Costco is one of the most cost effective ways to purchase food and groceries for your entire family.
However, membership can be expensive, particularly if you are relying on Costco’s discount prices in order to feed your loved ones. Starting at $60 a year, the costs can really add up if you need several people to have a membership.
Therefore, you may be wondering – can you use someone else’s Costco card? Can you get in trouble for sharing it, and is there anything you need to keep in mind?
The truth is, there are some cases where this may be permitted. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about sharing your Costco membership with another person.
Can You Use Someone Else’s Costco Card?
Unfortunately, you are unable to share your Costco card with somebody else. However, you are permitted to bring up to two additional guests with you to shop at Costco, as long as the card holder is the one that makes the final purchase.
Additionally, you may assign one other person in your household to shop using the card. However, you may need to verify that this person actually lives at your residence, using official documentation such as a government ID.
This means that you’re not able to share your Costco card with friends or extended family, who do not live at your house. However, you may be able to share it with a spouse, adult child or relative that shares your same residence.
Note that Costco requires additional members to be at least 18 years of age.
Does The Cardholder Have To Be Present When Shopping At Costco?
Since we know that multiple guests are allowed to shop with you at Costco and the card can be used by another family member, you may be wondering – does the cardholder have to be present?
If you are a guest (and not the other person on the cardholder’s account), unfortunately you will be unable to check out, as the cashier’s will check your Costco card before allowing the purchase to go through.
This is truth even if the cardholder is actually shopping with you, but they leave the checkout line to go to the restroom or grab something to eat. Unless they are present with you at the register, the cashier will be unable to checkout the items for you.
Online, some people have claimed that you can get away with this by paying with cash (as they will not be able to match the name to a credit or debit card.) However, Costco membership cards have a photo printed on the back of the card, which are used by cashiers to verify the card’s owner.
What Happens If You’re Caught Using Someone Else’s Costco Card?
Truthfully, reports online suggest that many cashiers won’t be bothered if you are caught without a Costco membership. They may simply ring you on through, and keep their mouths shut about it.
However, this is probably not a risk that you’re going to want to take.
As we now know, sharing your Costco card (other than with an approved family member) is against Costco’s policy. This means that it is grounds to revoke the cardholder’s membership, without a refund of the annual Costco fee.
Many people don’t know this, but Costco only practically breaks even on the sale of its goods – this is why they’re able to keep prices so low. Most of their actual profit comes from the membership fees themselves. Therefore, they can be quite strict about ensuring that only authorized people are allowed to shop.
In addition to the membership being terminated, you may also not be allowed to checkout without a valid membership.
Most of the time, this is as far as it goes. You will be presented with an offer to buy a membership, or you will be asked to leave without being able to purchase any of your items.
Therefore, you may wish to keep an extra $60 on hand just in case.
What About When Shopping Online At Costco.com?
You do not need to have a membership card to shop online at Costco.com.
Therefore, you’re free to use all of your own personal information – you don’t need to ship anything to a cardholder’s address for example.
However, there is one downside to shopping on Costco’s website without a membership – you will pay higher prices.
Costco card members receive a 5% discount when shopping online at Costco.com. Therefore, if you frequently purchase from their website, it may be worth picking up a membership for the savings alone.
However, to most people this simply another benefit of being a Costco member.
Costco Business Cards, And Sharing With Coworkers
Did you know that Costco offers a special membership for businesses?
This makes it easy for employees or coworkers to shop for the company at Costco, without them needing to get their own memberships.
While there’s no discount on price (each shopper will need a $60 annual membership purchased for them), they can all be managed under the business account.
Additionally, this allows shoppers to purchase goods for business use or even for resale, provided your company has been issues a resale certificate.
If you’re shopping on behalf of your company, this is an option worth considering.
Costco Gift Cards – A Neat Loophole
Did you know that a Costco membership isn’t required to shop at Costco, as long as you have a gift card to use?
If you present a Costco gift card, even non-members are able to enter Costco warehouses and shop as normal.
This means that the Costco card holder can purchase gift cards on your behalf, and simply give you the gift card to use for shopping. Then, you could pay them the equivalent amount of cash.
By using this strategy, you can avoid paying the costly membership fee, which is helpful if you don’t plan to shop at Costco frequently enough to warrant the fee.
Costco gift cards never expire, and can be purchased for as low as $25. For those looking to shop at Costco more often without purchasing a membership, the maximum Costco gift card size is $2,000 – more than enough for many shopping trips!
Note that Costco gift cards can only be purchased by current Costco members – you are unable to buy them online without a Costco membership.
Therefore, if you plan to spend a lot of money at Costco over the course of a year, it may be more convenient to simply pay for the membership.
Unfortunately, Costco does not allow you to use someone else’s card to shop at their stores. Because Costco makes most of their money on membership fees, they are able to keep prices so low for their shoppers.
However, Costco cards can be shared with one additional family member, provided that they live at the same address.
I hope that this article has answered your questions. Of course, if you have any other questions about shopping at Costco, feel free to ask them using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister