Can You Use Any Visa At Costco?
LowCards is a Citi partner. These offers, valid when the article was written, may have expired. View our full editorial disclaimer here.
Costco is one of the largest and most successful warehouse stores, and millions of Americans have a membership. For 16 years, Costco had a close partnership with American Express, and American Express was the only credit card you could use there. In addition, American Express offered a credit card that was co-branded with Costco.
However, in 2016, Costco ended its exclusive partnership with American Express and began accepting only Visa cards. Also, Costco began an exclusive partnership with Citi, which now offers both a business and personal version of its Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. In fact, those who held the American Express Costco card were offered the Citi Costco card when Amex’s partnership with Costco ended.
Can you use any Visa?
With all of this intrigue, many shoppers remained confused about which cards they can use when shopping at Costco. Thankfully, you can use any credit card that is part of the Visa payment network at Costco, not just the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. This is true because Costco has partnerships with both Visa and Citi.
It is understandable that some people are confused, since Citi and American Express are different types of companies. American Express is both a credit card issuer and a payment network. This means you can apply for a credit card from American Express and can only use that card at a merchant that accepts cards in the American Express payment network. It is rare, but there are some cards that are part of the American Express payment network, but are issued by other banks and credit unions.
On the other hand, Visa is only a credit card payment network, not a credit card issuer. You cannot apply for a Visa credit card from Visa. To get a Visa card, you simply apply for a card from an issuer offering cards that are part of the Visa payment network. There are dozens of banks and credit unions that issue credit cards which are part of the Visa payment network, and Citi is one of those banks. However, you can use any Visa credit card at Costco.
What about Mastercard?
Nearly every merchant that accepts Visa also accepts Mastercard, but this isn’t always the case. In the United States, Costco is one of the rare exceptions where a merchant will exclusively accept Visa but not Mastercard. Overseas, it is a little more common that Visa is accepted by a merchant, but Mastercard is not. And American Express cardholders are always familiar with merchants that accept Visa, Mastercard, and even Discover, but not American Express.
Are there exceptions?
Yet even this rule has an exception. Costco will only accept credit cards that are part of the Visa payment network, but it will accept debit cards from any payment network. This includes debit cards that are part of the payment networks of Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and even Discover. Its website states that “Costco accepts all Visa cards, Costco credit cards, cash, checks, debit/ATM cards, EBT and Costco Cash Cards.” Another exception is online purchases from Costco.com. When you buy something online, you can use Visa, MasterCard, or Discover, but not American Express.
Should you use the Costco Visa?
Just because you don’t have to use the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it. The personal version of this card offers you 3% cash back on all restaurant purchases as well as on eligible travel purchases worldwide. You also earn 4% cash back on your first $7,000 spent on gas, including at Costco. 2% cash back is earned from purchases at Costco and at Costco.com, and 1% on all other purchases.
Cardholder benefits include damage and theft protection, and extended warranty policies. It also offers worldwide rental car insurance, travel and emergency assistance, and worldwide travel accident insurance. Other benefits include Citi’s Price Rewind service that can match a lower price found within 60 days of purchase. There is no annual fee for this card with your paid Costco membership. The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card By Citi offers similar terms and is designed for small business owners.
And when using a card other than the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, you might run afoul of its terms and conditions. There are many credit cards that offer extra rewards for purchases of gas, but not for gas purchased from Costco. Likewise, many credit cards offer additional rewards for supermarket purchases, only to exclude warehouse stores like Costco, in their fine print.
Fans of Costco stores tend to visit often, and are concerned about using the best method of payment for their purchases. Knowing you can use any Visa card at Costco gives you more options, but the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is always worth considering.