Not Everyone At Costco Understands Secret Membership Avoidance Strategy

A few years ago, we ran a post about the secret and kind of awesome way to do some shopping at Costco without purchasing a membership. Just give a member you know some cash and have them pick up a gift card (Costco Cash Card) for you. Great system if your nearest Costco is far away, or you just don’t go often enough to justify joining. In theory, anyway. Justin took the advice in our post, but was turned away at the door by an employee who wasn’t aware that a cash card entitled him to enter the store.

I read your article on how to shop at Costco without a membership awhile back and decided to give it a try since I’m a broke college student in [redacted] and the nearest Costco is about a 30 minute drive from my home, so having a full membership really isn’t practical for me considering I make a trip there once or twice a year.

Anyways, I drove with my girlfriend to pick up a few things tonight. I showed the “Cash Card” to the employee at the front and she stopped me and asked to see my membership card. I politely told her that I did not have an actual membership and that I had a “Cash Card,” that a friend gave me instead. She immediately got aggressive and told me I would not be allowed to enter the store and that I needed a full membership.

I tried to explain that the Costco website says that “Members and non-members may use the cash cards to shop at any Costco location in the United States,” and that I should be allowed in. I even offered to bring up the page to show it to her, but she was having none of that. Once more, she tried to tell me that I had to either leave or buy a membership right there.

I asked to talk to someone else and she referred me to the membership counter. The lady there gave me a temporary pass and let me right in without any hassle and the rest of my trip went fine. I do not know why the woman at the door did not try to mention the temporary pass. She was extremely blunt about the “only” two options of leaving or buying a membership.

I’m submitting this as a warning to people who want to try the “Cash Card,” method of entrance to Costco. The door employee was obviously not up to date on company policy and she was extremely rude and aggressive despite the fact that I began the dispute politely. I don’t know if it was an isolated incident, but I’m going to forward this on to the Costco Executive Customer Service and hopefully they’ll update their employees with company policy.

Justin didn’t send us an update with what he heard back from Costco, so maybe there’s been a memo since then. Take precautions, though. If you’re traveling a long distance to bring your card full of hard-earned cash to spend at Costco, maybe call ahead.