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Free Costco Membership: 10+ Legit Ways To Get One

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A free Costco membership can be a great way to save money at this giant retailer.

The convenience of having just about everything you may ever need in an all in one superstore makes shopping much easier.

However, shopping at Costco will require a membership which can range in pricing depending on what type of membership you choose to go with.

Table of Contents

About The Costco Card

Before diving into how to get a free Costco membership card, it is best to talk about exactly what a Costco Card is.

In a world of reward programs, membership clubs, and digital coupons, Costco has been leading the pack with their Costco Card.

Getting a free Costco membership isn’t always straightforward and free to begin with.

Instead, you can use various hacks and tricks to save money at Costco to offset the price of your membership.

This will essentially make your membership free while still saving money on each purchase.

What Is A Costco Card?

A Costco card is a card that allows you to shop at any Costco wholesale store and online at

Costco is widely known for their low prices and bulk offerings that allow individuals, families, and businesses to save money on home and work supplies.

To take advantage of these great deals, you must have a Costco card to shop.

You can find a little bit of everything at Costco from groceries, tires, glasses, and household items.

Having a Costco card can help you save money on everyday purchases and saving this money can help you offset the cost of your particular membership level.

How Much Does A Costco Card Cost?

In order to make up the amount you are going to spend on a Costco membership, you are going to need to know just how much it costs.

Costco memberships come in 2 different levels, Gold Star and executive.

A Gold Star Costco membership is going to be ideal for those who are using Costco for personal shopping for themselves or a family.

This membership card is going to run you $60 a year at the time of this article.

For those who want more perks or those using Costco for business related items can opt for an executive membership.

These memberships are going to run $120 and will allow you to earn 2% cash back on Costco purchase, including Costco travel purchases.

Costco Card Benefits

Obviously one of the biggest perks of having a Costco card is going to be the ability to save on their discounted bulk products.

However, there are many other benefits you can take advantage of with a membership.

Housing one of the most lenient return policies in retail, Costco members can take advantage of this policy to return items that are not usually returnable at other stores.

Filling up your car’s fuel tank at Costco can also yield some great savings as Costco usually has the cheapest gas when compared to rival stores.

With Costco travel, you will be able to score deeply discounted travel packages.

Buying multipacks of movie tickets or gift cards at Costco can allow you to save a lot of money when compared to individual purchases.

With great services such as the optical center and tire/lube center, you can also get cheaper prices on things outside of the normal groceries and household items.

How To Get A Free Costco Card

The only way to get a free Costco card instantly is if you were to be gifted one or you won a card in a contest.

What we are going to discuss today is how to save enough money to offset the cost of your Costco card which essentially allows you to get a free card.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways that you can earn back the money you invested into a membership card.

1. Make Your Money Back With A Cash Back Card

Since the name of the game is saving enough money to offset the cost of your membership, your number on priority should be to save money instantly or earn cash back.

Earning cash back has never been easier with the wide variety of cash back cards available through credit card companies.

What these cards do is allow you to earn money back from everyday purchases, including groceries in most cases.

While you should always be using these cards to pay bills and everyday expenses that you can easily pay off to maximize your savings, using them at Costco is one of the most popular tricks to offset membership costs.

Since most people use Costco to grocery shop, you can use your cash back card instead of cash to pay for your groceries to ensure you are earning cash back with each purchase.

Once you cross the threshold of earning enough cash back to cover the cost of the membership, it’s like you got the membership for free.

The best part about using a cash back card is that, depending on the card, you should be able to earn cash back on most of your purchases.

This is the biggest advantage cash back cards have against cash back apps such as Ibotta or Shopkick.

To maximize your savings and to cover the cost of a Costco membership sooner, one quick hack is to use a cash back card in conjunction with in store coupons or cash back apps.

Since a cash back credit card is going to give you cash back on your overall purchase, you can still use apps and in store coupons to double or triple your cash back or instant savings.

2. Get Cash Back With Price Protection Plan

Since the name of the game is to save as much money as possible, you are going to want to make sure you are protected on every purchase.

