Fun fact: Yes, it is possible to use Mastercards at some Costcos.
What’s the catch? It has to be at a Costco in Canada.
Did you know that your Costco membership, no matter where it is purchased, gets you access to any Costco in the entire world?
In Canada, only Mastercards can be used at Costco. Yes, that really does mean Visa cannot be used. The first time I went to Costco in Canada, I tried using a Visa and got denied. Thinking that it was because my cards were foreign, I hastily tried to use my debit card instead, which just so happened to be a Mastercard. I didn’t realize until someone later told me that Costco Canada was the opposite of the U.S.
So what cards are good for Americans shopping at Canadian Costco? In order to be considered “good”, it must maximize rewards, but not have any foreign transaction fees, as that would defeat the whole point of using a credit card for rewards.
- Apple Card – this Mastercard can be used via your iPhone or Apple Watch at checkout for 2% cash back.
- Bilt Rewards – this Mastercard comes with no transaction fees, but it doesn’t offer the same 2% cash back potential as Apple Card does.
- Worst case scenario, you could try using a Mastercard debit card if it’s issued by a bank like Ally Bank or Charles Schwab (which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or conversion fees on international transactions for their debit cards).
The problem with Mastercards being used abroad is the lack of good travel cards in Mastercard’s portfolio. (Typically, travel cards will waive foreign transaction fees.) Even if we look beyond travel cards, there’s almost no Mastercards (other than the above examples) that don’t have foreign transaction fees and give reward points on purchases.
Among popular credit cards without foreign transaction fees, how many of them are Mastercards, other than the two mentioned above? Let’s see…
- American Express Platinum – is an American Express card.
- Capital One Venture X – is a Visa Infinite card.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – is a Visa Signature card.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – is a Visa Infinite card.
- Citi Premier – finally! It is a Mastercard World Elite card.
- Citi AAdvantage cards – yes, these Mastercard World Elite cards work too, but are cobranded American Airlines cards and don’t appeal to people who don’t fly on AA.
Pretty much the only option that is available is Citi, but their rewards are quite weak compared to Amex, Chase, and C1, which proves that using an efficient card at Canadian Costco comes down to whether you have a Citi card or an Apple Card or a Bilt Rewards card.