The Costco Anywhere Visa card by Citi offers a high amount of cash back on gas, travel and Costco purchases, but is it the best card to use to earn the most rewards at Costco?
But on top of the savings you get from buying supplies in bulk, there’s another way to get more value out of your next Costco trip – using the right credit card. Costco itself offers a co-branded card that comes with competitive rewards on your purchases, and many other cards also offer top-notch rates on Costco spending. By swiping the right card in the checkout line, you can ensure you maximize your points or cash back return.
If you shop at Costco, read on to learn about our favorite credit cards for Costco spending and how much value they can provide.
The Costco Anywhere Visa is a great card … with one major drawback
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi isn’t just a great card for Costco purchases; it’s an all-around great card to use as your go-to for every purchase to earn a high rewards rate and has no foreign transaction fee.
The card offers 4% cash back on up to $7,000 in gas purchases per year (1% thereafter) – from any eligible gas station, not just Costco – 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on Costco purchases and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Our rating: 2.5 out of 5
Our take: The Costco Anywhere Visa excels as a card for Costco and gas purchases, though you’ll have to contend with an annual membership fee for Costco and only redeeming your cash back once a year.
The bonuses on gas and restaurant purchases are generous, pushing the potential earning rate to nearly 2% of your spending, based on our estimations. If you spend heavily in a particular category (e.g., restaurants) – you could push your cash back earnings higher than 2%.
There is one major drawback to the Citi Costco Visa, however: You receive your cash back once a year. Cash back rewards are mailed as a certificate in February, which you must take to your local Costco to redeem for purchases or for cash back at the register. If your Costco membership expires before the certificate is sent, you forfeit all earnings for that year.
Avid Costco shoppers may view this as a moot point. But, if you are on the fence about your Costco membership, or if you would prefer to get your hands on your cash back sooner, you may want to consider a rewards card that is less restrictive at redemption.
You can’t beat the Costco card for Costco gas purchases
If you’re trying to decide which rewards card to wield at the pump, the Costco Visa is usually the best option. Getting 4% cash back on Costco’s already discounted gasoline is a good deal. While there are a few other cards that offer a 5% cash back rate on gas purchases, their rewards terms generally exclude Costco and other warehouse stores.
One exception is the Chase Freedom®, which offers 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Though the spending categories can vary by year, the first- quarter category is usually gas purchases, and it does include gas from Costco. So, for one quarter of the year, the Chase Freedom card is the better option for gas purchases. Not only do you earn a higher rewards rate, but you can transfer your rewards to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to get an even better value on travel redemptions.
For the highest earning rate in the first year: Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card may not seem like the best bet for Costco purchases. After all, its 1.5% cash back rate is lower than the 2% rate that you can earn with the Costco card. But, the Chase Freedom Unlimited may offer a better rewards value.
Our rating: 3.8 out of 5
Our take: You can transfer your points to other Ultimate Rewards cards to get a 25 to 50% boost on your points value, for an average value of 1.88 to 2.3 cents per point.
The tables below show the value of the different redemption options for each card. As you can see from the first table, your earnings from the Costco card for $2,500 spent at Costco amount to $50 – no more, no less:
Rewards on $2,500 Costco spend: Costco card
|Average rewards rate||Estimated points/year||Final rewards value|
With the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, the value of your points varies drastically, depending on how you redeem them. If you opt for cash back (i.e., a statement credit), you only get $38 worth of value, which pales in comparison to the Costco card. However, if you transfer your points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you can boost the value of your points by redeeming them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, where you get a 25% (Preferred) to 50% (Reserve) redemption bonus.
And, if you transfer the points to an airline partner, you can do even better by carefully searching for airfare options with higher values. For instance, Southwest points are very valuable (we value them at 1.6 cents per point on average). The Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards earned on your Costco spending could be worth $59 or more when transferred to Southwest’s loyalty program.
Rewards on $2,500 Costco spend: Chase Freedom Unlimited card
|Average rewards rate||Estimated points/year||Sample redemptions: Estimated value|
For 2X rewards with more flexible redemption: Capital One Venture card
If you prefer a rewards card with the same flat rate on any purchase, this one’s a no-brainer: The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is the way to go. The card offers a 2-miles-per-dollar rewards rate on all your spending, including Costco purchases. Like the Citi Costco card, miles on the Capital One Venture card are valued at 1 cent when redeemed for travel, which means $2,500 in spending will net you $50 in travel rewards.
Our rating: 4.2 out of 5
Our take: The Capital One Venture card matches the Costco Visa card’s 2X earning rate on Costco purchases, and its rewards are much more flexible and simple to redeem than the Costco card’s.
One drawback, however: The card includes a $95 annual fee.
Several other cards offer 2% cash back on Costco purchases
Besides the Capital One Venture card, there are a few other cards that offer a 2% cash back rate on Costco purchases.
The Fidelity Visa Signature and PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card cards, for example, offer a flat 2% rewards rate on your purchases. On the downside, both cards require you to have a qualified bank account. Still, for current cardholders, these cards are the better option for Costco purchases, since you can redeem your rewards at any time.
Additionally, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card offers 2% cash back on grocery store and wholesale club purchases, in addition to 3% back on a category of your choice from six options (2% and 3% categories capped at $2,500 in spend per quarter, then 1%) and 1% back on all other purchases.
Cards that earn 2% cash back on Costco purchases
|Credit card||Rewards rate||Restrictions|
|Fidelity Visa Signature||2% cash back on every purchase||Must have Fidelity bank account|
|PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature||2% cash back on every purchase||Must be PenFed member with qualified bank account|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||None|