Costco is notorious for having some of the most lenient return policies making it easy to bring back anything you may not be satisfied with.

This can help you save money by returning items that did not fully satisfy you or did not work as expected.

I have even heard of a woman returning a Christmas tree a month after Christmas.

While gaming the system in that manner is not recommended, it does go to show the level of customer service that Costco offers for its customers.

Costco’s Price Protection plan is another great way to ensure larger electronic purchases are covered in the event of damage or malfunction.

The protection plan has been recently renamed to Square Trade and covers devices like televisions, computers, tablets, and appliances.

SquareTrade covers these devices at different levels depending on the total price of the device.

Each plan will have a predetermined length of coverage (usually around 2 years) and will cover normal use failure as outlined in the Square Trade plan.

Each plan will cover 1 item and can be purchased through Costco at the time of your device purchase or up to 30 days prior to the purchase with your original receipt.

This can help you save hundreds of dollars when compared to having a non-covered device in the event of device failure.

The Costco SquareTrade coverage is available exclusively to Costco members only.

3. Use Ibotta To Make Money On The Back End

Here at FrugalForLess, we love to use Ibotta.

Ibotta is one of the most popular cashback apps available for smartphone users.

It eliminates the need to sit and clip coupons and keep up with them until you use them.

You can simply choose which discounts you want to take advantage of in the app and simply scan your receipt after your purchase to get instant cashback.

This is an easy way to make up the cost of your Costco membership within weeks of shopping.

To get started, simply download Ibotta onto your smartphone and sign up for an account.

Then you can select Costco from the long list of retailers that Ibotta works with to explore the savings available at that time.

This will give you a list of all of the current cash back offers that Ibotta and Costco are offering and this list changes often so be sure to get into the habit of checking the app often.

Select the specific offers that you want to take advantage of and complete any offers needed to redeem that offer.

This may include a one question survey or watching a quick video.

Once you have all of your offers ready to go, simply go to the store and start shopping.

The good thing about Ibotta is that it allows you to scan each product to ensure it is the correct one so that you do not miss out on purchasing the specific product being offered.

Once you make your purchase, click redeem and submit your receipt to the app (snapping a photo or scanning a QR code) and that’s it.

Your cash back will be deposited into your Ibotta account within 24 hours.

Ibotta does require a 20 dollar threshold before you can cash out, so you will need to rack up some savings before enjoying the fruits of your labor.

However, once you reach that threshold, you can get that cash back in the form of a gift card from popular retailers or simply getting it deposited into a PayPal account.

4. Save Using Instant Coupons 

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get a free membership by recouping your money is by using in store coupons.

Costco offers in store coupons that members can use year round on all types of products.

At Costco, these can be found next to the price tag on products, on the products themselves, or even found inside the in-store ads.

To use these coupons, simply grab them when you go to purchase your items and have the cashier scan them when you go to check out. 

While you may only save a quarter to a dollar with each coupon, the savings can add up quite quickly, getting you to where you need to be to make your money back on a membership.

One of the best things about using in store coupons is that you can save even more money by coupling them with money saving apps such as Ibotta or Shopkick.

Using in store coupons allows you to instantly save money on your purchase while using an app can help you get cashback on the same purchase.

To take things one step further, you can even use a cashback receipt app that will allow you to get money back by simply sending in a photo of your receipt. 

This means you can make money three times off of one shopping trip.

If you are having trouble finding coupons in store, you may check you local Sunday newspaper for manufacturer coupons.

Manufacturer coupons are also a great way to save money on specific products as they are usually accepted at most large stores.

When in doubt, you can check with your local Costco store to make sure that they accept manufacturer coupons since it is a members only store.

5. Buy Movie Tickets In Bulk

If you enjoy going to the movies as much as I do, then you know just how expensive it can get if you frequent often.

While movie tickets aren’t the biggest expense, when added into the whole price of popcorn, candy, and drinks, it can be quite the bill.

One way that you can use your Costco membership to help save you money is by purchasing movie tickets in bulk to save money over time.

One of Costco’s member perks is that they offer bulk packs of movie tickets for a fraction of the price of normal tickets.

