Best Credit Cards for Costco

Costco, with its vast offerings of groceries, household essentials, and so much more, is a popular place to shop for many Canadians.

For the cost of an annual membership, members gain access to good prices on bulk quantities of popular brands, including Costco’s own Kirkland brand, to help them stock up for less.

Given that the average trip to Costco ends with an overflowing grocery cart, it’s no surprise that shoppers have often asked us about which credit card is best for this notable spending category.

In this article, we provide details on the three best credit cards for maximizing the rewards you earn on your Costco spend, plus we include a few honourable mentions to round out the list.

Earning Points at Costco

Costco warehouses can be a great place to shop for groceries, cleaning supplies, pharmacy items, and more.

It can be particularly beneficial if you’re buying for a larger household since its offerings often focus on bulk quantities at a competitive price.

Costco offers bulk-packaged goods at lower prices

Plus, Costco generally has similar product offerings to those offered by other large Canadian grocery stores (e.g., Metro, Loblaws, Sobeys), though they typically focus on only a couple of brands rather than a wide array of brand options.

Costco also has some cool bigger ticket items like kitchen appliances, TVs/electronics, and garden/yard supplies which can add a considerable amount of money to your Costco bill.

Given how easy it is to spend a lot at a Costco warehouse, you certainly don’t want to be wasting the opportunity to earn points to help fuel your travel dreams or to offset the cost of life.

That said, earning points at Costco comes with a couple of hurdles.

First, the warehouses exclusively accept Mastercard (plus debit and cash), which (mostly) leaves your Visa and American Express credit cards out of the picture.

You can only use Mastercard at Costco warehouses in Canada

The reason for this single card-type monopoly is that Costco and Mastercard have an exclusive contract that lets Costco negotiate lower credit card fees which in turn helps them keep their costs down.

Comparatively, Costco US warehouses have an exclusive contract with Visa and do not accept Mastercard.

The second hurdle to keep in mind when choosing the best credit card for Costco is that the Costco warehouse doesn’t code as “grocery” spending on your statement.

Costco purchases typically code as “wholesale club” or the equivalent, meaning that cardholders can’t take advantage of a credit card’s elevated earning rates within the grocery category.

Instead, Costco spending usually falls into the “all other eligible purchases” category within a credit card’s earning rate structure.

Now, with the goal of helping you maximize the rewards value you get on your Costco spend and with the Mastercard requirement and the earning rate limitation in mind, here are our top credit card picks.

Best Credit Cards for Costco Warehouses

In this section, you’ll find our top three credit cards that offer the opportunity to earn different types of rewards on your Costco spend.

We’ve included one cash back card, one card that earns a brand-specific travel currency, and one card that earns a flexible travel currency.

We’ve also called out a few honourable mentions at the end that we think are also worth considering.

In the end, the best credit card for you depends on your preferences, your day-to-day spending habits, and your travel/rewards goals.

Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard®

The Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard® is our pick for the best cash back card to use at Costco.

With the Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard®, you can enjoy 2% cash back at Costco if you’re a Rogers, Fido, and Shaw customer. Cardholders who are not customers of Rogers, Fido, or Shaw get the lower rate of 1.5% cash back (though this rate is still in line with most other cash back Mastercard products).

Additionally, as a Rogers, Fido, or Shaw customer, if you use your accumulated cash back to pay your Rogers, Fido, or Shaw account or associated purchases (like a new phone), you’ll get an additional 50% in value. This essentially means you get 3% back.

The cash back that you accumulate can also be used against purchases made on the card, allowing for flexible redemption options.

Cash back can be redeemed for any purchase made on the card in the last 90 days, and you must redeem a minimum of $10 (all figures in CAD) at a time.

The Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard® has no annual fee, but it does require a minimum income of $80,000 personal income or $150,000 household income to qualify.

If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for this card, the Rogers Mastercard® is a great alternative. It offers a slightly lower cash back earning rate at 2% for Rogers, Fido, and Shaw customers or 1% cash back for individuals who are not customers.

Notably, this card also enjoys the 50% bonus value for redemption made against your Rogers, Fido, or Shaw bill, and both cards offer 5 Roam Like Home days, which have a value of around $75.

The Rogers Red World Elite® Mastercard® is a great choice for a Costco shopper looking for a straightforward cash back option with no annual fee.

