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  1. ilovedessert says

    Since my wife works at Costco and has for many years,…I want you to think about this…as of 2013 80% of their profit came from membership..is it fair or right to basicly be a cheat????

    Is it worth all the effort to have to look thru Craig’s List or bother friends to get giftcards to save $55??? I would think after awhile you’r friends will get tired of you mooching off of them.

    Frankly your time is worth the $55 and if everyone did what you do, there wouldn’t be a Costco, b/c they would lose 80% of their profit…if you don’t know the menaing of the word Cutzpah, I suggest you look it up!

    • jeffrey says

      If you read the article, I expressed that this is a hack for those who don’t shop at Costco often and encouraged all to purchase a membership in most cases. This is for those who would not purchase a membership. I was a member for many years and I will be again if I start to go more often. Until then, this is an option.

      • seriously says

        To write something like this about any company is a slap in that companies face . Think about if you owned a business and somehow whenever certain people shopped they got 20% off . Now let’s put it to the perspective that your items only have a 14% markup you just lost 6% net . Fair ? No in a matter of time you would have to close your doors . Because if you were to raise your markup your prices would no longer be competitive .

      • Cindy says

        No membership you should not shop there at all, how would you like everyone coming where you work and cheating your company because they only need it once or twice, really. You should put your energy into something positive like the benefits of costco instead of more cheating everywhere. Good man Jeffrey.

      • aren says

        If you cannot afford or do not wish to purchase a membership then shop somewhereelse It is a membership club and your Jachack is theft. You are a cheat and a swindler. It does nothing except take away from those who actually do pay their membership fees. Your morals are corrupt.

      • Jacqui says

        Jefferey, I really take offense to this. I have worked for Costco for 10 yrs, yes anyone can shop with a cash card, but the items they purchase do not increase our profit as our mark up on items is very low. Costco is able to pay, and provide benefits for its employees through its sale of memberships. That is how Costco makes a profit. What you have proposed here is similar to how people treated our return policy on eletronics. People would be returning items just to upgrade the item to a newer model, which led Costco to change its once awesome return policy to only a 90 day window on electronics. When people abuse the system it creates change, and not always for the better. The idea of letting non-members shop with a gift card is to allow them to see what Costco has to offer them, and learn how we can get the items they want a low cost to them. Costco is an amazing company, one that I have loved being a part of for 10 years, so when I hear about someone trying to take advantage of this company, it makes my skin crawl. A couple of other things I may add are: You need a membership card to swipe to get gas now, and through our profits of a PAID membership we are also able to give back to the communities we are in by supplying school supplys and donations to those in need. So next time you are buying gift cards, I want you to think of those in the community you are denying donations to.
        Jacqui West

    • Cindy says

      Costco has awesome warranties and ore ebb fits to their membership. Walk ins do not have their purchases monitored or warrantied. Buy the membership your time is worth money and most will accept cash only no debit cards for balance.

    • MIke says

      You sir are either a Liar Or your wife is a liar. The membership is paid back t o the buyer if the buyer spends enough to cover it, in full. the money they receive as memberships as PROFIT is from the scam they are pulling and interest gathered.

      theer are plenty of people that try and cannot afford to shop enough after paying the membership fee, also Cost Co knows that, Cost Co accepts EBT as well, did you know that? There are TONS of products that can be bought at other stores for less than cost co has them for sale. there is ZERO chance of what you just said is true.

  2. stacy says

    How does this work when you give them a gift card? If you have a $25 cash card and the stuff you want to buy is $100, what happens you go to checkout?

    • jeffrey says

      When you go up to pay, you hand them the gift card. They can’t scan it like a regular Costco card and they usually have to have a manager come to over-ride the regular system. If you’re buying more than is on the gift card (say $100 worth of items with a $25 gift card as in your example), they would deduct the full $25 off the gift card and then you would need to pay the remaining amount with cash or debit card (I always use cash). It’s pretty painless and not something that’s a big ordeal.

      • Rob says

        I tried this and got $25 gift card, but I could not buy over the gift card amount. After finally taking off most of items in the cart they did let me go over couple of cents

        • Jeffrey Strain says

          I would write a complaint to Costco Headquarters — they aren’t supposed to limit your purchases like that.

  3. Honest Shopper says

    Really! It really irritates me when people like you skirt around policies and think they can justify it. Just because you don’t use it doesn’t give you the right to shop without paying for the membership. I hear people say, it is only me and my husband, we couldn’t shop at Costco. Well, it is just me and my husband and we do the majority of our shopping there. Not only food but other stuff like clothing, HABA, TV’s and a lot more. When people like you skirt around Membership you are hurting the people who DO pay for the membership, by causing Costco to increase their prices. I bet you don’t even have a AAA card, but if your car breaks down you are on the phone calling friends asking if you can barrow their card!

    • jeffrey says

      It’s not skirting around the policies. Costco policies directly allow it. They allow it so that members can buy gift cards for non members. Again, it would be easy for them to not allow this by making a rule that people who use gift cards must be a member, but they expressly don’t require this for a reason. For people like me who the cost of a membership doesn’t make sense.

      • Honest Shopper says

        Then why even shop there? Seriously, even if Costco doesn’t spell it out it in their policy it is not in the spirit that the gift cards are to be used. Again, it is people like you that abuse policies by skirting around them make it harder for people like me who pay my fair share. Maybe you would think differently if they charged non members 5% to use a gift card, like some places do. OK, I have wasted too much time on you but it is apparent that you have a lot of time on your hands to come up with these ideas of yours. How about you figure out a skirt around for Medicare, or better yet social security. It is my money why can’t I have it now?

        • jeffrey says

          Again, I was a member for years and years (actually since when they were Price Club if you can remember that far back). It’s only in the last couple of years when it no longer made financial sense for me to get a membership because it was too far away and I no longer shopped there on a regular basis. As I stated in the article, anyone who shops there regularly, it makes more sense to get a membership.

          What if I asked friends and family for Costco gift cards for my birthday and Christmas? I could easily get them this way as well. And Costco does make money. They don’t lose money when I shop there. They aren’t selling things at a loss. The choice in my situation is that they earn nothing from me or a little something. I choose to let them earn a little something from me.

  4. Me says

    The problem with buying cash cards from a 3rd party site is you have no idea if the person selling it to you, has bought it legally. And as a third party to this, if the company decides to pursue the person who used someone else’s card, then your gift card could easily be frozen, and you could be out the $ you paid for it.

    Just saying.

  5. sb says

    Your last paragraph seems contradictory:

    Going “to Costco more than a few times a year” = “worthwhile to purchase a membership”

    Yet you “only go once every few months”, which translates to more than a few times a year, and find it better to not pay for a membership.

    Maybe “few” in your book is 6 or more. Which is crazy.

    • jeffrey says

      I go roughly once every three/four months which is about 3-4 times a year. I don’t see anything contradictory there with the statements I made.

      • sb says

        So if you’re going 4 times then a year then according to your logic it’s “worthwhile to purchase a membership”.

        • jeffrey says

          heh — you’re getting lost in semantics of what a few means and missing the point. As I clearly stated, if you are getting $55+ worth of savings, then you should buy the membership. This is true if you go only once or it takes you 8 times. I said that if you go more than a few times, then it usually makes sense to buy one.

      • karen says

        Personally, I love your hack. If they didn’t have a membership fee, maybe they would have more people shopping there and would INCREASE their profits. You shouldn’t have to pay to save money.

  6. jvk says

    I agree with the others. This practice is wrong. You referred to it as a “hack”. If you went to the service desk at Costco and asked them if you could do this, you know the answer would be no. If you want to go to Costco, buy the membership. It’s that simple. Don’t try to cheat the company of what is entitled to them. The fact that they make money from you is not the point. You’ve just encouraged all your readers to cheat the system. You may not think its a big deal, but if Costco starts losing all this money in memberships due to your suggestion, it does turn out to be a big deal after all.

    • jeffrey says

      If I went to the service desk and I asked if I could buy them, they would say “no” because the rules are that only members can buy the gift cards. If I went up with a friend and he said he wanted to buy four $25 gift cards for his friend, they would say sure and sell the gift cards to him. I know because I’ve done it before.