While this isn’t usually the first thing that people think of when making their money back for the membership card, it can be a hidden gem.

For those who go to the movies a lot or have family members who go often, this could be a great way to buy in advance to save money over time. 

This also makes a cheap way to buy presents for birthdays and Christmas as you will be paying much less than you would at the actual theater.

6. Purchase Gift Cards At A Discount

One of the easiest things to buy for someone for a special occasion is a gift card.

They are universal and can be traded, sold, or given to someone else if they are not being used.

You can buy gift cards just about anywhere you go for specific stores and in superstores, you can find a wide variety of different gift cards available.

One of the best things about shopping for gift cards at Costco is that you can usually find multi packs at cheaper prices than buying them individually.

This allows you to buy gift cards for the whole family and save money while you are doing so.

One trick is to buy a discounted pack of gift cards for any retailer you shop at frequently to save money in the long run by using the gift cards.

For example, if you visit Starbucks daily, you can purchase a pack of Starbucks gift cards at a discounted price.

You use the gift cards to pay for your daily coffees and your dollar will go further than paying each day.

While using this method to make your money back on a Costco card will take some time, using it in conjunction with other tips in the article should greatly help you reach your goal.

If you are really lucky and can find a great deal, you may even be able to trade and sell your gift cards you got for a cheap price on gift card exchange sites to help make even more money.

7. Save On Every Fill Up With Costco Gas

When living more frugally, one of the most common ways to save money is to find the cheapest gas prices

Buying gas is one thing you can’t avoid spending money on when you own a car. 

When gas prices are high, you are forced to spend a little more each month to get to work and back. 

This usually means that more and more people will be searching for the lowest prices on fuel throughout the city. 

While a few cents may not make a difference for smaller cars, those with larger fuel tanks will feel the effects of even the slightest change. 

When looking for the cheapest gas prices in your town, you will notice that Costco usually beats out the competition. 

Since you do have to have a Costco membership to purchase Costco gas, it is one of the biggest perks of having a membership. 

The gas pumps at Costco fuel stations require you to scan your membership card before fueling. 

You can also get up to 4% Cashback on Costco fuel purchases as a member, so the savings really add up quick. 

You could easily make your membership fee expenses back if you fill up at Costco frequently  

If you don’t fill up often, you can use these savings paired up with other tips in this article to reach your free membership expense goal. 

One other benefit is that since it is an exclusive fuel station, you will likely see smaller lines and lower wait times when compared to busier gas stations.

8. Shop Their Kirkland Brand

Since we have gone over quite a few ways to save money using coupons and apps, it’s time to look at ways to save money with everyday purchases. 

Since 1992, Costco has offered discounted products under their in house brand Kirkland. 

This brand was named after Costco’s corporate headquarter’s location at the time. 

The Costco HQ has since changed locations but the name remains the same. 

The Kirkland brand offers a wide selection of home and grocery items that are priced much lower than name brands items. 

What this will allow you to do as a frugal shopper is save money on everyday purchases to make up your initial investment of the Costco membership. 

Since Kirkland branded items are only available at Costco, it is one of the best perks of owning a membership. 

Even those who are not aiming to make back their money for a free membership will usually end up saving money. 

One way you can compare savings is by looking at a name brand item and comparing it to a Kirkland branded item. 

You will most likely notice that the products are quite similar, but with a lower price on the Kirkland branded item. 

If you can find in store coupons on these items, you can double up on your savings to reach your goal quicker. 

Costco puts their customer’s satisfaction first, so even with the cheaper prices, you will be able to take advantage of a great money back guarantee. 

To get even more money back after saving with this brand, you can use an app like ReceiptHog. 

ReceiptHog will allow you to earn cash back on your purchase from Costco by simply submitting your receipt to the app. 

From my experience, I have not had good luck at finding Kirkland brand items on Ibotta.

9. Save Money On Car/Truck Tires

Saving money on gas at Costco isn’t the only way you can save money on car expenses with a membership.

Costco also offers several auto services to help their members save money on maintenance services. 

