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What Credit Cards Are Accepted at Costco?

6 min read
Abigail Welles By Abigail Welles Oct 21, 2019 | Updated Oct 30, 2019

With bargain prices on your basic necessities, from a 23-pound bucket of mac and cheese to life insurance, it’s no wonder why Costco Wholesale was ranked by the National Retail Federation as one of the country’s top five retailers. With bulk buys beyond your wildest dreams (if it’s not at Costco, does it even really exist?), securing an annual membership could seem like a top priority.

But buyer beware — the retail giant doesn’t accept all credit cards. So next time you venture to your local neighborhood Costco to replace your cult favorites, be sure to come prepared with the right plastic.

Costco Credit Card Payments: A Breakdown

Prior to 2016, Costco Wholesale members needed an American Express card to make credit card purchases, which was the retailer’s standard for 16 years. As of April 2016, Costco ended its partnership with Amex to begin a new one with Visa.

Now you must have a Visa-networked credit card in order to make any credit card purchases in physical Costco stores. But Costco.com will also accept Mastercard and Discover cards, so if you don’t have a Visa you’re not totally out of luck. And if you shop through a service like Instacart, you can use other payment methods as well.

The retailer’s contract with Visa prohibits the use of any other card network for in-store credit card purchases, which is why your Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit card will be of no use the next time you go to check out.

Costco also has a partnership with Citi, which is currently the sole issuer of its co-branded credit cards. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi (Review) comes in both a consumer and business model, and provides cardholders with rewards for purchases made at Costco along with a few other bonus categories.

Although Costco only accepts Visa credit cards in stores, the company does accept most PIN-based debit cards of all networks.

What Other Payment Methods Are Accepted at Costco?

In addition to Visa credit cards and most debit cards, Costco will accept payment methods including:

  • Costco Cash Cards
  • Costco Shop Cards
  • EBT cards (for eligible purchases)
  • Mobile payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay)

It’s important to note that, if you’re a fan of mobile wallet payments, the card you’re using must still be Visa.

Best Visa Credit Cards to Use at Costco

If you’re already scoring a pretty sweet deal by buying bulk, why not go a step further and pay with a credit card that will earn rewards to get the most for your money?

Visa networks a variety of solid rewards cards, but your go-to Costco plastic should be determined by the rewards you’d like to earn. Some cards prioritize bonus categories like gas while others may earn more for travel. The card you use for your Costco run doesn’t just have to be for grocery shopping. Since most cards don’t include wholesale clubs as a bonus category, pick a card based on what you’d like to earn rewards on beyond your trips to the wholesale warehouse.

Here are our picks for the best credit cards to use for all of your Costco needs (the following cards are all Visas; if you’ll shop online or through a food delivery service, your options open up considerably).

The Costco Credit Cards

Costco Anywhere Visa<sup>®</sup> Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Our rating
Credit rangeFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.74% (Variable)

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi (Review) is ideal for diehards of the warehouse club, and while the peak cash back rewards aren’t geared towards grocery shopping, it offers a decent return on gas stations and dining out. You’ll need a Costco membership of some kind to apply, but there’s no additional annual fee.

One other caveat is that rewards can typically only be redeemed towards Costco purchases. Additionally, Costco only cuts your cash rewards certificate once per year after your February statement, so you’ll have to wait a full year between reward redemptions.

Spending Rewards
  • 4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including gas at Costco; up to $7,000 per year (then 1% back)
  • 3% cash back for:
    • Restaurants
    • Travel (including Costco Travel)
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi offers the same reward rates as the personal Anywhere Visa, which can be helpful for companies that need to purchase inventory.

Flat-Rate Cards

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.74% - 25.49% Variable

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® (Review) is a good pick for earning slightly more than the standard 1% that cards usually offer for non-category purchases. With no annual fee to worry about, this card also has no rewards cap or bonus categories. That means you won’t have to obsess over what is or isn’t eligible. The Freedom Unlimited also offers a 0% intro APR period to help pay off your Costco trips.

Spending Rewards
  • 1.5% cash back for every purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 30%
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) is very much like the Freedom Unlimited, offering 1.5% cash back, a 0% intro APR period, and a nice welcome bonus.

This card is a stronger pick if you’ll find yourself overseas, however, as it has no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also be able to enjoy a complimentary concierge service to help take care of dinner and event reservations while you finish your Costco shopping.