      • linda says

        As a member, I went to the service desk to ask if there was a way my daughter could shop at Costco when she went to college in a different state. They said I can purchase gift cards and send them to her. They didn’t mention that there would be a holdup at checkout for a manager to override the system. She would hate that if it unreasonably slowed the checkout for the people behind her. Anyone witnessed a problem with that aspect? Are managers standing around the checkouts or do they have to be called out of offices etc. ?

        • Jeffrey Strain says

          There have always been managers on the floor and it has never taken more than a few seconds all the times I’ve done this.

  7. david says

    I don’t see any problem with this since it doesn’t break any rules. In fact, I think it’s pretty clever. I wouldn’t use it myself since I go to Costco too often and doing that would be a pain, but I can see why it could be a good alternative for those who only go once or twice a year. It’s an option for those who want to do it and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want.

    It seems that Costco has thought this through. They make it difficult enough that most people aren’t going to bother doing it, but it’s a good way to save for those who are willing to go through the hoops.

    I am skeptical that Costco actually loses any money doing this. It’s a small subset that will go to the effort to do this, and if more people do, they will change the rules to stop it.

  8. ilovedessert says

    Good day,

    In so many ways your taking advantage of those of us who are members and you seem proud of it….

    In your article you mention that you:

    “This way for a $200 investment, I can go to Costco eight times whereas if I put $200 on a single card…..”

    You also stated in you response to a posting:

    “I go roughly once every three/four months which is about 3-4 times a year…………”
    So you’re willing to tie up your $200 or part of it for at least 2 years….why tie your $ up for so long? But not get $55 a year for membership?

    You also stated:

    “If you read the article,………….”

    I did read it a number of times and I can’t believe how penny wise and dollar foolish you are, as well as cheap. What you’re doing is in effect is cheating. As I stated above in 2013, 80% of the profits come from membership…..so that will require Costco to either raise the rate of membership for those of us who are too honest to use your “hack”….or raise the price of the goods sold…because you want to screw the system.

    You also stated:
    “………..either have to purchase them from somebody who I know who has a membership, or purchase them on a secondary market like eBay or Craigslist. Secondary market Costco gift cards actually cost more than their face value, but still can be worth purchasing because they will be less than the membership fee if you only go a few times a year. I personally have a friend buy them for me…….”

    1. Isn’t your time worth $55 than to waste your time trying to buy Costco cards on Craig’s list or eBay. In addition, you’re imposing on a friend’s membership b/c you have as my Mom would say…”the nerve of a bad tooth”…

    2. Don’t you think Costco will have to change it’s policies in reference to gift cards, if more people think like you??? Thus your article will likely make the rules for change for everyone….such as keeping track of how often you come into Costco to shop with only a gift card and not a membership, they may limit the amount times you can shop….

    Just to show you the good deals that one can get at Costco…as I already stated my wife works for Costco for many years…she mentioned that a customer bought enough Nutra System gift cards to buy a months worth of food from them….at Costco each $100 card costs $79…so you’ll save $42 a month by buying Nutra systems gift cards at Costco and then ordering the food from Nutra System….That’s already $42 of the $55 membership.

    In addition if you have the executive membership for $110, you’ll get a check for a % of your purchases, that will help defray the cost of the $110.

    I have been a member of Costco for 17 years, and I only shop 3 to 4 times a year generally for 2 people….my 1st purchase of the year more than covers the $55 membership. All of this without having to screw the system and in effect ripping of Costco.

    You truly do meet the definition of Chutzpah….the best way to explain the meaning of Chutzpah is to give you a lose translation of an old Jewish proverb….a person who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.

    When people steal from the cable companies, the rates go up as they need to pay salaries to track down cable theft…..you’re in effect doing the same thing…since Costco will likely have to either take punitive action of people like you who are frequent abusers of the system or by raising the cost to the rest of us…..

    • jeffrey says

      To answer your questions:

      So you’re willing to tie up your $200 or part of it for at least 2 years…why tie your $ up for so long? But not get $55 a year for membership?

      Simple, the numbers. That $200 sitting in a bank for 2 years would only net me about $5 in interest.

      Isn’t your time worth $55 than to waste your time trying to buy Costco cards on Craigslist or eBay?

      I didn’t buy them on those venues. As I stated, I bought them with a friend. It wasn’t a waste of my time at all. I went to Costco with a friend because he asked me to help him buy supplies for a party he was having. I would have been there anyway.

      Don’t you think Costco will have to change it’s policies in reference to gift cards, if more people think like you???

      No. Costco doesn’t lose a penny by me doing this (they actually make a little money). If I didn’t have the gift cards, I wouldn’t buy a membership because, like I explained, it doesn’t make financial sense for me. I don’t make my money back. If these gift cards weren’t available, I simply wouldn’t shop at Costco. You obviously do make your money back, so the membership is worthwhile to you and you should buy one.

      You are making the assumption that everyone will start doing this. That simply is not the case in my opinion. I could have done it years ago, but didn’t until I got to the point where my membership was no longer paying for itself. People who are getting value out of the membership will pay for it. People who aren’t, won’t.

      • Lilly says

        I was a member for years too and I stop buy a membership since 2013. there was some reasons for me to quit was.
        1. I only went there probably 3 times at the most each year and before I know it, the member was expired then I have to renew at the check out to be able to purchased the products I have in the cart.
        2. I forced myself to buy ton of things included something I didn’t even need them just to make it worth it for the membership price I paid for.
        3. There was only some items were really reasonable price but most of them I can get from somewhere else about the same price which I didn’t have to buy in bulk.
        There is me. No judged !!

    • Canadian Jim says

      This comment about being able to ask for a refund of your membership at any time is bull. Just like the employees show up in this comments to defend the membership, the service desk employees are as aggressive defending the membership and denying the refund when you didn’t make your fee on the 2% super cashback thing.

      I went to a store once and asked for a refund of my membership and after arguing AND showing them their own contract and policies, they simply refused and kept acting as if I was an asshole and making a spectacle of myself.

      I understand the business model, but the attitude of Costco employees is disgusting. I have since stopped going to Costco and wouldn’t go there for any reason. They count every time you go in and check your stuff every time you go out as if you were stealing from them. Their entitlement attitude is terrible and customer service comes a distant 10th place if you happen to challenge their HOLY MEMBERSHIP fee.

      Basically its like this. Employees are sold the idea that they can be paid well thanks to the memberships. More memberships, better salaries (which are good to begin with). SOOOOO, just like teachers in a union, they care little for the people they serve and their service mission and a LOT about their own income and benefits.

      In the end, no power on earth made those service clerks and managers allow the refund. I simply had to cancel and didn’t get ANY of my money back. So no, you cannot under any circumstance get your fee back, they simply won’t return it or honour their refund policy.

      Good for your hack man, if you really want to go in once or twice a year and can get those gift cards, power to you and all the Costco employees can jump off a bridge for all I care.

  9. Kat says

    Oh the outrage of all those holier-than-thou people!!!! Let me ask you, do you make sure that you declare every single last penny on your tax declaration? And if there were a legal loophole to save taxes, you would not use it because your conscience wouldn’t allow it?? This Costco thing is nothing else – it is a LEGAL and therefore PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE loophole! You don’t think Costco has enough clever lawyers etc. working for them that could easily change regulations if they wanted to? You’re acting as if Costco is this poor little corner store and people are abusing it. COME ON!! You’re only talking about one of the biggest retailers in the US!!! Why did you all even read this article if you are so outraged at the idea of “shopping there without a membership”?? How did you even find this article??

    I, for one, thank you, Jeffrey, and will get a friend to get me some giftcards. If, in the long run, I find myself shopping there a lot, I will get a membership. But for now, this is a great way for me to try it out.