Shopping at Costco, you can find great deals on many car accessories and maintenance items if you like to do things yourself. 

For those who aren’t as mechanically inclined, you can take advantage of competitively priced auto services. 

From oil changes to new tires, Costco can save you up to $100+ dollars compared to the competition. 

One of their most deeply discounted services is tires and tire installation. 

Buying tires at Costco can save you anywhere from $40-$80 a tire in some cases. 

If you have ever purchased tires at other retailers, you know just how expensive it can be. 

Especially for those with larger wheels and tires. 

With a Costco membership card, you get to take advantage of these great savings anytime of the year. 

In most cases, one tire purchase can usually yield savings that will reimburse the initial membership charges. 

Throughout the year, Costco offers 1 cent installation with the purchase of 4 tires. 

You won’t find deals like this anywhere else. 

Buying 4 tires at a time with installation can save you hundreds of dollars. 

Costco offers tires in popular sizes to fit most consumer vehicles and can often order specialty tires if needed. 

The auto tech section is attached to the large Costco shopping center. 

This allows you to drop your car off before shopping, get your shopping done, and then pick up your car once you have finished. 

Costco offers a large variety of name brand tires to give you the best quality parts. 

These tires also come with industry leading warranties to ensure your investment is protected. 

10. Test Run A Membership

While there are many great perks of owning a membership, there are still those who may not use it to its full advantage. 

After all, savings are going to vary depending on how much you actually shop. 

The last thing you want to do as a frugal shopper is buy something that you never use. 

In order to make sure you will be getting the savings you need to make up the cost of a membership, try out a free trial. 

Costco offered free trials throughout the year to allow non-members to experience the great perks of the membership. 

This is a great way to get in the store and compare prices to items you currently buy. 

You can also look at doing a day pass which is much cheaper than a membership. 

The cost of a day pass can easily be made up from the savings you take advantage of during that shopping trip. 

If you find yourself wanting to try out a trial and they currently do not offer one, talk to the manager. 

Sometimes management can give you a free trial in the hopes that they can turn you into a customer. 

Most free trials will come with restrictions to keep people from abusing the system. 

However you should be able to take advantage of grocery and home product savings. 

If you are trying to accomplish a large shopping trip with your free trial, you could save enough money to pay for a membership outright. 

I would suggest keeping an eye out for email updates or newspaper flyers that notify you of free trials or day pass sales. 

This will allow you to take your test run with no commitment or investment of a year long membership.

11. Ask For A Group Discount

If you were lucky enough to get a free trial and enjoyed it, you may be wanting to pick up a membership. 

While there usually are not discounts offered by Costco on memberships, there are other ways to save on initial membership costs. 

One way to do this is by trying to get a group of people together to buy memberships at the same time. 

This can be done with church groups, social clubs, and even families. 

What you will want to do is list out how many memberships you will want to buy at one time. 

Make an appointment to speak with your local Costco manager to discuss purchasing memberships at a discounted rate. 

By having your group buy multiple memberships at one time, some Costco’s may offer a discounted rate. 

This allows them to sell more memberships and still meet their quota as the profit margin will even out. 

If you cannot get in touch with a manager, you can always reach out to Costco’s corporate team as well. 

The best way to go about this method is by gathering as many people together as possible to make it worth the discount. 

When negotiating, start with a higher discount so that you have room to move when they come back with a different offer. 

I cannot guarantee that this method will work for everyone, but it is definitely worth a shot.

12. Search Living Social & Groupon For Costco Membership Deals

For those who do not have a large group to get a discount with, there is one more option to get discounted memberships. 

A discounted membership means that the amount you have to make up to break even is easier to achieve. 

One of the best places to look for discounted Costco memberships is a site called Living Social. 

Living Social is a group buy discount site that allows you to take advantage of discounted services and products. 

From time to time, you will find Costco memberships at a discounted price on Living Social. 

This is usually in the form of a membership plus Costco cash for a cheaper price than a regular membership. 

Not only do you pay a lower initial cost, but you can easily make your money back quicker with the Costco Cash savings and everyday savings. 

Another site that offers sales like these is Groupon. 

