Personal Finance

Costco Gift Cards: Can Non-Members Use Them?

Costco-gift-cardAs you already know, Costco is a haven for bargain hunters, such as busy parents with kids, and those who want to buy in bulk, such as small-business owners stocking up on office supplies. The warehouse store requires a yearly membership if you want to step inside and purchase one of the many products that they have for sale. So, you may be wondering if the Costco Cash gift card that you received from a friend is something that you can use, since you are not a member of the chain.

Members Only
Costco gift cards are known as Costco Cash cards. Only members may buy the card either at the brick-and-mortar location or through the company’s website and load it up with amounts ranging from $25 to $1,000. During the checkout process, the buyer can specify a gift message up to 80 characters long, including spaces. The card ships from Minnesota via First Class Mail with an estimated delivery time of seven to nine business days from the date of order. Express shipping via UPS, which is available for an extra shipping and handling fee, takes three to five business days from the time of order.

When ordering just one card, buyers must specify the phone number of the recipient for use with activation. When ordering two or more cards, buyers must activate the cards themselves before distribution to recipients.

Non-Member Perks
If members can buy Costco Cash cards, it’s only logical that they can use them as well. However, the card can also be used by non-members for entering and shopping at any Costco store in the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico or for digital purchases at or You can also use the Costco Cash card to buy gas at a discounted rate at a Costco gas station. Online use requires that you enter the Costco Cash card number as well as the four-digit PIN printed on the back of the card.

The card has a zero balance when first received. To access the stored monetary amount, you must activate the card using the toll-free number included with the card. If you receive an individual card, you must also have your phone number available during activation. You may find out the amount left on the card through any of the red kiosks at the stores, by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card or by looking the amount up through The cards have no expiration date.

If you do not have enough money on the card to pay for the purchase, you may still use the card and use another form of payment, such as cash, for the remainder. (Only members may reload the card with additional amounts.) For payment cards, Costco currently accepts Visa or MasterCard for online purchases. However, the physical store currently only accepts debit cards and American Express. Staring April 1, 2016, the stores will accept Visa rather than American Express.

Note that some Costco employees may bar you from entering the store or making purchases, if you’re a non-member who shows the Costco Cash card. They are operating out of ignorance rather than official policy. If this happens, show the policy posted on the official website or ask to speak to the person’s manager who will be able to clear up any misunderstanding.

Products bought by non-members with the Costco Cash card have the same warranty and return policies as those bought by members. Essentially, purchases may be returned for a full refund at any Costco warehouse worldwide, including shipping and handling. The original receipt is helpful for faster service. Some items must be returned within 90 days of purchase to qualify including camcorders, cameras, computers, projects and televisions.

If warehouse returns are not possible, customers may email or call customer service for a return to be picked up. However, such items must be in the same condition as it was when delivered, including the box. For example, items that were delivered curbside must be made available at the curb for pickup.

So if you received a gift card to Costco but you’re not a member, you can still use it to make purchases online or in a Costco warehouse store. And when you see how much you can save, you might be tempted to get your own Costco membership!


  1. Where might I find that Policy on Costco website that says that Cash Card can be used to enter and purchase items at Costco? A link would be great.

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