Costco Will Kick Non-Members Out Of The Food Court

Flash that Costco membership card if you want the $1.50 hot dog combo.

The phrase "members only" is not taken lightly at Costco. In recent years, the wholesaler has made multiple efforts to ice out freeloaders who try to mooch off friends' memberships. Now, Costco is turning its sights on keeping non-members out of its beloved food courts, allowing only those who pay an annual membership fee to enjoy the classic $1.50 hot dog combo.

To be clear, it is widely known that Costco's food court has always been intended only for its members, but depending on the location, some warehouses have not enforced this policy in the past. Per a recent Reddit thread, however, some Costco locations have begun posting signage to let the public know that the policy will be more widely and strictly enforced soon.

A sign allegedly posted at a Costco location in Orlando, Florida and posted by a Reddit user reads:

"Effective April 8, 2024, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court. You can join today. Please see our membership counter for details."

Multiple Costco locations have confirmed that the policy will be newly enforced in the coming weeks, and Costco locations with an outdoor food court were specifically instructed to start asking for membership cards before allowing a purchase. At the same time, there has been some conflicting information from different Costco representatives about whether Costco gift cards will be allowed as a substitute for an active membership card.

Earlier this year, ID scanners were spotted at some Costco locations where normally members would just flash their card to an employee standing at the entrance. The company confirmed it was testing out these devices in an effort to curb the practice of people sharing their membership cards with non-members. Costco leadership noted that more people had begun sharing membership cards since the beginning of the pandemic.

"[Using ID scanners] speeds up the process at entry and speeds up the process at the checkout," Costco's finance chief Richard Galanti told CNN at the time. "That's what we believe and we're going to pilot it."

Even prior to this, Costco implemented other changes to weed out non-members from its stores. In 2023, Costco began requiring that membership cards be cross-checked against another form of photo ID, such as a driver's license. This was especially enforced in the self-checkout lanes, where the brand noticed the most abuse of its policies.

"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 Costco told Nexstar.