Groupon is very similar to Living Social as it relies on quantity buys to even out profits to increase sales. 

On Groupon, I have seen similar discounts to Living Social as well as discounts on different membership levels. 

My suggestion for trying to take advantage of these discounts is to keep a close eye on their sites. 

You can even sign up for email alerts to give you a heads up when Costco offers these discounts. 

By getting a discount on a membership and pairing up the various tips in this article, you can be on your way to a free membership plus hundreds of dollars in savings. 

Shopping At Costco Without A Membership

If you are still on the fence about buying a membership or fear that you may not use it enough, there are ways to get a sample of Costco without the membership.

Let’s look at a few ways that you can start shopping at Costco without having to purchase an actual membership.

13. Shop At

Now that we have looked at all of the ways that Costco members can save money, let’s see how you can save money as a non-member. 

Saving money at Costco without a membership can allow you to save enough money to pay for a membership with the savings. 

The first way you can save money at Costco without a membership is by shopping at is going to offer many of the same great items that you find in store. 

The only exception is going to be some food items that cannot be shipped. 

This will include fresh food and any specialty items specific to a store. 

The only catch for those who are not members is that you will have to pay a 5% non member fee. 

While this may seem like a large number, when you compare it to a membership cost, it’s not too bad. 

For example, a Costco membership at retail price is going to run you $60. 

If you spend less than $1,200 a year, you will still pay less at the 5% than you would using the membership card. 

Keep in mind that this comes out to $100/month so for those who buy larger amounts of groceries, the membership may be a better route. 

This option may be best for those who are looking to make a large bulk purchase once or twice a year for parties. 

At a $500 grocery bill, you are only having to spend $10 on the fee. 

This $10 could easily be offset by the savings you are getting through coupons or their in store brand. 

This is also a great option for those wanting to purchase home products found exclusively Costco. 

Costco offers a wide selection of items that are found only in their stores, so it may be worth paying a 5% fee to get exactly what you want.

14. Eat At The Food Court

As a member of Costco, you will get access to their in store food court which has become a customer favorite over the years. 

It is a great place to stop and get a bite to eat while shopping or leaving the store after a long shopping trip. 

Most Costco food courts will offer simple foods such as hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, and sodas. 

One of the biggest attractions of the food court is the cheap prices. 

The prices of food in the Costco food court are generally cheaper than most fast food restaurants making them a frugal person’s dream. 

If you live near a Costco and simply want to grab a cheap bite to eat, you can shop the food court whether you are a member or not. 

This makes it easy for you to save money when compared to eating at other restaurants. 

You can even buy a whole pizza on your way home from work to feed your family on the cheap. 

If you are looking for a place to sit down and eat with the family for a cheap price, the food court can be a great choice. 

While it is not the most upscale of places, you can save a lot of money.

15. Buy Alcohol

There are also loopholes due to state laws that make it illegal for Costco to require a membership to purchase. 

One of these products happens to be alcohol. 

In some states, it is illegal for anyone to charge a membership fee to purchase alcohol. 

This means that non-members can purchase alcohol from Costco at any time. 

Costco carries a wide variety of beer and wine that you can choose from. 

Since Costco is a bulk buy store, you will find a variety of sizes of your favorite alcohol brands to purchase. 

While you still are able to buy smaller packages, you can buy bulk boxes of wine and large packages of beer.

This is great for everyday buys and even weddings or parties. 

To find out if you are able to purchase alcohol at your local Costco without a membership, check with your local store. 

Any member of their staff should be able to inform you on the laws regarding alcohol purchases. 

The best part is, buying alcohol in bulk will allow you to save more money with each purchase as well. 

You can even take advantage of Costco’s in-house brand Kirkland. 

Kirkland offers a wide variety of wine at cheaper prices than name brand so you can save even more money with or without a membership card. 

While this is a great perk for consumers, it is also a great way for business owners to save money and widen their profit margins.

16. Utilize The Optical Center

With a state of the art optical center, Costco is a customer favorite when it comes to eye care.

Featuring free eye exams and prescription glasses, you can get everything you need all in one stop.