    • Cathy says

      I just called Costco regarding a one day pass and was told they do not do that. I was a member a few years back. I became a member after getting a one day pass. I found a major item I wanted, so purchased a membership. The one day pass did not allow me to buy anything, only to look. Now I live 1 1/2 hours from a Costco, so do not have a membership because the time and gas just to get there means I won’t go very often, so it’s not worthwhile. The reason I called them was because I wanted to go view a demonstration happening at Costco. They say I can’t go in – no pass. Who knows, if I wanted to purchase something after viewing the demo, I just may have purchased a membership as I did the first time I went to Costco.

      They must have changed the policy on the one day pass. I don’t understand that. Most people who have never been in a Costco would want to assess whether or not Costco would be something that they would use before buying a membership.

      It’s interesting that you can purchase from Costco online. They charge a 5% non-member surcharge. But you can’t go into the warehouse to see all that it has to offer. There will be things in the warehouse that are not online.

  10. Jessie says

    Jeffrey, this is a super idea. I’ve wanted to shop at Costco but I can’t afford to buy in bulk so a membership wouldn’t be worth it.

    What’s wrong with this? Costco sells gift cards. You are buying the gift cards from someone who bought them at full price from Costco. The company is losing nothing on the deal, and as you said, they still make a profit when you shop there.

    The people who are so upset with you probably are angry because they didn’t think of it first, and now they feel stupid for buying their memberships. 🙂

  11. marie says

    People are such sensitive babies…I am glad to have this knowledge.There is nothing wrong with using gift cards i probably would just not call it a hack since it is not.

  12. holly says

    It’s kinda funny how hurt people get by you finding a way to save $ on the membership fee. I think they’re just mad they didn’t think of it. I sometimes go to Costco with my mom and she buys me groceries for my own little family to help me out. I went once alone with her card and the cashier said “that’s not you” when she looked at the card. I felt like saying, “Yeah, and ?” but I kept my mouth shut cause I needed those groceries. IDK if she thought I stole it, but who would honestly shop at Costco on a stolen card ? lolol.

  13. Costco member says

    Holly you are obviously very ignorant. The cashier asked you because the cards aren’t transferable. Let me ask you this: would you go to the gym with your mom’s gym pass too? Costco actually does lose money on people like you Jeffrey. The only thing costco does make money on is there memberships because they make almost nothing on their products. That’s why it’s called a warehouse because it’s warehouse pricing for MEMBERS ONLY. Ps just so you know you can’t return anything when you don’t have a membership. That is all

    • Non-Member says

      This is a terrible example. First of all, you don’t purchase items when you go to the gym, the gym is itself the product. It would be more like if you went to the gym with someone else’s membership, then paid to attend a yoga class.

      Secondly, the whole gym business model is based around the expectation that most members pay the full fees but underutilize their membership benefits. Last time I checked, 24 Hour Fitness is not sending me a refund for all the hours I did not use their facility.

  14. jb says

    So you purchase 200 dollars worth of gift cards? The membership only costs 55 for the basic one. How did your math pan out? You shop there twice and you could have a membership. It’s a waste of money to keep buying gift cards considering the membership isn’t just for costco. It’s for other services like car insurance, home insurance, you get discounts at dealerships if you buy a new car and getting a membership is also supporting the employees. If everyone did this do you think they can afford to pay their employees 23 bucks an hour? I think not.

    • Jeffrey Strain says

      So you purchase 200 dollars worth of gift cards? The membership only costs 55 for the basic one. How did your math pan out?

      Perfectly. I bought $200 worth of items instead of $145 worth of items and a membership that has no value to me.

  15. Jane says

    I’m currently an employee of Costco and I deal with people like you on a regular basis. I really can’t help myself after I read your obnoxious post. Justifying that you were a Costco member “back in the day” so that you don’t have to pay for a membership is pathetic and absurd. Like what was stated above, Costco does make money from memberships, and yes, you are cheating the system. However, if you were really smart, you would know that if you had an executive membership, not only do you say 2% on all purchases, the rebate check Costco sends you with your earnings is always, always, ALWAYS guaranteed for you to the get the amount for the upgrade that you paid for back. That means if you pay $110 at the start, you’ve already paid the full possible upgrade fee of $55 which means you are always guaranteed $55 back!! SO, if you shop on a regular basis you will make that money back or more! And if you don’t we’ve got you covered at anytime of the year….yes any time with a full refund.

    ON TOP OF THAT the executive membership also comes with discounts such as auto and home insurance, windshield repair, brake repair, buying a car, ordering checks, mortgage refinancing…saving even more money. Do you not do any of these things yourself? So tell me your math again exactly????

    This great company is based upon “satisfaction guaranteed” so if you are ever unhappy we refund the membership IN FULL. So if you really did your math right, you could see that this is obviously how you could get your membership cheaper rather than wasting time trying to find people to mooch off of to buy memberships. Gift cards were meant to draw people in and see what we have to offer, not continually cheat.

    And let me tell you something, we are all WELL AWARE of people like you. All employees provide great service, so don’t be surprised when we turn our noses at you when we’ve seen you for the fifth time shopping with a gift card, while everyone else follows the rules and gets a membership.

    For God sakes, you want to talk about saving people money? We allow people with food stamps to shop, they even BUY A MEMBERSHIP. Don’t be cheap cheater!

    And let’s be real, in all reality, you’re taking money away from the employees who work very hard all day who deserve to be paid well for dealing with cheap assholes like you.

    You know what…you’re right, the Costco membership doesn’t make sense for you. It doesn’t make sense to have a cheater in the building taking advantage of our products or services. And it certainly doesn’t make sense for you to take advantage of the wonderful employees and their services, including myself. We don’t need your business, and the paying members certainly don’t want you in there for being the reason why prices go up. This is a Fortune 500 company, we can survive without you.

    • YayForGiftCards says

      Omg, learn to chill out for a bit!

      For those who think they are Costco financial experts simply because they work as a cashier at one of their stores, please don’t be so ignorant to think the majority of the store’s profits are derived from selling memberships. Although there are some good deals, Costco also sells products at the same price or higher than their competitors but in bulk.

      Perhaps the memberships pay for the ridiculously high wages for their employees, which explains why so many of you are upset. But please recognize that the front line employees have roles that are paid at a minimum wage elsewhere.

      Costco clearly states that they welcome non-members to use gift cards purchased by members. So if Costco employees don’t like nor obey this policy, then simply don’t work there!

    • ThxForThis says



      The heavy rant by “Jane”

      I’m a dedicated lurker but wow, had to post, this seriously made me laugh out loud.

      There’s a few worth highlighting:

      “ON TOP OF THAT the executive membership also comes with discounts such as auto and home insurance, windshield repair, brake repair, buying a car, ordering checks, mortgage refinancing…saving even more money. Do you not do any of these things yourself? So tell me your math again exactly????”

      I’m sure if he or anyone else was interested in the membership for those specific benefits ………… they’d get the membership. I couldn’t care any less what “benefits” they provide, I’m there to buy a few things instead of blowing money at the standard grocery store. Not enough to justify the membership cost, however.

      This is more for argument’s sake, but if I was only able to make it to their store once or twice in a year, spending only 40$ each time, it makes zero sense to spend 110$ on a membership. 190$ for 80$ worth of items?

      I’d rather volunteer to be a fake gorilla in a costume in africa for tourists to see on a safari.

      In no way can you or anyone else justify paying 190$ for 80$ worth of items. Even 50$ membership to only spend 80$. What a joke.

      “So if you really did your math right, you could see that this is obviously how you could get your membership cheaper rather than wasting time trying to find people to mooch off of to buy memberships. Gift cards were meant to draw people in and see what we have to offer, not continually cheat.”

      This paragraph not only made me laugh out loud but want to hit myself in the head with a hammer at the same time. It also makes ZERO sense.

      Again, 190$ + tax for 80$ worth of items?

      If you will claim even the 55$ membership to only spend 80$ in the year, 130$ total, you’d HAPPILY pay because “that’s how they pay their employees!!!” then from now on, why not start overpaying every single store you visit heavily? When they ring in their total INSIST on giving them even a small 5$ more, for no other reason than to “assist in paying their employees”

      I can guarantee you wouldn’t though as it makes zero sense. His “math” is fine, your understanding is entirely off.

      (perhaps you spent too much time volunteering in a gorilla suit in africa..?)

