Monday, June 20, 2016

First day for Costco Visa credit card, basket full of bargains at H Mart

Starting today, the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack is among the hundreds of Costco warehouses in the United States that accept only Visa Credit Cards, including the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, replacing the American Express True Earnings card.

Now, you also can use your Visa credit card to pay for fresh-baked pizzas and other purchases at the Hackensack food court, which was cash only (80 S. River St., Hackensack; warehouse is closed Sundays).


At the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack today, the switch to Visa credit cards from longtime partner American Express was imperceptible.

You could describe the shopping experience at the Hackensack warehouse as Costco Lite -- plenty of empty parking spaces in the lot, only a handful of customers pushing shopping carts through the cavernous space and no waiting to check out.

The warehouse delivers orders placed online by restaurants, caterers and other small businesses, and has only about 30% of the consumer items you'll find at the bigger, far busier Costco Wholesale in Teterboro.

Today, the Hackensack warehouse was the same oasis of calm it has been since its March 15 opening.

I used my Costco Visa credit card to pay for:

Three large cans of Dole Pineapple Juice ($4.19 with an instant coupon); Premier Protein Shake (18 11-ounce containers for $19.99 with an instant coupon); 3 pounds of premium Apricots from California ($5.49); 1 pound of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix ($4.49) and a large cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt from the food court ($1.35).

More cash back

The new Costco Visa credit card gives you more cash back than did the American Express card: 

You get 4% cash back instead of 3% on gasoline, including Costco gas; 3% back instead of 2% on restaurant meals and travel purchases worldwide, and 2% back on purchases at Costco.

If you use the Costco Visa card to buy gasoline and charge restaurant meals, you easily recoup the annual Costco membership fee of $55 or $110, and much more.

Thanks to an instant Costco coupon, three 46-ounce cans of Dole 100% Pineapple Juice (not from concentrate) were a better buy per ounce than 24 8.4-ounce cans, below. The bigger cans are marked non-GMO, meaning they don't contain genetically modified or engineered ingredients.

At H Mart, 260 Bergen Turnpike in Little Ferry, Baby Mustard Greens were reduced to 68 cents a pound, and cans of Moroccan Sardines in Olive Oil were about $1 each, below. 

Sabri-brand Sardines also were available in vegetable oil and in tomato sauce.

Fresh fish and fruit

Just about everything I bought on Sunday at H Mart in Little Ferry was reduced or a good buy.

Some of the deals require you to have the store's loyalty card, which gives you $10 off after you spend $1,000 (1% rebate).

Our Sunday dinner included fresh wild-caught whole whiting ($2.99 a pound) that we dredged in cornmeal and pan fried; and big bunches of Baby Mustard Greens (68 cents a pound) we washed, cut up and sauteed with chopped fresh garlic.  

A 15-pound bag of Kokuho Yellow Label White Rice from California was reduced to $10.99; a large Seedless Watermelon was $4.99; and a box of 14 sugar-sweet Ataulfo or Champagne Mangoes from Mexico was $9.99 or $1 more than a week earlier. 

That compares to $5.49 for six Ataulfo Mangoes at the Hackensack Costco.

Two packages of Nature's Soy Fried Tofu, which is packed with protein, were $3 or half price.

Marinades for pork and beef also were on sale, but I couldn't find any without monosodium glutamate (MSG). I settled for one with a low sodium content.

While I waited for my fish to be cleaned, I walked over to the table where free seafood samples were available, including a broiled mussel topped with fish eggs, snow-crab meat, boiled octopus and fried smelts; then stopped for free samples of cold noodles in broth and a kimchi dumpling on the way to the register.

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