Why Does Costco Restrict Membership

Everyone who goes to Costco tends to love Costco. But is it possible for Costco to restrict its membership? Can they cancel a membership altogether?

Yes, as part of the Member Privileges and Conditions, Costco can cancel and refuse membership at their discretion and without notice. However, enacting this rule is rare, and the member must violate specific policies to have their memberships revoked.

If this were to happen, is there anything a member can do to reactivate their membership? Costco keeps a few rules regarding their memberships, but it is nothing that the member cannot manage or criteria they cannot meet.

Costco’s business model is based on exclusivity. Their business model has given them the edge that they need to provide wholesale prices and special savings for their members.

Rules of Membership

Costco members must abide by a set of rules to keep their membership in good standing. While not complicated, it does include the following:

  • Qualifying individuals must be eighteen and over.
  • Membership status and rules are subject to changes in rules and privacy policies that can change with little to no notice.
  • The membership fee is for one 12-month period from the enrollment date. Additional time past the expiration date is subject to renewal fees that must be paid to keep membership statuses up to date.
  • While membership cards are valid at any Costco location worldwide, it is not transferable to someone else. This is because Costco allows one more person per household to have a card apart from the primary member.
  • Patrons must show their membership cards when entering the warehouse and the register.
  • Purchases are subject to being checked when exiting to confirm a match in receipt items and the number of items in the cart.
  • The primary member is responsible for all purchases tied to their account, including those made by other household members who may have a card under their account.

More technical rules apply to Costco memberships, but applicants should know these most important ones before applying. If there is a question or a concern, Costco recommends that applicants call or visit their store.

Apply to Become a Member if You Are Not

In the United States, Costco memberships are very easy to attain. Depending on where you live and what bank you use, there might be cashback incentives at certain times of the year to encourage people to become members of Costco.

Apart from being eighteen years old, usually, the only additional requirement is an application with a valid address and ID and that the applicant pays the membership fee that starts at $60 for the lowest tier member before taxes.

Membership starts with allowing a household to have two members with a card so long as they share the same address on their photo IDs. Costco assures that the applicant will be completely satisfied with purchasing a membership and offers a more expensive tier for those that could benefit from it.

The Executive membership tier is $120 yearly but includes more benefits than the basic tier. For example, members paying for the Executive members will receive an exclusive 2% back on their first $1,000 purchases and additional Costco services and discounts. The 2% discount is also applied to travel packages purchased through Costco.

There might be other rules and requirements for Costco warehouses outside of the U.S. than can differ. Those differences should be confirmed before applying for membership in Costco. According to Reddit, members from foreign countries must provide their employment status and occupation as part of their application. Costco supposedly holds the right to refuse them based on their occupation.

For cases outside of the United States, it is best to talk to the store or go online to confirm their requirements.

Talk to Guest Services

Guest services are in a physical store within your local area. The best way to approach this is to walk in and advise the worker at the front that you need to visit the guest services department. Even if you do not have a Costco Membership card, they will let you into that part of the store.

Depending on which Costco location you visit, Guest Services is usually located before exiting the store. When approaching the counter, bring up the conversation of applying for a membership, and they will be able to help. If a membership was purchased online, bring the confirmation email so Costco can easily pull up the information.

Then, at the guest services desk, they will take a photo and print the applicant’s membership card, whether the membership was purchased online or in-store. It really is that simple.

Did Something Happen to Cause a Cancellation of Membership?

Although rare, it is possible to have your membership canceled at Costco. Costco allows its members to return every single product, including its membership, for a refund, but certain items have return policies put in place. The exceptions are:

  1. Cigarettes and alcohol – Depends on the allowed time by the State in which Costco is located in
  2. Diamonds – 48-hour window
  3. Electronics – 90 days

Some items are also under a limited warranty, which could impact the ability to receive a refund. So be careful when shopping for items that have these kinds of limited warranties. However, because of their flexible return policy, someone will try to abuse it, and there have been cases where people have tried to return items that are a year old or even a dead Christmas tree.

Costco reserves the right to cancel memberships, and these cancellations apply when members try to abuse the return policy. The cancelation will not stop there; the store will blacklist the member for the rest of their lifetime. An individual store also can cancel a membership, as this decision is not limited to corporate.

Members are encouraged to return only what must be returned, like a pack of bananas purchased in excess the day before that are resalable.

What You Need to Know

Costco is known for its wide selection of exclusive deals for its members. While Costco does restrict its membership, applying for membership is easy so long as the applicant meets specific qualifications. There are reasons that Costco can decide to revoke membership, but those instances are usually rare in themselves, and likely that the member was abusing their flexible return policies.

Despite these rare possibilities of being canceled, Costco is a great place to buy items in bulk and has been helping in reducing grocery store trips since its inception as a warehouse in 1983. So what are you planning on buying on your next Costco haul?

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