      There’s no “cheating” or “taking advantage” of anyone here.


      Actually, quite the opposite. By using gift cards they’re generating revenue that wouldn’t be there otherwise. If there was ZERO way to purchase anything from costco without being a member, they’d lose out on purchases that wouldn’t have been made otherwise. (Again, 130$ for an 80$ purchase, this is what you’re arguing makes financial sense)

      “And let me tell you something, we are all WELL AWARE of people like you. All employees provide great service, so don’t be surprised when we turn our noses at you when we’ve seen you for the fifth time shopping with a gift card, while everyone else follows the rules and gets a membership.”

      I didn’t read a single post where anyone was upset or surprised about employees who are so miserable that they’d look down their nose at them for using gift cards. What’s laughable about the whole thing is no matter how hot-headed people get over this, it’s entirely legitimate. There’s no “cheating” or “taking advantage” of anyone.

      To claim that they’re losing profit because of people using gift cards; do you understand how a sucessful business runs? Having even a small profit leak can impact a big company in a big way. If they were truly losing money because “people are using gift cards and paying the remaining balance in cash” then gift cards wouldn’t be available to purchase.

      If you sincerely feel violated or the need to look down on customers using gift cards who may have received them as gifts and them paying the final balance, you need to find another line of work.

      If you see them again, and again, perhaps they asked their family members for gift cards for there and received multiple with no intention of circumventing the fee? What is it to you and how is it anyone’s business? LOL

      “For God sakes, you want to talk about saving people money? We allow people with food stamps to shop, they even BUY A MEMBERSHIP. Don’t be cheap cheater!”

      You’re proud of the fact that some people need food stamps to survive but AT LEAST THEY BOUGHT A COSTCO MEMBERSHIP! Amirite??

      Elitism is great!

      “And let’s be real, in all reality, you’re taking money away from the employees who work very hard all day who deserve to be paid well for dealing with cheap assholes like you.”

      Anyone claiming that by using gift cards, employees’ pay is being affected is insanity. Have you seen someone use a gift card and pay the remaining balance on their purchase within the past month you’ve been working there? Was your pay different because of it?

      I guarantee it wasn’t. You’re just arguing for the sake of arguing.

      Ah, and namecalling, the child’s way of showing frustration. It’s laughable how worked up people get over such petty things. I don’t know how some people make it over 40 without passing on due to stress.


      We all choose our own battles, I suppose. I can tell you choose yours wisely!

      “You know what…you’re right, the Costco membership doesn’t make sense for you. It doesn’t make sense to have a cheater in the building taking advantage of our products or services. And it certainly doesn’t make sense for you to take advantage of the wonderful employees and their services, including myself. We don’t need your business, and the paying members certainly don’t want you in there for being the reason why prices go up. This is a Fortune 500 company, we can survive without you.”

      This is too much arrogance and ego in one paragraph.

      After seeing your childish namecalling and easy frustration, it wouldn’t take too much to have you lash out in some sort of tantrum.

      The only true statement in Jane’s entire post is: “You know what…you’re right, the Costco membership doesn’t make sense for you.”


      It makes ZERO sense finacially to spend so much on the membership fee when you don’t spend NEAR enough to justify the cost. I’ll actually continue this further and say a big thanks to him for not just keeping this to himself but for posting it, I’ll be sure to advertise this post on my social media end. This doesn’t include the people I’ve already recommended read it for just the responses alone.

      My 2c.

    • Long Time Costco Member says

      Jeff is not cheating Costco out of any money. He did say if he was a more frequent shopper at Costco he would purchase the membership. Even at the low markup price that Costco offers, it still makes a profit whether a person pays with cash, Amex card, debit card, gift card, or foodstamp (not yet available in my area). Costco can offer great discounts such as on insurances, travel packages, buying a car, ect. because it can negotiate great deal with such companies, not because it uses the profits from sale of memberships. How do I know this? Because if the savings from being a member exceeded the cost of annual membership (according to your math), then wouldn’t Costco being out of business already? As Jeff said, he choses to give Costco a little profit (not as much as a member) rather than none. I doubt that infrequent non-member shoppers would cause Costco any loss. After all, those gift cards were sold to members only. Why would anyone who is a member buy the gift cards if they cannot give them to someone like Jeff? Since Costco is an employee-own company, it’s understandable why its employees are offended (but not rightfully so). I know how hard you work, but also know how well-paid you are. I am however really disappointed to see such judgmental, condescending, and discriminating comments from a CURRENT Costco employee. It is obvious you are in need of professional training more than Jeff needs to be a member. Maybe Costco should fire you so you wouldn’t be so concern about your wages being affected by the selling of its gift cards. And so you know, I am CURRENTLY an executive member and I do buy Costco gift cards for my families and friends. They should not be discriminated by Costco employees just because they are not members at the time. Keep your nose up and cost Costco a number of potential members. If you truly think I am wrong in defending Jeff, then give me the Costco location where you work, your supervisor’s name; and I will call him/her for a professional discussion.

  16. aren says

    What a bunch of thieves. There is a reason you need to show your membership card when entering the building. IT IS A MEMBER’S ONLY SHOPPING CLUB! ! If you don’t like it then don’t shop there.

  17. Jennifer says

    Jeff, you are cheating the system…period! I am a long time stockholder of Costco Wholesale, additionally, I have several family members that work for this great company your advice and counsel costs us ALL money. The 55 dollars that you are trying to circumvent will go up to 65 dollars. Your advice, if followed by most will cause prices to go up, the cost of benefits to go up and the value of the stock to decrease…how genius are you! You just said you spend $100 every time you go there… pay your $55 like everyone else! The ammount of time you are investing to avoid 1 dollar a week In membership fees is laughable!

    • Jennifer's nutsack says

      Costco made $480 million in profit last quarter. There’s 4 quarters in a year. Gonna have to raise that membership fee because BRB making too much money.

    • Jeffrey Strain says

      I’m not cheating the system. I am playing fully within the rules as spelled out by Costco. For those of us who don’t shop there often, it’s a legitimate way to shop.

  18. Browser says

    What’s the big hard-on with shopping at Costco?

    There are a dozen articles, web pages, posts, groups, etc. describing different ways to skirt the system and “get one over” on Costco by shopping without a membership .

    Why so much effort?
    Is it the satisfaction of being a douchebag?

    I don’t understand why people go through all the trouble when there a hundred places to shop that aren’t a membership club.

    If you don’t want to be a member then don’t shop there.

    I don’t get it.

  19. Bill says

    I recently received a Costco gift card and have never even been into Costco. So i would like to see what the store is like before paying my hard earned 55 dollars so i am extremely happy that they allow this. And don’t really care what anyone has to say about it. Thanks jeff for the information that i was looking for. And you don’t really have to justify your responses to anyone

  20. Melissa says

    here is what COSTCO says about this–they don’t seem to have a problem with non-member use of Cash Cards, so why do you???


    You must be a Costco member to purchase or reload Costco Cash Cards. MEMBERS AND NON-MEMBERS MAY USE THE CASH CARDS TO SHOP AT ANY COSTOC location in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and online at Costco.com or on Costco.ca. Costco Cash balances may be used toward membership or merchandise.

    The Costco Cash card features include:
    A convenient payment option in our warehouses, gas stations, and costco.com
    No expiration date
    Are rechargeable at any Costco warehouse location
    Can be purchased in denominations from $25 to $1,000
    A supply card or gas card for businesses
    A means to provide students with money for food, gas, or school and dormitory necessities, while being able to limit their spending
    Balance can be accessed on costco.com, the warehouse “red kiosk” or by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card

  21. Danny says

    You are all wrong…!
    Especially the Costco lovers…..It’s not a hack, it’s not cheating, it’s not stealing.

    Costco OFFERS this service. If they were losing money over this they would IMMEDIATELY stop offering the cash card.

    Costco offers the card for one main reason PROFIT
    1) original person buys card — profit for Costco
    2) Cash card used at Costco whse — profit for Costco and not competitor.
    3) generates foot traffic in their store for future purchases and perhaps convincing a few to become members.

