The best credit cards to use at Costco

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What more exciting than a trip to Costco? Getting an even better deal at Costco!  You probably already know about Costco’s membership perks, like low prices and exclusive sales. But did you know you can get a rebate in the form of bonus miles, points or cash back that can put money back in your wallet every time you shop?

When I shop, I make sure to use one of the best credit cards for travel — and there are plenty to choose from. In reality, the best card to use at Costco is the newest Visa card you opened, because earning lucrative new cardmember sign-up bonuses is the quickest and easiest way to get the best return for your spending, no matter what you’re buying. So if you recently got one of those cards and are working to meet a minimum spending requirement, use that c1ard until you do.

Keep in mind, Costco only accepts Visa cards in-store. For online purchases, you can also use Mastercard or Discover credit cards, but not cards issued by American Express.

When you’re not working toward minimum spending on a new card, here are the best cards to use at Costco to earn more rewards:

The best credit cards to use at Costco in 2021

  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card: Best overall
  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for cash back
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Freedom (card no longer available for new applicants): Best for rotating bonus categories

The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, Costco Anywhere Visa, and Chase Freedom has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you shop at Costco, you can earn easy bonus rewards by paying with the right credit card. (Photo by Juan Llauro/Shutterstock)

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve

With the US Bank Altitude Reserve card, you can earn 50,000 Altitude Reserve points after spending $4,500 on qualifying purchases within 90 days of account opening.

You’ll earn:

  • 3x points per dollar on travel purchases
  • 3x points per dollar on mobile wallet purchases (like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay)
  • 1x points per dollar on all other purchases

There’s a $400 annual fee with this card, but you’ll get a slew of other perks including:

  • $325 in travel credit every cardmember year
  • Complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select airport lounges, with four free entries per year for you and one guest
  • 12 complimentary Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes per calendar year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit of up to $100, available every four years
Mobile payments at Costco are your key to an astounding 4.5% back toward future travel every time you shop. (Photo by Meghan Hunter/Million Mile Secrets)

Costco has added mobile payments at all of its stores, so you can pay with your phone and earn 3 Altitude Reserve points per dollar spent at Costco. Each point you earn is worth 1.5 cents toward travel, so this amounts to 4.5% back (1.5 x 3) when you shop at Costco and anywhere else that accepts mobile payments. That’s an outstanding return on already good deals.

You can book with any travel provider you like and redeem your points using US Bank Real-Time Rewards. You do not have to book through US Bank to use your points. The annual fee is steep, but I find this card is a keeper, especially now that Costco purchases count for 3x points.

Here’s our full review of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve.

Citi Costco Visa Card

Folks looking to earn straightforward cash back might consider the Citi Costco Visa card.

With this card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on purchases at Costco and You’ll also earn:

  • 4% cash back on the first $7,000 of purchases each year (1% thereafter) on eligible gas including gasoline at Costco and gas stations worldwide (excluding superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and warehouse clubs other than Costco)
  • 3% cash back at restaurants worldwide
  • 3% cash back for eligible travel purchases including airfare, hotel stays (excluding timeshares, banquets and events), car rentals and purchases from Costco Travel
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

This card has no annual fee if you have a paid Costco membership.

The only drawback with this card is you can only redeem your cash back rewards as a check once per year. So if you cancel the card for any reason before receiving the cash back, you’ll lose all the rewards you’ve earned. Some folks prefer the option to redeem cash back rewards at the end of each billing cycle.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you’ll earn $200 cash back (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

You can only redeem the points you earn with the Freedom Unlimited for 1 cent each for cash back or towards travel. So this card is mostly worthwhile if you can pair it with another premium Chase card to access Chase transfer partners, like Hyatt and United Airlines. Those cards include:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

If you use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for airfare, hotels or rental cars through the Chase travel portal, they’re worth more there too.

On its own, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is decent for a card with no annual fee. But you can do better by pairing it with one of the Chase credit cards mentioned above or choosing another card on this list.

Here’s our full review of the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Chase Freedom

With the Chase Freedom card (no longer available to new applicants), you’ll earn 5% cash back (5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in categories which rotate each quarter when you activate the bonus. In the past, categories have included department stores and wholesale clubs such as Costco.

Team member Jasmin and her kids stock up on essentials at Costco. She uses her Chase Freedom whenever wholesale clubs are a 5x category to earn the most points. (Photo by Jasmin Baron/Million Mile Secrets)

Past quarters have also included grocery stores, Amazon, mobile payments and other popular shopping categories. This is an incredible return on regular spending from a card with no annual fee.

Here’s our review of the Chase Freedom.

Bottom line

Folks who shop in-store at Costco must pay with a Visa card. There are many credit card options to earn extra cash back or bonus miles and points on your Costco purchases.

We recommend the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card as the top rewards earning card for Costco purchases. But if you prefer to earn cash back, consider the Citi Costco Visa or Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Are there other cards you’d add to the list?

Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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