such as:
- Playing games
- Shopping online
- Browsing the internet
- Taking surveys
- Watching videos
- Completing offers.
In exchange for doing these tasks, you get points. You can redeem these points for cash right to your PayPal account.
On this Reddit thread, people say that they earn from $30 to more than $125 a month with Swagbucks. This means you could easily use your Swagbucks cash to get a free Costco membership.
- Join Swagbucks here.
5. Get cash instantly for a free Costco membership with Qmee
Another way to get free cash for a Costco membership is to use Qmee.
If you need cash fast it’s an awesome site because it has no minimum cash-out amount. So you can withdraw your earnings at anytime and have them sent to your PayPal account within minutes!
The site pays you for doing easy activities, like:
- Shopping online
- Searching the internet
- Taking surveys
So you an easily cover the cost of your Costco membership with your Qmee earnings.
- Join Qmee here.
6. Make $60 just for signing up for websites
You could make $60 right now just for signing up for these websites:
- ShopAtHome: $10 PayPal cash or Amazon gift card
- BeFrugal: $10 cash bonus
- Rakuten: $10 cash bonus or $10 Walmart gift card
- InboxDollars: $5 bonus
- Squishy cash: $3 bonus
- Swagbucks: $10 bonus
- PointClub: $5 bonus
That’s $60 to cover the cost of your Costco membership!
Read this post for even more sites that’ll pay you to sign up.
7. Purchase Kirkland brand items
Kirkland is Costco’s own brand. So it’s sort of like the generic brand at a grocery store. I’ve found Kirkland products, from its candy to its paper towels to be great quality. The best part is that these Kirkland products are often cheaper than name-brand ones.
You can easily offset the cost of your Costco membership by purchasing Kirkland brand products by shopping at Kirklands.com.
You can also buy Kirkland Signature products at Walmart.com or your local Walmart store.
If you save $5 purchasing Kirkland brand coffee instead of a name-brand one, that’s already $5 off the cost of your membership, with the purchase of just one item.
8. Buy tires at Costco
Replacing the tires on your car is important for your safety and it gets you better gas mileage as well.
One of the best places to purchase tires is at Costco. Not only is the service great, but the prices are competitive too.
You often get add-on services to your purchase from the service department, such as lifetime rotation, warranties, replacements and air inflation with nitrogen, which helps to keep the tire pressure more stable. All of these extras can help you to save money in the future.
The best part is that Costco often provides huge discounts on its tires, which can also offset the cost of a membership.
At the time of writing, you could get $70 off any set of four Bridgestone tires and $40 off tire installation. That more than covers the cost of a Costco membership.
Check with your local warehouse to see what savings are available to you.
9. Purchase gift cards and save between 25% and 35%
Okay, a really easy way to recoup the cost of a Costco membership is to purchase gift cards.
Costco has some awesome deals on bulk gift cards that can save you a lot of cash.
It has packages of bulk gift cards to popular retailers at great prices. Generally, you’ll save between 25% and 35% on these gift cards.
You could give these out as gifts during the holidays. And if you have lots of people to buy for, this may offset your membership cost.
Or if you shop at a particular store, you could spend those gift cards yourself and save money.
10. Buy low cost gas at Costco
Since Costco offers low cost fuel, you can reduce how much you spend on gas each month if you purchase it at your local warehouse.
These savings can offset your membership cost easily, especially if you’re taking a long trip somewhere.
Since there are lots of Costco locations across the country, you can easily find a station to fill up at a low cost.
11. Purchase movie tickets
If you often go to the movies, you may want to purchase your tickets at Costco. Often you can find deals on 10 packs of movie tickets, for about $80 to $90. So you’re paying just $8 or $9 a ticket, which is often way less than what you’d spend on most movie tickets nowadays.
Buy your snacks at Costco and take them into the movie theater with you too, and you’ll avoid overpaying for food at the theater.
12. Look out for Costco’s monthly coupon books for instant savings
Each month, Costco releases a book of coupons that can save you money on everything from soup to garden furniture.
I’ve always found awesome savings in these coupon booklets for at least a few of the things I buy anyway.
I’d highly recommend you having a browse of this booklet each month to see where you could save money.
These savings can offset your membership in no time.
What’s great about Costco coupons is that you don’t even need to take them to the register with you.
These coupon discounts are automatically applied at the checkout. So you save money instantly. Keep track of your savings, and it’s likely that they’ll cover the cost of your membership.
