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When I first started going to Costco in the early 2000s, I was pretty surprised to learn that they only accepted American Express. I didn’t have one of those fancy cards, so I would give cash to my buddy — who had the membership anyway — and he would put my order on his credit card. (Was this the first manufactured spend?)
Of course, I was still a lonely graduate student at the time, so all I really needed from Costco was a mega-case of toilet paper anyway.
This exclusive relationship between Costco and American Express has lasted for 16 years. That’s why it was a pretty big deal back in March when they announced that they would be switching to Visa in 2016.
Wondering which Visa to use at Costco?
We like the Chase Freedom for 5% back on purchases at warehouse stores this year!
Although Visa won’t be accepted in Costco stores until June of next year, here’s how to pay for your Costco purchases with Visa (or another card) today.
Costco Cash Cards
The key is to buy Costco Cash Cards from the Costco website. And then pay with the them using your choice of Visa, Mastercard, or Discover, all of which are accepted on-line.
Costco cash cards come in denominations ranging from $25 to $1,000.
While Costco stores only accept American Express credit cards, their website accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express.
This trick allows you to time-shift and domain-shift your Costco spend since you can not only change the time at which you pay for something (today, rather than in the future), but also the form of payment (Visa, for example, instead of American Express).
Of course, you can also buy anything else from the Costco website and pay with Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. The focus of this post, though, is about being able to pay for your in-store purchases with those cards. Now that Costco accepts Visa in-store, but not American Express, you can use this same trick in reverse!
You might recall that I bought Costco Cash Cards to quickly meet the $1,000 spend requirement on my wife’s Hyatt Visa card. Since we were trying to get the free nights to post as quickly as possible, we bought $1,000 worth of Costco cash cards the very same day that we received the Hyatt Visa.
It’s worth noting that Costco doesn’t process orders instantly but rather takes a couple of days to charge the credit card and ship the order. That’s probably just fine most of the time, but worth thinking about if you are up against a deadline. Shipping is free via USPS, though there is an option for 2nd day air.
I hate peeling the stickers off of and activating credit cards, and these cards are no different. But the upside is that they have a bulk activation option that allows you to confirm receipt of the entire order at once, rather than having to activate each card individually. This means that you can order multiple smaller denomination cash cards, rather than one big one, without incurring a proportionately larger hassle.
You can use ANY CREDIT CARD for your Costco purchases, the key is to buy Costco Cash Cards online first, and then use those in the store instead of your credit card. It also works well for time-shifting your Costco spending if you need to meet a qualifying spend requirement to earn a signup bonus.
Finally I realize this is not an earth-shattering tip. But after my post about the Hyatt Visa free nights, I realized there were at least a few who readers weren’t aware of it including a prominent and very astute contributor here at OMaaT who shall remain nameless. (But I hear she bakes a mean cupcake…. and does shop at Costco.)
Do you time- and domain-shift your Costco spend? Are you excited to be able to use a Visa at Costco next year?