Why Does Costco Only Accept Mastercard in Canada?

Jack Prenter, Founder of Dollarwise

When you shop at Costco in Canada, you might notice that your Visa credit card isn’t accepted at the checkout, while in the United States, Visa is the only credit card brand Costco allows.

By accepting a single type of credit card, Costco leverages its massive member base to negotiate lower transaction fees with Mastercard.

This shift to a preferred credit card provider means you’ll need to plan accordingly before heading to the checkout.

Despite the limitation on credit cards, Costco does offer other payment methods, including debit, cash, and mobile payment options, ensuring you have a way to pay that suits your needs.

Key takeaways

  • Costco’s payment policy aims to lower transaction costs by partnering with a single credit card provider.
  • Visa credit cards are exclusively accepted at U.S. Costcos, with Mastercard being the preferred provider in Canadian locations.
  • Shoppers still have multiple payment options at Costco, including cash, debit, and mobile payments.

Costco’s payment options

Costco has a unique approach to the payment methods it accepts in its stores. As a shopper, you’ll notice they have an exclusive deal with Mastercard and offer a variety of payment options besides just credit cards.

Customers at Costco swiping Visa cards at checkout. Signs display "Visa Only". Cashiers explain the store's exclusive partnership with Visa for payment acceptance

Exclusive partnership with Mastercard

Costco made a strategic move to accept only Mastercard credit cards in its warehouses. This partnership allows Costco to benefit from lower merchant fees, which are reported to be less than 0.4 percent.

Consumer payment options at costco

While Mastercard credit cards are the only credit cards accepted, you’ve got other choices too. Cash and debit cards are all welcome when you’re at the checkout.

Though American Express, Visa, and Discover cards are not accepted for in-store purchases, this is not your only option.

Costco also accepts several digital wallet payments including Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay. However, you still need to have connected your digital wallet with your Mastercard, not a different type of card.

Costco members frustrated as they try to pay with non-Visa cards. Long lines form as staff explain the store's exclusive partnership with Visa

Membership payment flexibility

When shopping at Costco, your options for credit card payments are limited to Mastercard cards. This means if you’re accustomed to using Visa or American Express, you’ll have to adjust. Thankfully, you still have a range of payment methods at your disposal:

  • Mastercard Credit Cards: Primary method accepted.
  • Debit Cards: All major debit cards are welcome.
  • Cash: Always a viable option.
  • Costco Cash Cards: Preloaded with funds for use at Costco.

For you, this could require a switch in your default payment method when you visit Costco, potentially impacting the rewards you earn on purchases made outside of the warehouse if your primary rewards card is not a Visa.

Why does Costco only take Mastercard?

Every time you swipe your credit card at a store, that store pays a small percentage to your card’s network, called a “merchant fee.” When Costco partnered with Mastercard, they negotiated these fees to be under 0.4 percent (according to online reports), considerably less than the standard rates.

This deal with Mastercard allows Costco to save on these fees, which can add a significant cost to their overall operations. Theoretically, these savings allow them to keep prices lower for customers.

FAQ

At Costco locations in Canada, you are welcome to use Mastercard credit cards, debit cards, cash, and Costco Shop Cards. This variety ensures you have multiple options to pay for your purchases.

Yes, you can use your Visa debit card at Costco warehouses. Debit cards are accepted for their versatility and convenience.

In Canada, Costco accepts Mastercard credit cards for transactions.

Costco entered an exclusive partnership with Canada in Canada to reduce merchant fees, allowing them to save money on transactions and pass those savings to customers.

Costco in Canada does accept various contactless payment methods. This includes mobile payment services for an efficient and secure shopping experience. However, your digital wallet needs to be connected to an accepted credit or debt card type.

No, the gas stations have the same card policy as the warehouses.

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