Costco membership card

Lacey Muszynski / Cheapism

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Costco fans on Reddit's r/Costco community have noticed something at their favorite warehouse store lately: Costco appears to be cracking down on membership sharing.

If you're unfamiliar, it's when the person who buys the Costco membership lets other people not in their household borrow their membership card to get in and purchase things. Honestly, it's something we've done occasionally in the past, and we hear about parents letting their college student use the card to stock up on ramen and snacks all the time. But like Netflix implementing all kinds of new rules for password sharing, Costco employees have been spotted paying close attention to whether the membership card you swipe to check out is actually yours recently.

"Went to my local warehouse today and they were walking up the self checkout line, asking everyone to show their membership cards," said u/Witty_Username_28. They also posted a photo of sign in a Costco that reminds shoppers that they're required to show their card when entering the store and checking out, followed by, "Membership cards are not transferable. Only paid members are allowed to shop."

Other Redditors chimed in with similar anecdotes. "FWIW, I've noticed an uptick in members at the regular checkouts getting scrutinized when splitting a cartload with an accompanying 'family member,'" said u/Jack_Benney.

"I was just at my Costco on Friday and the lady at self check out was looking at the photo on each card," said u/CardiffGiantx. "I have somewhat of a confused look and she told me they are cracking down on people sharing cards."

Redditors who appear to be Costco employees due to their insider knowledge also chimed in and verified that it's a corporate, nationwide crackdown. "In the MW region, starting tomorrow they will be checking cards at self checkout. They'll be running a program to incentivize starting a Costco membership if you are one of the -many- shoppers who have been taking advantage of using [self checkouts] as the workaround to cashiers seeing the membership isn't yours," said u/Martin-1371

"Big push from corporate. Nobody is thrilled about doing it, but unfortunately since adding a lot of [self checkout] stations to Costco card sharing has shot way up. After the incentive program is over they're going to begin having a zero tolerance policy to card sharing. No more warnings, no more, 'this time we'll let it slide' - if you're not on the card you're not shopping."

Reactions to this news on Reddit are mixed. Some don't see card sharing as a big deal and think it will lead to more hassle and longer checkout lines. Others think the crackdown, which is technically only enforcing the household-only policy Costco has always had, is overdue. Frankly, it's not surprising that a company that made 80% of its profit ($3.9 billion!) on membership fees in 2021 is protecting that, but it still makes our eyes roll involuntarily. "The Netflix approach to improving revenue," said u/AllHipoCrates, and that seems about right.

Then there are the Redditors who lean into the whole cult of Costco thing. "What an idiotic way to be thrifty," said u/theallsearchingeye. "Glad they got caught, I hope they all do. Every single person that shops like this damages the experience for other members." Chill out and put down the Kool-Aid, buddy.

If you want to avoid a hassle if you and your spouse share your Costco membership (which is totally within the rules), u/Martin-1371 has a good tip. "I'd highly suggest if you're a member and haven't added your +1 family member/spouse that you get them added to the membership sooner than later."

Cheapism reached out to Costco via email, but they declined to comment for this article.

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