What credit cards does Costco accept?

Shante Abdo

Table of Contents American Express disclaimer How did we choose these products? Which is the right one for you? Are there alternatives worth considering? Can anyone shop at Costco? How much does as Costco membership cost? Do you have to be a Costco member to get the Costco Anywhere Visa? […]

American Express disclaimer

Costco is a members-only warehouse club with a large, loyal following of 110 million members. To shop in the store, you’ll need to pay an annual fee of $60 or $120 to join. Costco members often jokingly remark that they went in for a handful of items and left with hundreds of dollars of items they didn’t realize they needed. 

Costco is more than just a store to buy food and household supplies — the warehouse club also sells furniture, sporting goods, apparel and more. There’s a pharmacy and tire sales/installation section as well as a gas station. Home services such as solar installation and kitchen remodels are also available. And then there’s liquor. Costco is one of the largest retailers for wine in the world, selling affordable bottles of wine as well as high-end rare vintages.

With all the options and conveniences Costco provides its members, it’s surprising how limited the retailer is about credit cards. Having a credit card ready to pay for all the unexpected finds at the store is a good idea, but you better make sure it’s a Visa — Costco does not accept any other credit cards.

Before Visa was Costco’s accepted card, members could pay exclusively with American Express. However, the two split, going their separate ways in March 2016, with Visa stepping in. If you’re a regular shopper at Costco, choosing the right Visa credit card could help you earn rewards faster. The following cards would make good company for the Costco membership card that sits in your wallet.  

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The best Visa to use at the warehouse club is the Costco Anywhere Visa® by Citi, designed exclusively for members. 

Avid Costco shoppers looking for a seamless integration between membership, rewards and spending will like the flexibility of the Costco Anywhere VIsa® Card by Citi. There’s no annual fee and the variable APR is 15.24%. However, Costco membership of at least $60 per year and a good credit score are needed to get approved.

Although it’s a branded credit card, you can use it for purchases anywhere, as the name implies. You’ll earn rewards regardless of where the purchases are from. In fact, you could earn more spending outside of Costco than at the store, especially if you refuel frequently — gas purchases earn the highest rewards. You’ll earn:

  • Four percent back on eligible gas purchases for the first $7,000 in purchases per year 
  • One percent on all other gas purchases over the $7,000 threshold
  • Three percent on restaurants and eligible travel
  • Two percent cash back for Costco warehouse and Costco.com purchases
  • One percent back on everything else

Pros:

  • Earn cash back on all your purchases, to be redeemed at Costco
  • No annual fee
  • Up to 4% cash back
  • Can be used at stores outside of Costco
  • Available as a personal and business card

Cons:

  • Rewards are only available once per year
  • Rewards can only be redeemed in person at Costco

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You won’t hit caps on spending to earn rewards when you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Visa.

Chase has several Visas that are accepted at Costco. Frequent shoppers could make the most of their spending using the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. There is no annual fee, which is helpful considering a Costco membership is $60 or $120. Plus, you can earn 5% on travel (through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website), 3% on drugstore or dining purchases and 1.5% on every other purchase. Best of all, there are no limits on how much cash back you can earn.

The card has a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%, depending on your credit. It comes with a few introductory features that make it appealing such as no-interest on purchases in the first 15 months, a $200 cash back sign-up bonus when you spend at least $500 in the first three months and 5% cash back on grocery store purchases the first year (except for Walmart and Target) for up to $12,000. The no-interest period will come in handy to pay off larger Costco purchases such as furniture, electronics or appliances. 

Pros:

  • No annual fee
  • Introductory no-interest period on purchases for the first 15 months
  • Earn 1.5% cash back at Costco.
  • The $200 sign-up bonus only requires $500 in spending in the first three months.

Cons:

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Double the 2% cash back you’d earn as a Costco Executive member when you spend using the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ card.

For another Visa option with no annual fee, the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card makes earning bonus rewards simple by offering an unlimited 2% on all card purchases. You can redeem the rewards you earn several ways. Withdraw them as cash from an ATM, use the balance for purchases, buy gift cards and more. 

The Active Cash℠ card is part of the premium Visa Signature program, which provides extra benefits to cardmembers. You’ll have access to benefits at select luxury hotels. Concierge service is also available 24/7 to help you with travel, entertainment and dining bookings. The card has an APR based on your creditworthiness of 14.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%. However, a sign-up bonus of no interest for 15 months also applies to balance transfers made in the first six months. Plus, you can earn a bonus of $200 after you spend $1,000 in the first 120 days after approval. 

Pros:

  • The 2% rewards bonus is applicable to all purchases.
  • You can match the rewards earnings you’d get back at Costco as an Executive member.
  • Premium rewards card with no annual fee
  • Introductory no-interest period on purchases for the first 15 months
  • Pay no interest for 15 months on balance transfers made in the first 120 days.

Cons:

  • No dedicated bonuses or perks available for Costco
  • Requires a very good credit score to qualify

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You can choose two categories to earn 5% cash back every quarter.

The U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card allows you to choose a couple of categories each quarter to earn 5%. This is a great option when you foresee spending more on certain items. Categories include furniture, electronics, sporting goods, select clothing and department stores, as well as utilities, streaming and internet service. Get 2% cash back on grocery, gas and restaurant spending or 1% on everything else. Using the card at Costco may only qualify for 1% cash back but refueling earns you 2%.

