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The Big Costco Credit Card Switcheroo

As of Monday, Costco customers have to ditch their old Costco credit cards and switch to new ones to pay for those jumbo-sized items in their shopping carts.
Rick Bowmer
As of Monday, Costco customers have to ditch their old Costco credit cards and switch to new ones to pay for those jumbo-sized items in their shopping carts.

Updated 7 p.m. ET June 29 with this clarification:

Initial reports on June 20, when Costco said it would switch the type of credit card it would accept, said the new cards would not have roadside assistance. But Citi spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier now tells NPR that the Costco Visa cards "offer a comparable roadside assistance plan."

NerdWallet says overall the new Costco Visa card has better benefits than the old Costco American Express card.

In the first few days after the switch, some customers complained of long wait times when they called with questions about their new cards. But Bombardier says wait times have since fallen considerably. When NPR spoke to her on June 29, Bombardier said average wait times that afternoon were 4 minutes.

Our original post continues:

For years, if Costco customers wanted to shop with a credit card, the retail giant required them to pay with an American Express card. But as of Monday, the giant big-box retailer and its 81 million customers are switching over to AmEx's rival, Visa.

Why should anybody care? Well, if you don't shop at Costco, there's probably not much reason. But, if you are one of the millions of Americans who like to buy 12-packs of paper-towel rolls or 30-pound boxes of frozen beef patties, then here's what you need to know:

  • Your new "Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi" should already have been mailed to you. If you didn't get it, Costco says here's what you should do.
  • Your old Costco AmEx card won't work anymore starting today — at Costco or anywhere else.
  • The rewards points will transfer over to the new card. (Oh, and your balances will transfer over, too.)
  • Costco says there are no additional fees related to the switch.
  • The new cards won't offer the roadside assistance service that the old cards did.
  • Costco says there will be added benefits with the new cards — for one thing, 4 percent cash back on gasoline.
  • As part of the shift to a Costco Visa card, the big box store will now accept any type of Visa-branded credit card. You don't have to use your Costco-branded Visa card to shop there.
  • How many people might this change affect? Costco says it has 81 million customers/members who bought $114 billion worth of stuff at Costco last year. By the way, if you ever wondered just how many Costco stores there are in the country and the world, in its latest annual report, Costco says it now has 698 warehouse stores across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Spain.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

    NPR correspondent Chris Arnold is based in Boston. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. He joined NPR in 1996 and was based in San Francisco before moving to Boston in 2001.