Costco American Express $25 Bonus, Chase NYC Commuter Cash, Free Credit Scores

True Earnings Card from Costco and American ExpressCostco Junkies: The TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express is no longer offering $25 bonus after your first purchase. But this is still a good all-around cashback card, offering:

  • 3% cash back on gasoline (any, including Costco gas)
  • 3% cash back at all restaurants
  • 2% cash back on travel (airline, lodging, car rental, cruise line, travel agency and tour operators)
  • 1% cash back on everything else, including Costco

There is no limit on cashback you can earn, and no annual fee with your Costco membership. It also doubles as your membership card, preserving some of that precious wallet space.

Business Version
If you have a business, or I guess a Costco Business membership, you should get the Business TrueEarnings American Express Card because it offers a higher 5% back on gas in addition the same 3% on restaurants, 2% on travel, and 1% on everything else. No $25 bonus, though. For individuals, leave the “Business Tax ID” space blank and just use your Social Security number, and they will treat you as a sole proprietorship.

[Also related: My overall favorite cashback/rewards cards]

NYC Commuters: Chase Bank is offering up to $50 back towards your commuting costs when you use your Chase debit card to make the purchase:

Pay for your MetroCard® , Train and NYC Yellow Cab rides with your Chase Debit Card. Get a $10 Cash Reward (up to $50) for every $150 in qualifying purchases this September 1 to October 31, 2008.*

Credit Score Watchers: This is a follow-up to my popular post on Five Ways To Get Your Free Credit Score … With No Trials!. One of the options, CreditKarma, has re-scaled their proprietary credit score to be in the 300-850 range, matching that of the “official” FICO-branded score. Their score is based on your TransUnion credit report, so it should now be easier to understand.


  1. The True Earnings Business Card gets you 5% cashback on gas (except at grocery store gas stations), plus all of the other benefits.

  2. AMEX Blue Cash gives you 5% cash back on gas, groceries, and drugstore (GGD) purchases and 1.5% on everything else. BUT that only applies to purchases after the first $6500 (which only get 1.5% on GGD purchases and 0.5% on everything else). so you have spend well more than $6500 per year to reap meaningful benefits.

  3. Regarding Credit Scores, I saw this little snippet on page 18 of this month’s Money magazine:

    “If you had a credit card anytime in the past 20 years, you can get no-cost credit monitoring from TransUnion, one of the big three reporting agencies. The freebie is part of a settlement of a class-action suit filed against TransUnion for selling customer profiles to third parties. The company denies wrongdoing. Sign up and you’ll get copies of your credit report and score as often as you like for six months (usual cost: $60), which can help alert you to any identity theft. To register, go to or call 866-416-3470 by Sept. 24.”


  4. You have to redeem your cashback reward at Costco. They will give you cash for it, and that is what everyone should do. So many people use their reward to pay for their next Costco purchase, which is a 3% loss for Executive members like me. You should always pay using your True Earnings card.

  5. simplesimon says:

    I currently use a Chase Freedom Visa for all my purchases (since most of the time I’m under the $600 limit) and use the Costco AmEx for gas purchases for two reasons:

    1) Costco’s gas is usually a few cents cheaper
    2) At this moment I have about a year’s worth of credit history so I’m trying to build credit.

    I’m at about $170 cash rewards for the Chase card, and once I hit $200 (to redeem for $250), I might switch to the AmEx full time, but it sucks that it’s not accepted as widely as Visa is.

  6. Yeah, I have the Blue Cash and getting the 5% is nice, but having to spend $6500 to get that isn’t so nice what with the paltry return below that level of spend, so maybe I’ll pick up that Costco AmEx instead. I happened to put more than that on the Blue Cash this year, but I doubt I will in the future.

  7. There are clear signs that US Bank that is headquartered in Minnneapolis, MN (the same place as our dear convention) may be about to go under. Multiple unexplained account closures and threats of closure and seizure have been made under the guise of the unconstitutional US Patriots Act. These accounts which have had significant amounts money and cashflow which US Bank does not pay for or give interest to, have been closed due to pressures and inquiries from clients about the bank’s solvency, credit worthiness, and legal obligations to customers under federal law.

    This a ominous sign of the continous perils of the US Financial and Banking system and US Bank in particular as the next domino in the failing bank chain. WE HOPE we may be WRONG, but history and more recent events leave the outlook very bleak.

  8. Noble Drusus says:

    Hey, thanks for the tip about the Chase card bonus! You should also mention that the MTA gives a 15% bonus when you buy the Metrocard(pay $20, get $23 worth of rides) so you get a guaranteed 21.66% return, because you get a 15% bonus from the MTA and 6.66% from Chase. Nice!

  9. Noble- MTA card, is that NY only? Or does Chase bonus applies to all public transportation card in major cities? I’m in Washington, DC, never heard of 15% bonus for metro system here.

  10. RE: Adam Says: “So many people use their reward to pay for their next Costco purchase, which is a 3% loss for Executive members like me. You should always pay using your True Earnings card.”

    Not true. If you use your rebate check to pay for a Costco purchase, you obviously would not earn the 1% rebate by using the AMEX card. However you WILL earn the 2% rebate if you are an Executive member. The credit card rebate and Executive Member rebate is separate.

  11. I did the creditkarma earlier in the year. The score didn’t look real. Much too high.

  12. Noble Drusus says:

    I think it’s just the Metrocard for use in NYC on our subways and buses. The page linked above is rather clear about the eligible purchases, so check that out for the most accurate info!

  13. Topwaystosave says:

    That Costco card definitely seems like a good deal. If you’re a Costco member that saves you the $50 memebership each year so that’s $50 you save every year right there alone. PLus I like the 3 percent back on gas. Thats awesome too.

  14. I just updated my Credit Karma score. It was 908 before. Now it’s 788. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? Wish I could use that to make some money, without actually borrowing and risking anything!

  15. Can someone confirm does having this card mean you get a free costco membership or do you still have to pay for a membership?

  16. You still have to pay for the Costco membership.

Speak Your Mind