The Costco optical center is fully staffed with highly trained opticians that are ready to help you get the eye care that you deserve.

As a non-member of Costco, you can use the optical center for an eye exam.

You will need a Costco membership to purchase glasses and use the other amenities of the optical center.

Costco’s optical center also has a large variety of contact lenses to choose from for those who opt for contacts over glasses. 

A full line of sunglasses are also available to help keep your eyes fully protected from the harmful rays of the sun.

For those who want to save a little extra money, you can opt for the in house brand Kirkland line of glasses.

These glasses feature high quality materials and lenses at a fraction of the cost when compared to name brand frames.

Choose from a large variety of lenses, frames, contacts, and sunglasses as a member of Costco.

17. Purchase Prescriptions

Costco also has in store services to help give their members an all inclusive experience. 

Aside from their robust auto service center, Costco also offers an optics center and pharmacy. 

The Costco pharmacy is a great perk for members as they can get discounted prescriptions and pick them up on their next grocery trip. 

The Costco pharmacy carries most of the popular prescriptions needed and is staffed by certified pharmacists. 

This will allow you to get advice and recommendations on your medication after your doctor has sent the prescription over.

A great thing about the Costco pharmacy is that it can be used by non-members as well.

Those who do not have a Costco membership are able to send their prescriptions to Costco’s pharmacy to have them filled without having to show a membership card. 

This is one of the perks of the pharmacy and in my opinion a great move for Costco.

I believe that this is a great way for non-members to see what Costco has to offer when picking up a prescription.

This could possibly lead into new customers and is a great way to showcase what all the membership club has to offer.

The Costco pharmacy also allows you to get discounted immunizations done in house which is perfect for flu season.

They also offer a full service travel immunization program to get you ready for your trip to a foreign country.

Take advantage of their auto-refill program to allow you to get your prescriptions refilled automatically without having to visit the home delivery pharmacy.

Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from Costco’s pharmacy, pets can as well.

That is right, you can fill your pet’s medication at your local Costco pharmacy to keep your dog or cat in perfect health.

Last but not least, Costco offers Kirkland brand medications to help save you money on your medication.

18. Use Costco’s Cash Card

Last but not least, there is another loophole that you can use to shop at Costco without having a membership.

Like any store, Costco offers gift cards to their store that can be purchased in their stores.

These gift cards are called Costco cash cards and are only redeemable at Costco locations.

If you are not a member, you can’t just walk into your local store and buy one.

You will need to give money to someone who has a membership and have them purchase a Costco Cash Card for you.

This will give you a gift card that you can use to shop online at without a membership.

Keep in mind that orders will be charged a 5% fee for non-members purchasing through the site.

If for some reason you were gifted a Costco cash card or won one through a giveaway, you can also use this on the site or give to a member to use in store for you.

Another great way to use this to your advantage is to purchase Costco Cash Cards throughout the year and use them when you have a free trial or with a day pass.

19. Use InstaCart

With more and more people living busier lives, it is no surprise that there has been a large number of people switching to online ordering for groceries.

Online ordering allows you to pick out all of your favorite groceries and pay for them online.

You can choose from picking up your groceries at the store or having them delivered.

Online grocery delivery services are a great way to budget, save time, and avoid the headache of having to shop in store.

One of the grocery delivery services that you can use at Costco is InstaCart.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service designed to pickup your groceries and deliver them to your home.

This is one way that you can shop at Costco without a membership card, but there are a few restrictions.

Non-Members do have to pay a higher cost when shopping with InstaCart and you will have to still pay the fees and deliveries.

However, if you are already paying for deliveries from another store, the only real up-charge would be the non-member charge.

To find out if this is going to be money saving for you, simply add your items to your InstaCart and see what the total is going to be and compare that to what you currently pay.

Sometimes, the time and energy saved is well worth the extra money paid.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, 19 legit ways to get you a free Costco membership.

These hacks will allow you to recoup the money you have invested in a Costco membership, meaning you got a free membership.

I hope that this guide has helped you figure out how to save money on groceries, household items, and many other services.

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