Costco Is Cracking Down On Membership Sharing In Canada & It's Like Netflix All Over Again

Is anyone else getting a case of déjà vu?

A Costco Wholesale store.

A Costco Wholesale store.

If you've ever mooched off of a friend or family member who has a Costco membership, you might want to think again next time.

It turns out the wholesale retailer has started cracking down on people sharing their Costco membership cards, and it seems to be happening in both Canada and the United States.

Cue the Netflix comparisons.

This crackdown at Costco comes months after Netflix cracked down on password sharing and later moved to change its subscription options in Canada.

The important thing to know here is unlike Netflix, Costco's membership policy hasn't changed at all — but it seems how it's being enforced has.

"Costco is able to keep our prices as low as possible because our membership fees help offset our operational expenses, making our membership fee and structure important to us," a spokesperson for the wholesale retailer told Narcity in a statement. "Costco's membership policy has not changed. We have always asked for membership cards at our registers at time of checkout."

Anyone who has shopped at Costco knows that you need to scan your membership card at checkout, but while the cashier can typically see the ID photo associated with your account at the staffed checkouts, the self-checkouts don't normally have anyone checking photos.

"Our membership policy states that our membership cards are not transferable and since expanding our self-service checkout, we've noticed that non-member shoppers have been using membership cards that do not belong to them," the spokesperson said.

"We don’t feel it's right that non-members receive the same benefits and pricing as our members," they added.

So, what this means is the next time you want to take advantage of a friend or family member's Costco card, you'll have to convince them to come with you — or maybe not go at all.

"As we already ask for the membership card at checkout, we are now asking to see their membership card with their photo at our self-service checkout registers. If their membership card does not have a photo, then we ask for a photo ID," concludes the statement.

If the Costco crackdown has the same effect the Netflix crackdown did, you might be reluctantly thinking of getting a Costco membership.

There are two membership options.

A Gold Star Costco Membership gets you shopping access at all store locations and online for $60 per year. The Executive Costco Membership costs $120 per year but comes with added perks and discounts, including a 2% annual reward on warehouse, online and Costco Travel purchases.

Stuart McGinn
Stuart McGinn was the Money Editor for Narcity Media and focused mainly on covering topics ranging from personal finance, to real estate, and careers. Stuart is from Ottawa and is now based in Toronto.