Costco is one of the most popular stores in the United States. The membership-only warehouse club has 770 stores worldwide as of March 2019.The store did $141 billion in sales in 2018, a testament to its popularity among bargain-focused shoppers.
Longtime fans of money expert Clark Howard know he is a big Costco fan, so knowing which credit card you can use at Costco is a big deal when planning your next Costco shopping trip.
What credit cards are accepted at Costco?
In short, Costco only accepts Visa credit cards, in addition to debit or ATM cards, cash, checks, EBT and Costco Cash Cards.
In June of 2016, Costco made a big shift away from American Express. Since that date, Costco only accepts Visa as a method of credit. You can use any Visa-branded card to check out at the Costco register. If it is the Costco Visa, you may find yourself with better rewards, but any Visa card is accepted.
Sorry, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cardholders: You’re going to have to use them somewhere else.
A history with American Express
For many years, Costco was not known as a credit card friendly place to shop. Costco had an exclusive deal with American Express that lasted for many years. Costco was dug in on the Amex relationship and would not take any other cards, including popular Visa- and Mastercard-branded credit cards.
The old American Express Costco rewards program was good enough to attract many cardholders. It made shopping at Costco easier and offered rewards, but the American Express-Costco relationship was not meant to last.
The Costco credit card
On the June 2016 changeover date, the list of credit cards accepted at Costco was not the only change. That month Costco discontinued its old American Express card and launched a new Costco Visa with Citi.
The Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi is an excellent cash back credit card in its own right, but it is only available to Costco members. If you do sign up for the Costco Anywhere Visa, you can use it as your membership card to get in the door. This saves you from carrying a Costco card in addition to credit cards in your purse or wallet.
The Costco Anywhere Visa offers amazing cash back rewards on gas, and compelling cash back rewards on a range of popular purchase categories. Here’s how the rewards program breaks down for the Costco credit card:
You get 4% cash back on gas up to $7,000 in annual purchases, including at Costco gas and 1% cash back after reaching the $7,000 level.
Get 3% cash back on all restaurant and travel purchases and 2% cash back on all Costco purchases. For all other purchases, this card offers a standard 1% cash back rate.
So while this credit card does not offer a big sign up bonus or travel rewards, it does reward frequent travelers, diners, car owners and Costco shoppers with high levels of cash back. Just note that as of September 22, 2019, Citi will no longer be some previously valuable benefits such as Trip Cancellation & Interruption Protection and Citi Price Rewind.
The card does not charge an annual fee, but you are required to have a $60 per year Costco membership. If you use the card regularly, you will likely earn enough cash back rewards to pay for your Costco membership for the year”¦ and then some!
Prepare your wallet for your next Costco run
While any Visa card is accepted at Costco, one of the best deals among credit cards for regular Costco shoppers is the Costco Anywhere Visa. Clark Howard carries this card himself, so you know it has to be a good deal!
More Clark.com Credit Card stories you might enjoy:
- Clark Howard: Here’s my philosophy on credit cards
- These are the 4 credit cards in Clark Howard’s wallet
- How many credit cards should you have?