The Costco Visa card has a tap-to-pay symbol (four concentric arcs on the back, above the bird) indicating it will be accepted at any merchant displaying a matching symbol. This is the same trademark -- and the same NFC contactless technology -- used for paying with an Apple or Android phone. Just tap the credit card to pay at McDonalds or Subway or Walgreens. Many other cards do this, too. It's a little faster than inserting the chip and waiting.
But I've found many places where the Costco card doesn't work that way including Jimmy John's, Rubio's, and Five Guys. The usual symptom is a message like "card not responding" or "card not accepted / use chip reader". The terminal sees the card and doesn't like it. At Jersey Mike's the terminal crashed.
And for those who ask about using it on the London Underground as a substitute for an Oyster card: It didn't work for me, the one time I tried it, and my contactless Capital One Visa card did work just fine.
I tried calling customer service a few times. They were clueless about the issue but were happy to reissue a new card. If I'm reading the fine print on the back of the card correctly, I've tried revisions B, C, and D of the card firmware. It made no difference.
Today I found an explanation in a posting by Ingenico, a seller of payment terminals and software:
https://ingenico.us/press-and-publicati ... limbo.html
The comment is specific to the Costco card and not necessarily to all Citi credit cards. The "1% to 2%" estimate is perhaps too low; I would have guessed that the Costco card works 1/3 to 2/3 of the time in contactless mode.Citi’s Costco card is somewhat unique, and is configured to work only at terminals certified for EMV contactless transactions, unlike some other issuers’ contactless cards that work at all NFC-enabled terminals.
This is a potentially frustrating experience for consumers. Only a few major U.S. merchants -- including McDonald’s and Walgreens -- have software to support that narrower category of EMV contactless card payments along with general NFC transactions; most U.S. terminals and vending machines do not support Citi’s Costco EMV contactless card.
“Probably just 1% to 2% of U.S. payment terminals are equipped to accept EMV contactless transactions, which means people with a contactless card programmed only for EMV can’t use those cards in very many places,” said Allen Friedman, vice president of payment solutions at Ingenico.
Except for the special case of an Oyster substitute, I've never had any problem using the card in chip or swipe mode as appropriate. Consequently this is more of a puzzle than a real concern, but I'm pleased to finally read an explanation.