3 Mistakes That Can Get Your Costco Membership Canceled

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  • Costco has the discretion to cancel customer memberships.
  • Your Costco membership might be canceled if you abuse the store's generous return policy.
  • If you don't follow other store policies, you might also see your membership shut down.

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

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

1. Abusing the return policy

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

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However, just because Costco tries 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 led to their membership being canceled.

There's 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 can lead to cancellation.

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

If you don't want to take the risk of losing your membership, ask yourself whether a return is really reasonable or not. Obviously, if clothing doesn't fit right after you bought it or it shrinks the first time you wash it, a return might be in order. But if you bought a sweatshirt from Costco six years ago, returning it because it has a hole and you want that money back in your bank account seems to be a pretty unreasonable choice.

2. Theft

If you're caught stealing from Costco, that's obviously a violation of its membership terms and conditions (not to mention a violation of the law). People have had their Costco memberships revoked for taking items without paying. You'll want to avoid doing that 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 can't share your membership card with others outside of your household. You're also limited to bringing just your kids and up to two guests when you visit Costco, so you can't bring a crowd. Harassment, bringing weapons into the warehouse, and bringing animals in are also no-gos. And you're expected to let the receipt checker do their job, as Costco says an inspection when you go out the door is necessary to help ensure members paid for all items.

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

The best way to avoid losing access to Costco deals is to make sure you -- and any other person who you provide a Costco card to -- are following the rules at all times.

By obeying the terms of your membership, you can keep taking advantage of the bulk buys and special products the warehouse club has on offer.

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