The bottom line: Costco loyalists can rack up some nice rewards with this card, but you'll only be able to redeem them once a year — and you'll have to go to a physical Costco store to do it.
Pros & Cons
Bonus cash back categories
No annual fee
High rewards rates in certain categories
Can use card as Costco membership ID
Requires excellent credit
Needs Costco membership to qualify
Rewards redeemable once a year and only at Costco
Alternate Pick: Simple rewards
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Get up to 5% on some categories and 1.5% back on everything else
This is a Visa card, so you can use it at Costco, but it doesn't bother with a complicated tiered rewards structure and imposes no restrictions on redemption. You'll get 5% cash back on travel booked through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, you can redeem rewards in any amount at any time. You even get a sign-up bonus offer and a 0% intro APR period. The annual fee is $0.
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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 are a couple of economy-size caveats there: You have to be a Costco member to get the card (or to realize any benefit from it), and that does require a yearly membership fee. And while the card’s rewards rates are generous in some categories, they aren't particularly high for Costco purchases, and redemption isn’t straightforward.
Key features of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Card type: Store.
Annual fee: $0 for the card, but you have to be a Costco member. Memberships start at $60 per year.
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.
Sign-up bonus: None.
Intro APR offer: None.
Additional benefits: The card charges no foreign transaction fees. It also includes travel and emergency assistance and worldwide travel accident insurance.
Why you might want the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Costco loyalists on the fence about getting the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi might be swayed by these features:
It really is an anywhere card
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is an "open-loop" store card, meaning you're not limited to using it only at Costco. In fact, in several cases, you're rewarded more handsomely for using it elsewhere.
Big gas rewards
For those who drive often, this card's rich gas rewards are a highlight. At 4% back on up to $7,000 in gas spending a year, you could earn $280 annually just at the pump. And that's not including the 1% back you'd get on any gas purchases beyond that cap.
Rich rewards on dining and travel
The 3% cash back on dining and travel is unlimited. That's as good as the rate offered by some premium travel cards with annual fees in the hundreds of dollars.
No foreign transaction fees
Unlike many other cash-back credit cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi charges no extra fee on purchases abroad. If you travel internationally, you'll continue earning rewards without facing a 3% penalty on every purchase you make.
Drawbacks of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Its richest reward rates are outside Costco
This is a card designed for people who are already shopping at Costco. So if you’re expecting huge incentives to spend money at the retailer itself — along the lines of the 5% discounts or rewards offered by cards from Amazon and Target — you’re going to be disappointed. You’ll get 2% back on purchases at Costco and Costco.com, but the signature appeal of this card is that it turns your other spending into rewards you can use at Costco.
It requires excellent credit for approval
Simply being a Costco member is not enough to qualify.
No sign-up bonus
Costco's annual membership fee — $60 or $120 a year, depending on the type of membership — is a de facto annual fee for this card. Unlike many cash-back cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers no sign-up bonus to offset that cost.
Redemption is restricted
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 and can redeem them once the rewards post to their account. With the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, cardholders receive their rewards once a year in the form of a certificate included with their February billing statement. They have until the end of the year to bring the certificate to a Costco store and either get their rewards as cash or use them for credit against their purchases. (The certificate is not redeemable online.) 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 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.
Alternatives to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Other Visa cards
If the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi doesn't appeal to you but you still want a credit card to use at Costco, keep in mind that your choices are limited to cards on the Visa payment network. Costco accepts only Visa credit cards, along with cash, checks, debit cards, EBT and Costco Cash cards. Visa cards worth a look:
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card: This card earns 2.5% cash back on up to $10,000 in purchases per billing cycle. There's a fairly steep annual fee, though it's waived in the first year. To apply for the card, you first must join Alliant Credit Union.
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card: You need a Fidelity account to reap the rewards on this card. It earns 2% back on every purchase, including at Costco. There's no annual fee.
Chase Freedom®: This card is no longer accepting applications and has been effectively replaced by the Chase Freedom Flex℠. Current cardholders still get 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate (on up to $1,500 per quarter in spending) and 1% back on all other spending. Wholesale clubs (including Costco) have been included in the bonus categories from time to time, including for three quarters in 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2018.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®: This card pays 5% on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% cash back on every other purchase and has a $0 annual fee. Bonus cash back for new cardholders: Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Is the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi right for you?
Credit cards don't generally offer bonus rewards on wholesale clubs, so the 2% cash-back rewards at Costco and Costco.com on the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi can make the card worth getting for some Costco loyalists. The card's generous bonus categories for gas, travel, and dining out can sweeten the deal.
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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