The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is one of the best store credit cards on the market. If you already have a Costco membership, this card is a solid way to earn rewards across a wide range of purchases, including eligible gas, restaurants, eligible travel and at Costco — both in-store and online.

Now that more people are staying home and spending more on groceries, it makes sense to look into how you can maximize the rewards you earn at the stores you frequent most, such as Costco, Target or Walmart. While there are plenty of cards that earn transferable currencies currently offering rewards on groceries, wholesale clubs such as Costco are almost always left out of the rewards category.

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I'll be honest, I'm not typically a huge fan of store credit cards, in part because they rarely have a great rewards structure or benefits that make the application worth it. But the Costco Anywhere Visa is an exception. With a solid rewards structure that covers more than just Costco purchases and a couple of purchase protections, it's a strong contender if you regularly shop at Costco.

Who is this card for?

The primary target market for this card is obviously those who shop frequently at Costco, but you don't have to be a total fanatic who only shops at Costco in order to enjoy the benefits of the Costco Anywhere Visa. As long as you shop at Costco enough to justify the annual cost of a membership, this card is worth at least considering.

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Unlike some store credit cards, you're earning rewards across more than just Costco purchases — the highest bonus category on the card is actually eligible gas stations worldwide. The cash back you earn with this card can be used on more than just Costco expenses. Factor in the long-term savings potential of Costco Travel, and this card turns out to be quite valuable for families and beginner travelers who aren't looking to add multiple points and miles cards to their wallet.

Do keep in mind that you need a Costco membership to apply for the card. If you already have one or are planning on getting one, this card is essentially a no-annual-fee card. If you don't shop at Costco enough to make a yearly membership worth it, you should look at other card options.

Sign-up bonus

Sadly, the Costco Anywhere Visa doesn't currently offer a sign-up bonus. But it does offer long-term benefits that still make the card worth it for many, especially since it charges no annual fee for those who already have a Costco membership.

Main perks and benefits

Aside from the perks you get from being a Costco member, the Costco Anywhere Visa does offer extended warranty protection and purchase protection. Purchase protection will cover repairs or a refund if eligible purchases made with your card are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents). Extended warranty coverage will extend the manufacturer's warranty by two years.

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How to earn rewards

The earning structure is where this card really stands out. You'll earn 4% cash back on eligible gas (on up to $7,000 per year; then 1%), 3% back at restaurants and on eligible travel purchases, 2% back on in-store and online Costco purchases and 1% on everything else.

If you're maximizing gas purchases alone, that's $280 in rewards each year just for that bonus category alone.

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Costco offers two levels of consumer membership — Gold Star ($60) and Gold Star Executive ($120). If you shop at Costco frequently throughout the year, combining this card with an Executive membership will earn even more in rewards. Executive members earn 2% back on the first $50,000 spent each year at Costco (up to $1,000 in additional rewards), Costco.com and on Costco Travel. Those rewards are stackable with the Costco Anywhere Visa. That means you can earn up to 5% on Costco Travel and 4% on other Costco in-store and online purchases (though the 2% Executive earning is not applicable to Costco gas purchases).

If you aren't shopping at Costco enough throughout the year to justify an Executive membership, the additional 2% back likely won't make it worth it to buy the higher level. But if you are someone who already shops at Costco enough to have the Executive membership, this no-annual-fee card is an excellent addition to your wallet.

How to redeem rewards

Costco cash back is redeemed once per year in the form of a reward certificate. You'll receive your reward after your February billing statement closes. Once you have the reward certificate, you can redeem it for merchandise or cash at a Costco location. Depending on the award amount and which Costco you redeem at, you might receive your redeemed cash back in the form of a check or electronic transfer instead.

This redemption method is a bit more restrictive than your typical cash-back card, but it's rare for a store card to offer rewards that can be used on anything except merchandise. While it can be inconvenient to have to wait for an entire year to get your cash-back rewards, you are able to redeem them for cash that can be used on anything you want.

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Unpacking the Costco Travel portal

Points and miles gurus typically prefer to book travel directly with hotels and car rental companies rather than using a portal. But Costco Travel does have a portal that can offer significant savings if you are more interested in finding cheaper prices than earning elite credits.

You can often find discounted prices on hotels, rental cars, cruises, theme park tickets and more through Costco. When looking at hotels and rental cars, it's a bit more hit-or-miss as to whether you'll get the absolute best price. But more times than not, cruise packages will be at least slightly cheaper through Costco, and you'll typically get a rebate in the form of a Costco Cash Card (on top of any rewards you'll earn with your card and/or membership by using Costco Travel).

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One of the more surprising ways to save with Costco Travel is on Disney and Universal Studios vacations. You can find great savings on park tickets, hotel rooms and even vacation packages with flights included.

While you may not be planning on traveling anytime soon, the Costco Travel Portal could come in handy going into the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 as travel picks back up.

Alternatives to the Costco Anywhere Visa

Even though you're earning a solid return across multiple categories with the Costco Anywhere Visa, that doesn't make it the right card for everyone. If you aren't shopping at Costco regularly, or if you are looking for a card that earns rewards you can use throughout the year, you may want to look at other credit card options.

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If you're looking for a great all-around cash back card that earns on gas and groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is another excellent option. You'll earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent annually; then 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services (including Disney+), and 3% on transit and on gas at U.S. gas stations for the annual fee of $95. (see rates and fees)

For those who typically spend more on travel and dining, but who have temporarily shifted spending priorities while cities are on lockdown and travel is at a standstill, there are many cards that have added additional earning opportunities for grocery store purchases. For example, Amex added a supermarkets category to a number of its cobranded travel cards and Chase added a grocery bonus category to many of its cards. While Costco specifically won't earn bonus rewards with either the Amex or Chase cards, these are potential alternatives if you aren't loyal to Costco.

Not wanting to add an annual fee to your wallet? <!–The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card is a no-annual-fee option that offers 3x on dining, travel and select streaming services. –>You can't go wrong with a flat-rate card like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2% back on every purchase (1% when you buy; 1% when you pay your bill each month).

Bottom line

Whether you are just looking for a card to maximize your Costco spending or want an everyday card to use on a variety of Costco and non-store purchases, the Costco Anywhere Visa is a solid option for you — especially if you already have an Executive Membership. While the redemption restrictions can be frustrating, you can always use the yearly cash-back check as an unofficial travel fund for the expenses that points and miles can't cover.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred, please clickhere.  

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