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard

If you’re looking for a Mastercard that helps you earn travel rewards at Costco, we recommend looking into the WestJet RBC® World Elite Mastercard.

WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard earns 1.5% back in WestJet Dollars at Costco and 2% back on WestJet flights and vacation packages.

Through WestJet Rewards, 1 WestJet Dollar (WSD) is equivalent to $1 off the base fare of a WestJet flight, so the usage is limited exclusively to WestJet redemptions. But if you fly with WestJet often, this can prove a good option.

The card has an annual fee of $119 and generally comes with a strong welcome bonus.

With this card, cardholders also enjoy a number of perks and benefits including an annual companion voucher, a free first checked bag (for primary cardholder plus up to eight companions), a Dragonpass membership for airport lounges, and decent travel and car rental insurance.

Given the strong welcome bonus of WestJet Dollars, the 1.5% back in WestJet Dollars, the companion voucher, and the free first checked bag, this card is a great choice for someone who flies with WestJet and who can take advantage of the travel perks.

MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

If you prefer to earn a more flexible travel currency that you can use for multiple different travel redemptions, consider the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® – our pick for the best flexible rewards currency Mastercard for Costco.

Both the MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® and its mid-tier counterpart, the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard®, earn 1 MBNA point per dollar spent at Costco.

It’s also worth noting that MBNA ran a promotion back in Fall 2023 in which Costco and other warehouse stores earned 5x points, so there’s a nice precedent set for more similar earning opportunities.

MBNA’s in-house loyalty program, MBNA Rewards, can be used to book travel through the MBNA Rewards Redemption Centre at a rate of 1 cent per point, giving you an effective return of 1% on your Costco purchases.

These points can be particularly useful for booking things like car rentals, independent hotels, and cruises, which are otherwise difficult to book with points.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® and the MBNA Rewards Platinum Plus® Mastercard® are also interesting because there is the expectation that the points will soon be transferable to Alaska Mileage Plan at a ratio of 1:1 (however, the timeline on this remains unconfirmed).

We value Alaska miles at 2.1 cents/miles, so that’s equivalent to just over 2% back (in theory) once they’re transferable.

Plus, with Alaska miles, there’s the opportunity to redeem for a considerably higher value when booking award flights with Alaska Airlines and their partners.

The MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard® comes with an annual fee of $120, which is typically accompanied by the opportunity to earn a healthy welcome bonus.

Cardholders also earn a birthday bonus equivalent to 10% of the total number of points earned over the course of the year, up to a maximum of 15,000 points. The birthday bonus is calculated and added after the card membership anniversary.

In addition to the 1 point per dollar spent at Costco, the MBNA World Elite Mastercard also earns 5 points per dollar spent on eligible restaurant, grocery, digital media, membership, and household utility purchases to a maximum annual spend of $50,000 in each applicable category.

With a flexible rewards currency, the potential to earn a healthy welcome bonus, and the likelihood of future transfers to Alaska miles at a rate of 1:1, this card is excellent for someone who’s looking to earn towards travel redemptions but who wants to enjoy the flexibility of the MBNA Rewards currency.

Honourable Mentions

There are three additional Mastercards that we think deserve honourable mentions when it comes to their value and utility for people shopping at Costco.

These cards are the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®, the Cathay World Elite Mastercard – powered by Neo, and the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard.

Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®

The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® offers cardholders the opportunity to earn Flying Blue miles at Costco at a rate of 1 Flying Blue mile per dollar spent. The card also offers elevated earning rates on spending with restaurants, bars, Air France/KLM flights, and Brim Financial merchant partners.

Flying Blue miles can be redeemed for flights with Air France, KLM, and other SkyTeam airlines.

The Flying Blue program is great for flights between North America and Europe due to its wide coverage on both continents. It’s also worth watching out for the program’s Promo Rewards, which offer reduced costs for redemptions on specific routes, sometimes including business class.

The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® has an annual fee of $132, and it comes with a tiered welcome bonus, some travel perks, and strong insurance.

This is a great card for someone who flies with Air France, KLM, or other SkyTeam airlines, or someone who is looking for a Europe-focused loyalty program.

It’s also worth noting that this is the only Air France KLM co-branded credit card available in Canada.

Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo earns Asia Miles with Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program. Through the program, you can book flights with Cathay Pacific, as well as other oneworld airlines and partner airlines.

The card earns 1 Asia Mile per dollar spent at Costco and 2 Asia Miles per dollar spent in foreign currencies and on Cathay Pacific flights.

