Costco Is Cracking Down on Non-members, This Time at The Food Court

By: Lauren | Published: Apr 21, 2024

Costco Wholesale has been one of America’s favorite big box stores for years. The company takes a unique approach to shopping, in which customers must be members but are rewarded for their loyalty with extreme discounts.

However, over the past few years. Costco has noticed that its customers are taking the membership policies as suggestions rather than rules, and now Costco is cracking down. But not everyone is thrilled with the reinstated regulations.

Costco’s Beloved Food Court

One of Costco’s most popular features is its food court. Customers from all walks of life love the quick, delicious, and affordable menu items, though they are even more exciting for those on a budget.

Customers wait in line at the Costco food court

Source: Reddit

And that’s because Costco’s food court is quite possibly the cheapest place to eat in America, with hot dog meals at only $1.50 and chicken for less than $5.


Only Costco Members Can Order From the Food Court

Within Costco’s rules and regulations, it clearly states that only members are allowed to order and eat at the food court. However, that stipulation has not always been enforced.

Sign at a Costco store explaining that membership is now required at the food court

Source: Reddit

Of course, in order to enter a Costco Wholesale store, shoppers need to show their membership card to an employee at the door. However, some of Costco’s food courts are outside.

Outside Food Courts Now Require Membership Cards

But, according to an announcement from the company, they will now be requiring all customers who hope to purchase food at their outdoor food courts to show their membership cards at the counter.

Several picnic tables with umbrellas at an outdoor Costco Wholesale food court

Source: Reddit

Therefore, eliminating the possibility of non-members enjoying the affordable food that is supposed to be a special offering for those who pay their annual dues.

This Isn’t the Only New Policy at Costco

In addition to this newly imposed rule, Costco has also changed its tactics within the store, specifically at the self checkout counters.

View of the self checkout registers area at a Costco Wholesale store

Source: Reddit

The store realized that many people were using someone else’s membership card, which is not allowed, at self checkout counters where their identification wouldn’t be questioned by an employee. So now, Costco workers will check every membership card, even at self checkout registers.

Costco Members Deserve the Perks They Pay For

Many of the 129.5 million American Costco members are thrilled with the decision to crack down on non-members shopping at their favorite store.

Shoppers checkout at a Costco Wholesale store

Source: Reddit

They believe that those who don’t pay an annual fee shouldn’t be able to enjoy the many perks that the store offers to loyal and paying members.


Costco Members Pay Between $60 and $120 a Year

The truth is that a standard Costco membership only costs $60 per year, and the Executive Membership is just $120. With Costco’s discount prices, a member can make their money back after just one shopping trip.

A hand holds a Costco membership card outside of a Costco store

Source: iStock

In fact, since a fresh hot dog meal with a fountain soda almost anywhere else costs at least $7, if someone purchased a Costco membership just to enjoy the $1.50 hot dog, they could pay for their membership after just twelve sittings.


Membership Fees Are the Only Way to Keep Prices So Low

It’s important to understand that the membership model is not corporate greed but a tactical way to keep the store’s prices as low as possible.

Exterior of a Costco Wholesale store with customers going in and out

Source: iStock

With more than 129 million members, Costco is able to ensure its members can save a fortune on their groceries, electronics, clothing, homeware, hot dogs, and the dozens of other products the store offers.


Costco Recently Promised Their Famous Hot Dog Will Never Be More Than $2

Costco is extremely proud of its low prices. In fact, in 2022, the company’s CFO Richard Galanti promised his customers that the beloved hot dog and soda combo will stay at $1.50 “forever.”

View of the menu at the Costco food court

Source: Reddit

However, just two years later, Richard Galanti was replaced as the company’s CFO, and now many are wondering if that promise will be forgotten.


Prices at Costco May Be Increasing

Costco has been making headlines as it makes changes to its policies in order to ensure members get the perks they deserve and prices stay as low as possible. But at the same time, the company has made some internal changes as well.

As of March 2024, the new CFO of Costco is Gary Millerchip

Source: Linkedin

They recently hired Gary Millerchip as the new CFO, and many wonder if the personnel change means that prices will be increasing in the near future. Many worry that the food court price tags will be the first to change.


Many Americans Rely on Costco’s Affordable Food

Changes in Costco’s food court pricing is big news because many American rely on their affordable options to feed themselves and their families.

McDonald’s meal, including a burger and french fries

Source: Shutterstock

While fast food restaurants all around the country are increasing their prices to what many consider exorbitant amounts, it’s become more challenging than ever before to get any kind of meal for less than $10.


Hot Dogs Are Officially for Members Only

Whether or not Costco will be raising the cost of its famous hot dog or any other of its many products is yet to be seen.

The Costco $1.50 all-beef hot dog with relish, ketchup, and mustard

Source: Reddit

However, one thing is for sure: From now on, only Costco members will be able to purchase a hot dog combo meal for $1.50, even at the outdoor food courts.