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Costco Anywhere Visa Review: Bulked-Up Savings for Members

If you already pay for a membership, the card can earn you rich rewards on gas, dining out and travel — although redemption can be a pain.
June 15, 2018
Cash Back Credit Cards, Credit Cards
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For a store card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi carries plenty of goodies in its cart.

The card can indeed be used anywhere, not just at Costco, and it offers impressive rewards rates across a wide variety of categories. Its annual fee is $0.

But there’s an economy-size caveat there: You have to be a Costco member to get the card, and that does require a yearly membership fee. And while the card’s rewards rates are generous, redemption isn’t as straightforward as it can be with other credit cards.

If you already pay for a Costco membership and enjoy the megastore’s discounted prices, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi will probably help you save even more. But if you shop around at different grocery stores and don’t spend thousands of dollars a year on gas, you might be better off with a general cash-back card.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Apply Now on Citibank's secure application
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 720
    850
    Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • High rewards rates in certain categories
    • Can use card as Costco membership ID

    Cons

    • Requires excellent credit
    • Needs Costco membership to qualify
    • Rewards redeemable once a year and only at Costco

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 16.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.74%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    None

    Intro APR

    • N/A
  • Additional Information
    • Exclusively for Costco Members: Go Big with Cash Back Rewards
    • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
    • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
    • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
    • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Key features of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Sign-up bonus: None

Ongoing rewards: 

  • 4% cash back on gas purchases (both at Costco and other gas stations) on up to $7,000 of spending a year, then 1% back
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and most travel purchases
  • 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Annual fee: $0, but you have to first be a Costco member. Memberships start at $60 per year.

Additional benefits: The card charges no foreign transaction fees. It also includes trip cancellation protection, travel and emergency assistance, and worldwide travel accident insurance.

To figure out whether the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi might be a good fit for you, let our calculator crunch the numbers:

Why you should get the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is an open-loop card, so you’re not limited to using it only at Costco. In fact, you’re rewarded more handsomely for using it elsewhere, especially on gas. And when it comes to that spending category, you’d be hard-pressed to find a higher rate.

At 4% back per dollar on up to $7,000 in gas spending a year, you could earn $280 annually alone, and that’s not including the 1% back you’d get on any gas purchases beyond that cap.

Also attractive is the card’s rich rewards rate on dining out and travel, and in those categories the 3% back per dollar spent is unlimited. That’s as good as the rate offered by certain premium travel cards with annual fees in the hundreds of dollars.

And if you shop frequently at Costco, whether in the store or online, you’ll enjoy 2% back on all of those purchases as well.

One other big plus: Unlike many other cash-back credit cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi charges no foreign transaction fee. If you travel abroad frequently, you’ll continue earning rewards without facing a 3% penalty on every purchase you make.

Drawbacks of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi requires excellent credit for approval. And remember that a Costco membership is also necessary, which could cost $60 or $120 each year, depending on the type. Keep in mind, too, that unlike many cash-back cards, this card offers no sign-up bonus that might otherwise help defray that cost.

Also of note: While the card’s rewards rates are high, the redemption process is peculiar. With most rewards credit cards, cardholders receive their cash back or points within a billing cycle or two.

But with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, cardholders receive their rewards annually, by way of a certificate, with the February billing statement. Then, they can redeem the certificate in Costco stores (not online) before the end of the year for either merchandise or cash back. If cardholders cancel their Costco membership before redeeming the certificate or don’t redeem before the Dec. 31 deadline, they lose those rewards.

To recap: You’ll have to wait months for your rewards, you’ll have to travel to a physical store to redeem them, and you’ll be on the clock to do so. If any of these are dealbreakers, this isn’t the card for you.

Be aware, too, that while the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi does earn 2% back per dollar spent at Costco, other store cards offer higher rewards rates or incentives for shopping with them specifically. For example, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card gives cardholders 5% back on purchases at Amazon, and the Target REDcard offers a 5% discount off almost anything in its stores and online.

Alternatives to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

For non-Costco shoppers, general cash-back cards tend to offer rewards that are easier to redeem, and they don’t require store membership as a prerequisite. Depending on your shopping habits, one of these cards could be a better fit:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

If you spend a lot on groceries but not at Costco, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Cardholders earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending each year, 3% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on all other purchases. Terms Apply. The card also offers a welcome bonus: $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express does have an annual fee of $95, which is more expensive than a Gold Star Costco membership ($60 annually), but less expensive than an executive membership ($120 annually). You could avoid the issue entirely by applying for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. That card has an annual fee of $0 and offers the same bonus categories as its sister card, albeit at reduced rewards rates.

Discover it® Cash Back

If your spending is more varied throughout the year, you could opt for a rotating bonus category card like the Discover it® Cash Back. It earns 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter, on up to $1,500 in quarterly spending (and 1% back on everything else). You have to remember to activate the categories each quarter, but the card’s annual fee is $0. Previous bonus categories have included gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. The Discover it® Cash Back also offers a sign-up bonus: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Perhaps you don’t want to mess with tiered or rotating bonus reward categories at all and are just looking for a simple cash-back card that earns a solid flat rate on everything you buy. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers 2% cash back on purchases, which breaks down as 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay it off. There are no special categories to remember, and the cash back is easy to redeem. The card has an annual fee of $0.

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are other flat-rate cash-back options to consider.

Is the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi right for you?

If you are already an avid Costco shopper who spends a significant amount on gas every year and enjoys travel, then the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi probably comes with more benefits than drawbacks. But if you like to shop at a wide variety of grocery stores and prefer rewards that are easier and faster to redeem, you’d probably prefer a flat-rate cash-back card.

Information related to the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Target’s REDcard products has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuers of these cards.

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