13. Take advantage of Costco’s price adjustment policy
Costco has a really generous price adjustment policy in place. When the price of an item you bought drops, Costco will issue you a credit for the difference between the price you paid and the promotional price.
You can get the price adjustment if your purchase was made online at Costco.com and was within 30 days prior to the change in price. Credits are typically issued within 3 to 5 business days.
You can also get a price adjustment on items you purchased in-store. You just need to ask at the membership counter at the Costco warehouse where you made the purchase.
- Learn more about Costco’s price adjustment policy here.
14. Earn the cost of membership taking online surveys
You could get a free Costco membership by taking surveys.
Sure, survey sites don’t directly give out Costco memberships. But they do give you an easy way to make money that you can use to get a membership at no cost.
You can make $60 from surveys and use that cash to pay for your membership.
Here are a few survey sites that pay:
- Survey Junkie – $1 to $3 per survey.
- Ipsos i-Say – $0.10 to $1 per survey.
- Opinion Outpost – $0.05 to $5 per survey
- Pinecone Research – $3 per survey
- Darwin’s Data – $25 per survey
Now, I’d recommend you sign up to a few different sites as you’ll increase the number of surveys you qualify for, giving you more opportunities to earn cash.
15. Upgrade your Costco membership and get 2% back on all your purchases
Consider upgrading your Costco membership to an Executive Rewards one, as it offers far more benefits.
A regular Costco membership costs you $60. And an Executive membership costs $120.
Since you’re wondering how to get a Costco membership for free, me suggesting that you pay more for a membership may seem counterproductive but hear me out.
When you’re an Executive member, you get 2% cashback on your annual spending, up to $1,000!
If you shop at Costco a lot, it’s definitely worth your while.
My father often shops at Costco and has an Executive membership, and he gets $100s back each year.
This cashback easily pays for your membership.
Costco will even prorate the upgrade amount based on the months remaining in your current membership.
This option is only worthwhile of course if you spend a lot at Costco each year, so do some calculations to see if an Executive Rewards membership would be worth it for you.
16. Use coupon websites and deal sites to find great savings at Costco
While Costco doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons, coupon websites can still be used to find great deals at Costco.
Coupon websites offer everything from rebates to free Costco shop cards.
Check out these websites for great deals at Costco:
- Giving Assistant
- The Krazy Coupon Lady
- Brad’s Deals
Here are a few examples of savings and deals on offer at the time of writing:
- Offers.com: You could get a $20 Costco Shop Card with a 1-Year Costco membership subscription for new members.
- Coupons.com: Get a $2 rebate on Magnum ice cream when you scan your receipt
- DealsPlus.com: Students can get $20 Costco cash with a new membership
All of these deals can help you to offset the cost of your membership, so I’d definitely check out these sites.
Look out for Costco Membership Deals
Another way to get your Costco membership for free or at least at a discount, is to look out for Costco membership deals.
Here are some examples…
17. Membership Discount for Military
If you’re a member of the military, you can get a free $30 Costco shop card. This means you have already saved 50% on your membership!
This offer is available to active duty, veteran, and retired military members, as well as their spouse or a dependent.
- Learn more about the military offer here.
18. Membership Discount for Students
If you’re a student, you could get a $20 Costco Shop Card when you join as a new Gold Star member at Costco.com.
To access this offer, you need to join UNiDAYS or login.
- Learn more about the student offer here.
19. Membership Discount for Teachers
Costco also provides a deal for teachers. If you’re a teacher, you can get a $30 Costco Shop card when you join Costco as a new member.
- Learn more about the teacher offer here.
20. Look out for a Costco Gold Star Membership deal
Sometimes you can find deals on Costco memberships on sites like Groupon and Living Social.
For example, there was a deal Groupon used to offer where you could get exclusive coupons and a $20 Costco cash card when you got a one-year Costco Gold Star membership.
This Costco membership package was valued up to $148.98.
This meant that although you’d pay $60 for the annual membership, it was valued up to $148.98.
You had to be a new member to take advantage of this deal, so it wasn’t valid on the renewal of an existing membership.
With the deal you’d get:
- A One-Year Costco Gold Star Membership, including a membership card for the Primary Cardholder and a free Household Card for anyone who’s at least 18 years old and lives at the same address.
- A $20 Costco Cash Card.
