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Costco Tests Membership Card Scanners at Store Entrances: A New Shopping Experience

Costco, the popular retail giant known for its membership-based model, is taking bold measures to address unauthorized sharing by non-members of benefits available exclusively for paying customers of Costco. Introducing measures such as photo ID checks at self-checkout counters and membership card scanners at store entrances has proven an effective method for reinforcing membership values while managing challenges posed by sharing.

What Changes is Costco Implementing?

What Changes are Costco Implementing? Its Costco has implemented measures to combat misuse of its membership cards. Recognizing a gap in their system after expanding self-checkout options, Costco implemented a mandatory requirement that shoppers present photo identification along with their membership cards at checkout lanes and self-service stations – this policy had previously only applied at regular lanes but has since been extended further for self-service stations to verify who owns each membership card.

Costco’s introduction of membership card scanners at store entrances marks an exciting departure from its tradition of handing cards over to employees for inspection. Reported by customers on Reddit, this innovative system is currently being trialed in Washington State to streamline entry procedures and reduce non-members using someone else’s card to gain entry. These efforts form part of Costco’s wider strategy to safeguard exclusive member benefits while protecting its membership model and maintain its integrity.

Why is Costco Cracking Down on Membership Sharing?

Costco’s decision to tighten membership controls stems from its observations of an increased sharing of memberships since the pandemic hit in 2020. Richard Galanti, Costco’s finance chief, expressed concern at this trend; noting it undercut the value of Costco memberships and lessened their value; its position is clear: non-members shouldn’t enjoy similar benefits and pricing as members who pay their dues.

Costco’s crackdown of membership sharing is essential to their business model; membership fees range from $60 for regular memberships up to $120 for executive cards. Membership sharing could potentially damage their financial wellbeing and force unwanted changes like price increases.

How Will These Changes Impact Shoppers and Costco’s Business?

Implementation of stricter membership controls at Costco is expected to have multiple ramifications on both shoppers and the company as a whole. Legitimate members could experience an improved shopping experience due to scanners at entrance points and required ID checks at checkout, potentially shortening wait times while increasing satisfaction overall.

But the measures taken by Costco go well beyond customer experience. Their business model relies heavily on membership renewal, so by reinforcing exclusivity of its membership and emphasizing value proposition, Costco not only safeguards revenue streams but also reinforces value proposition to its customers. While such actions might alienate some nonpaying users temporarily, they could ultimately strengthen loyalty among paying members and ensure long-term sustainability of its model.


Costco’s recent efforts to enforce stricter membership usage policies mark an important step toward safeguarding its membership model and maintaining its value and integrity. These changes, including the requirement of photo identification at checkout and membership scanners, reflect Costco’s dedication to ensure its benefits remain accessible only to paying members. While this change aims to enhance the shopping experience for legitimate members, it also safeguards Costco’s revenue model–essential for maintaining low prices and high-quality service. As Costco continues to adapt to changing market dynamics, these steps demonstrate a proactive effort by upholding principles that have made it one of the world’s largest membership clubs.

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Jack Reuben Fletcher

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