How to Make the Most of the Costco Anywhere Visa Card

Leverage your perks and bonus categories, including gas, dining and travel. But also know when to reach for a different card.

Kimberly PalmerSeptember 17, 2020
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If you spend a lot on gas, restaurants and travel, then it’s hard to beat the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers a high rewards rate in all of those categories. The big drawback is the way rewards are redeemed: once a year, and in the form of a mailed certificate that you then have to redeem at a physical store.

That will feel a little too old-fashioned for some consumers. But if you can deal with the paperwork hassle, there are plenty of ways to leverage the card to your advantage. Here’s how to make the most of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi.

Leverage bonus categories

Citibank Costco-Anywhere Visa Card Credit Card
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When you’re buying gas, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is a good card to use because it earns 4% cash back on gas purchases on up to $7,000 of spending a year (1% after that). That’s an impressive rate, even when compared with the best gas credit cards on the market. Assuming you max out the annual cap, you'll earn $280 per year on gas alone, not including the 1% back on any purchases in the category beyond that.

Using the card for your restaurant and travel spending is also a solid choice because it earns 3% back in both of those categories, with no spending cap. That's also a hard deal to beat, even among the best credit cards for restaurant spending.

Oddly, your returns for using the card at Costco or Costco.com aren't as generous. You'll get 2% cash back on those purchases, which certainly isn't bad by any means. But other store credit cards — like the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card or the Capital One® Walmart Rewards™ Mastercard®, for instance — offer as much as 5% back when you shop within the brand.

And if you typically do your grocery shopping at Costco, consider that many of the best credit cards for groceries earn far more than 2% back on those kinds of purchases — as long as you buy them at a supermarket and not a wholesale club.

Whatever card you're using on actual Costco purchases, make sure it's earning you the most cash back possible.

Nerd tip: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has an annual fee of $0, but you can't get the card unless you're a Costco member. Store memberships start at $60.

Use a different card if you’re only going to earn 1% back

If you have a separate flat-rate cash-back card that earns 1.5% back or 2% back on all purchases, then you’ll want to use that one for your spending outside of the bonus categories offered by the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which will earn you just 1% back on those expenses.

You may also want to switch to that flat-rate card once you hit the annual spending limit on gasoline with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi because at that point your rewards rate with the Costco card also drops down to 1%.

And if you have a different credit card that earns 5% back in rotating bonus categories, it may change your calculus a bit more. The Chase Freedom Flex℠, for example, earns 5% back in rotating bonus categories on up to $1,500 per quarter (activation required; 1% back on everything else). Its previous bonus categories have overlapped with some of those offered by the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi — but Chase has also traditionally included bonus categories that the Costco card doesn't: home improvement stores, streaming services, grocery stores and Amazon, for example.

Keep an eye on your bonus calendars to ensure you're earning the most you can.

Take advantage of perks and protections

For a cash-back card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi makes for a really solid travel buddy. It charges no foreign transaction fees, for starters, and as a Mastercard you'll enjoy widespread international acceptance.

The card also comes with worldwide car rental insurance, travel and emergency assistance and roadside assistance service.

As for shopping, the card also has your back with damage and theft purchase protection (if items purchased with the card are damaged or stolen within 120 days), extended warranty (it adds 24 months of coverage) and fraud protection that makes the card easy to turn on or off.

The card also offers Citi Entertainment, which can grant you early access to tickets for things like concerts and sporting events.

How to redeem rewards on the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Redemption with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi takes an unusual form: Cardholders receive a cash-back reward certificate once a year when the February billing statement closes. Then, they can redeem that certificate at any Costco store, which makes it especially useful for big-ticket items. But the certificate isn't redeemable online.

While the redemption process will likely seem inconvenient and clunky to people who prefer online shopping and monthly (or even immediate) reward redemption, it does offer some flexibility: You don’t have to redeem your coupon for purchases; you can also turn it into cash at the customer service counter.

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