- Exclusive coupons for a variety of products, like Kirkland paper towels and fresh meat. These coupons were worth $68.98.
- $25 off an order worth $250 on Costco.com
Living Social also offered the same deal. But sadly, neither site does anymore. That doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future though. So I’d highly recommend having a search on Groupon and Living Social to see if these membership deals pop back up in the future. You can also sign up for both site’s free newsletters so you can notified of new posts. That way, if they do offer a new deal, you won’t miss it.
21. Free Costco membership on Reddit?
Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to all things Costco where users share anything from tips for saving money on individual items at Costco to the latest deals they have found, and of course current Costco membership promo codes and deals.
If you like, you can subscribe (it’s free) to the r/Costco subreddit so you can be notified of all new posts or just check the subreddit for new posts periodically.
Shop at Costco Without a Membership
Another way to get a free Costco membership is to not pay for one at all!
Just like you can shop at Sam’s Club without a membership, there are also ways you can shop at Costco without a membership, so you can avoid paying the membership fee.
You can buy certain items at Costco without a membership. Just call ahead at the store to make sure, as the company doesn’t have a definitive list of items non-members can purchase.
There are also hacks you can use to shop at Costco as a non-member.
Here are some ways you can shop at Costco without paying for a membership.
22. Purchase alcohol
If you like to drink alcohol regularly, you may want to purchase it at Costco. Costco offers some great savings, particularly on liquor. And it has some pretty good deals on wine too.
Although Costco doesn’t specifically say that non-members can purchase alcohol, I’ve known a few people who don’t have a membership who’ve purchased alcohol at their local warehouse. Just make sure you clarify at your nearest Costco store before you load up to your cart.
23. Buy prescriptions
You can find many common medications for a lower price at Costco. Due to laws set by the FDA and other organizations, Costco has to sell these low-cost prescriptions to people, regardless of whether they have a membership.
So you could save money on prescriptions even if you’re not a member.
24. Shop at Costco online instead
Did you know that you can shop online at Costco.com even if you’re not a member?
Well, you can!
The only downside is that you have to pay an additional 5% over the price members pay, except on prescription drugs.
Even with the surcharge though, you may find that many items still work out cheaper than they are elsewhere. So you could take advantage of some great deals.
25. Shop using a Costco Shop Card
A Costco Shop Card is basically an alternative form of payment to cash, debit cards, or credit cards.
They come in denominations ranging from $25 to $2,000.
You need to be a Costco member to purchase a Costco Shop card.
But, you don’t have to be a member to shop at Costco with one!
You can also use a Costco Shop Card at the gas station and at the food court.
If you know someone who’s a Costco member, ask them to purchase one for you (give them the money for the purchase, of course).
Then use this card to buy stuff at Costco. Just make sure you get a card with a large denomination, so you’re not having to reload the card often.
Members can reload Costco Shop Cards at any Costco warehouse.
26. Shop elsewhere but still get Costco prices
You can skip the Costco membership altogether and get Costco prices without ever shopping at Costco with this simple trick:
Lots of stores have a price match policy where they’ll match the price of a product at another retailer. Many of them price match Costco.
This means you can get the same prices you would at Costco at another store!
Here are some examples of stores that price match Costco:
- Best Buy
Not all stores will price with Costco, but many will. Some may only match online prices, rather than in-store prices.
Just check with the store to see what their price match policy is.
You can get the same great deals you’d find at Costco without needing a membership or shopping there.
Free Costco Membership for Healthcare Workers?
While researching for this post, I come across a lot of comments on forums and blogs from shoppers asking whether or not Costco offers free membership for healthcare workers.
Unfortunately, the company doesn’t offer that. However, they have a new policy during the Covid-19 pandemic that gives priority access to healthcare workers and first responders.
Here’s what the company says:
“Costco is temporarily allowing priority access to our warehouses during all open hours for Costco members who are healthcare workers and first responders such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters. Healthcare workers (which includes pharmacists and all hospital employees with a hospital ID) and first responders who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role, will be allowed to move to the front of any line to enter the warehouse. Only members who meet this criteria will be allowed priority access.”
So if you belong to any of these groups, this can at the very least save you time.
Happy Warehouse Shopping!
There are so many ways to get a free Costco membership, whether it’s offsetting the cost of the membership or finding a membership deal.
Give our tips and tricks for getting a Costco membership for free or at a discount a try.
And let us know in the comments section below what your favorite tips are for saving money at Costco.