Costco May Start Scanning Membership Cards Before You Enter

Costco's membership requirements used to be a lot different than they are now, and it seems that yet another change is in store. Shoppers know there are some rules you must follow at Costco to be a member of the wholesale chain, one of which is having your Costco card on hand to show an employee as you enter. It appears, however, that a recent change shown in a January 7 Reddit post may make this policy a bit more serious: Some locations have started scanning membership cards at the entrance.

The post racked up almost 7,000 upvotes in just four days, with many commenters noting that they'd witnessed customers getting turned away for displaying someone else's membership card. Others mentioned that the practice of scanning cards at the entrance has already been in place at Costco locations outside of the U.S. A Reddit user in a separate thread explained that when the card is scanned, a large version of its ID photo appears on a screen in front of the employee, which helps crack down on folks borrowing other people's cards.

The company's desire to keep this practice at bay comes as no surprise. In 2023, CFO Richard Galanti told the Wall Street Journal that while "a really small percent of members" share their cards with someone else, it's still important to prevent this. He added, "When you're dealing with millions of transactions, even a very small percentage is something you would want to correct."

Costco is cracking down on non-members getting in

Chances are, your local Costco hasn't scanned your card upon entry yet. Still, that doesn't mean the change isn't imminent. The new rule has been implemented in the Issaquah, Washington location. This is where Costco frequently tests out its potential new policies to ensure that they function smoothly before expanding them to other stores. So, it's likely safe to assume that if this new policy goes well, members at other Costcos will be seeing it soon enough.

For some shoppers, this may seem like a minor difference to the store's normal routine, and if you're already accustomed to whipping out your Costco card to show the employee at the door, it probably won't change your experience very much. This apparent policy change is likely just one in a host of new rules enacted by Costco to crack down on memberships. In the past, while you may have needed a membership card to enter the store, it wasn't often that its tiny ID photo would be called into question. This meant that if you borrowed someone else's card, you likely could have gotten away with it. The new policy, however, seemingly aims to change that.