Last year, negotiations between Costco and American Express ended without reaching an agreement for the two companies to continue a partnership. Instead Costco announced that beginning this year, American Express cards would no longer be the co-branded card of the wholesale giant. The new store card will be a Visa from Citi, and the official switch will happen in June. Before that occurs, here's some of the more important things to know.
Citi Visa Has Better Rewards Than American Express
The American Express card provided some pretty decent rewards for Costco shoppers, and was probably one of the easiest cash-back AmEx cards to qualify for. Members could earn 3% back on gas purchases at Costco and other gas stations (up to $4,000 spent per year), plus 2% back on qualifying travel and restaurants. The biggest question when members found out a change was coming was how the new rewards would compare.
It turns out, they can't compare — the Citi Visa has significantly better rewards. When the switch occurs, members will be able to earn 4% back on gas purchases for a limit of up to $7,000 per year. Plus they'll earn 3% back for most restaurants and travel purchases, 2% back at Costco stores and online at Costco.com, and then 1% back on everything else.
You Don't Have to Re-Apply for the New Card
If you're already a Costco member, and you have the American Express card from Costco, you aren't going to have to re-apply for the new Citi Visa. Your AmEx account will simply be moved over to Visa. Citi also won't pull credit reports during the switch, so your credit shouldn't be dinged for the move.
Obviously, if you aren't a Costco member, or if you don't currently have the American Express card, applying for the new Visa will be like any other credit card application.
New Cards to Be Mailed in May
Costco members will receive their new Citi Visa cards sometime during May. American Express cards can be used through June 19. Costco will begin accepting the new Visa, as well as other new payment options, on June 20.
Keep Your Earned Costco Rewards
Any cash back rewards members have earned with their AmEx cards won't just go away. Until June 20, they'll accumulate rewards like normal when they use their cards. Then when the transfer goes through, the rewards will move over to the Visa card, along with any outstanding balances. The only thing members will lose is any additional benefits exclusive to American Express.
Don't Forget to Change Information for Recurring Payments
If you prefer to make automatic payments or withdrawals to pay certain bills, don't forget that you'll need to change that information when you receive your new Visa. The American Express card number will no longer be valid, so take note of your new credit card number. Make those changes accordingly so you aren't hit with any surprise late fees or extra charges from a company trying to take payments from a defunct card.
Costco Will Accept Pretty Much Any Payment EXCEPT American Express
Even if you aren't crazy about the new card being a Visa, Costco still has you covered. It will begin taking practically any payment you can think of, including any Visa credit card (whether it's a Costco one or not), plus MasterCard, Discover cards, debit/ATM cards, Costco cash cards, and of course, Costco credit cards. As long as you have something other than American Express in your wallet, you're set to shop.
This article first appeared in DealNews.