We all know that Costco and Sam’s Club both offer a variety of bulk grocery items, furniture, clothing, services, and more at a nice discount. While most deals are for members only, you can actually take advantage of select services AND stock up on great deals without paying for a membership.
If you’ve been contemplating a warehouse membership OR just want to check out the products and services that each club has to offer before signing up, here are a few ways that you can shop in-club for free!
1. Shop with a Cash Card or One-Day Pass.
Non-members can shop in-club at Costco without paying a membership fee if you have a Costco Cash Card, which is their version of a gift card. However, in order to purchase or reload a Costco Cash Card, you’ll need to be a member, so consider asking a friend or family member to purchase/reload one for you and you can reimburse them. If you have a Costco Cash Card, you can also purchase gasoline at any Costco warehouse with membership pricing.
Unfortunately, Sam’s Club gift cards cannot be used to make purchases if you are not a member. However, Sam’s Club occasionally offers a free one-day in-club pass from time to time so you can shop and check out the sales (not currently available); however, you will be charged a 10% service fee on your purchases (California, South Carolina, & Elmsford, NY, are exempt from these fees).
2. Tag along with another member.
If you know someone who is a Costco member, you can tag along with them since all members can bring up to two guests and children into the warehouse. However, only Costco members can purchase items, so they’ll have to pay for the bill at the register and you can reimburse them.
Plus, Costco members receive one free household card for anyone over the age of 18 and living at the same address, which allows them to shop without having to tag along with the primary member.
Similarly, Sam’s Club also allows members to bring up to two guests and children to Sam’s Club; however, only members can make purchases.
Plus, all Sam’s Club members can add complimentary memberships at no charge for anyone living in the same household who is 18 years of age or older. You’ll get your own card and won’t need to be with the primary cardholder to shop.
If you wanna save a few bucks, you may also try asking a member to add you to their account. That’s because add-on memberships receive all Club member benefits for a discounted annual price of $40, as opposed to the $45 annual membership fee. Sam’s Club members can add up to 8 additional cardholders to their account at this low rate.
3. Shop online.
Non-members can purchase from Costco.com without a guest membership pass. However, non-members will pay a 5% surcharge over the member’s posted product prices (except for prescription drugs). You can also shop on Costco.com using a Costco Cash Card.
If you want to shop SamsClub.com, you can sign up for a free online-only guest membership pass that is valid for 24 hours. However, note that you will be charged a 10% non-member service fee for all purchases.
4. Get your vision and hearing tested.
Most Costco and Sam’s Club locations have an independent optometrist in the warehouse who you can make an appointment with to get your vision and hearing tested – no membership required. However, a membership or gift card is required to purchase optical products, such as glasses or contacts.
Also, Sam’s Club offers free quarterly health screenings for members and non-members, from 11 am to 4 pm on the second Saturdays in January, April, July, and October. Screenings are only available at clubs with a Pharmacy and include the following:
- Blood pressure
- Body fat percentage
- Blood glucose
- Total cholesterol
- HDL—good cholesterol
- Risk ratio
- Vision & hearing screening/testing (may vary by location)
5. Fill a prescription at the pharmacy.
The pharmacy at Costco is available to members and non-members. Just bring the prescription from your doctor, tell the greeter that you’re using the pharmacy, and they’ll let you in. You can even get your prescriptions filled online and have them delivered to your home at NO extra cost.
Similarly, you do not need a Sam’s Club membership in order to purchase prescription medications at the Sam’s Club Pharmacy. Even better, for medicines with a script, there is not a 10% non-member service fee.
6. Get a flu shot.
Along with filling prescriptions, Costco and Sam’s Club also offer affordable immunizations to members and non-members who do not have insurance (check out how their prices compare to other pharmacy locations here). Be sure to call your local warehouse ahead of time as an appointment may be required.
7. Enjoy the food court.
If you have a Costco nearby and are headed in-club to pick up a prescription or get your vision/hearing tested, you can purchase items from the food court without having a membership! That means you can enjoy yummy frozen yogurt, hot dogs, pizza, and more treats on the cheap!
Also, according to the Sam’s Club site, you do not need to be a member in order to purchase food items from the Sam’s Club Café, and there is not a 10% non-member service fee.
8. Purchase alcohol.
Select states (including AZ, CA, CT, DE, HI, IN, MA, MI, MN, NY, TX, VT) have laws in place that say it’s illegal to require membership for alcohol purchases. That means you can purchase wine, beer, and spirits at Sam’s Club or Costco without a membership, and you should not be charged a non-member service fee! Note that Sam’s Club’s in-club pickup feature is exclusive to members only.
Just let the door attendant know you’re there to buy alcohol, and they should let you in the door.