There are certain treasures you can only find at Costco that make the membership cost well worth it. Besides the vast savings on items like organic spinach and pure maple syrup, if you’re planning a party or preparing for a holiday meal, you might as well reap the rewards by putting your purchases on a credit card that earns points.
If you’ve wondered what credit cards are accepted at Costco and how to maximize earning rewards, here’s what you need to know.
What credit cards does Costco accept?
Costco warehouses and gas stations only accept Visa credit cards, cash, debit cards, and Costco Shop Cards (gift cards). They do not accept Mastercard, American Express, or Discover cards.
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History: For 16 years, Costco accepted only American Express credit cards due to an exclusive partnership. But a few years ago, the retailer made the switch to Citi Visa. The branded cards also switched over at that time, and cardholders received the Costco Anywhere Visa Card.
Fortunately, cardholders enjoyed more perks with this card than were previously provided with Costco’s Amex cards.
These days, non-Visa cards no longer work at Costco, so you’ll need a Visa card to pay and earn rewards.
Best credit cards to use at Costco
Here are some of the top contenders that can help you earn generous rewards on Costco purchases:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Rewards: Earn 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3X points on eligible dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases; 2X points on travel; and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases (including Costco purchases)
- Sign-up Bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- Annual Fee: $95
The Chase Sapphire Preferred has an impressive welcome bonus that gets you $750 toward travel if you redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The generous bonus points on travel and dining make this card a great choice if you enjoy traveling and could take advantage of the extra perks, such as no foreign transaction fees.
Since you’ll need to spend a fair amount within the first few months of having the card to earn the bonus, you may want to funnel all your Costco purchases (and other purchases, especially Lyft, travel, and dining purchases) onto your new card to help you get there faster.
That said, you could potentially earn more points by using a card with higher cashback value, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, and then moving the points to your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Then, once you’ve racked up enough points, you can redeem them for travel or other rewards instead of cash back, since your points could stretch further that way.
Chase Freedom Flex
- Rewards: 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases
- Sign-up Bonus: Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year)
- Annual Fee: $0
If you can remember to activate your bonus category each quarter, you can stack up a lot of rewards by using your Chase Freedom Flex for shopping in each category. And since this card has a $0 annual fee, it’s a good one to keep on hand for earning points in the bonus categories, especially when used in conjunction with a Chase premium card. Moving points to your premium account allows you to transfer them to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.
The bonus categories are different every quarter, but if Chase announces wholesale clubs as one of the categories for the upcoming quarter (as they routinely do), you can activate your 5% cash back and go wild at Costco. Once you’ve spent $1,500 during the quarter (that’s a lot of spinach and maple syrup), you’ll have earned $75 cash back.
Note: If you still have the older Chase Freedom Card, you can also take advantage of when the rotating bonus category applies to wholesale clubs.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Rewards: 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
- Sign-up Bonus: Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year)
- Annual Fee: $0
If you're looking to rack up your cashback with one of the best rewards credit cards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card can be a great way to earn up to 5% cash back. Also, the opportunity to earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including target or walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year) is an added bonus, especially since this card has no annual fee.
This is a great card to use for Costco purchases, and the savings you’ll receive at the wholesale club are a great way to maximize the value of your membership.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
- Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day.
- Special Offer: Earn a $200 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
- Annual Fee: $0
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card is a good choice for non-bonus spending because of the generous 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day. Because there’s no annual fee, it’s also a great card to have in addition to premium cards that earn more rewards in bonus categories.
To maximize rewards, make sure to spend at least $500 within the first three months — which can include Costco purchases — in order to earn the bonus. This is also a great card to use for everyday purchases at Costco, unless you also have the Chase Freedom and have the option to earn 5% back on wholesale club purchases.
Costco Anywhere Visa Card
- Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (up to $7,000), 3% on restaurant and travel purchases, 2% on all other Costco purchases, and 1% on everything else.
- Sign-up Bonus: None
- Annual Fee: $0 with your paid Costco membership
While there’s no sign-up bonus on the Costco Anywhere Visa Card, the 3% back on eligible restaurant and travel purchases and 4% back for eligible gas purchases (on up to $7,000 per year) are impressive benefits for a card with no annual fee.
You’ll also earn the best cashback rewards for Costco purchases of any of the cards on our list. However, in terms of a rewards card, you may get more value from a cashback credit card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, especially when paired with a Chase premium card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If you don’t have a Chase premium card, this card can be an excellent choice for your Costco purchases. Take advantage of member savings on big-ticket items like furniture and appliances, since the more you spend with your card, the more you’ll earn. You should also make a point of purchasing your gas from Costco in order to maximize the rewards.
When selecting the best credit cards to use at Costco, we first began by identifying which cards this big box store accepts. We then analyzed credit card terms, including bonus rewards offered for Costco purchases as well as annual fees, cardholder perks, and spending bonuses for new cardmembers. Our goal was to find affordable cards that offered both ample perks for cardholders as well as extra rewards for those who tend to spend a lot at Costco stores.
Alternative ways to pay at Costco
While a Visa credit card is the best payment method to use if you want to earn rewards on purchases you would make anyway, there’s no need to fret if you leave your card at home or are still waiting for it to arrive in the mail.
Costco also accepts cash, checks, debit/ATM, EBT, and Costco Shop Cards. Note that you’ll need a valid government-issued ID to pay by check.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Costco gas stations and car washes don’t accept cash, checks, or EBT, so you’ll need to pay with your Visa card, debit/ATM card, or Costco Shop Card to complete a transaction.
Frequently asked questions
What debit cards are accepted at Costco?
Costco indicates that it accepts most PIN-based debit cards, so you shouldn't have a problem using your card as long as you know your personal identification number (PIN). If you want to use your debit card as credit in store, you will first need to check that your card has a Visa logo on it and then you will know this is possible.
Does Costco accept the Apple card?
The Apple Card is on the MasterCard network and is not accepted at Costco stores. You could, however, load your Apple Card into your Apple Pay account and pay for your Costco purchases that way.
Can I use Samsung Pay at Costco?
You can use Samsung Pay at Costco, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
What credit cards does Costco accept online?
When shopping online with Costco, you will have more payment options than when you are shopping in the store. Costco online accepts all Visa Cards, MasterCard, Discover Cards, Costco Shop cards, the majority of PIN-based debit or ATM cards, and Visa checkout.
One of the best cards for online shopping is the Citi Double Cash Card where you can earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay.
Does Costco accept credit cards?
Yes, Costco warehouses and gas stations accept Visa credit cards. They do not accept Mastercard, American Express, or Discover cards.
The Chase Freedom Flex is a great Visa card for shopping at Costco, especially when warehouse clubs are one of the quarterly bonus categories and earns you 5% cash back on Costco purchases (up to $1,500 spent).
Seriously Powerful Cashback Card
up to 5% cash back
- $200 sign-up bonus
- Up to 5% cash back on spending
- 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (up to $12k your first year)
- Lyft and DoorDash perks
- Has foreign transaction fee
- Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months, plus earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart; up to $12,000 in the first year)
- 5% on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% at restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and drugstores; and 1% on all other purchases
- Intro purchase 0% offer: 0% for 15 months then 14.99% to 23.74% (variable)