    It’s not abusing Costco, it’s brilliant marketing by Costco by getting as much people into their stores or website as possible.

  22. Gollygee says

    Golly Gee! I smell a conspiracy in the comments posted. Ignore the jerks. Their just trying to get under your skin. Thanks for the advice! Don’t let the organized Costco comment gang get under your skin. Jerks picking on you like that when you’re just trying to save people money!

    Costco makes their money on more than their annual fees. Sometimes their prices are higher. I just got my renewal fee and after reading this I’m saying Forget That right back. You’re losing my business.

  23. Linda says

    I am amazed at how many people are not seeing the whole picture. Costco just like any store is making bank off of gift cards. They receive money up front and rarely do people use up everything that is on the card right away. That money is there for the store to use. They save on not having to pay any interest and also are making money in interest. Millions of dollars are spent on gift cards and hundreds of thousands of dollars are sitting in gift cards still unused. Costco made the rules and allows for a nonmember to use gift cards purchased by a member. They made this rule for a reason to make bank off of these gift cards.

  24. lobo says

    Firstly if costco allows people to shop with cash card, then they must have done the necessary calculation and perceived some benefit in that. Its a BUSINESS and not a charitable organisation. If one were to go by sentiments then think of all the mom n pop stores that have been affected by costco.

  25. Gordon says

    Most of the people who comment are people who actually have the membership. It’s obvious that some of them feel “unfair” that others are not paying $55 for the membership.

    Some are saying that if you don’t have the membership and you don’t shop here often enough then you shouldn’t ever shop here. Well, if those people are definitely not buying membership, Costco isn’t going to make money there. The fact that you are telling them to not even bother spending money at Costco is a terrible idea. Costco will lose even the tiniest margins of those who spend their money there.

    The cash card states that non-members can also use it. Costco tells customers to come even if you don’t have a membership. Of course, this might be because it seems like the right thing to do to be able to give a Costco gift card to anyone, while not discriminating whether or not they have paid $55. Also, it’s a possibility that after giving a Costco cash card, people who have never been there will feel inclined after visiting.

    People are saying cheaters and thieves. To one extreme end, why aren’t you calling Costco thieves? They’re marking up prices too, we aren’t paying for the lowest price they are willing to accept. They allowed this policy for non-members to access the store using the cash card. Deep down inside, if you could save $55 a year would you do this as well? If it’s too much of a hassle to get eight $25 cards, get one $1000 card and you won’t have to go through so many cards and the checkout will be less annoying. You are calling these people cheaters and thieves because you feel it’s unfair for you since you’re paying and others aren’t. You are doing a good deed for Costco, though.

    Just doing some simple googling and reading reputable sources, Costco does have an overall very low mark up and low profit margins on their products (NOT zero), and their memberships are a large revenue generator. However, again, that is not to say that they don’t make money on the items sold. If people don’t even consider going into Costco without a membership, they are making even less money.

    Why should someone go to Costco and purchase a membership given that they can JUST break even with the savings they receive? I should simply go to another store that is a little more expensive than Costco as long as overall it’s not more than $55 (over a year).

    Bottom line, I agree that people shouldn’t take advantage of the cash card in large quantities, not that I see that ever coming considering there are millions of people who already purchase memberships. If there are people who spend very little then this would be a good idea, and if you really want Costco to do well then you should encourage this because at least they are squeezing the minimal profits out of these people’s purchases – better than telling them to go away and get zero profits.

    Also, Costco is still making money out of us some way. It’s simply a transfer of wealth: some people pay for memberships and don’t use it to their maximum potential while some are getting the most savings out of the products. I’d say that most of the people who are on here are conscious about their savings so obviously, they would present their arguments and justify they money spent (or not spent). Ultimately, someone is paying for the savings we are getting, whether we are “cheating” to get into Costco or you are purchasing goods at a great deal. If Costco is losing money through this little “cheat” I’m sure they would change their policies immediately. It was nice to see the arguments and spend a little time here expressing my thoughts, but this is all utterly useless – Costco will act quicker than us.

    I am not a Costco member and I do not shop at Costco.

  26. Cody says

    Wow, I can’t get over all the butt hurt people commenting negatively about this “hack” Costco is still making money on selling merchandise whether you pay for a membership or not. Bitch at the til denied my business cause my daddy wasn’t there when I used his card. Well, I’m not paying $55 for a membership for a $30 purchase. I’ll just flash my dad’s card and eat samples. F&*k Costco!

  27. Sharon says

    I understand both sides of the argument because if everyone in the world decided to up and start using this “hack”, Costco would definitely be in big trouble. However, for people like me who only shop at Costco maybe once per year if I’m lucky, I would rather not have to purchase an entire year’s membership.

  28. Costco sucks says

    What suck about costco, is their loyalty you can be loyal to them but when your membership expires and you forgot to pay it you simply cannot shop there any more, for years I have had their membership and I also I have and Amex thru them and today they refuse my business just because I left it at home, is that fair? After today I will no longer shop there anymore!!

  29. Kathleen says

    What a cheapskate! Hey, buddy, just because something is legal, it isnt always morally legit. A Costco membership costs $55 a year, roughly $1 a week. They allow a ‘family member’ on the card. You could split the membership fee with another person, as i do with my mother. If you aren’t saving 50© a week on your purchases, why bother going at all?

    • GiftCardsForUsAll says

      So you just admitted to being as cheap as the person you are accusing. Why not buy your own membership, it’s only a dollar a freaking week, jeez. The nerve of some people. Glad your moral compass is spot on. Hey cheapskate, meet cheapskate.

  30. Mike says

    I love this. There are only a few items I occasionally get from Costco only because I can’t find them anywhere else. Everything else is overpriced and it costs me more to shop there.

    My car was broken into right in front of their entrance and they couldn’t even be bothered to show video footage. All the other shoppers there are rude entitled snobs. They will never see another $55 fee from me.

  31. Lynn says

    I do seriously hope that all you righteous people who bashed him and others from utilizing this method of shopping without paying the $55 have NEVER taken a friend or your Mom with you shopping at Costco and let them buy using your membership! I assume that you never went with a friend prior to buying your membership.
    I have a Sam’s membership for the last few years and am fed up with the rudeness of my local club. Other than our once a month 5lb shredded cheese purchase we usually only buy sale items. If I save my $55 a year, it is cutting it close. Aldi’s has better pricing and do not charge for the privilege of shopping at their stores. Of course if you don’t mind paying an extra .40,.50 or $1 to get your groceries in restaurant quantity. Bulk should be much cheaper not more money. Some would call it being cheap; I call it being an educated consumer! Those small amounts add up to a lot over time, after all $4 a week is $208 a year, that you are overpaying on top of your membership fee!
    I found this page looking for a day pass to Costco.

  32. Angie says

    I agree with Lynn totally. I stumbled onto this looking for a day pass also. No intention of cheating Costco. Sams has a day pass and thought maybe Costco would do the same. I cancelled my Sams membership as doesnt make sense for me to pay out when I go once a or twice year. I went to Costco once with a friend to look (I didnt purchase anything) I found a couple of things I would like to purchase but knowing if I bought a pass it would be just like Sams. Once or twice a year.

  33. Cheryl says

    What I don’t get is, why would Costco offer gift cards of $1,000 if they only intend people to use the cards as a way to find out whether they want to become members or not? If I bought someone a $1,000 gift card, it might take them a few years to use it up. Would the cashiers and staff be rude to them for shopping that long without a membership? I sure hope not. It would be perfectly legitimate for me as a member to buy a $1,000 card for a friend. And by the way, Costco DOES discriminate against single people, since I have to pay the same amount for my single membership as others do for one for themselves and a family member. So who is ripping off whom?

  34. luckey says

    Wow, this posting goes so long. I think I have to reply as I am forced into the situation because I just got a cash card as gift. With so many angry members, I am not sure I will have a good shopping experience at the checkout. :).

