Which credit cards does Costco accept?

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I’m one of the millions who have a deep love for Costco. The warehouse store not only saves on the monthly grocery bill, but I’m constantly surprised at the items and services they offer. I’ve babbled endlessly to my friends with tales of deals I’ve snagged inadvertently convincing them to purchase their own membership.

Before anyone hastily enrolls with Costco, there’s one detail I’m duty-bound to inform you about — and that’s the whole Costco credit card situation. While Costco does accept credit cards, the list of accepted cards is quite a bit shorter than an average store.

Read on to learn the nitty-gritty as to which credit cards Costco does and does not accept.

(Photo by a katz/Shutterstock)

Which credit cards does Costco accept?

Simply put, Costco only accepts Visa-branded credit cards for purchases made in-store. From 1999 to 2016, Costco only accepted American Express backed credit cards until they made the switch to Visa for their lower merchant fees and expanded user base. While mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay are accepted, they still require you use a linked Visa card.

If you’re shopping online, you’ll be able to use your Visa cards along with Mastercard and Discover. 

I recently downgraded my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to a Chase Freedom Flex℠ and was horrified on a recent Costco trip when I was audibly reminded that the Freedom Flex is a Mastercard when the credit card machine started squawking its denial. It was the only credit card on my person at the moment! My debit card saved me from having to walk out of the store empty-handed, though my ego was a bit bruised from the embarrassment. I tell you this story because Costco does accept most ATM cards (if you use your PIN) even if they’re not from the Visa network.

Which credit cards aren’t accepted at Costco?

If you’re shopping Costco in-store, you’ll not be able to use any cards issued by the other three major credit card networks:

  • American Express
  • Mastercard
  • Discover

Note again that you’ll be able to use the latter two credit cards at Costco.com. 

Don’t let this list deter you from a membership though! When Costco signed their exclusive deal with Visa, they expanded their customer base by thousands. You almost certainly have a Visa credit card in your wallet right now. If not, read on to learn which credit cards are best for Costco purchases. 

Top cards we recommend for Costco purchases

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

While the US Bank Altitude Reserve has a steep annual fee at $400, the travel perks you’ll receive make it all worth it, not to mention the bonus points you’ll receive by shopping at Costco with the card.

Because Costco allows mobile payments, you’ll receive 3x Altitude Reserve points when you tap to pay. If you do a lot of shopping at Costco and utilize your mobile payment, you’ll be racking up the points! You’ll receive 4.5% return for your purchases as each point is worth 1.5 cents towards travel.

You can read our review of the US Bank Altitude Reserve card here.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco has its own store credit card and the benefits are pretty black and white:

  • Your Costco membership fee acts as the annual fee so you don’t have to pay twice
  • 4% back on eligible gas purchases on the first $7,000 spent per year at Costco and other gas stations
  • 3% cash back for eligible travel purchases

Read more about the Citi Costco Visa card benefits here.

And don’t forget, MMS published a full review of the best cards to use at Costco here

The information for the Costco Anywhere Visa card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

Costco is the dreamy wonderland for deal scavengers and mega-sized products. Though you’re limited to using only a Visa card at checkout, it’s a small hiccup to overlook, and there are workarounds in a pinch like using your debit card.

Sarah Hostetler is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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