What Forms of Payment are accepted at Costco?

Costco was finishing up one of the biggest corporate moves in its history less than a decade ago. Costco decided to end its 19-year-old relationship with AmEx and partner with Visa for co-branded credit cards accounts.

Although the switchover was completed almost a year back, some Costco customers are still confused. What are the Costco payment options?

Does Costco Allow Cash Payments?

Yes. Costco does accept cash payments, just like most retailers. However, cash can be paid at Costco’s physical locations. Cash is not accepted at Costco.com, Costco car wash stations, and Costco gas stations.

Can You Pay Costco through Checks?

Yes. Costco does accept checks. Many people no longer write checks. However, you can still offer a check at Costco. You can’t use a check to pay at Costco.com, Costco car wash stations, and Costco gas stations.

Is EBT Accepted at Costco?

Costco is a food seller too; so many people wonder if they accept EBT payments (food stamp payments) because of this. Yes! Costco accepts EBT when it comes to in-store purchases (not available at Costco.com, Costco car wash stations, and Costco gas stations).

Is Costco an Acceptor of American Express?

No. American Express is no longer accepted when it comes to Costco. Costco underwent a major change last year by partner with Visa and separating from AmEx.

Which Credit Cards is Costco accepting?

Costco accepts Visa debit and credit cards only, as mentioned previously. Costco will not accept MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover cards issued by credit union or your bank. This is usually not problematic for Costco consumers. Many loyal customers of Costco have a Visa Card that is Costco-branded. Even if they don’t have one, many people still have a Visa credit or debit card in their wallet. In fact, 261 million American people owned a Visa debit or credit card in 2012.

Costco and Visa are involved in an exclusive contract that bans other major credit card networks such as Discover, MasterCard and American Express. You will need a Visa card to shop at Costco. Costco used to have this contract with American Express, which limited card usage to that network until the recent Visa switch.

This exclusivity seems to be restricted to credit card network only; there are no restrictions on the debit card network for PIN based debit networks only. MasterCard debit  can be used to make a Costco purchase if that card supports an alternate PIN based debit network. 

The key difference is – Visa is not only a credit card issuer but a credit-card processing network. Visa processes only transactions; the issuing bank handles everything else.

Chase bank issues Chase Freedom Flex, which operates on Visa networks. Chase has full control on the credit line and decides the fees and rates. Chase sends bills, and cardholders pay Chase.

It means that Costco’s Visa network policy may restrict your choices; it doesn’t limit them as severely as you expected. Visa has many bank partners who issue Visa cards, including Costco’s partnered credit card through Citi.

Does Costco Accept MasterCard?

Costco won’t accept MasterCard for in-store payments. You can, however, use a MasterCard for online and mobile purchases at Costco.com.

Is American Express Accepted at Costco?

American Express is not accepted in Costco stores and on the Costco website. It is the only major card that isn’t accepted at any wholesaler-reachable purchase point.

Some consumers may be surprised by this because Costco previously had a special relationship with Amex in-store. American Express was the only credit card that Costco accepted in prior years.

However, that agreement was terminated in 2016, and Visa now owns exclusive in-store purchasing rights.

Is Discover Accepted at Costco?

Costco won’t accept Discover as an in-store payment. You can still use a Discover card for purchases at Costco.com and through the Costco app.

What Visa Cards are accepted at Costco?

The most important decision when choosing the top credit card for Costco purchases is how you deal with the offers and rewards.

Points reward credit cards can be a great way to exploit the amount you earn. The co-branded card is good for those who aren’t averse to Costco rewards, but limitless cash back cards will offer the greatest redemption flexibility.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi

How Can a Right Card Save You on Bulk Purchases?

Although few people really need a vat or a cubic foot of peanut butter, anyone can find a great deal at a warehouse store.

However, if you already pay a membership fee to be able to browse the aisles, the savings might not be justified if you don’t have good reason to buy in bulk.

The right credit card can help you pay for Costco products. It can be a great way to save money on your Costco purchase, as well as make up the cost of your membership fee.

The Bottom Line

In an age where most major credit cards brands are accepted by almost all retailers in the United States, Costco’s rules regarding spending are an unwelcome nuisance.

If you are aware of what to expect, you can quickly note which cards will work well with the wholesale giant.

Always be prepared before you go out shopping. Many people make lists and have grocery bags. Then they just head out without thinking about the payment methods accepted at their store of choice. Upon reaching the checkout counter, your card or another payment method might not be accepted. Be sure to check the payment options at Costco before you go to the biggest wholesale retailer in the country.

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