There’s no annual fee for carrying the Cash+™ and you can receive $150 in rewards as a bonus if you spend $500 within 90 days of approval. In addition, balance transfers get an introductory 0% APR in the first 12 months, which will revert to the standard variable APR of 13.99%-23.99%.

Pros:

  • Speed up your rewards-earning potential with 5% cash back on two categories of your choice each quarter.
  • Gas purchases at Costco and other gas stations earn a 2% reward.
  • $150 cash bonus
  • No annual fee
  • No-interest balance transfers for the first 12 months

Cons:

  • Costco spending earns only 1% to 2%
  • Redemption limited to statement credits, bank transfer or rewards card

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Earn unlimited rewards that can be redeemed for travel or cash with no expiration date.

The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card may be one of the most flexible rewards Visa cards available. You can earn two points for every dollar spent on travel or dining. In addition, cardholders can earn 2X on grocery purchases through the end of the year. All other purchases accrue at 1.5 points for every dollar spent. If you’re approved for the card, you can receive 50,000 bonus points valued at $500 after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days after approval.

There’s an annual fee of $95 for cardholders. However, the annual fee can be offset by the $100 in credits you’ll receive every year for travel-related purchases. Plus, you’ll get another $100 every four years for TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry application fees. Interest varies between 15.99% and 22.99% APR with no introductory rate available for new cardmembers. Cash out your rewards by applying the amount you choose to a statement balance, transferring to a Bank of America checking or savings account, choosing a gift card or redeeming for travel through the Bank of America Travel Center. 

Pros:

  • Redeem points for travel or cash back
  • 2X rewards for travel, dining and groceries, 1.5X rewards on all other purchases
  • $100 annual statement credit for travel expenses

Cons: 

  • $95 annual fee
  • Travel must be booked through the Bank of America Travel Center
  • No introductory APR

How did we choose these products?

To start, Costco only accepts Visa as a credit card form of payment. The policy ruled out all MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards. To select the best Visa credit cards, we looked at over two dozen options and compared fees, rewards available and special features. 

The cards selected provided the best combination of factors. Some of the larger credit card providers such as Chase offer several rewards cards, all with attractive features. To provide you with a variety of options from different financial institutions, we picked one “best” credit card per issuing bank based on the highest potential to earn rewards.

Which is the right one for you?

When deciding on what type of Visa would complete your checkout journey at Costco best, there are several things to consider. Credit score plays a big role on what type of card you’d be approved for. Premium Visa credit cards with travel perks and concierge service often require very good to excellent credit. However, there are rewards cards that allow you to earn miles and cash-back rewards with fair credit.

Think about how much spending you plan on doing at Costco (and in general). Is an annual fee worth it? Unless you plan on regularly using the associated rewards, such as free travel redemptions, choosing a card with no annual fee may be the wisest choice. Otherwise, the rewards earnings could get swallowed up by the annual fee. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a credit card simply to make payments at Costco, you may want to apply for the Costco Anywhere Visa® by Citi. It’s the only branded Costco card, integrated with shopping at the warehouse club. Rewards can exclusively be redeemed at Costco and you’ll earn 2% cash back for store purchases plus 4% cash back for gas (up to $7.000). 

However, keep in mind that this card is best for the Costco long-hauler. It’s only available if you’re a Costco member, which requires paying an annual membership fee of $60 or $120. While you could still use the card for purchases if you cancel membership, you’d be forfeiting rewards since they can only be redeemed for in-store Costco purchases.

Are there alternatives worth considering?

Costco accepts various forms of payments besides a Visa credit card. If you’d prefer to avoid credit, you can always use cash or purchase the Costco Shop Card, a prepaid gift card available in amounts between $25 and $2,000. Shop Cards are rechargeable and don’t expire so you can use them for gas, food court and shopping whenever you need. 

Non-members use Costco Shop Cards as a hack to get around the annual membership fee. If you know someone who is a Costco member, they can purchase a Costco Shop Card on your behalf for a select amount. Costco warehouses allow non-members to shop at the club and pay for items using the Shop Card — without having a membership.

If you don’t have a Visa credit card, you could also use a Visa debit card to pay for purchases and gas at the warehouse. Other ways to pay at Costco are:

  • Cash
  • Checks (personal and business check are accepted)
  • EBT cards
  • Mobile payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay with a Visa)
  • Traveler’s checks

Can anyone shop at Costco?

Only warehouse members can shop at Costco. However, non-members can enter the warehouse if they are accompanied by someone with a membership card. A possible workaround to accessing Costco without membership is shopping with a Costco Shop Card, the equivalent to a branded gift card. While only members can buy Shop Cards, a person who has one can enter the store and buy merchandise with it.

How much does as Costco membership cost?

There are two types of Costco membership available. Gold Star is the basic membership for $60 per year. Gold Star Executive for $120 per year is also available. Once per year, Gold Star Executive members get 2% cash back of their annual spending in the form of a rebate check which can be used to renew their membership or pay for merchandise.

Do you have to be a Costco member to get the Costco Anywhere Visa?

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card’s rewards can only be redeemed in person at a Costco store. You’ll need to be a member first before you can qualify. The card can be used for purchases everywhere, even if you canceled your Costco membership. However, any rewards you earned must be redeemed in-person at Costco. Therefore, the credit card isn’t worth having if you’re not a member if you plan on cashing in the rewards earned.   

What credit cards does Costco accept online?

Costco is more flexible online than in-store. You may only be allowed to use a Visa at the warehouse but you can pay with Visa, Mastercard or Discover at Costco.com. 

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