Spending Rewards
  • 1.5% cash back for every purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 30%
PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Our rating
Credit rangeFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR11.74% to 17.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card is not bad, but it really only provides an advantage to PenFed Honors Advantage members, who will receive 2% cash back on every purchase. It offers 1.5% cash back on purchases for people who don’t qualify for PenFed Honors Advantage.

To qualify for a PenFed Honors Advantage membership you must either have an active checking account with the credit union or meet the military service requirements. If you do qualify for the higher rewards rate, then this is one of the few cards that will earn you 2% back at Costco for no annual fee.

Spending Rewards
  • 1.5% cash back for every purchase
    • 2% cash back for every purchase for PenFed Honors Advantage Members
Bonus Offer
  • $100 statement credit for spending $1,500 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Return on spend: 6.67%

Travel Cards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Regular APR17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)

For a low annual fee, which is waived the first year, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Review) offers cardholders unlimited 2X miles on every purchase outside of Hotels.com. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees and flexibility in rewards — transfer miles to one of Capital One’s airline travel partners to potentially get a better return on your spending.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X miles per dollar for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67%–33.33%
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Regular APR18.74% (Variable)

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business (Review) is similar to the Venture card in both its rewards rate and annual fee, but it’s designed with business owners in mind. Along with the rewards, which include new 5X categories, cardholders can get additional employee cards for free to help rack up travel rewards faster. This card provides a TSAPreCheck or Global Entry application fee credit (like the Venture), plus year-end summaries to make spending patterns more transparent.

Spending Rewards
  • 5X miles per dollar for:
    • Hotels booked through Capital One Travel
    • Rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2X miles per dollar for every other purchase
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus miles for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 10%–20%
  • 150,000 bonus miles for spending $50,000 in the first 6 months
    • Value: $1,500–$3,000 (1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 3%–6%

Mobile Wallet Cards

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$400
Regular APR17.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Now that Costco offers mobile wallet accessibility, you may want to look into a card that offers rewards for going cardless with your next Costco haul. The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card (Review) is one of your best options there, offering 3X points on all purchases made with an eligible mobile wallet.

Although the Altitude Reserve gives cardholders a significant return between the rewards rate, the $325 travel credit, and the TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee credit, you’ll have to dish out $400 for the annual fee.

Spending Rewards
  • 3X points per dollar for:
    • Travel
    • Mobile wallet purchases
  • 1X point per dollar on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,500 in the first 90 days after account opening
    • Value: $750 (1.5 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67%
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.49%-27.49% Variable

If you’re not willing to pay the hefty annual fee that comes with the more-rewarding Altitude Reserve, the Cash Wise is a decent runner up for those who enjoy using their mobile wallets. This card has no annual fee and provides a lengthy 0% intro APR period. Notably, for our purposes here, cardholders will earn a little bit of bonus cash back for purchases made with an eligible mobile wallet during the first 12 months of card membership.

Spending Rewards
  • 1.8% cash rewards for Android Pay or Apple Pay mobile wallet purchases during the first 12 months after account opening
  • 1.5% cash rewards for all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $150 cash back for spending $500 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Return on spend: 30%

Other Cards to Use at Costco

Beyond the specific cards we showcased, there are plenty of additional Visa credit cards available for use at Costco. A few more good ones are:

Card Annual Fee
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card $95
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card $0
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card $0
Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card $0
If you already have a bug for travel, don’t neglect hotel credit cards for your wholesale store needs. They often offer a better point-per-dollar rewards rate on non-category purchases, which includes wholesale warehouses like Costco.

Why Get Rid of the Costco American Express Card?

Costco’s decision to switch over to Visa comes down to the way networks make money from credit card transactions. Whenever a transaction is completed using a customer’s credit or debit card, the business — in this case it would be Costco — has to pay a merchant fee.

One advantage of switching to Visa is a lower network transaction fee than Amex. This isn’t new, however. Historically, many retailers have chosen not to accept American Express as a payment option. This is due to that network’s transaction fees being nearly double those set by Visa, Mastercard, and Discover.

Although accepting multiple networks gives customers more payment flexibility, Costco doesn’t seem to be suffering too much from this exclusivity. Costco now offers its Anywhere Visa rewards cards as easy options for customers to use every time they shop, although, as mentioned, the cards are most impressive for buying gas.

Don’t forget your arsenal of rewards-earning plastic on your next trip to Costco. If you’re still on the search for the right card to make the most out of your supermarket trips, check out these picks for the best grocery store credit cards.

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AT A GLANCE

Looking for a way to further maximize the deals you score when shopping in bulk at Costco? Not all credit cards are created equally in the warehouse giant’s eyes so picking the right rewards card is important.

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