Costco warehouses only accept credit cards from Mastercard in Canada. They accept a variety of other payment methods, including debit and cash. Before January 1, 2015, they only accepted credit cards from American Express.
If you really want to use your Visa card, there is a workaround. You can buy Costco Shop Cards online which can in turn be used to pay for in-warehouse. Each Costco Shop Card can hold up to $2000, but purchases are limited to $10,000 per day.
This makes it possible for Visa card holders to collect reward points on their credit card while shopping at Costco.
You can also use your Visa card to order online through Costco.ca. However, note that prices are typically higher online than in-warehouse, as noted on their online product pages: “May be available In-Warehouse at a lower non-delivered price”.
Why does Costco only accept Mastercard?
Credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard charge businesses interchange fees, which are a percentage of every purchase made with one of their credit cards and typically amount to 1.6% to 3% of the purchase in return for being able to accept customers’ payments using their brand of credit card.
These fees are very high relative to debit cards, which typically cost retailers a flat $0.10 per transaction. Credit card payments are particularly costly for retailers with higher average transaction amounts such as Costco:
|Payment option||Cost to retailer||Fee on $500||Fee on $1,000|
|Credit||1.6% to 3%||$10 (2%)||$20 (2%)|
However, retailers can negotiate lower processing fees based on the volume of credit card payments they accept, and Costco is no exception.
They sell $25 billion worth of products in Canada every year and many customers want to put their big Costco hauls on a credit card. They use their size and volume as leverage to negotiate for lower prices from all of their suppliers, including lower processing fees from their credit card company.
Giving one of the 3 major credit card companies in Canada exclusivity to Costco customers enables them to negotiate even lower prices.
Since March 4, 2022, CIBC has been the issuer of the Costco Mastercard after acquiring Capital One Canada’s Costco Mastercard portfolio.
Payment methods accepted at Costco in Canada
Costco accepts the following payment methods in Canada:
|Payment method||Warehouse||Costco.ca||Gas station|
|Debit (including Visa debit)||Yes||Most||Yes|
|Costco Shop Card or gift card||Yes||Yes||Yes (physical)|
|Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay|
The official credit card issued by Costco is the CIBC Costco Mastercard, which has no annual fee and gives 1% back on purchases in-warehouse (in addition to the 2% reward if you have an Executive membership, for a total of 3%) and other retailers as well as 3% at restaurants and Costco gas:
- Annual fee: $0
- Cash back
- Restaurants and Costco gas: 3%
- Costco.ca and other gas stations: 2%
- All other purchases, including Costco: 1%
- Purchase interest rate: 19.75%
- Cash interest rate: 21.49%
Does Costco accept Visa in Canada?
No, but you can use Visa to buy Costco Shop Cash Cards on Costco.ca.
Does Costco accept American Express in Canada?
Not anymore. Costco accepted American Express credit cards in Canada for 15 years between 1999 and 2014, but switched from Amex to Mastercard on January 1, 2015 due to a breakdown in negotiations with Amex and a deal was made with Mastercard.
In the US, Costco switched from American Express to Vista on March 31, 2016 after 16 years.
Does Costco accept debit?
Yes, Costco accepts debit cards, including Visa debit.
Does Costco accept cash?
Yes, Costco accepts cash payments in-warehouse, but not the gas station, as it is entirely self-serve and there is no attendant to accept cash.