What Credit Cards Does Costco Accept?

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Are you considering a Costco membership but you’re worried that the wholesale giant won’t accept your preferred credit card?

Wholesale clubs such as Costco have a history of being restrictive about which credit cards they will accept at the register. But things are a bit better than they used to be.

I researched the credit cards that Costco will accept, and I have some recommendations for which ones to use to get top rewards while shopping at Clark Howard’s favorite retailer.



What Credit Cards Does Costco Accept?

If you’re making an in-store purchase at a Costco Wholesale Warehouse, you must use a Visa-branded credit card. This policy extends to the use of Costco gas stations.

However, if you’re shopping at Costco.com or on the Costco app, you’ll see that your options open up to other types of credit cards.

The Costco website indicates that, in addition to Visa cards, you can use a Mastercard or Discover card for online purchases.

You’ve probably noticed that American Express is excluded from the list. Amex used to have an agreement with Costco to be the exclusive credit card accepted in stores, but that changed in 2016 and now Amex cardholders are simply out of luck.

Top 3 Visa Cards To Use at Costco or on Costco.com

Card InfoTeam Clark ReviewWhy We Like It For Costco Purchases
Costco Anywhere Visa by CitiLearn MoreOur Review2% back on all Costco purchases, plus 4% cash back on gas purchases at Costco. Also gives 3% back on dining and travel.
Fidelity Rewards Visa SignatureLearn MoreOur Review2% cash back on all purchases deposited directly into your retirement or investment account
Venmo Credit CardLearn MoreOur ReviewThis no-annual-fee card offers 3% cash back on your top spending category each month.

Should You Get the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi?

If you are a frequent Costco shopper, the simplest solution to credit card spending at the store may be signing up for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi.

Money expert Clark Howard carries this card as one of the five personal credit cards in his wallet.

“The Costco card is great, particularly if you are the kind of person who will say, ‘I can use this card at this place and that card at that place,’” says Clark. “You can take a card like this and really maximize your rewards with things like 4% cash back on gas.

“If you’re already a member anyway, I love the wholesale club cards as a no-annual-fee card option.”

You will get 2% back on all purchases made at Costco (both in stores and online), but you’ll also enjoy some enhanced cash back opportunities in other spending categories. This includes 4% back on gas purchases and 3% back on dining and travel purchases.

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This card also can serve as your membership card, and gives you damage and theft protections beyond the already generous Costco store policies on purchases.

You can read Team Clark’s full review of this card here.


Does Costco Accept Mastercard?

Costco will not accept Mastercard as a form of in-store payment. However, you can use a Mastercard to make purchases on Costco.com or through the Costco app.

If you’re going to use a Mastercard for shopping online with the wholesale retailer, here are three cards Team Clark suggests using for maximized rewards on Costco spending.

Top 3 Mastercards To Use on Costco.com

Card InfoTeam Clark ReviewWhy We Like It For Costco Purchases
Citi Double CashLearn MoreOur ReviewOne of Clark’s long-recommended cashback cards gives unlimited 2% cash back on every type of purchase you make, including Costco.com.
Chase Freedom FlexLearn MoreOur ReviewThis rotating 5% cash back card can offer a 3-month period during which you can receive 5% back on your Costco.com purchases. Could also get 5% back on Costco.com purchases if the rotating category is Paypal purchases.
SoFi Credit CardLearn MoreOur ReviewYou’ll get unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases if you use it toward savings or investing products with SoFi.

Does Costco Accept American Express?

American Express is NOT accepted at Costco stores or on the Costco website. It’s the only major card issuer that is not accepted at any available purchase point from the wholesaler.

This may surprise some consumers because Costco used to have an exclusive in-store relationship with Amex. In previous years, American Express was the only credit card you could use at Costco.

But that deal ended in 2016 and it is now Visa that owns the exclusive in-store purchase rights.


Does Costco Accept Discover?

Costco will not accept Discover as a form of in-store payment. However, you can use a Discover card to make purchases on Costco.com or through the Costco app.

If you’re going to use a Discover card for shopping online with the wholesale retailer, here are three cards we suggest using for maximized rewards on Costco spending:

Top 3 Discover Cards To Use on Costco.com

Card InfoTeam Clark ReviewWhy We Like It For Costco Purchases
Discover it Cash BackLearn MoreOur ReviewThis rotating 5% cash back card can offer a 3-month period during which you can receive 5% back on your Costco.com purchases. Could also get 5% back on Costco.com purchases if the rotating category is PayPal purchases. Plus, Discover matches cash back earned in the first year of card membership.
Discover it MilesLearn MoreN/AThis travel card rewards all purchases with an unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar spent. This is the equivalent of 1.5% cash back. Plus, Discover matches your miles earned in the first year of spending making it an effective 3% back.
Discover it Business Learn MoreN/AEarn unlimited, automatic 1.5% cash back on every dollar spent on all purchases. Plus, Discover matches cash back earned in the first year of card membership.

To recap, you need a Visa-branded credit card to make in-store credit purchases at Costco.

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While that includes many credit and debit cards available on the market, some popular brands are still being left out.

Make sure you don’t plan to rely on these popular credit cards to shop at your local Costco or try to use them at the pump at the Costco gas station. It simply won’t work.


Final Thoughts

The rules for spending at Costco are an unexpected nuisance in an era in which most major credit card brands are accepted at almost every retailer in the United States.

However, if you know what to expect in advance, you can quickly make a mental note on which of your cards will work with the wholesale giant.

Do you shop at Costco often? Tell us which credit cards you like to use with the wholesaler in the comments below!


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