3 Mistakes That Can Cause Your Costco Membership to be Canceled

A brown reusable shopping bag on a green backgroundA brown reusable shopping bag on a green background

A brown reusable shopping bag on a green background

Image source: Upsplash/The Motley Fool

Costco is a beloved warehouse club, with about 132 million cardholders spread across 73.4 million homes. Many of those members love the great deals Costco offers, not to mention the amazing Kirkland brand products.

RELATED: Best Credit Cards for Costco

For Costco fans, losing access to their membership would be a huge disaster. Unfortunately, there are a few key behaviors that can cause this to happen. Here are three mistakes that could lead Costco to exercise its right to terminate access to its warehouse club.

1. Abuse the return policy

Costco has a very generous return policy. With limited exceptions, you can return almost anything you’ve purchased at any time. And even for products like electronics, you still have a 90-day return window.

However, just because Costco is trying to keep customers satisfied by being flexible with returns doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. In fact, some past Costco customers have indicated that returning too many items caused their membership to be cancelled.

There are no official guidelines for when a pattern of returns puts you at risk of losing Costco status. However, Costco has confirmed that abusing membership privileges and conditions may result in cancellation.

The decision about when returns become excessive or abusive is generally left to managers at each Costco location and is made on a case-by-case basis after taking into account all the facts.

If you don’t want to risk losing your membership, ask yourself whether a refund is really reasonable or not. Obviously, if clothes don’t fit right after you buy them or shrink the first time you wash them, a return may be necessary. But if you bought a sweatshirt at Costco six years ago, returning it because it has a hole in it and you want the money back in your bank account seems like a pretty unreasonable choice.

2. Theft

If you get caught shoplifting at Costco, it’s obviously a violation of their terms and conditions of membership (not to mention a violation of the law). People have had their Costco membership revoked for taking items without paying. You’ll want to avoid doing this if you hope to continue shopping at the warehouse club.

3. Not following store policies.

Costco stores have a number of official company policies that customers are expected to follow.

For example, you cannot share your membership card with others outside your household. You’re also limited to only bringing your kids and up to two guests when you visit Costco, so you can’t bring a crowd. Harassment, the introduction of weapons into the warehouse and the introduction of animals are also not permitted. And you’re expected to let the receipt checker do his job, since Costco says an inspection is necessary when you walk out the door to help ensure members pay for all items.

If you violate these policies, Costco may end up canceling your membership. The club makes it very clear that “you have the right to refuse, reject or cancel a membership at any time.”

The best way to avoid losing access to Costco deals is to make sure you (and anyone else you give a Costco card to) follow the rules at all times.

By following the terms of your membership, you can continue to take advantage of the wholesale purchases and special products offered by the Warehouse Club.

RELATED: The number one strategy to save money at Costco

The best credit card to use at Costco (and anywhere else!)

If you shop with a debit card, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year. These versatile credit cards offer great rewards everywhere, including Costco, and our experts rate them as the best cards of 2024 because they offer major sign-up bonuses and great cash back rewards. Plus, you’ll save on credit card interest because all of these recommendations include a competitive 0% interest period.

Click here to read our expert recommendations for free!

We firmly believe in the golden rule, which is why editorial opinions are solely our own and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all the offers on the market. The Ascent’s editorial content is independent of The Motley Fool’s editorial content and is created by a different team of analysts. JPMorgan Chase is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Christy Bieber has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions and recommends Costco Wholesale and JPMorgan Chase. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.