"Never work just for money or for power. They won't save your soul or help you sleep at night." - Marian Wright Edelman

How to Use Any Credit Card to Buy Stuff at Costco

Use any credit card at Costco
One of the restrictions which frustrates a lot of Costco members is the fact Costco doesn’t allow members to use just any credit card when shopping at their warehouses. The choices are limited to cash, a check, a debit card, or American Express. Since most people don’t have American Express as their primary credit card, this means most people believe they have to shop at Costco without getting any credit card rewards. This simply isn’t true.

There is a simple Costco hack which will allow you to use any credit card you want to pay for all the stuff you buy at Costco. This can be great if you have an airline credit card or other reward credit card, and you want to get miles or rewards for all the money you spend at Costco. So, how can you use your Visa or MasterCard when shopping at Costco? By shopping online first.

If you don’t already have an online account, you’ll need to register at Costco.com. Once registered, you will purchase a Costco Cash Card. While you can’t use Visa or MasterCard when shopping at the warehouses, the Costco website does allow you to make purchases with Visa and MasterCard credit cards when you buy online. There’s no shipping fee for purchasing cash cards, so you get the full value of the amount you purchase. The cash card usually takes 3 to 5 days to arrive. A phone call will activate the card, and then you can use it to make your purchases at Costco. While there is an extra step to the process, it’s fairly easy, painless, and can be worthwhile for those who like to maximize their credit card rewards.

It’s that simple. This works great for those who have a standard Costco membership. For those with an Executive membership, using the American Express card that comes with your Executive Membership and the 2% cash back is probably the way to go. The value there is usually more than the airline miles or other rewards you can get for other credit cards (but not always). For those who don’t have an Costco Executive Membership, this is a great alternative which will allow you to accumulate rewards you would otherwise miss out on getting.

The more shopping you do at Costco, the more valuable this hack becomes. It can be especially lucrative to your airline miles or other rewards if you buy your gas at Costco gas stations as well. Unfortunately, this hack only works if you do have a Costco Membership. It’s possible to shop at Costco without a membership, but you must have a membership to buy the cash cards so it’s not possible to to both.

For more info on Costco check out these articles.

Is the Costco Membership Fee Worth it?

Is a Costco Executive Membership Worth the Price?
Costco Gas Calculator: Will I Save Money Buying a Membership if All I Buy is Fuel?

Costco Return Policy

Costco Holiday Schedule

Costco Tires

You can check out our articles for Target as well.

Target Christmas Store Hours

Target Holiday Schedule and Store Hours

How I Shop at Costco without Paying for a Membership

There’s a false impression that in order to shop at Costco warehouses, you have to pay a membership fee. While this is the normal route for people to shop at their stores, there’s a “Costco hack” that will allow you to shop at any of their warehouses without having to purchase a membership. This hack is much more effective for people who don’t shop at Costco on a regular basis, since it does take a little bit of extra work. But absolutely anybody can do it if they are looking for a way to save $55. I know because I currently do this hack.

Let me first state that I believe Costco is a great company that treats its employees well. For this reason, I feel that anyone who saves enough to cover their membership fee should purchase one. I did for years, but recently did the calculations to find that I didn’t go to their warehouses enough to justify the cost of a membership. That didn’t mean that I didn’t ever want to go. It simply meant that it made little financial sense for me to purchase a membership since I wasn’t saving enough to cover the cost of it.

So, what was the solution to be able to shop at their stores the few times a year when I wanted to go there? At first, I tagged along with a friend who had a membership since he could have a guest accompany him, then paid him back for whatever I purchased on the trip. It was a perfectly legitimate way to shop there without buying a membership, but it was restrictive in that it was dependent on my friend’s schedule. Instead, I now buy gift cards.

Costco has a gift card which they call the Costco Cash Card. If you are in possession of one of these gift cards, you can shop at any Costco warehouse store. This card can also be used to purchase gas at their gas stations, which often have prices much less expensive than other gas stations, while still selling the same top-quality gas.



The main issue with this plan is that only members are allowed to purchase these gift cards. Since I don’t have a membership, I can’t purchase them on my own. I either have to purchase them from somebody who I know who has a membership, or purchase them on a secondary market like eBay or Craigslist. Secondary market Costco gift cards actually cost more than their face value, but still can be worth purchasing because they will be less than the membership fee if you only go a few times a year. I, personally, have a friend buy them for me.

The Costco cash cards come in denominations of $25 – $1000. If you want to use these cards to purchase gas, it makes the most sense to get a card that has a high monetary value. This is because you can only put the amount of gas into your car that’s on the card that you have. A $25 gift card might not even fill up your car’s tank.