    1. I have NEVER shopped at Costco in my life before simply because it does not make financial sense to me in my situation. This is to set the tone.
    2. As a common sense, any corporation, except non-profit ones, will make money. Not sure anyone even bothered to look, it’s share is $144,with more profit than last year. So, I have to say they are doing very well as a company.
    3. Again, as common sense, in this world, do people really be naive enough to think individuals can outsmart corporations like this? That’s Hollywood movie.the reality is that there is ALWAYS a good reason for anything company will do. They have tons of accountants and Lawyers for that. This is why when most of us shop there saving 50 cents to a dollar and fight over this “principles”, they don’t even bother counting the millions in their bank accounts.
    So, weak up, people.

  35. MembersOnly...Ha! says

    Thank you Jeffrey for the awesome information. I will shop at Costco more often now that I know about the cash cards. In the past my purchases were limited to big ticket items and I would have a friend with a membership accompany me.

    What’s with all the greedy, selfish haters who think this is cheating? Cash cards certainly have a positive impact on Costco’s bottom line and they know that a percentage of cards will not be fully redeemed or redeemed at all, so who’s cheating who?

    A friend used to sell cash cards at his car wash here in Cali and said that as much as 30% of the cards sold were never used.

  36. Linda says

    SO simple….If you don’t like what Jeffrey states DONT READ IT! You want to become a member go and pay! Do not blame for what is Costco normal policy. They WIL NEVER lose money!
    Jeffrey can we do that on Sam’s also?
    Thanks for your advise!!! And forget the haters!!!!

  37. Jennifer says

    Love it!! Everyone soo against this shouldn’t even be reading it or googling it RIGHT? I mean did you just stumble on this? Pull your sticks out of your ass and get over the fact he found a loop hole that is legal — oh and FYI I’m a Executive member at costco since we own dealerships ☺

  38. Johan says

    Dear Lord, the amount of ignorance on these posts is unbelievable!.

    From the “holier-than-thou” crusaders to the “financial experts”… the kind of comments I read is just appalling.

    #1 The writer stated CLEARLY that this article was directed towards those that WOULD NOT buy a membership to begin with, because it would not make financial sense for them. He specifically stated that if you do decide that it becomes worthy for you, then you should buy one, but if you only go so many times in a year (or you only buy $X amount on merchandise) that you don’t get those $55 worth of discounts, then this would be a viable way for you.

    #2 He said that while you can buy them at places as Ebay and Craigslist, that the best option would be to ask a friend/acquaintance to get some for you. He is NOT endorsing the secondary “black market” for them.

    #3 If the company itself allows it, then it is LEGAL. If the company itself permits this then “Jane & John Doe” the cashiers expressing their dissatisfaction here should take this to upper management to see what they have to say about this, instead of venting their frustration on the internet.
    Summarizing it: If the company allows it, then you (the cashier, the member, the stockholder, and all the other titles that have been thrown around to prove the “validity” of your posts) can’t do squat about it.

    There was even a post from a “longtime employee” that stated that some employees would turn their noses away if they see somebody shopping there many times with gift cards.
    I have never shopped at Costco in my life, but if I was in this situation, I would LOVE to see you do this to me so I could get your ass fired on the spot. You are paid to TAKE CARE OF THE CUSTOMER AND GIVE THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE POSSIBLE. Start acting snarky towards your customers and very soon you will find somebody that won’t take any of your attitude, and guess what?… I’m betting that management won’t side with you on this one. And even if they do (as they could be some of those employees you mention that think like you, as being a manager doesn’t mean that they are infallible) I’m, VERY sure that your corporate office won’t.

    #4 A lot of people say that Costco is a “member’s only” club… well it is NOT. It is a “Member’s & whomever the member chooses to authorize to shop there” club, hence the availability of the GIFT CARD. If it was a Member’s Only club, then there wouldn’t be a gift card for sale.

    I even read one of the stupidest comments here from a guy stating that Gift Cards are not transferable and that is why they need to call a manager to override it at the time of purchase. DEAR LORD, so I can only buy a Gift Card for myself since I can’t give it to somebody else???.

    Logic says: If somebody has a gift card, that means a Member bought it. If a member bought it and gave it/sold it then THAT member is implicitly authorizing the gift card recipient to shop there. If the rules don’t forbid it then it is LEGAL. If you don’t like it then complaint to the company and it is in their power to do something or not. Unless they forbid it, then NONE of you can say anything about it. You are entitled to your opinion, but you can’t say that people are cheats/thieves(LOL) for making use of something that the company itself makes available.

    There is a LOT of garbage and misinformation among the comments, and as much as I would love to address all of them I will end with the last one, and this one irked me the most:

    There are people stating that Costco LOSES MONEY when people uses gift cards…. this one makes me want to bang my head to my desk….

    Since WHEN a company sells stuff in which it loses money?. Please tell me HOW a person with a gift card makes a company lose money?. Remember that this article was geared towards those persons that would NOT buy a membership as it doesn’t make financial sense to them. These are the kind of people that wouldn’t have bought anything at the store to begin with… and now they are leaving their dollars at the store, even if it is once or twice a year. To me (and anybody that has even a little knowledge of finances) this is a GAIN, not a loss.

    I will use myself as an example, and please enlighten me in how I make Costco lose money with the following statement:
    I don’t have a costco membership as the store is an hour away from my home, I have never to this day bought anything at costco. Since I have heard good things about this store, I decide to take a trip over there just to check it out. I know a friend that has a membership and ask him to buy a gift card for me (since Costco does not have day passes anymore), my friend does this for me and gives me a $25 gift card and I pay him back.
    I go to Costco, browse the store and grab a few things from the shelves. I go to the register box and my total is $75. I use the gift card and pay the balance in cash; I leave the store.
    After my reconnaissance trip, I decide that even though the store is good, it doesn’t make financial sense for me to get a membership because it is too far, but I would like to be back six months down the road to browse again (because that is how economy and capitalism works), so I call my friend again and ask him to buy me two gift cards for future purchases. End of Story.

    How did I make Costo lose money here?.

    You can’t say that I made them lose money by not buying the membership because I wouldn’t have bought it anyways as the store is too far for me. As far as I know they made $75 in sales from a guy that would have never spent a dime at their store, and they will make some more when I return to spend my remaining two cards.

    Jeffrey, thank you for the article. To my eyes, you made Costco some money by bringing in people that would have never step foot at the store, even if just to check things out. And I’m sure that even one of those will see that the membership is a good deal for them and will become regular members. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t put their brains to work before commenting and just like to spew whatever they have on their hearts at the moment. Maybe is the lack of oxygen up there for being too long on their high horses.



    • Reasonablehuman says

      Thank you for a reasoned response. The only error I see is that I believe the card transfer remark was in reference to a membership card, not a cash card. My husband and I were just discussing whether a membership makes sense given the distance we live from a Costco. I stumbled upon this in my research. I will be asking a friend to purchase a gift card for me and I will expect to be treated well at the checkout. In the event that I am not, I will go directly to store management and if required, to corporate.

  39. not impressed says

    I have a feeling all these negative comments are from bitter Costco employees and now I really don’t want to shop at your store. Costco is not a regular shopping trip, so why would I pay a full years fee to shop a few times a year? Their business model is seriously lacking and their selections suck. Really I don’t need to buy 12 pounds of Apples a month, most of it will rot.

  40. Mary says

    Wow, a lot of people complaining about something Costco allows and encourages. They make money on the cash cards or they wouldn’t sell them. I have a membership, but I don’t see anything wrong with people doing this if the membership doesn’t benefit them.

  41. jane says

    Low markups? Really? Then why is Costco so much more expensive than Sam’s for the same items. Get over it people. She isn’t screwing some little company. It don’t for a second believe that they make 80% profits from memberships. Their prices are high and that why we switched to Sam’s.

  42. peanut says

    Why all the hostility for something that is legal according even to Costco. Are you just angry because you didn’t think of it yourselves? Costco shoppers seem to think they are somehow better than everyone else. It’s sad.

  43. Lila says

    All I want to do is try shopping at Costco. They don’t offer a free one day trial, so how else am I supposed to try it to see if it’s worth it?

  44. Stewart says

    People want to know the prices BEFORE they pay for membership. Its common sense. Gift card makes total sense. Actually being able to visit and see prices without being allowed to purchase seems most fair but since Costco doesn’t allow this common sense approach the gift card do suffice.

