About Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi
If you love warehouse club shopping, you’ve probably heard that Costco is offering the new Costo Citi Anywhere Visa. The card offers you yearly cash back rewards at varying levels for gas, restaurants, travel groceries and more.
The credit card world is full of these types of offers, so it’s pretty overwhelming trying to choose which rewards card is a good fit for you. It’s kind of like the feeling you get the first time you step into the cavernous, merchandise-laden space that is your local Costco, right?
We wanted to know the details about this card: How do the rewards work? What’s the fine print you might be missing? What are other people saying about this credit card?
As we explore the answers to each of these questions, you’ll start to get a pretty clear idea of whether or not Costco’s Anywhere Visa is the right cash-back card for you.
How do the Rewards Work?
- 4% back on gas purchases up to $7,000 (you’ll max out at $280 in this category).
- 3% cash back on restaurants and travel
- 2% cash back on purchases from Costco/Costco.com
- 1% on all other purchases.
You’ll also get a 0% APR for any purchases made in the first seven months you have the card.
Costco sends you a rewards coupon in February every year equal to the amount of rewards you built up the previous year. You can cash that in at any Costco location for money or to put toward a purchase. However, you can’t cash out whenever you want like you can with other cards.
With the basic information about the rewards program out of the way, let’s take a look at the fine print. The sections with the smallest letters often have the biggest impact on your experience with a credit card.
What Does the Fine Print Say?
Once the average consumer reads through the big promises for cash back, they either leave the website because they aren’t interested or they sign up for the card. Do you see what’s missing from this process? Reviewing the terms and conditions. That kind of research can be super annoying, so we’ve combed through the fine print so you don’t have to.
What Hind of Gas and Grocery Rewards can I expect with the Costco Anywhere Card?
According to a Dec. 2015 report from CNN Money, the average American spent about $1,400 on gas in 2015.
If you use your Costco Visa to make all those purchases, your end-of-the-year rewards will be about $64 (4%). And if you’ve got two cars and two drivers, you’re looking at about $128 in rewards.
Now, let’s say you do all of your grocery shopping at Costco. How much money can you plan on getting back at the end of the year with your 2% rewards? If the average shopping bill for a family of four is any indication ($895 per month), you’re looking at about $216 per year.
So far, our tally for the average household’s rewards is $344 per year. In our opinion, that’s a pretty decent payoff for using this card.
Are There Any Gas Stations or Grocery Stores Excluded From the Reward Program?
This is another important question, as nearly every cash back card has its own set of restrictions on what kind of purchase qualifies for rewards.
Here’s what the fine print says:
- Your gas purchases only count for 1% if you fill up at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and warehouse clubs.
- Any restaurant purchases made at bakeries and at restaurants inside of department, grocery or warehouse stores will count for 1%, not 3%.
We think Costco has put these rules in place to make sure you do all of your shopping at their locations. They don’t want you buying gas anywhere else – that’s why, in our opinion, they drop your rewards rate if you get gas at any of the gas stations that fall into the categories we mentioned above.
And think about the gas rewards from this perspective: you’re probably more likely to go in the store if you’re outside getting gas. You might remember something you forgot last time you went shopping, or you may want to go in and browse. Either way, you’re in the store and your chances of spending more money just went way up.
From our perspective, this shows that Costco has set up their rewards program to keep you loyal to their stores. They get the benefits of your loyalty – more sales – and you get the benefit of accumulating more cash back when you shop at Costco.
What happens when it’s time to cash in those rewards? That’s what our next section is all about.
How do I redeem Costco Anywhere Points?
Costco’s rules for receiving your rewards are pretty interesting as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your rewards are sent out in the form of a coupon by mail in February, whether you have paperless billing or not.
- If you choose to use the rewards for Costco purchases, any balance left over at the end of your purchase will be given back to you in cash.
- If you choose to redeem your rewards for cash, it’s up to Costco if they want to give you cash or a check.
- Your rewards must be redeemed on or before Dec. 31 of that year.
- If you close your credit card account before you use your rewards, you lose your rewards balance.
As you can see, there are some pretty crucial rules here you can’t forget.
To get back to what we were saying earlier, we think the rewards system is set up to keep you at Costco – it’s no different with their reward redemption policies.
Let’s say you totally forget about your rewards and you’re a few weeks away from the end of the year. A likely scenario would be you going to Costco to buy Christmas presents with your rewards before they expire. That’s a win for Costco.
Also, we’re not sure how often they send you a check instead of giving you cash, but that could be a serious frustration for someone who needs cash immediately and is told they’ll have to wait for a check.
These last two examples are hypothetical, but we think they speak to likely scenarios. So, keep these things in mind as you figure out if you’re going to apply for the Anywhere Visa.
And before we forget, here’s a quick breakdown of the fees/rates you can expect with this card:
- 15.49% APR on purchases after intro period
- If you make a late payment, your APR could go up to 29.99%
- No annual fee if you’re a Costco member
What Are Other People Saying About This Card?
When you read reviews, remember that you’ve got to recognize the various aspects of owning a credit card: the card’s benefits and customer service. You’ll see consumer perspectives in each of these areas as we look over reviews for the Costco Visa.
One thing to keep in mind is that Costco recently changed their credit card from American Express to Visa, and that shift resulted in some account hiccups you’ll hear about in a few seconds.
