Best Credit Cards to Use at Costco (If You Want to Maximize Rewards)

Find out which cards can earn you the most rewards when shopping at the wholesale club.
Last updated Mar 23, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
Using credit card at costco for earning reward points

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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.

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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.

Credit card type Accepted at Costco?
Visa Yes
Mastercard No
American Express No
Discover No

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 on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and 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 double 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

  • Rewards: Earn 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $0

If you can remember to activate your 5% cash back each quarter, you can stack up a lot of rewards by using your Chase Freedom for shopping in each category. And since this card has no 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.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

  • Rewards: unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Sign-up Bonus: Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $0

If you don’t want to worry about bonus categories or rotating offers, the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card can be a great way to earn 1.5% cash back on everything you buy. Also, the opportunity to earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months 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 $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $0

Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Card is a good choice for non-bonus spending because of the generous 1.5% cash back on every purchase. 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 cash back 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.

Methodology

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.

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.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits