Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review: A gas-centric wholesale clubcard
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Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi Overview
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has a couple of nice features that help it to stand out from some of the best credit cards for shopping. It not only offers 4 percent cash back at eligible gas stations—beating out most gas credit cards—but also 2 percent cash back on all Costco and Costco.com purchases. This is a nice perk since few rewards cards offer bonus rewards on wholesale club purchases and these stores are typically excluded on grocery rewards cards.
But out of the handful of wholesale club credit cards, the Costco card may be the least accessible, as it’s open only to Costco shoppers who have achieved an excellent credit score. Plus, with the required Costco membership and cash back restrictions lurking in the fine print, this co-branded store card may not be worth it for the few who qualify.
What are the pros and cons?
- Tough credit requirements: Unlike most store-branded credit cards that are accessible to people with good (and sometimes fair) credit, the Costco card requires excellent credit.
- Can only redeem cash back once per year in a physical Costco store for a rewards certificate that must be used within a year, which may make the card too inconvenient for casual Costco shoppers
- Requires a Costco membership to apply (at least $60 annually)
- No welcome offers and limited benefits make the card relatively one-note
- The 2 percent rate on Costco and Costco.com purchases isn’t particularly rewarding for loyal shoppers since it can easily be matched by general cash back cards
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: 4 percent cash back at eligible gas stations, including gas at Costco (for the first $7,000 per year, then 1 percent), 3 percent cash back on restaurant and eligible travel purchases, 2 percent cash back on all Costco and Costco.com purchases and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: No annual fee with your paid Costco membership ($60)
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 15.99 percent (variable)
Current sign-up bonus
The Costco cash back card is one of the few retail credit cards that doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus. Typically, you’ll at least see bonus store credit or introductory rates.
Other no annual fee cards for wholesale club and gas rewards deliver sign-up bonuses worth at least $150 or $200. Even the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard® provides a 5 percent introductory cash back rate on in-store purchases for your first 12 months as a card member, and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card gives you a $150 Amazon gift card upon approval.
Although the first thing that comes to mind might be groceries, Costco’s card actually earns more cash back on other expenses like gas, restaurants and travel. It’s a great all-around travel partner as well. Since it’s a co-branded Visa card, your Costco Visa cash back opportunities are worldwide—not just storewide. However, there are a few inconvenient details surrounding the cash back redemption process that may limit the card’s utility for applicants that aren’t loyal Costco shoppers.
How you earn
In addition to the 2 percent cash back you’ll earn on Costco/Costco.com purchases, you’ll also earn a whopping 4 percent on eligible gas purchases (on up to $7,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent), 3 percent on eligible restaurant and travel purchases and 1 percent on all other purchases. It’s worth noting how flexible the Costco category is, considering it could encompass the automotive service, pharmacy needs, optical department purchases and more you’ll find in-store.
However, you’ll find a few critical caveats in the terms and conditions. For instance, though the category extends beyond just Costco gas purchases, you can’t earn 4 percent cash back at other store-brand gas stations—like Walmart or Harris Teeter—or for non-vehicle gas purchases. You also won’t earn your 3 percent dining and travel cash back at bakeries, some department store restaurants/cafes or bed-and-breakfasts. Oddly, these travel reward exclusions rule out commuter and train travel too.
Luckily, you probably won’t have to worry about the gas category’s $7,000 limit, though. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) most recent spending data shows the average household spends around $1,500 to $2,100 on gas each year, which would net $60 to $84 in cash back from your gas pit stops alone. Roadrunners that rack up a full $7,000 in gas expenses per year could pocket a cool $280 in cash back.
Regardless, typical drivers should feel comfortable leaning on this card’s other categories for an average yearly rewards value of about $337—calculated with the BLS’ most recent data and an estimated $15,900 yearly spend. That cash back haul out-earns a number of other no annual fee gas and shopping cards like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
How to redeem
You’re only allowed to redeem your cash back once per year, after your February billing statement. Then, you receive your rewards as a single “credit card reward certificate,” which must be redeemed for purchases, cash, or a combination of the two before December 31 of that year. You lose your rewards otherwise, so it can be difficult to cancel your card without leaving all of your rewards that year on the table if you aren’t getting enough value already.
While maybe not a deal-breaker for those who shop at Costco regularly, this is a huge drawback. Most cash back cards let you redeem your rewards at any time (or after hitting a minimum earning) and for much more flexible options—such as a statement credit or direct deposit.
Other cardholder perks
Outside its fantastic rewards and the ease of using your credit card as your membership card, the Costco card’s benefits are pretty slim. In fact, outside two other Citi-based features, you can only expect a few Visa network perks that are largely considered minimum account services, such as 24/7 customer service for card questions, roadside dispatch, emergency card replacements and $0 liability on unauthorized purchases.
Granted, store cards aren’t known to carry noteworthy additional features but a few more purchase protection or road-related perks could make a better case for using this card outside Costco and the pump.
With the Costco Anywhere Visa, your card is also your ID. So you won’t have to dig through your wallet looking for your membership card.
You also won’t have to worry about which credit card is accepted at Costco. Most major retailers in the U.S. that accept credit cards accept cards from the four largest credit card networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. But Costco only accepts Visa.
With purchase protection, your eligible purchases may be reimbursed if they’re stolen or damaged for the first 120 days (90 days if you’re a New York resident). This feature is especially handy when you’re shopping through Costco’s website and you’re concerned about the shipping journey.
Purchase protection is a standard benefit for shopping-focused cards, and although we’d love a few more layers of insurance like extended warranty coverage or return protection, basic purchase protection is still welcome since it isn’t a given on store cards.
