Are you a Costco fanatic like money expert Clark Howard? If so, we may have a way for you to get even more out of your wholesale club membership.
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi carries no annual fee and can score Costco members 2% cash back on everything you buy from the wholesale giant and offers even better cash back returns on spending categories such as gas, restaurants and travel.
“The Costco card is great, particularly if you are the kind of person who will say, ‘I can use this card at this place and that card at that place,'” says Clark. “You can take a card like this and really maximize your rewards with things like 4% cash back on gas.
“If you’re already a member anyway, I love the wholesale club cards as a no-annual-fee card option.”
Clark loves this card so much that he has it in his wallet. But should you?
Here’s a deeper look at the rewards card to help you determine if it is the right fit for your financial life.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Costco Anywhere Visa Card?
- Card Specs and Perks
- Costco Anywhere Visa Card vs. Sam’s Club Mastercard
- Final Thoughts
Team Clark has spent time evaluating the credit card market in several categories including the best cash back credit cards. We’ve compared the Costco Anywhere Visa Card to the best cards in this segment of the market. And we’ve determined that it’s a viable choice — thanks to its bonus cash back categories and the fact that it doesn’t have an annual fee.
As you’re deciding whether this card is a fit for you, please use this review in conjunction with Clark Howard’s 7 Rules for Using Credit Cards.
What Is the Costco Anywhere Visa Card?
The Costco Anywhere Visa Card is a cash back credit card that does not charge an annual fee and offers cash back rewards.
Though the card carries the wholesale club’s name, it’s much more than just a “store card.” Its cash back rewards in spending categories like gasoline and restaurants are among the best on the market.
Costco Membership Requirement
While technically there is no annual fee to have this card, you will need an active Costco membership to apply for it. Costco membership starts at $60 annually.
Your membership dues will be billed automatically to your Costco Anywhere Visa card on the renewal date to ensure that you keep an active membership.
If you don’t, Citi says that it may cancel your credit card. And you may also have to forfeit any cash back rewards that you’ve accumulated with the card but not yet redeemed.
Costco Anywhere Visa Card: Specs and Perks
Let’s take a look at the fine print to examine some of the card’s perks and drawbacks.
Cash Back Rewards
Since the card is branded with the Costco name, you’d probably think that purchases made at the wholesale club would bring the most lucrative cash back rewards. But, believe it or not, you’d be wrong. In fact, Costco purchases are down the list a bit.
Here’s how the cash back categories break down for this card:
- 4% cash back (capped) on gas purchases at Costco and other qualifying gas stations. There is a limit of $7,000 per year in gas spending that can earn the 4%, which caps this bonus at $280 before dropping the cash back reward to 1%. Some restrictions on the gas reward: Gas purchased at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and warehouse clubs other than Costco will qualify for only 1% cash back.
- 3% cash back (unlimited) on restaurants and eligible travel purchases. Purchases at most cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants will qualify for this bonus. Costco warns that some bakeries and restaurants located within retail stores could be excluded. For the travel reward, you can expect airfare, hotels, car rentals, travel agencies, cruise lines and Costco Travel purchases to qualify for the 3%. Travel purchases that may be excluded include timeshares and commuter travel.
- 2% cash back (unlimited) at Costco and on Costco.com. Any purchase made with this card either at Costco or on the Costco website is eligible for this bonus.
- 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Cash Back Redemption Rules
Unlike some cards that let you claim your rewards as you go, there is a fairly rigid process for collecting your bonus rewards from the Costco Anywhere Visa.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know going into this:
- You receive your cash back rewards only once per year.
- Cash back rewards are tallied from January through December of one calendar year and then distributed after the closing of your February billing cycle the following year.
- Rewards are issued in the form of a credit card rewards certificate.
- This rewards certificate must be used on a single transaction at Costco before the end of the calendar year in which it is issued.
