If you want to become a member of Costco or if you already are but want to start paying for your purchases with a credit card, you probably want to know what credit cards Costco accepts.
Costco is the largest members-only warehouse club in the United States and has an exclusivity agreement with Visa, the largest credit network in the world. For many years, Costco stores only accepted American Express cards, but in 2016 the store chain made a change, signing an exclusivity agreement with Visa.
What credit cards does Costco accept?
As of 2019, the only credit cards Costco accepts are those in the Visa network. Costco also accepts cash, checks, debit/ATM cards, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), and Costco cash cards.
Costco’s switch to Visa came as a surprise to many, as the retailer had an agreement to accept only American Express cards since 1999. This earlier agreement also stemmed from a change in exclusivity, back then to Discover cards. to American Express, since at the time AmEx had a much larger member base than Discover.
The agreement with Costco-American Express was a great help for both companies, with Costco growing as one of the top three retailers in the world and driving billions of dollars in sales volume to American Express. Costco then moved on to an even larger credit network with Visa.
How does this affect Costco members?
By switching its sole credit provider from American Express to Visa, Costco expanded its network of potential customers into the millions. While American Express had 23.3 million credit accounts in the US in 2016, Visa had 276 million. That means 250 million more Americans can now use their credit cards at Costco.
It also made shopping more flexible for current Costco members. Instead of being forced to use an American Express card, members can now take advantage of the variety of Visa cards available in the market.
The Costco credit card and other Visa cards
Another change Costco made when changing credit providers was to replace its Costco credit card from the TrueEarnings Card® from Costco and American Express with a new product, the TrueEarnings Card® from Costco and American Express. Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi.
Even members who don’t have the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card can benefit from the change. Many Visa providers have added additional reward categories for warehouse stores, which means you can earn extra cash or rewards points when you use your Visa card at Costco. To do this, review the rewards categories on your card. Even customers who spend more than $100 on purchases at stores that don’t offer additional bonuses add up to great rewards on any rewards credit card.
How the Visa-Costco partnership saves customers money
Under the new agreement, Visa is the only payment network Costco will work with. Payment networks are the key to credit card payments. When a credit card is swiped at a store, the transaction information is sent through the credit card processor to the payment network (in this case, Visa). The network transmits the information to the card-issuing bank (for example, Citi or Chase), which in turn approves or denies the transaction based on the cardholder’s available credit. The bank returns the approval or denial to the network, which sends it to the processor and then to the warehouse. Basically, Visa speaks with the customer’s bank on Costco’s behalf, obtains approval, and transmits the funds.
To use the payment network, the merchant must pay an interchange fee, which is a percentage of the charge amount. Normally, this charge is 2% to 3%. But nevertheless, By negotiating an exclusivity agreement with Visa, Costco was able to slash its interchange fees to below 0.5% per transaction.. With such low credit card fees, Costco is able to keep its prices low. You don’t have to include credit card fees in your profit margin like many of your competitors who pay 3% per transaction might. At Costco and other stores, the profit margin is quite small, because they sell the merchandise at a price close to the wholesale price. This means that every little saving helps the company and benefits you by keeping prices low.
Other ways to pay at Costco
Customers have other options to pay for purchases at Costco if they don’t have a Visa card. In addition to Visa, Costco also accepts cash, checks, debit/ATM, EBT and Costco cash cards. Costco gas stations and car washes do not accept cash, checks or EBT.
If you’re thinking about becoming a Costco member or if you’re already a member but want to start using a credit card to pay for your purchases, you will need a Visa card. Costco no longer accepts American Express cards. However, you can also pay for your purchases with cash, checks or debit cards.