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
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