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5 key things to know about the Costco Anywhere Visa Card

Before you open the Costco Anywhere Visa Card, here are five key things you should know that may sway you one way or another.

Costco store in Teterboro, New Jersey.
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Few retailers inspire such strong customer loyalty as Costco (one couple even got married there). But is it smart for Costco members to sign up for the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi to maximize their savings?

CNBC Select took a deeper look at the card's benefits and drawbacks and here are five important things you should know about the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%); 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0, Costco membership required

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Generous gas rewards
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Reasonable 15.24% variable APR

Cons

  • Costco membership is required
  • Rewards are distributed once a year and can only be redeemed at U.S. Costco Warehouses
  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $406
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,031

1. It has a robust rewards program

While experts usually don't recommend signing up for a store credit card, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card is an exception, thanks in part to its tiered rewards program that benefits gas guzzlers, foodies and frequent travelers.

Here are the rewards you earn:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

2. Costco purchases don't earn the highest cash-back rate

Though this card is co-branded with Costco, purchases at the store don't earn the highest amount of cash back. You earn 2% cash back on purchases from Costco and Costco.com.

While this may seem rather low, if you frequently shop at Costco for groceries, it can still help you maximize your savings. Many rewards cards that offer bonus rewards at supermarkets exclude purchases at big box stores like Costco, so while you can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%) with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, that doesn't apply to Costco purchases.

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card is still one of your best options for Costco purchases with 2% cash back.

3. You can only collect rewards once a year

The cash back you earn with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card is provided via an annual reward certificate once your February billing statement closes. To redeem the certificate for a check or merchandise, you have to head to a U.S. Costco Warehouse. That may come as an unexpected surprise if you didn't read the fine print.

Learn more about how to redeem Costco credit card rewards.

4. You have to be a Costco member

While the card itself has no annual fee, cardholders must have a paid Costco membership, which start at $60 for Gold Star and Business levels, then doubles in price to $120 for Gold Star Executive and Business Executive members.

If you're already a Costco member, this isn't really an added cost. But if you're considering this card and already have a membership with BJ's or Sam's Club, you may think twice about adding the cost of another warehouse club membership.

Learn more: What credit cards does Costco accept?

5. The card offers helpful perks for travelers

Frequent travelers will benefit from the various perks provided by the Costco Anywhere Visa Card, which include travel and emergency assistance, worldwide travel accident insurance and worldwide car rental insurance.

Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees, so purchases made outside the U.S. won't incur the typical 3% charge. This can add up to substantial savings if you regularly travel abroad.

Bottom line

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card is a good choice for Costco members who want to earn competitive rewards on gas, dining and travel purchases, and don't mind receiving rewards once a year.

However, if you're not loyal to Costco and want a card that doesn't require membership but still earns high rewards, check out our list of the best credit cards for Costco. You can also browse CNBC Select's round-ups of the best cards for travel, dining, grocery and gas purchases.

Learn more: Costco vs Amazon: Which credit card is the best for your wallet?

Our Methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.