- There is some language in the fine print that would allow for Costco to give some of the rewards back to you in an alternative form, such as a check, if your single-use purchase does not exhaust all of the funds you earned.
- If you close your credit card account, you forfeit any pending cash back bonuses.
Other Cardholder Benefits
- Damage and Theft Purchase Protection: Purchases made with this credit card may qualify for damage and theft protection for up to 120 days.
- Citi Entertainment Access: This card could score you some discounts on things like concerts, sporting events and dining experiences through the Citi Entertainment service.
- Costco ID Card Substitution: Since this credit card is tied to a Costco membership, it can be used in place of the actual membership card when shopping.
Here’s a quick look at some of the fees you may encounter with the Costco Anywhere Visa Card:
- Annual Fee: None, but you must maintain a Costco membership.
- Balance Transfer Fee: Whichever is greater between $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer
- Cash Advance Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign Transaction Fee: None
- Late Payment Fee: Up to $40
Costco Anywhere Visa Card vs. Sam’s Club Mastercard
If you are a serious wholesale club shopper, there’s a good chance that you pay for annual memberships to both Costco and Sam’s Club.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Clark does it, too.
But if you’re not in the position to add two credit cards to your wallet, you may be trying to decide which of them makes the most sense for your personal situation.
Let’s take a closer look with a side-by-side comparison:
|Card Characteristic||Costco Anywhere Visa||Sam's Club Mastercard|
|Annual Fee||None, but membership is required||None, but membership is required|
|Introductory APR period||None||None|
|In-store Purchase Reward||2% cash back||1% cash back|
|Gas Reward||4% cash back on up to $7,000||5% cash back on up to $6,000|
|Dining Reward||3% cash back||3% cash back|
|Travel Reward||3% cash back||3% cash back|
|Doubles as Membership Card||Yes||Yes|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None|
The Big Takeaways
If you weren’t reading the above table carefully, you might assume these were the exact same credit card. And that’s likely by design.
These wholesale clubs are major competitors. That competition extends to the credit card market.
But there are a couple of things you can take away from our side-by-side comparison that may help you choose one card over the other:
- In-store Purchases: At 2% vs. 1%, Costco offers twice the cash back reward that Sam’s Club does on purchases actually made at their own store with their branded card. And given that you’re likely making bulk purchases at these stores, that’s a pretty big deal. That extra percentage will add up over the course of a year. For example: If you spent $10,000 at wholesale clubs per year, you’d earn an extra $100 in cash back from Costco than what you’d earn from Sam’s Club ($200 vs. $100).
- Gas Purchases: Given that both of these clubs offer gasoline pumps outside many of their stores, it’s understandable that their credit cards reward these purchases. These cards are both among the top cash back earners in the category. But Sam’s Club has a slightly better offering in this area. If you spend $500 in gas per month per year, you’d see a $60 boost in cash back by using the Sam’s Club card over the Costco card ($300 vs. $240).
Are you considering adding the Costco Anywhere Visa Card to your wallet? Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card: Pros and Cons
|2% cash back on purchases made at Costco or on Costco.com||No welcome bonus opportunity|
|Bonus cash back categories include 4% on gas and 3% on restaurants and travel||No introductory APR on new purchases or balance transfers|
|Credit card can double as your Costco membership identification||Rigid cash back rewards redemption program|
Bottom Line: If you are a Costco loyalist, there is a very strong case for having this card in your wallet.
It can lower your gas bill by 4% through one of the best gas rewards programs on the market. It also can trim 2% off your day-to-day purchases made at the wholesale club.
Clark carries this card in his wallet and uses it in tandem with a cash back credit card that awards him 2% on all of his purchases. If he’s making a purchase in one of the Costco Anywhere bonus categories, he uses this card. If the purchase doesn’t fall into a bonus category, he uses the everyday cash back card.
You could easily implement a similar strategy to ensure that you make at least 2% cash back on every purchase that you make.
Do you have experience with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card? Let us know how you like it in the comments below!