    Personally I had a membership for a few years and unless you need 10 loaves of bread and 5 giant ketchups at a time its mostly useless.

  45. Nothingwrong says

    You people getting so irate really don’t get that for some ppl, membership is not worthwhile. And if Costco wants to keep selling gift cards that non-Members can use to shop at Costco, you should be yelling at Costco to stop this policy, not the non-members trying to use Costco’s own policy.

    It really was and still is not worth it for me to buy a Membership at Costco and when I do go with a family member to Costco once every two or more years, Costco definitely makes money off of me and I lose money…which is why I don’t buy a Membership. How? I’m a single person who lives in an apt. I don’t grocery shop much. If I go to Costco, I get excited and buy a bunch of meat and frozen foods and things I would never buy, but the price is so great so I buy it. I freeze the meat and don’t use most of it or even all of it and then I throw it out. I don’t want things in bulk. I don’t have a house. After I figured out that I waste money when I do go to Costco, I realized to never buy a Membership.

    I can just go with a family member once every two years when I want a huge box of garbage bag, toothbrush heads, or contact solution that’s on sale. Ever thing else, I prefer buying at Target, even toilet paper. I realized not to even buy chicken at Costco to freeze because it will have freezer burn and will sit in my freezer for 2 years before getting thrown away.

    So, I’ve figured out those are the only 3 items that I want at Costco, but I can’t help buying other stuff that I don’t use or throw away because I can’t help myself, so Costco will make money off me when I go in another 2 years to get these. I’ll see other things and end up buying them.

    I thought I wanted to use this gift card method to get cat litter for my new cat so I got 10 cash cards, but forget it. I didn’t know the
    cash card needs a manager override and that some Costcos will treat you like a criminal for using a gift card. Some will only let you spend what is on the cash card as I was told this morning. “You can only spend the $10 you have on the card and then we’ll cash it out.” The truth is I wanted those cards to buy a rotisserie chicken and cat litter sometimes. Is going to Costco to buy a rotisserie chicken once a month worth a $55 membership? No, so I’ll get the rotisserie chicken at Vons or Ralphs and I just figured out last night that the Costco cat litter is bad anyway. Would I buy other things while inside Costco while going for one rotisserie chicken? Probably. It would be 95% items I would be buying because the deal was good, but I wouldn’t use the items or I’d throw it away. I almost bought a special $40 pillow I wasn’t looking for and would have not used because it looked cool and I pulled out my phone to Google it and it was $60 cheaper than Macy’s. I almost wanted to buy some $100 cushion thing that would be used once a year just because it looked good. For people like me, Costco is a total waste of money when you add up the savings and then the money wasted. Yay, I saved $5!! But, wait, I just spent $150 on crap. Shit!!!

    For the small subset like me, Costco makes money off of us, even if the profit is $2-$10 per visit depending on how much crap we buy. If Costco allowed one day passes, I know I’d go in and buy a bunch of fruit I’d end up throwing away, cart full of stuff I don’t need and wasn’t looking for just because it’s a good deal or looks nice, so I’m actually thankful now that they don’t have one day passes.

    But don’t sell gift cards that non-members can use and then make them feel like criminals for using it. It’s not like there’s a limit on how many gift cards can be purchased or spent. I’m actually glad now that I was only allowed to spend the $10 because I would have ran up and down each aisle buying crap when all I wanted was 1) one rotisserie chicken & 2) bag of mandarin oranges, which I was going to give half to my parents because I can’t finish a bag. Forgot Costco unless I ever get a spouse and live in a house.

  46. Jeremy says

    It is pretty amazing how many people have pointed out what a cheap mooch of a person you are, and how you’re abusing what is supposed to be a nice gesture by Costco.. and you try and defend yourself to every comment. Look, you’re a cheap person, at least own up to it. No rationalization on your part changes that. If you don’t shop at Costco enough to justify their membership, don’t shop there. Pretty simple.

    • Nothingwrong says

      I hope you had the sense to look at the user name and realize that the post above you was not the author. I posted it because that is how I feel about Costco and not the author defending himself after each unjustified angry comment. After reading the last comment about membership fees not equaling 80% of Costco’s profits, that makes a lot of sense as that was hard to believe. That means with each trip to Costco (once every 1-3 years), Costco probably made much more like $20 to $50 profit off me while I threw away a lot of the stuff afterwards. I’d rather shop on Amazon or Target.

      • Nothingwrong says

        Actually, look at what I just read: the Costco rotisserie chicken sales strategy! They already know they can entice people like me into their humungous warehouses via their $4.99 rotisserie chicken…and then make LOTS of $$$ from the other stuff the rotisserie chicken shoppers buy. This is exactly me! The only other thing I might want from time to time really is a huge bag of frozen fruit…that’s it. Anything else I buy is usually superfluous and I will waste it or not use it because I wasn’t even looking for it. I think Costco should offer one free day pass to each person each year. If you want to shop at Costco more than that, then they can get you to buy a Membership.


  47. cogringo says

    Ha! I came here as I was trying to find out if Costco has a day pass so I could see if I liked it. I just stopped my Sam’s membership after many years since I was laid off and it did not seem worth it.

    If these are the types of people that work there and shop there, well you have concluded that I will not take a shot at an annual membership.

    I never saw this diatribe on a Sam’s Club posts.

    Yes, they make $ off of Jeffrey still. Do you folks think you are someone special? I have plenty of $ to get a membership but I am still looking to save until my new business venture.

    I am not cheap, either. I would have liked to just get an idea of what’s in the club and the pricing since I left Sam’s. These ignorant comments have kept me from wasting my time.

    I’d rather overpay at a supermarket than be associated with the likes of these people with their defensive and negative remarks. You folks are seriously uninformed and hope your whole life is not life that. Just wow…

    Let the negative chime in’s begin again…

  48. That1Guy says

    I don’t get why everyone is mad at this author. It reminds me of how people get mad at people who travel to Africa and hunt animals that would be considered illegal here – if it’s legal (in this case, Costco policy allows for it), then there should be no debate. For myself, I stumbled upon this article because I want to purchase a phone there and will never ever shop at Costco for anything else. We had a membership a while back, but we now shop at Sam’s Club because the employees at our Costco are horrible. They once gave my mom a hard time about something she bought (I think it was a shirt or something) and she didn’t want it after all and they said, and I quote, “well, make sure you like it next time before you buy it *snappy tone*.” We didn’t renew our membership that year because that was the last straw after multiple other occurrences. For some reason, Sam’s Club doesn’t have the phone I want for AT&T, and only for Verizon, so for this one and only time that I will ever shop at Costco, it doesn’t make sense to buy a membership.

  49. David Johnson says

    You people are ridiculous. This is a completely valid way of shopping at Costco. If their policies allow someone to enter the store and make purchases with a gift card, then why not? He’s not breaking any rules. Costco is even making money off his transactions. They would make nothing off him if he did not shop there at all. The fact that all of you lack the intelligence to recognize this is astounding. Costco obviously does not care that this is happening. They have the ability to easily change their policies at any time, and they DON’T. So calm down. The man wrote a good article about a legitimate and useful hack.

  50. Eric says

    Wow! i just read the Costco Annual Report for 2013. As there is zero Costco’s near me and I have found a large product they offer, i have called upon a friend of mine to escort me to a Costco that is 70 miles from my residence. I do not feel bad about this at all. Sam’s Club has built near me, they offer day passes to entice people to see what their business is about and I shop there often. As an MBA I have to dispute the earlier comment about Costco’s 80% profit being membership fees. This is clearly incorrect information. I could see that the $55.00 fee is 80% profit for them but not 80% of their total corporate profit. The annual reports just doesn’t support that. More like 2.20% of all combined net sales are in the form of Membership Fees. if this was any different the company would not be in business today. I find it refreshing that people are so passionate about their status in the world. As if a membership at a Wholesaler, a gym, or Chuck E Cheese for that matter is a status symbol. If this is how many of you gauge your lives, you need to get out more. This company will survive with or without you. And it will survive if I go in on a member purchased gift card or with a family member or friend. That is a fact. DO they want my $800.00 purchase or not?