As a notable perk, until December 31, 2024, cardholders can enjoy a 10% discount on Cathay Pacific flights. 

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo has an annual fee of $180 and generally offers a nice welcome bonus after the first purchase and after meeting a minimum spend threshold.

This is a great card for individuals who often travel to or around Asia or for those who are looking to enjoy an aspirational flight in Cathay Pacific First Class.

BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*

In April 2024, it was announced that the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* would now earn 2x the AIR MILES when spending at warehouses and at alcohol retailers.

This means that with the BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®*, you now earn 2 AIR MILES for every $12 spent at Costco.

We value AIR MILES at 10.5 cents per mile, so this new earning rate is equivalent to a 1.75% return.

The BMO AIR MILES®† World Elite®* Mastercard®* comes with an annual fee of $120, though this is often waived for the first year.

This is a great card for dedicated AIR MILES collectors who are looking to further build their account balance.

Using Visa and American Express at Costco

Although Costco warehouses only accept Mastercard for payment, if you’re really inclined to use your Visa or American Express card for your Costco spending, there is a way.

By buying a prepaid Mastercard using a credit card that earns a 5x multiplier on the purchase, you can enjoy some significant rewards.

The most common place to purchase a prepaid Mastercard and earn 5x the rewards is at a grocery store.

If you do choose to go this route, keep in mind that prepaid Mastercards (and other prepaid cards) require a fee to activate. This fee is taken off the card’s balance when you purchase it.

You can purchase a prepaid Mastercard at a grocery store for use at Costco

This means that a $100 prepaid Mastercard will actually have a starting balance of less than $100, with the exact balance depending on the specific fee levied by the card.

Once you’ve purchased the prepaid Mastercard, you can use it at Costco like a normal Mastercard.

However, you do want to be cautious of ongoing scams that occur with prepaid credit cards and gift cards. Make sure you make your purchase with a reputable vendor and ensure that the cards are kept secure.

Cards with 5x Multipliers at Grocery Stores
Credit Card Best Offer Value
Up to 40,000 À la carte Rewards points $600 Apply Now
15,000 MR points $372 Apply Now
40,000 Scene+ points $355 Apply Now
Up to 60,000 BMO Rewards points
First Year Free
Up to 60,000 BMO Rewards points $320 Apply Now
30,000 MBNA Rewards points30,000 MBNA Rewards points†
$120 annual fee
30,000 MBNA Rewards points30,000 MBNA Rewards points† $200 Apply Now

Conclusion

Costco is an incredibly popular retailer for Canadians looking to stock up on groceries, household essentials, and more.

By choosing the right Mastercard product to use on Costco purchases, shoppers can take advantage of a rewards program that best suits their style.

If you don’t already hold one (or more) of the above credit cards and you shop at Costco, consider exploring our recommendations to learn how you can get the most out of your spending.

5 Comments
  1. Jim Breeze

    I tried to use my WestJet Dollars earlier this year and was disappointed to find out that the WestJet dollars could only be applied to the base fare, not the total amount. In my particular case, the base fare was relatively small and WestJet had added a substantial surcharge to the fare. You can’t apply WestJet dollars to their surcharges. It’s making my WestJet dollars almost useless. Also applies to companion fares. The base fares are often less than the companion fare even though the surcharge is relatively gigantic. WestJet is playing games with our WestJet benefits.

    1. May Peters

      I cancelled the RBC Westjet card this year. The Westjet Dollars cannot even be used to pay for the seats.

  2. Alex

    Why haven’t you mentioned/evaluated the CIBC Costco card? 🙂

    1. christopher

      Using that card to shop costco in-store earns only 1% cashback, hence it’s not exactly a noteworthy card to spend in costco in-store ironically

  3. Rob Davidson

    Hey Erin,
    There is a way to use Visa card at Canadian Costcos without needing to purchase a Visa gift card AND avoiding the Visa gift card fee.

    Costco.ca accepts Visa cards. If you go to the website, you can purchase Costco Shop Cards in many denominations. Just make sure to purchase a digital shop card, not a physical one so you don’t need to wait for it in the mail. You can even use the digital shop card in the self checkout lines without issue.

    I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I collect the points on my Visa card at time of purchase. Then when I spend the Costco shop card, I get my 2% cash back for having a Costco executive account.

    Hope this information helps.

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