Buying in bulk for items you use often is a great way to save money and time. Costco has developed an almost cult following and for good reason. It offers great savings to its members by offering bulk items at great prices. But paying a premium to shop at Costco if you only go a few times year isn't cost-effective. Here are 7 ways to shop Costco for free.

1. Instacart

This one is perhaps one of the best because it allows you to shop from the comfort of your own home and have your items delivered for a small fee. There is no membership required, but the service is not available in all areas. After factoring in the delivery fee and possibly a tip, it may not save much if you are only purchasing a small amount. However, if you plan to stock up for the next month or two you can save big by utilizing this service.

2. Household card

If someone in your household is already a member, you may be able to pick up what is called a household card. Individual members are entitled to a primary card as well as one secondary card for any person over the age of 18 who shares the same address as the member.

3. As a guest

Maybe you aren't lucky enough to live with a card-carrying Costco member to qualify for the household card. You can, however, join a friend. Each Costco member is allowed to bring two guests with them when they shop. The member must pay for the order but you can pay them back for your order.

4. Online

Membership is not required to shop the Costco website. However, there are a few drawbacks to this method. First, you can't buy everything that is available in the store like most food items. Also, there is a 5% surcharge to all non-members. Depending on what you are buying, this might make save you some money.

5. Fill a prescription

You can get your prescriptions filled at Costco even if aren't a member. Also, Costco does not charge the 5% surcharge to non-members for prescription drugs. Some Costco stores don't have a pharmacy, so this won't apply to all locations.

6. Get an eye exam

Non-members can also take advantage of the on-sight optometrist. Again, this service is not available at all locations, and you won't be able to purchase your glasses or contacts there unless you buy a membership.

7. Buy a gift card

Let's say you have a friend who has a Costco membership but due to scheduling conflicts, you can't agree on a good time to go. Your friend can just buy you a gift card with your own money so that you can go whenever you want. Non-members can shop without a member if they have a gift card to pay for their purchases.

Costco is a giant in the retail warehouse shopping world. They treat their employees well, don't advertise, and they pass the savings along to their members. For those of us who don't live close to one or don't shop there enough to justify paying the yearly membership fee, these tips are a great way to enjoy the benefits of Costco as a non-member.

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