Costco is cracking down on people who share their memberships

Sharing may be caring when it comes to friends and family. However, many membership-based companies and services are cracking down on people passing their perks on to non-members, and warehouse retailer Costco is now joining them.

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Last year, Netflix announced it would start charging fees to customers who share their passwords with non-members. That policy has already started to take effect, and people are not happy about it — but they’re still paying.

Now, Costco is the latest company to start monitoring membership sharing. The company is restricting purchases for people who haven’t signed up for a membership by better watching its growing number of self-checkout lanes.

In a statement released to numerous media outlets, the warehouse retail chain said employees have noticed a steady increase in membership-sharing since Costco started installing those self-service checkouts in their stores.

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(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

“Costco is able to keep our prices as low as possible because our membership fees help offset our operational expenses, making our membership fee and structure important to us,” the Costco statement said. “We don’t feel it’s right that non-members reap the same benefits and pricing as our members.”

Typically, Costco customers must show a membership card when they enter a club store and at checkout. However, the addition of self-service checkout removed a second check of their membership card with photo ID by a Costco employee.

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This is where customers will see the biggest change as Costco clamps down on membership sharing.

“As we already ask for the membership card at checkout, we are now asking to see their membership card with their photo at our self-service checkout registers,” the statement said. “If their membership card does not have a photo, then we ask for a photo ID.”

Costco insists these actions are not part of a policy change; they are simply better enforcement of existing rules, which include:

  • Members are required to present their membership card when entering any Costco and when checking out at a register.
  • Costco memberships include one free household card for anyone over the age of 16 who lives at the same address.
  • Costco memberships are not transferrable and are limited to one per household or business.
  • You may bring up to two guests with you on each visit. However, only members can make purchases.

A basic Costco membership costs $60 (plus tax) annually. You can buy upgraded membership levels (up to $120 per year) that receive different perks, including purchase rewards and higher savings on qualified items. See Costco’s membership website for more details.

About the Author

Marie Rossiter

Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. You can find her writing about her personal health journey at and connect with her at More.

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