Reviews Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi review

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi review

Published: March 21, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Cash Back Rating:
3.3 rating
3.3 rating
3.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.3
Rewards Flexibility: 2.3
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

The Costco Anywhere Visa card lavishes devoted Costco shoppers with one of the highest cash back rates in existence, but ensures they can’t redeem their rewards unless they maintain their loyalty to Costco.

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Rewards Rate

  • 4% cash back eligible gas purchases
  • 3% cash back restaurant and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back Costco purchases
  • 1% cash back general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
None

Annual Fee
No annual fee for the card, but $55 for Costco membership

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$300

APR
15.99%

Pros

  • No limit on amount of cash you can earn
  • Redeem any amount above $1
  • Redeem for Costco merchandise and cash back

Cons

  • You only get cash back once a year, as a certificate, in February
  • Certificate expires 12/31 of the same year
  • Must redeem certificate at Costco
  • You lose your rewards if you close your account before you receive your certificate

Other Notable Features: Free FICO score, purchase protection, extended warranty, Citi Price Rewind, worldwide car rental insurance, trip cancellation/interruption protection, travel and emergency assistance

At last, the dust seems to have settled on Costco’s transition to the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa. Following a longstanding relationship with American Express, Costco recently made a very bumpy transition to a co-branded Citi card – rife with misrouted cards and long customer support wait times – that set off a wave of grumbling among Costco shoppers. But Citi has since smoothed things out and the card has begun to generate more positive feedback from its users, for good reason: It offers a fantastic rewards rate for people who shop frequently at Costco.

However, the card also comes with a very large catch. Cash back is issued once a year in February, and if your Costco membership lapses before then, you lose your rewards. So even current Costco members should think twice about using this card for cash rewards, if they are unsure they’ll keep their Costco membership current through next February.

Great rewards rate

The card offers a great rewards scheme. The card’s 4 percent cash back rate on gas purchases is one its best features. It applies not just to Costco gas station purchases, but to most gas station purchases, excluding convenience stores and large bulk retailers. While the 4 percent rate is capped at $7,000 worth of gas purchases, this is still incredibly generous – if you manage to max out the gas category, you could earn $280 worth of cash back just on gas purchases.

The card also offers a high 3 percent cash back rate on travel and dining out. While frequent travelers may prefer to keep their rewards points on a travel rewards card, most cardholders should appreciate getting some extra cash back on their restaurant purchases.

Finally, the card offers unlimited 2 percent cash back on purchases made in-store at Costco and online through Costco.com. A hardcore Costco shopper who makes most of their gas, grocery and household purchases at Costco, and uses the card for dining out, could easily generate more than 2 percent cash back on their credit card spending. In comparison, some of the best-rated cards in our cash back category max out at 2 percent. With a little strategy, a Citi Costco card user could beat the cash back rate on these cards.

Better rewards in the long run

The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa, unfortunately, comes with no sign-up bonus, so if your goal is to pocket a giant sign-up bonus and then drop the card, this card is not for you. However, if you’re looking to earn the most cash back possible, the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa may be your best bet. The high rewards rate on the card will overcome the advantage of a large sign-up bonus over time.

A no fee card … with a fee

Technically, the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa does not have an annual fee. You do, however, have to be a member of Costco to use the card, which costs $55 annually. For current members of Costco, the membership fee may be a moot point, but cardholders trying to weigh the pros and cons of joining Costco just for the card’s cash back rewards will need to factor in that fee.

Inflexible rewards program

The card’s biggest downside is the inflexibility of its cash redemption options. In addition to requiring members to maintain their loyalty from year to year to obtain their rewards, cash back is in the form of a certificate. Cardholders must take their certificate to Costco, where they can cash it out at the register or use it to pay for merchandise.

If you cancel your Costco membership before February, you forfeit all of the cash rewards that you have earned through the year. Also, your certificate comes with a very short shelf life – if you fail to redeem it by year’s end, you also forfeit all of your rewards.

These tight restrictions on receiving cash back make the card less valuable for anyone who doesn’t want to be locked into a yearly Costco membership, or who wants more ways to redeem their rewards, or who simply wants a program with a less stringent deadline.

Valuable benefits for Citi cardholders

The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa is good for charging major purchases, since it offers purchase protections, including extended warranty and Citi Price Rewind. It also comes with travel protections, such as worldwide car rental insurance and trip cancellation and interruption protection. Also, Citi helps its members keep on top of their credit with a free monthly FICO score.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You are already a Costco member.
  • You like to shop at bulk superstores.
  • You plan to maintain your Costco membership past next February.

How to use it:

  • Be sure to keep your Costco account open through February – you lose your rewards if you cancel your membership before then.
  • Be sure to redeem your cash back certificate before it expires on December 31.
  • Bring your certificate with you when you shop at Costco – you can get cash back at the register or use it to cover your shopping bill.
  • Use this card any time you pay for gas – the bonus rate applies at most gas stations (bulk superstores and convenience store gas stations excluded).
  • Use this card when dining out to take advantage of the high cash rewards rate.
  • Put your major purchases on the card to take advantage of the card’s bevy of purchase protections.

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