    • beechiegirl says

      We have been COSTCO members for many years. While we do not buy overly large packages of various items, because we are retired and there is just the two of us we’re buying for. On the other hand, we save enough on other items to justify the $55 membership fee; the $4.99 rotisserie chicken being one, as well as their large packages of 88% lean ground beef that is approximately $1.50 lb. cheaper than HEB, our main supermarket in Texas. I simply divide the meat into smaller 1 lb. packages and freeze them. Numerous other items, such as various types of snack chips, are hugely cheaper than HEBs, including even their store brands.

      I personally don’t care if some people occasionally shop at COSTCO with gift cards. These people have a good reason to use them (which COSTCO obviously approves), as COSTCO makes money they wouldn’t otherwise make, since these people aren’t going to buy a membership; the main reason given is their distance from COSTCO.

      Now if you REALLY want to save money…..Don’t smoke, don’t buy bottled water. It has been found to be LESS safe than your tap water, because it isn’t held to the higher purity standards as tap water. Don’t buy theatre popcorn at 1275-2000% markup. Don’t buy theatre candy. Buy BEFORE you get to theatre and save the 75% markup. There are hundreds more examples. USE GOOGLE to find them. Google something like “Every day items with huge markups.” Be an INFORMED shopper and you’ll save BIG bucks!

  51. Chris M says

    Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. For this great tip! What a good way to be able to test-drive a Costco without wasting $55. All you Costco Kool-Aid drinkers, get back to work stocking those shelves at Costco.

  52. PghPammy says

    Costco could eliminate part of the problem by offering a limited visitor pass. I’ve had a Sam’s Club membership for years because it is closer to my home and for a long time it’s all we had (originally it was called Pace). But I’d consider switching if I could go to Costco shopping a time or two just to compare what is available at the one nearest me (I’ve seen ppl post that different ones around the country don’t carry same things). So for all you Costco employees who are made about this to, please consider that it could work out that some folks might make the switch if there was an easy way to comparison shop. I know Sam’s used to offer Visitor passes (no clue if they still do or not).

  53. CAZ says

    You can walk into Sam’s & Costco without a membership and buy alcohol without a membership. At least that has been the case for me since I’ve lived in Cali, Ariz, & VA. I think it has to do with the laws associated with the bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms. Just FYI

  54. Jennifer Rowley says

    First off Thank you for the “hack”. We just had a Costco open in our area and I want to try it out before I buy a membership. I pay over a $100 a year for my Sam’s membership and spend around $300 a month in Sam’s. However before I buy a Costco membership I want to see if they have the products my family uses. If their prices beat Sam’s and most of all if I like Costco better than Sam’s. So for that purpose I may try the “hack” especially since when I called and asked if I could pay for a one day pass I was told very rudely NO!

  55. Michael says

    While I’m not likely to use this hack, it amuses me that the people who complain here about this ‘hack’ being immoral and damaging to the company ignore that it’s the company that made this an acceptable policy and therefore are themselves immoral and damaging to themselves. The reason BEHIND the policy has zero importance, the practice and allowance of this, is. You remind me of religious people that give non-religious people grief because they don’t have faith or want to deny non-religious people of freedoms because THEY are offended by them, but holy crap if you try to deny that religious person of their religious freedom…

    The argument against this “hack” is irrelevant. It’s a legitimate practice (or loophole, if you want to argue semantics) that is allowed by the very company itself. Complain to your company rather than those who choose to use the allowed practice.

  56. Jett says

    Honestly, I don’t think the few people who will go through all this to shop only a couple times a year will have any impact on Costcos profits. If Costco was worried about money they probably wouldn’t be donating large amounts of $$$$$ to the liberal political candidates. Stupid liberals are all about wealth distribution so there you have it – I say good for you to show Costco up! I have a membership so maybe I will buy some cash cards and resell sell them for more than face value! This is why we live in America- capitalism!!!!!

  57. Raul says

    I honestly can’t believe how many people are so concerned with the ethics of Costco membership shopping — REALLY??

    If I am a single guy who visits Costco twice a year to pick up a handful of items and infrequent purchases then isn’t Costco taking advantage of my infrequent shopping behavior to pad their profits? That is money directly out of my pocket.

    If I spend $150 in two visits purchasing their goods at store price they are still recouping a margin on those goods however small they may be. The loss of membership fee is not a direct loss, and in fact I can argue they would never receive those margins from my purchase otherwise because I would simply elect to spend the $150 elsewhere. I would hardly call that “cheating” the company.

    Costco could offer non-members the option to shop for items in their store at a surcharge as they do online if they were extremely concerned about non-members using gift cards. As consumers we shop for value and if I had a family the membership would pay itself out as a superior value, but this is not the case.

    We are talking about a large corporation here with people hired to oversee these policies, lets not get crazy with our character attacks on poor Jeff people, he is still buying goods at store price fair and square.

  58. thanks says

    Geez, the haters on here are going crazy! Thanks for this tip – I wanted to check out Costco and see if the prices would make the cost of a membership worth it, so this is perfect. If Costco didn’t want non-members in their store they wouldn’t let non-members in, even WITH a gift card. Costco is ALLOWING this, so it’s not “immoral”. Costco isn’t some poor grandma trying to sell her stuff at a garage sale so she can keep her house – it’s a large and successful business. You have to think they’ve factored this into their business model. And if they haven’t, that’s their problem.

    My scenario will probably turn out like this: 1) Without a gift card I will not buy a membership. Costco will get no money from me. 2) With a gift card I will go, buy some items, check out the prices, end up buying a membership and keep spending my money there. Yes, I will go in once without a membership but they will continue to get lots of my money for a long time to come. So…… Sounds like a good deal for them.

    Stop hating. Leave this guy alone.

    • Will Lipovsky says

      I agree. A large business like Costco knows what they are doing. They don’t need people patrolling their policies. If they found that much abuse, they will close the program.

  59. rebecca says

    A lot of Costcos are not permitting use of the the Costco cash card for use of the stores. You have to have a membership. Cards can be used online purchases but not in store because the register and even the door check for entry requires a membership card.

  60. Joan says

    I’ve brought multiple guests into Costco many times, and we each make our own payments (i.e. I don’t pay for them-they pay with cash or their own cards). We have everything split up and the cashier scans my card multiple times. I’ve never been told to NOT do this, so I don’t see how this is so different from non-members using cash/gift cards.

    I am perfectly fine with paying for a membership though, because Costco is one of the few large companies that takes care of their employees and their customers. Personally, I think non-members purchasing with cash cards is better than unscrupulous members who continually take advantage of Costco’s lenient return policies.

    If someone goes to Costco only a few times a year, but feels dishonest to get a cash/gift card, well then alleviate the guilty thoughts by having your friend bring you in as a guest those few times a year. A friend who will purchase gift cards for you probably doesn’t mind taking the time to shop WITH you a few times a year. Problem solved!

  61. Matt says

    I don’t know why so many people on this thread are so butthurt over this. If Costco didn’t want this kind of behavior to happen, Costco could very easily make sure it didn’t by simply requiring a membership to make any purchase, with or with a gift card.

    I have a membership and think it’s worth every penny, but if I didn’t have a Costco nearby and could o only rarely, the gift card route would seem to be the way to go.

    My only problem is I stop by to pick up a few groceries and very rarely do I escape without laying down $400 bucks or more. Lots of great stuff in there!

  62. Marty says

    Thank you for this information. The only thing I buy from Costco is dog beds. It is not worth the savings if I have to purchase a membership Costcos prices are actually higher than Walmart and other stores. Why would I buy a membership and pay more! If you are buying big amounts maybe there is savings but I don’t shop like that. So Thanks Jeff this lets me get my dogs their beds!

  63. Jim B says

    Get your collective heads out of your asses, using a gift card to buy COSTCO products without having a membership is 100% allowed, if Costco didn’t want people doing this they wouldn’t
    allow it.

    Clearly its not that big a deal to them and you douches trashing the writer know nothing at all about the way a business is run.

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