TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express Review

The TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express is the only general purpose credit card accepted in Costco warehouse stores - they don't take Visa, MasterCard or Discover. For now at least. Starting April 1, 2016, Costco will accept Visa instead of American Express ending a 16-year exclusive partnership between the companies. Costco will instead partner with Citi to bring a co-branded card.

Details about the rewards or terms of card haven't been announced.

Rewards Details

Nevertheless, the rewards program on the TrueEarnings card is quite generous. You get 3% percent cash back on the first $4,000 gas purchases, either at Costco or stand-alone gas stations, and 1% after that. (However, you don't get the reward if you use the card at gas stations run by Costco's competitors, such as supermarkets, superstores, convenience stores, and other warehouse clubs). You also earn 3% percent back at restaurants, 2% on travel purchases, and 1% everywhere else.

Accumulated rewards are distributed annually each February in the form of an in-store coupon redeemable for merchandise or cash at any Costco warehouse in the U.S. That may be too long to wait for some, but one huge rewards check may be perfect for others. You must redeem the reward by August 31 of the year the reward is issued.

Pricing

There's no annual fee on the card, but you must be a Costco member to get it, which provides a huge incentive to use the card at Costco.

Costco annual membership fees start at $50 and are automatically charged to your card.

There's a 0% APR for the first six months followed by a relatively modest 15.24%, so you will likely need better than average credit to qualify for this card.

Balance transfers don't have an introductory promotional rate and are charged an APR of 15.24% with a fee of $5 or 3%.

The APR for cash advances is 25.24% with a fee of $5 or 3%. The penalty APR is 27.24%. Foreign transactions are charged a fee of 2.7% after the conversion to U.S. dollars.

Comparison and Outlook

TrueEarnings from American Express and Costco is a much better card than Amex's Blue Card. The rewards program is much more generous and easier to understand. If you shop at Costco, this is one of the better cash rewards cards out there, especially considering many cash back cards exclude warehouse stores from their highest earning cash back categories.

Of course, with the clock ticking on the Costco/Amex partnership, you may wonder whether it's worth it. American Express hasn't announced what will happen with the TrueEarnings card, but it's possible that the accounts could be purchased by Citi.

Edited by LaToya Irby. Last updated June 24, 2014. Credit card terms and sign-up bonuses are subject to change from the time of this review. Refer to the application for current terms and conditions.