You’ll have access to exclusive “experiences” through Citi Entertainment, since your Costco Visa credit card is a Citi card. You can grab presale concert tickets, sign-up for dining or travel packages available to cardmembers and more.
How much are the rewards worth?
Costco cash back is worth the same as with any other cash back card: 1 percent back is worth 1 cent.
However, in this case, personal value factors into how much the rewards are worth. The earning rate is stronger than many non-store-branded cash back cards, but the inconvenient redemption process might be a deal-breaker if you didn’t plan to use it at Costco as often. Consider your needs carefully, because you can’t cancel your card before next February without losing your hard-earned rewards.
Rates and fees
There is no annual fee on the surface, but you’ll have to pay for a Costco membership to apply if you’re not already a member. The minimum Costco membership cost of $60 is pretty easy to offset with your high-earning cash back categories, though. You only need to spend $125 each month in your 4 percent gas category to make up for your membership fee.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any 0 percent intro APR offers if you had a few big purchases or a Costco run planned before applying. On the bright side, the 15.99 percent (variable) ongoing APR is lower than the average credit card interest rate and there are no foreign transaction fees to boot if you plan to use your travel category abroad.
Still, these minimal costs suit a store card that you may not use as your primary rewards card since there’s nothing you need to justify besides the Costco membership you probably already had. However, paying off purchases over time is a big reason customers apply for retail cards in the store, so you may want to consider a zero-interest card that offers similar rewards if you fall in that camp.
How the Costco Anywhere Visa compares to other cash back cards
The Costco card’s bonus categories are competitive across the board compared to other cash back cards with no annual fee. It can be hard to find a single credit card that offers rewards on gas, dining, travel and wholesale clubs at this level.
Fortunately, there are a number of traditional credit cards that have greater flexibility and are available to a broader range of shoppers. Plus, the boosted rewards in similar categories match the Costco Anywhere Visa’s 2 percent Costco cash back rate.
Costco Anywhere Visa vs. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
The closest competition when it comes to consistent wholesale club cash back would have to be the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. It earns 3 percent cash back in a choice category that can be changed monthly—including travel, gas and dining—and 2 percent back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores (on up to $2,500 in combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent). Not to mention that Bank of America can deposit your cash back directly to your bank account each month rather than make you wait a year for a glorified Costco gift card.
Your choice categories have the flexibility to meet whichever big expenses outside the Costco card’s bonus categories may pop up month-to-month while freeing your 2 percent wholesale club rewards to cover other branded clubs and grocery stores as well. Granted, the Customized Cash card’s 3 percent rewards and quarterly spending caps might seem to dampen your rewards potential if you’re a big spender, but this card’s greatly improved versatility, intro APR periods, cash back welcome offer and Bank of America Preferred Rewards cash back boost may add up to more overall value for the average cardholder.
Costco Anywhere Visa vs. Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
A major part of the Costco card’s Achilles’ heel is its lackluster benefits and lower rewards rate on actual Costco purchases. Granted, many cards don’t earn cash back at wholesale clubs, and the typical flat-rate card offers 1.5 percent back. But it’s common for retail cards to offer up to 5 percent back at their store—including the previously mentioned Capital One Walmart Rewards and Amazon credit cards.
By comparison, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card earns unlimited 2 percent cash rewards on purchases, which matches the Costco Anywhere Visa card’s in-store rewards rate without tying the redemption process to one store once per year. Although the Costco card’s rewards potential may be higher for commuting diners, Wells Fargo’s easy redemption process alone makes the Active Cash card’s rewards more valuable for those that aren’t married to shopping at Costco.
The Active Cash card isn’t loaded with features, but its Visa Signature perks are a step up for travelers from the Costco card’s basic Visa benefits. This rings especially true combined with Wells Fargo’s cellphone protection, which covers up to two $600 claims per year (minus the $25 deductible) in the event of eligible damage or theft.
Like with the Customized Cash card, the Wells Fargo Active Cash’s other introductory offers—a $200 bonus cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first three months and 15-month 0 percent intro purchase and qualifying balance transfer APR periods (then a lower 15.74 percent, 20.74 percent or 25.74 percent, variable)—help close the rewards value difference to make the Wells Fargo Active Cash a much more appealing offer to bulk buyers.
Best cards to pair with the Costco Anywhere Visa
Your best options to couple with the Costco cash back card depend on where you do the rest of your shopping. If you do your grocery shopping at supermarkets, then you can’t do much better than the Blue Cash Preferred Card® from American Express. It earns a stellar 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), plus it gets 3 percent back on the transit purchases, which isn’t included with the Costco card’s travel category. Keep in mind that it does come with a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year).
If you shop at superstores like Walmart or Target, a flat-rate card might be the way to go. A prime choice would be the 2 percent flat-rate Wells Fargo Active Cash card or the similar Citi® Double Cash Card since it also earns up to an unlimited 2 percent cash back (1 percent back at purchase, then 1 percent upon payment) anywhere you shop if you’d like to stay within Citi’s network.
Cardholders that lean on the travel and dining side of their Costco cash back categories might want to consider the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card. For no annual fee, it will rack up unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1 percent on all other purchases.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Costco Anywhere Visa worth it?
The Costco Anywhere Visa Card is a solid pick as long as you’re a Costco member, have excellent credit and have the patience to jump through a few hoops.
It’s one of the highest-earning credit cards for gas out there and it’s hard to beat the extra travel and dining categories stacked on top. However, the meager benefits and inconvenient once-per-year cash back redemption process can make the card a tough sell unless you’re already a frequent bulk buyer. If you’re considering a Costco membership just for the card’s bonus category coverage, then the impractical redemption process may be more trouble than it’s worth.
All information about the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®, Sam’s Club® Mastercard® and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.