You can earn rewards most places you fill up, with a few exceptions.
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Dear Cashing In,
The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi says I should be getting cash back on gas, but I never receive 4 percent at any gas station other than Costco gas. At which gas stations do they give us 4 percent? – Seiko
If you’re a Costco member, the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa can be a good deal. There’s no annual fee, aside from the Costco membership fee you already pay, and using the card at Costco and elsewhere can deliver significant rewards.
With the Costco Visa, you earn 3 percent on restaurants and travel, 2 percent back at Costco and at Costco.com, and 1 percent on everything else. But one of the biggest draws, as you mention, is the 4 percent bonus on gas. As Costco’s website describes it: “4 percent cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including gas at Costco, for the first $7,000 per year in gas purchases and then 1 percent thereafter.” The website goes on to note thatt you do not receive the 4 percent on “gas purchased at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and warehouse clubs other than Costco or for fuel used for non-automotive purposes.”
That’s a pretty healthy bonus when you fill up your tank. Costco rewards are paid annually in the form of a coupon that can be redeemed at Costco stores and online.
At which gas stations will I earn 4 percent?
When Costco and Citi first rolled out the card in 2016, there was some confusion about where the 4 percent back on gas would be earned. You definitely receive it when you fuel up at Costco – which incidentally tends to sell cheaper gas than a typical gas station. But company representatives said you also receive it at other gas stations, too.
As with other category bonuses, whether or not you receive the bonus for a particular type of purchase depends on how a merchant is coded by payment networks using what is known as the Merchant Category Code (MCC). As I wrote when the card first came out:
Card companies know what type of merchant you are charging at only via the merchant category code (MCC) that the card networks assign to individual businesses. Visa has separate codes for miscellaneous food stores/convenience stores (5499), service stations (5541) and automated fuel dispensers (5542). Supermarkets and warehouse clubs also have separate codes. Citi does not control how merchants are coded.
Citi confirmed that the Costco Anywhere Visa Card will give 4 percent at merchants classified as gas stations. In practice, most places where you pump gas are coded as gas stations, not as convenience stores – even if they are affiliated with a convenience store that offers the usual array of gum, lottery tickets, old-looking hot dogs and cold beer.
Paying at pump or in store may affect earnings
Anecdotally, some card users have reported on various websites that they have used the Citi Costco cards at QuikTrip and Circle K and received the full 4 percent. Sometimes, there is a different MCC for paying with a card at the gas pump as opposed to walking inside and paying, so if you go in to pay, that might explain why you are not receiving the 4 percent cash back at certain gas stations – although in some cases you can receive the 4 percent at the pump and inside the store.
It would be nice to think that there is nationwide consistency in how these rules are applied, but that’s just not the way category bonuses work. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error.