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Costco Store Bans Entry Without a Full Membership Check—Will Others Follow?

A Washington store is scanning membership cards when shoppers enter.

Confusion surrounding Costco's membership policy continues to pick up steam as shoppers in Issaquah, Washington, are now required to scan their membership cards at a kiosk in order to be granted entry into the warehouse. The news first broke via a Reddit thread published on Jan. 7, in which a Costco shopper uploaded a photo of the retailer's new security check-in system while waiting in line to enter the store.

RELATED: Costco Rolling Out Controversial New Shopping Carts: "I Loathe These."

In the photo, a man can be seen scanning his Costco membership card while a store employee verifies his identity via tablet. Also captured in the snap is a sign that reads, "You will be asked to scan your membership card before entering the warehouse."

More than 6,600 people have interacted with the Reddit thread, which has since racked up 2,200 comments.

"I didn't get it in the picture but there's two scanners at the entrance with one employee at each one," the Reddit user explained in the comments. "There's a display that shows your face for the employee to check."

The new kiosk system isn't a huge departure from Costco's previous check-in procedure, where customers were greeted by store employees and asked to present their membership card for entry. As one Reddit user points out, "A machine that scans the membership card isn't really any different that a person you flash the card to." In fact, some may argue it's "more efficient."

"I really don't get the big deal," the person said, adding, "You have to have your card out anyway. This way it beeps & you move along versus having a door guard verify your card."

Costco's membership policy clearly states on its website that members "will be required to show your membership card when entering any Costco warehouse and when checking out at a payment register." Furthermore, "bar codes, photos, or other copies are not acceptable."

The post's author noted that the kiosks are also located at the store's exit doors, where Costco employees usually ask to see your receipt and double-check your purchases.

RELATED: 5 Big Changes Costco Is Making and How They'll Affect You.

Thus far, the Issaquah location appears to be the only U.S. warehouse to implement the new check-in scanning system. However, one shopper claims that Costco stores in Iceland have been doing this for months already.

"They did this when I went to Iceland Costco last summer. As far as I could tell, it was limited to certain hours during the day." The Reddit user said it only took "maybe 20 seconds extra" to be let in.

As to whether more U.S. warehouses will embrace this added membership check, a Reddit user pointed out that the Issaquah store is "literally right across the street from [Costco] Corporate," which could mean it's a test of a potentially more widespread policy.

Best Life reached out to Costco for comment on the new check-in scanning system, and whether customers can expect to see this implemented in more stores across the U.S. We will update this story with its response.

Either way, a majority of Costco members appear to be pro-scan. Several people say they are in favor of the new process if it means shorter wait times getting into the store and at the register—and if it helps aid Costco's fight against fake membership cards and shoplifting.

"People keep forgetting that this is a club and if you don't abide by their rules, they just kick you out, simple as that," one person wrote.

The new check-in method comes on the heels of Costco's crackdown on membership sharing. As of June 2023, shoppers are now required to present their membership card at self-checkout.

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Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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