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In early 2016, folks with AMEX Costco cards will receive new Citi Costco Visas, because starting March 31, 2016, you won’t be able to use AMEX cards at Costco any more.
I’ll explain which credit cards are best to use when shopping at warehouse stores, including BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club. And give you tips on how to earn Big Travel while doing it!
What’s Going On?
Folks have shared leaked documents about the new Citi Costco Visa. So far, we know:
- After March 31, 2016, all AMEX Costco cards will be replaced with Citi Costco Visa
- Costco will accept all Visa cards in Spring 2016
- There will be a rewards program for the new card
- More details will be available in early 2016
According to the official SEC filing of the new Citi-Costco partnership, here’s what the new rewards program will look like:
- 3% cash back on the 1st $4,000 of purchases each annual reward period (1% thereafter) of gasoline at Costco and US gas stations (excluding superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and warehouse clubs other than Costco)
- 2% cash back at US restaurants
- 2% cash back for eligible travel purchases including airfare, hotel stays (excluding timeshares, banquets, and events), car rentals, and purchases from Costco Travel
- 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including at Costco
The APR and foreign transaction fee haven’t been decided yet, but the card will have NO annual fee with a paid Costco membership.
This is an even better rewards program than the current AMEX Costco card has! And because Costco will accept all Visa cards, this is great news for folks who like to shop there!
If you have the current AMEX Costco card, you don’t have to do anything now. But look out for a letter about the changes.
Best Cards to Use at Warehouse Stores
Even though Costco stores only accept AMEX cards and cash in-store, you can still purchase Costco cash cards up to $1,000 on their website with any major credit card.
Keep in mind purchases made with a Costco cash card aren’t eligible for extended warranty and price protection like you’d get if you paid with certain credit cards.
But because of Costco’s generous return policy, you can return any item at any time for a full refund with no questions asked, except certain electronic items, which are only covered up to 90 days.
So if you want to buy, say, a new TV or tablet from Costco, it’s still best to use an AMEX card with purchase protection until they switch to the Citi Costco Visa.
BJ’s accepts AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa cards in-store and online. Sam’s Club accepts AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa cards online, and AMEX, Discover, and MasterCard in-store (but NOT Visa).
With that in mind, let’s look at some cards to use at these warehouse stores.
1. AMEX Starwood Cards
Warehouse stores earn 1 mile or point per $1 spent on most credit cards.
But with the AMEX Starwood personal or small business card, it’s like earning 1.25 miles per $1 spent when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline miles. Because you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer to their airline partners (like American Airlines) with a 1:1 ratio.
That’s 25% more miles when you use AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards, even better than some airlines’ own credit cards!
And, if you have lots of things to buy, it’s even easier to meet minimum spending requirements.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is 1 of my favorite cards. And if I could only have 1 credit card in my wallet it would be this card!
Even though you’ll only earn 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 spent at BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club, the value in these points is their flexibility.
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel with access to most airlines and hotels through the Chase Travel Portal. And, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.
Points earned with this card cover all 3 major airline alliances:
If you’re lucky enough to get reimbursed for purchasing lots of party supplies, warehouse clubs are an easy way to rack up points for:
- Homeowner’s Association upkeep
- Parent Teacher Association meetings
- Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts events
- Or any other get-together you host!
This is also a great card for stocking up on office supplies and snacks, janitorial supplies, and paper products. Especially if you can get reimbursed for them!
3. AMEX EveryDay Preferred
With the AMEX EveryDay Preferred card, you get:
- 3X American Express Membership Rewards points per $1 spent (up to $6,000 a year) at US supermarkets
- 2X American Express Membership Rewards per $1 spent at US gas stations and Uber
- 1X American Express Membership Rewards points on other purchases
But the real power of this card is when you when you make 30+ purchases in a billing cycle (not counting things you return for a credit). That’s because you’ll earn 50% bonus points, or 1.5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club.
Say you spend $1,000 at a warehouse store. If you meet the threshold of 30 purchases in a billing cycle, you’ll earn 1.5 American Express Membership Rewards points per $1. So that equals 1,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer to lots of airline and hotel partners, like Delta, Hilton, and Singapore Airlines, for Big Travel!
Warehouse stores also sell a lot of big-ticket items like engagement rings, lawn furniture, and the newest technology. Use a card that will earn you Big Travel in the process!
4. Citi Double Cash
Link: Citi Double Cash Card
Folks that like cash back might consider the Citi Double Cash card. It earns 1% cash back on every purchase, and another 1% cash back when you make payments, as long you meet the minimum payment on your monthly statement.
This card has easy-to-understand cash rewards with NO cap. And you can redeem for a mailed check, a statement credit, or for gift cards, when you reach $25 in rewards.
There’s also no annual fee! Read my full review of the card.
Starting March 31, 2016, you won’t be able to use AMEX cards at Costco any more. And folks with the AMEX Costco card will transition to the new Citi Costco Visa.
To earn Big Travel or cash back when you stock up at BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club, consider using:
- AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- AMEX EveryDay Preferred
- Citi Double Cash card
As soon as I get more details about the new Citi Costco Visa, I’ll be sure to share!