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What Credit Cards Are Accepted at Costco?

Updated Oct 18, 2021 | Published Oct 21, 20195 min read

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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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With bargain prices on your basic necessities, from a 7-pound container of chicken stew 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 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.

Insider tip

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

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Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
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  • Min. credit levelExcellent
  • Annual Fee$0 (Costco membership required)
  • Purchase APR15.24% (Variable)

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

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
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Insider tip

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

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Chase Freedom Unlimited®
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  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then 14.99% - 24.74% 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. The Freedom Unlimited also offers a 0% intro APR period to help pay off your Costco trips, and with no annual fee it’s almost a no-brainer.

Spending Rewards
  • 5% cash back on:
    • Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 3% cash back at:
    • Restaurants
    • Drugstores
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
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PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card
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  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR14.99% to 17.99% Variable

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card (Review) 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 Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Purchase APR15.99% - 23.99% Variable

For a low annual fee, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (Review) offers cardholders unlimited 2X miles on every purchase you make. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees and flexibility in rewards — transfer miles to one of Capital One’s airline or hotel travel partners to potentially get a better return on your spending.

Spending Rewards
  • 2X miles per dollar for all purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 60,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Mobile Wallet Cards

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U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
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  • Min. credit levelExcellent
  • Annual Fee$400
  • Purchase APR16.24% Variable

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%

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:

Insider tip

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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Written by

Brendan Harkness

Brendan has been writing about personal finance for over eight years, and is now taking on the challenge of bringing high-quality credit education to the masses. He makes sure that Credit Card Insider is covering the most important credit topics transparently and precisely, and that we have up-to-date reviews of credit cards so you can find cards that are right for you.

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