 

Since I want to buy items that are in the store, I find that it is much more convenient to get a number of different gift cards with the lowest value possible. For example, instead of putting $200 on a single card, I would get eight different cards with $25 each since I can get into the warehouse no matter how much is on the card. I usually spend $100 or more each time that I go into a Costco store, so it makes more sense for me to get a $25 card, then pay any overage in cash or with my debit card. This way for a $200 investment, I can go to Costco eight times. Whereas if I put $200 on a single card, I would only be able to go to the warehouse one or two times.

Of course, if you end up purchasing a number of these cards, you need to make sure that you don’t lose any of them. If you lose them, you’re out the cash and there isn’t any way to get it back. Since I only go to Costco once every few months, four $25 cards will usually last me an entire year. While I am avoiding the membership fee, I am still spending money at Costco and they are earning a small amount off my purchases. This is more than they would get if I didn’t shop there at all, which would be the case if there wasn’t this Costco membership hack.

If you go to Costco more than a few times a year, the inconvenience of trying to obtain gift cards, and the savings that you get shopping there, usually makes it worthwhile to purchase a membership. If however, if you’re like me and only go once every few months, this can be an excellent way to take advantage of the savings that Costco offers without having to pay for a membership every year.

For more info on Costco check out these articles.

Is the Costco Membership Fee Worth it?

Is a Costco Executive Membership Worth the Price?
Costco Gas Calculator: Will I Save Money Buying a Membership if All I Buy is Fuel?

Costco Return Policy

Costco Holiday Schedule

Costco Tires

You can check out our articles for Target as well.

Target Christmas Store Hours

Target Holiday Schedule and Store Hours

 

How to Buy Cheap Costco Gas without a Membership

For those looking to save money on gasoline, it’s worthwhile using a Costco gas calculator to determine whether or not it makes sense to purchase a membership at the warehouse store. Due to the savings that many Costco gas stations offer over other local gas stations in their area, while selling the same quality gas, it can often make sense to purchase a membership for the gas savings, even if you don’t buy anything in the warehouse. For those who find the $55 membership fee is too high, and if you’re willing to do a little bit of work, it’s possible to buy gas at Costco gas stations without even having a membership.

Should I Just Pay For A Membership?

If you use the calculator and it shows that you’ll save money, I think it’s worthwhile getting the membership. Costco is one of the companies that actually treat their workers quite well and their membership fees are one way they are able to offer competitive prices and pay their employees well. If, on the other hand, the savings from gas won’t pay for the membership, you can still take advantage of their good gas prices. Since you wouldn’t be getting a membership anyway in this case, and the company does make some profit when you purchase from them, I think that this “Costco Hack” is okay since both you and Costco will benefit.

You can purchase gas at their stations even if you don’t have a membership if you have a Costco Cash card (their version of the gift card). Anyone who is in possession of this card can make purchases at any store even if they don’t have a membership. These cards can also be used at their gas stations even if you don’t have a membership. This is an excellent way to get inexpensive gasoline without having to pay for a $55 membership. In order to be able to do this, however, there are two obstacles you’ll need to overcome.

Obstacles To Getting Gas Without A Membership

The first is that in order to purchase a cash card, you need to be a member. That means that if you want to obtain a card, you either have to ask somebody who is already a member to buy it for you, or go onto a site like craigslist or eBay, and purchase one on the secondary market. If you have a friend do it for you, you should be able to get the cash card at face value. If you buy on the secondary market, you will likely have to pay a minimum of a $5 premium for the card, often much more if you want a card that has several hundred dollars on it.

The second major issue is that you can only put the amount of gasoline into your car that is on the cash card that you have. The Costco gas stations won’t accept cash or another debit card along with a cash card. This means that you need to have a card with a high value if you are going to use it often at the station. If you have a lower denomination card, you will either need to get another card each time you fill up your car, or have somebody put more money on the card for you.

For these reasons, if you end up going to the warehouse gas station on a regular basis and a membership will pay for itself, the hassles involved in getting the cash card makes it worth buying a membership. However, if you don’t go frequently and you don’t mind a bit of work, you can get a friend to buy you a gift card that has a high value on it or purchase one on the secondary market. Doing either of these will allow you to take advantage of the lower gas prices that are often found at the warehouse fuel stations. This is a hack that takes a little effort on your part, but it can be an excellent way to save money on fuel, especially when gas prices are rising.

For more on if the Costco membership is worth it check out these articles.

Is the Costco Membership Fee Worth it?

Is a Costco Executive Membership Worth the Price?
Costco Gas Calculator: Will I Save Money Buying a Membership if All I Buy is Fuel?

Costco Return Policy