This little-known tip is genius.

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Ah, the happy, hallowed walls of Costco. Sometimes, though, becoming a member at the bulk retailer club doesn't make sense for you. Perhaps you live far away from one and know you'd only go once or twice a year. Perhaps you're a Sam's Club member. Perhaps you don't need massive tubs of peanut butter lining your pantry.

Regardless of your reason, what's this guy or gal to do when they want to go shopping at the wildly popular warehouse store? Use a gift card. Yep, that's right. In an awesome loophole to their "members-only" shopping policy, those who use a Costco Cash Card can shop at any Costco location in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. You can also use the gift card online at but non-members get charged a 5% surcharge fee on everything but prescription drugs.

The catch: A member has to buy or reload the card for you, but given that, oh, 5,500 of your friendly Southern friends and neighbors are Costco members, it shouldn't be too hard to ask someone to buy one for you and then reimburse them. As Food 52 points out in a recent article on Costco secrets, "Some stores may limit the number of times you can [buy a a Costco gift card] per year, so check your store first."

In addition to this savvy gift card method of shopping at Costco without a membership, here are some other neat ways to shop at Costco if you're not a member.

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Now, it's time to track down one of those 5,500 friends and neighbors of ours and kindly inquire if they can help a Costco-less pal out.