Costco's Membership Card Crackdown: No More Sharing

To decrease the number of instances of people using membership cards that don't belong to them, Costco Wholesale is enforcing its policies more strictly.

According to a company statement provided to FOX Business, the retailer's crackdown on membership card-sharing involves having customers present their Costco membership card to a staff member when requested to do so while using self-checkout registers. If a member's membership card does not have a photo on it, Costco employees "ask for a photo ID," according to the company.

At regular registers, Costco already requires showing the cards.

Costco informed FOX Business that its membership policy had not changed. "At the time of checkout, we have always requested membership cards at our registers."

Since expanding the availability of its self-checkout service, Costco said it has noticed "non-member shoppers have been using membership cards that do not belong to them" and has started requesting membership cards from self-checkout customers. According to the company, "it is not fair that non-members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members."

The Dallas Morning News and Business Insider first covered Costco's move. The company's announcement coincides with the streaming giant Netflix recently restricting access to U.S. accounts to primarily the account owner and those who reside with them unless they pay for a "extra member."

As part of its membership policy, Costco stated online that its membership cards are "non-transferable." By the end of the third quarter, the company's total cardholders reached 124.7 million, according to a report it released in late May. 

A customer service website states that Costco members can "assign [their] free household card] to one other person" who lives with them. Otherwise, cardholders may bring two guests with them when they visit the wholesaler, but "purchasing items is exclusive to Costco members."

According to the company, Costco membership fees generated $1.04 billion in revenue for the retailer in the third quarter, an increase of 6% from $984 million in the same three-month period last year. 

The company's total revenue in its most recent full fiscal year was $226.95 billion. Costco membership fees accounted for about $4.22 billion of that sum, with net sales accounting for the remaining $222.73 billion. Its fiscal 2022 net income was $5.84 billion.

Nearly 840 locations make up the company's physical retail footprint, with many of them in the United States.

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