The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi doesn’t have a welcome bonus.
Your rewards become available in February, and you have to go into a brick-and-mortar Costco store to redeem them.
For frequent Costco shoppers, the card is still the best for Costco warehouse and online purchases.
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The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has long been one of the best cash back cards for frequent Costco shoppers.
The card earns 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging, 3% back at restaurants and eligible travel, 2% at Costco and Costco.com, and 1% everywhere else. Add in the purchase protection and the fact that the card doubles as your membership card, and this cash back card is certainly strong.
That said, the card has numerous weaknesses that have irked me for a long time. While I still think this is one of the best cards for Costco purchases, here are three things I really don’t like about it.
1. No welcome bonus
Not even a free hot dog!
Unlike other cash back credit cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has no sign-up bonus. That’s disappointing, especially when other no annual fee credit cards are offering lucrative welcome bonuses.
Consider, for instance, the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. As a welcome bonus, this cash back card earns an extra 1.5% on everything you buy, up to $20,000 spent. That allows you to earn a maximum of $300. The extra 1.5% will boost the card’s three bonus rates: 6.5% on travel, 4.5% on drugstores and restaurants, and 3% everywhere else — yes, including Costco.
Within its bonus period, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® will actually earn more at Costco than Costco’s own Visa Card — 3% versus 2%.
2. Cash back is only redeemable once per year
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi owners don’t have access to their rewards year-round. Instead, rewards become available only at the closing of their February billing statement. That means, if you apply for a Costco Visa Card today, you won’t have access to your rewards until February 2024.
Now, to be fair, some cardholders actually like this feature. In their view, the cash back deferral forces them to accumulate rewards, which can then be used on larger purchases, like furniture or a vacation.
However, one problem that can be tricky for Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi owners is inflation. Cash back is static and doesn’t grow by any interest rates. Should the prices of goods go up, your rewards will gradually lose purchasing power.
Of course, the opposite can hold true, too: the prices of some goods, like gas and vacation packages, can fluctuate throughout the year. If you’re savvy enough, you might be able to redeem them at such a time as to get the best value.
You could also forfeit your rewards completely if you cancel your Costco membership before February. Costco will not pay out rewards if you cancel before you redeem them. This could lock you into a membership you no longer use, or force you to give up what you’ve earned.
3. Limited redemption options
Finally, Costco gives you one option to redeem — you have to carry your voucher into a brick-and-mortar Costco store and cash it out with Costco personnel.
Yes, in person.
To be fair, Costco finally started allowing cardholders to receive rewards as a bank deposit if they earned $500 or more. For smaller amounts, however, you still have to go to a Costco store to cash out your voucher.
I suppose if you already shop frequently at Costco this shouldn’t pose a problem. But if you’re socially awkward like me, it’s just one more social interaction to navigate.
Should you get the Costco Visa Card?
For frequent shoppers at Costco, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi should certainly have a place in your wallet. The card has no annual fee and generous earn rates. Even if you don’t get a free hot dog on signing up, you can still earn enough cash back to feed a few minor league baseball teams.