Ever since this topic first appeared on Saving Advice four years ago, Costco’s annual membership fees have risen $5 — if that makes you feel like you could reallocate that difference in price toward another grocery item, you’ll want to read about the following five tactics.
1. Shop With a Friend
Surely you know at least one person who already has a Costco membership and doesn’t mind going to the store with you. Offer to do the driving and you should be able to sustain that dynamic indefinitely. The more you have in common with this friend, the better this dynamic will work out, since you have to be able to shop exactly when they want to go.
If you can find more than one friend with a Costco membership, then you might feel less constrained. But no matter how many Costco-going friends you’re able to find, assume it’s up to you to check in with them about when they’re going to the store. If you expect an invitation every time they want to shop, you might become resentful when it doesn’t happen.
2. Gift Cards
Branded as the Costco Cash Card and available in denominations ranging from $25 to $1,000, this card lets you shop at any Costco store. You may also redeem it at any Costco gas stations; they often have much lower prices on the same top-quality gas.
If this sounds too good to be true, well, here comes the catch: Only members are allowed to purchase Costco gift cards. Non-members either have to rely on a friend with a membership or buy the card at a markup via a secondary eBay or Craigslist.
If you have a car, it might make sense to get a higher denomination card for gas and then do everything in your power not to lose it. Remember the word “cash” on the card? That means it’s not replaceable, according to Costco policy.
Some people like to minimize risk by getting smaller denomination cards; but when you have more than one of them it’s easy to confuse which ones still have money left on them.
You don’t need a Costco membership to get an Instacart employee to shop there for you. You do need to purchase at least $35 worth of Costco groceries to get free delivery — but that should be an easy feat, given all the bulk sizes at Costco.
Alas, Instacart is only free for the first two weeks, and then it costs about $30 more per year than even an executive membership.
You might want that Instacart subscription if you’re interested in having purchases delivered to you from any of a dozen different grocery and retail stores that also participate in the service.
Once you have that many choices for home delivery, you might not even want to shop at Costco every time you log on to Instacart.
This one is like that expression “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul,” only in this case, you’re foregoing the Costco fee and instead paying a TaskRabbit delivery person an hourly rate to shop for you.
Of course, you need to specify in your request for a taskperson that he or she have their own Costco membership in order to take on your assignment, or the whole thing is a wash.