Common complaints were that new and replacement cards never showed up or took a long time to arrive. Several customers complained about Citi’s phone-based customer service, while others complained about unwarranted charges that happened during the Amex-to-Citi transition.
A June 2016 article from Consumer Reports pointed out that the Citi card offers better rewards than the previous American Express card.
Now, for our conclusions.
The Final Word: Will You Be Happy With the Costco Anywhere Card?
Let’s do a quick review. Costco’s new card offers decent cash back rewards on gas and groceries (more than $300 per year), but the best cash-back percentages are only available if you shop at their store or fill up at their gas station. If you’re already a Costco customer, these are some pretty great benefits.
And since Costco is marketing this card to its members, the 4 percent cash back on gas is a pretty great deal. The warehouse’s gas stations usually offer gas at a few cents cheaper than Shell, BP, Chevron and the others, so you’re getting savings at the pump and rewards at the end of the year/
Also, if you’re a member, you won’t pay an annual fee on the card.
However, if you don’t do much shopping at Costco or you’re single (on the low-end for grocery bills) and work from home (paltry gas bills), then there’s a good chance other cards are a better fit for you. Those cards won’t tie you to one particular store, which is the main drawback of the Anywhere card.
If you don’t live near a Costco or you like to shop at grocery stores or boutique markets, this card may not be a good fit for you.
0 out 1 people found this review helpful
Weak bonus programs and frustrating cash rewards redemption process
When making one of my infrequent visits to Costco in late November 2016, I unfortunately forgot about the termination of their relationship with American Express. Out of all the credit card issuers out there, I would have to rank Amex at the top of the list with respect to service and an overall positive customer experience. I’ve been an American Express card holder for 20+ years, and plan to maintain an account with them for the remainder of my life. I was dismayed to learn that the time had expired in which American Express was an accepted form of payment at Costco.
During my visit, I only had an American Express Blue and Citi Dividend MasterCard in my wallet. Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, there was a Visa representative at the Costco location ready to take my information for a new Visa product on the spot. Without spending too much time evaluating the various program offerings, I decided to register for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citibank. My low-risk credit score granted immediate approval of an account. I received a temporary paper credit card print out for my day’s shopping activity.
One of the main reasons I had chosen the Anywhere Visa Card was the ongoing accumulation of cash rewards as part of my yearly purchase activity. The program sounded similar to that which is available through my Citi Dividend MasterCard. So without reading too much of the fine print, I moved forward with the application process. Only later would I discover that my experience with the Anywhere Visa Card would pale in comparison to my positive experience with Citi Dividend MasterCard.
I soon learned that once you accumulate a certain threshold level of cash rewards, you’re required to print out your reward certificate and take it to a Costco location in order to redeem it. This is nothing like the Citi Dividend MasterCard program where once I reached a $50.00 threshold, and by selecting the "redeem option" they will automatically mail a check to my home address. With the Costco Anywhere Visa Card program you actually have to drive to a Costco location, get into a customer service line, and either obtain the desired cash value or use the amount for purchases! I also believe the redemption is limited to a yearly withdrawal.
In addition to the inconvenient cash reward redemption process, the other incentives have little to no appeal. 4% cash back on gas purchases and 3% cash back on restaurant and travel seemed appealing at first, until you dig deeper. I eventually learned that only certain gas stations and restaurants qualify for this perk. After running some yearly projections on what the cash back amounts, it seemed like more of a hassle than a benefit. The variable interest rate on the card also appeared excessive compared to other credit card options.
Today I canceled my yearly Costco membership, which was automatically billed to my Anywhere Visa Card. Something else I did not realize is that the Costco membership and credit card are actually linked together! By canceling my Costco membership, your Anywhere Visa Card is also canceled. Apparently, it takes up to two to three months for the Anywhere Visa Card to move into cancellation status. Perhaps this has something to do with their rewards programs and inconvenient redemption process.
After reading some of the 1 and 2-star reviews, I can see I’m not alone in my disdain for this financial product. It appears that some of the other complaints about the card are related to unexpected account closers and issues with member accounts. Fortunately, I was not on the receiving end of this type of hassle. However, I’m sure I would have canceled the card a lot sooner had this taken place.
In this particular situation, a poor experience with a credit card company motivated me to cancel my membership with the retailer that enrolled me in the card in the first place. In the future, I will always do my own research online first before applying for a credit card, and never fill out an application in store. Now that I will no longer be shopping at Costco, other retailers such as Sam’s Club are looking more appealing these days.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
1 out 1 people found this review helpful
It sounded good, so I got the card.
Within 30 days, had six fraudulent charges on the account. They reversed the charges, but in the next statement, I had five more fraudulent charges. They reversed these charges, canceled the card and issued me a new card.
In the next statement, I had five more fraudulent charges on the newly issued card! Unbelievable. I called, and they reversed the charges. After a total of more than three hours on the phone with them, trying to resolve all of these fraudulent charges, I canceled the card.
All of this was in only three short months!
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
2 out 3 people found this review helpful
It's been over three months since approval, several phone calls to Citibank and promises as well, I still have not received my Costco Visa card. I receive email and mail correspondence about my supposed account but
NO CARD. Worse, I've been a long-time Citibank customer and I am appalled by this gross negligence on their part.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend