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Financial Wellness

Warehouse Club Shopping Without Membership

Warehouse memberships can be a truly wonderful thing for families seeking to control costs. Shoppers at these clubs receive a volume discount by purchasing in bulk quantities and can take advantage of special deals throughout these stores. There are many benefits to club shopping, including reduced prices on items you use the most, plus some you may not even be aware of that can help you save money.

Many of us are in a money-pinch these days, and every little bit helps as we navigate the rising costs of living. Even if you can't justify the $50-$60 cost of an annual warehouse membership, did you know that you can take advantage of the many perks of the warehouse clubs without joining? Here's how.


  • Shop online. Believe it or not, you can shop at Costco and Sam's Club online with just a 5% surcharge because you aren't a member (yet). What's more, prescription drugs are exempted from this surcharge. However, you cannot redeem Member Only Discounts. Also, keep in mind that many things are not available online, but will be in the stores.
  • Use Instacart. Depending on where you live, you may be able to use Instacart to get orders delivered from Costco, Sam's Club or BJ's Warehouse, too. Instacart isn't free, though; you pay $99 for unlimited orders. Otherwise, you pay the a la carte delivery cost and you must order $35 worth of merchandise, which could amount to $5.99—$8.99 per order. You will likely pay more for the convenience of shopping online, but you may still snag yourself some good deals.
  • Use a gift card. Did you know that if you purchase a VISA gift card it can be used by you or anyone else to shop at Costco? You can also use a Costco Shop Card (which can only be purchased by a Costco member for you). What's more, Costco Shop Cards can also be used at the gas station, which has become front and center these days as fuel costs continue to rise. You can snag .20 to .30 cents or more per gallon when you choose this option. Be prepared to wait in line. It's not so bad; bring a book or hop on your cellphone and enjoy saving at least something in these inflationary times.

Similarly, Walmart and Sam‘s Club gift cards can be used at Walmart or Sam‘s Club Fuel Centers. Sam‘s Club gas stations also accept Walmart Credit Cards. BJ's offers a fuel saver for members.

  • Be their guest! Many warehouse stores allow you to be a guest of a member if you are in their household. As the cardholder, you will need to designate a specific person for your household card. Business memberships often allow additional household cards as add-ons. It can be used by anyone over 18, living at the same address as the primary member.
  • Take advantage of a free membership. If you want to shop at Sam's Club, they usually offer a free membership for new shoppers. You can sign up for a membership for $45, and receive a gift card worth $45 within 3 days of your membership activation. If you're planning to shop regularly at Sam's Club after your freebie period, renewing their membership may be well worth it. Consider it as kind of a “try before you buy” deal. Not so committed yet? You can also enjoy a one-day shopping pass to check out the goods at Sam's Club or BJ's.
  • Use a delivery service. Some third-party delivery services, like Instacart or Google Express, will deliver your warehouse goods to your home depending on where you live. It's not free, but it may be a very convenient and economical way to realize savings on your favorite merchandise. BJ's offers a flat fee of $8.99 for delivery.
  • See an optometrist. Looking to see better? Good news! The optometrist on site at Costco doesn't require membership status to see you for an eye exam. You may have to pay a little more to purchase optical items however, but you still may come out ahead of other alternatives. Sam's Club states that you must be a member to buy optical products, however, a membership is not required to see a doctor of optometry for an eye exam. This is similar to Costco's policy.
  • Buy prescription drugs. Thankfully, you don't have to be a member at Sam's Club or Costco to fill your prescriptions there and enjoy the savings.
  • Buy spirits. You can usually buy alcohol from warehouse clubs without a membership, and there's something about the convenience of ordering from the comfort of your home that makes the prospect even more appealing. Instacart advertises same-as-store pricing on items from Sam's Club Liquors (which is a separate store from Sam's Club, if you're looking for it in your app). Cheers to you!

Resources: Sam's Club, Costco,,,,, Instacart, BJ's





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