TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express Review
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[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Important Update:”]This Costco branded credit card will be discontinued on June 19, 2016. Read our post on Costco’s transition to Visa to learn what you need to know about this change. [/thrive_text_block]
Verdict: The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express is an excellent cash back credit card for people who want to be rewarded on every purchase that they make. It is essentially two cards in one because it is not just a cash back credit card; it’s also a Costco membership card. However, for those who don’t shop at Costco, or want a more flexible rewards program, there are better cards on the market, such as the Discover it or Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express is a cash back credit card that doubles as a Costco club membership card. It rewards you for every purchase made — both at Costco and elsewhere. The TrueEarnings card is a great one to have in your wallet if you’re a frequent Costco shopper. You’ll earn 3% cash back at gas stations and Costco gasoline, 2% back at restaurants and eligible travel purchases, and 1% back on all other spending, including other Costco purchases.
TrueEarnings Rewards Program
The American Express Costco TrueEarnings card has a fairly straightforward rewards program. You earn 3% cash back at gas stations and Costco gasoline up to $4,000 per year in purchases, after which you earn 1%. You will also earn 2% back at restaurants and eligible travel purchases, including those made through Costco. You earn 1% back on all other purchases. While this is a pretty strong rewards program, the $4,000 cap is fairly low when compared to other gasoline rewards cards, if you are mostly interested in gas rewards.
Cash back is received in the form of a reward coupon each year. This annual coupon will be attached to your February bill, and it can be redeemed at any Costco location — but it must be redeemed by August of that year.
There is also a business version of the card, which has higher rewards. With the Business American Express Costco card, you earn 4% back at gas stations on up to $7,000 in spending.
There is no limit to the cash back rebates that you can earn when you use the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express. You can earn as much as you want on all of the purchases that you make every day. Costco is a well known warehouse club that has specialty departments and services with great prices. When you pay your membership fee and get your picture taken and placed on the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express, it now becomes your membership card. The membership fee takes the place of the annual fee for the card.
Travel and Shopping Benefits
When you travel, there are numerous benefits included with this TrueEarnings Card like emergency check-in. If you happen to lose your card, it will allow you to check-in and your card will be charged. By using American Express Online Travel, you can book air, cruises, car rentals and hotel accommodations at the very lowest and competitive prices available. Plus, you will be covered by travel accident insurance of up to $100,000 for dismemberment and accidental death insurance.
Other travel benefits that are offered with this card include the following: 24/7 Emergency Hotline: For financial, medical, legal or other assistance when you are over 100 miles from home. Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: This coverage protects you when you rent a car with your AmEx and decline the collision damage waiver at the counter. You will be covered if the vehicle is stolen or damaged. Extended Warranty: When you use your Costco American Express card, you will get an extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less. Purchase Protection: The TrueEarnings Card offers a warranty of up to 1 additional year on warranties of 5 years or less. Coverage is also available for damaged items up to the amount charged on the card. Additionally, customers are not held liable for fraudulent charges on this card.
Interest Rate, Fees & Other Fine Print
The fees that are associated with the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express are minimal. There are no annual fees as long as your Costco membership is paid. For a complete list of updated rates and fees check the card website before you apply.
TrueEarnings vs American Express Blue Cash
The American Express Blue Cash card has a similar cash back rewards program. The Blue Cash Card offers 3 percent cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in spending), 2% cash back at gas stations and department stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Most of the other rewards are very similar to those of the TrueEarnings Card. The fees are also very similar. Neither card has an annual fee.
Deciding which card is better is virtually a toss-up. The Blue Cash Card does have a better sign-up bonus, and it will depend on your spending habits. If you usually spend more on gasoline than groceries, the Blue Cash is a better choice. The TrueEarnings Card has the added advantage of a Costco membership, which could be handy if you can take advantage of the deals that Costco offers. Of course, you could get this membership separately and still use the Blue Cash Card. Overall, the Blue Cash Card is a slightly better bet, but don’t lose sleep if you’ve already chosen the TrueEarnings Card.
The Chase Freedom Card currently comes with a $100 cash back offer after you spend $500 within 3 months. Its fees are similar to the TrueEarnings Card. It also offers 5% cash back on rotating categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
If you’re willing to keep up with the rotating categories, the Chase Freedom card is a better bet than the TrueEarnings Card. 5% cash back categories for 2015 include grocery stores (not including Target and Walmart), movie theaters, Starbucks, restaurants, gas stations and Amazon.com. The potential for 5% back on your purchases is a key difference between the 2 cards. The TrueEarnings card has the advantage of also serving as a Costco membership card, but that can be obtained separately if you choose to use the Chase Freedom Card instead.
3% Cash back for annual gasoline purchases of up to $4,000 (1% thereafter).
2% cash back on travel and dining
1% cash back on everything else that you purchase with the credit card
Rebates are annually rewarded as a coupon that can be used to buy merchandise at a Costco Warehouse or to be redeemed for cash
No limit to the amount of cash back rewards that can be earned
The annual rebates must be used by the expiration date that is listed on them or forfeited
Monthly credit review could cause a higher APR and will last for 12 months
Rewards program is limiting as you must wait to get your cash back in the form of a coupon once a year with an expiration
Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.