TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express – Rewards Card Review

True Earnings Card from Costco and American ExpressHere’s another solid all-around rewards credit card that is much better than all those generic 1% back cards out there. The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express offers the following:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on gasoline at Costco  (up to $4,000)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. restaurants
  • 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases (airline, lodging, car rental, cruise line, travel agency and tour operators)
  • 1% cash back on other purchases, including Costco

I’m pretty sure this is also better than their previous offer, I don’t remember there being a gas rebate before (I might be wrong). If eating out and gas are your biggest expenses after housing (like us on many months), then this looks pretty good. There is also no limit on the cash back you can earn. Might go nicely with the 2% cash back from Executive memberships. Terms and restrictions apply.

There is no annual fee, but you must have a Costco membership to apply. (The TrueEarnings card can also replace your Costco Membership Card. ) Regarding getting the cash back:

“Rebate is awarded annually in the form of an in-store coupon redeemable for cash or merchandise at any U.S. Costco Warehouse.”

Why not cash in the coupon, and then charge your Costco purchase to get another 1% back? ;)

Comments

  1. I had a Wii for awhile, but then I got a Xbox 360 since i’m more of a hardcore gamer. I ended up selling my wii for the same price I bought it for on criagslist, so you can get a least your money back if you sell it.

  2. I’ll probably just return it if I have to. I’ll see if another family member/friend wants to buy it from me. I might try Craiglist, but I hate dealing with the flakes. I thought Wii’s were still selling at a nice premium, but after paying sales tax, eBay fees and Paypal fees, the profit is pretty slim now, less than $50.

    My friends already have one, so I don’t think I need one. In general, I’m not much of a gamer.

  3. Reliable says:

    RE the Costco Am Ex Rewards Card– just be aware that your rebate check comes once a year as part of your Am Ex statement and the only place where you can cash it is at a register at Costco. Good luck running the gauntlet to the registers without buying something!

    Also, keep an eye on how they allocate your rebate. I charged some travel insurance to the card and they put it in the 1% “everything else” category. I called them and told them it was travel-related and they immediately bumped it up to the 2% (doubling my reward!).

  4. Jonathan I feel like we are living parallel lives. About the same age, formerly in graduate school, interested in finance, design web sites on the side… but more importantly, we just got a Wii yesterday.

    I think it may help get my “work with computers all day” duff off the chair, which is a good thing, even though I’m not a gamer at all.

  5. Reliable – But then you can have your $1.50 hot dog and coke lunch! :) My new Costco makes you ask for the sauerkraut, which is a pain because I always forget and have to wait in line again.

  6. heather – Ha, I was just reading all these ergonomic guides because my back was hurting from sitting too much.

    Wii Tennis is brilliant. I never thought I could get so sweaty playing a video game.

  7. MinnesotaSaver says:

    Jonathan,

    Nice to see you’re not above an impulse purchase.

  8. Wow, 3% on gas is incredible. it’s too bad i don’t have a Costco card…but i don’t really go there anyways.

    Congrats on the Wii! i forbid myself to get one, i get addicted too easily :)

  9. We’ve been using the Costco True Earnings card for the past few years, recently switching to the business version. There are a few restrictions on the gas purchases:

    – I think there is a 75 gallon per purchase limit (for those of you who have huge trucks and RVs out there, beware); you get the basic 1% back if you pop through the 75 gallon threshold

    – also, the gas discount doesn’t apply if you buy gas a grocery store or other club store gas stations

    Regarding cashing the rebate check — we’ve never had a problem just getting cash. Or, just buy a single low priced item. They’ll happily provide change in cash.

    All in all, the card is not a bad deal — it definitely keeps us loyal to Costco/Amex (their ultimate goal!). I feel so manipulated … :-(, but it’s fun to get that fistful of 100s early in the year saving me trips to an ATM for everyday cash requirements for a month or two.

  10. Just keep the wii…you will remain addicted to it, trust me. Its absolutely addictive, especially wii tennis.

  11. Dan Isaacs says:

    Amen to the wii. Keep it.

  12. An even better cash back card is the AMEX Business Platinum card. No annual fee. 5% back on GAS and Wireless Services, as well as Office Supplies. 1% cash back on everything else.

  13. I think you can get the business version of the card with just a non business membership. I am currently in the process of doing so and it seems to work.

  14. I love my TrueEarnings card. I had about a $300 rebate last year, which I spent at Costco to buy non-perishable items for the house. Things like cleaning supplies, paper goods, OTC medicines, soaps, shampoos, razor blades, detergents and compact fluorescent lightbulbs to save even more money.

    I also use the AMEX Blue Cash, Sams Club Discover Card, and Chase Freedom Visa.

  15. Well, I’ve been fairly happy with my relatively new Amex Business SimplyCash card. It gives straight 5% on gas (stand-alone stations only, no supermarket, or clubs), wireless, and office supplies, 1% on the rest.

    Nice touch is that they credit my cash back monthly (with 1 month delay), no need to request a check or exchange points for gift cards, like City or Discover.
    No cap either.

    My Wii became a powerful money saver since it was modded for extra $120 (wink-wink). Saved me ~1500 so far and counting…

  16. I always just take me check right to that desk in the back, behind the registers. You sign, they scan, and they give you the cash. And, as mentioned above, then I go back an use my card for all my next purchases, to get another percent off on those.

    FYI, I do this with my Costco Executive rebate also – always take the cash then charge the merchandise.

    Once upon a time, you could get returns in cash also, even if you paid by Amex, but no longer.

  17. I remember looking into this card a few years ago. If I remember correctly, what turned me off to the card was the fact that there is an annual fee for every year that you aren’t a Costco member. If you move to an area where there aren’t Costcos, you would have to cancel the card to avoid the penalty.

  18. Only one per customer, lol.

  19. One per customer? Just last week I applied – with the same Costco number – for a business card for my office. So I have no chance? Or is that card sufficiently different?

  20. Michael – That is one Wii per customer, not one AMEX.

  21. Roger that.

  22. It sounds like a great CC deal assuming there are no caps on the amount of cash back. The biggest problem I’ve had with Amex is that it seems to be getting accepted in less and less places. In my experience I’ve found that even Discover (my favorite until recently – 1%, seasonal 5%, no limits or other funny conditions) is accepted in more places than Amex.
    I also much prefer getting my money back in $20 chunks online…

  23. I have used the AMEX card for a couple of years now. Not sure if this was mentioned, but by signing up you automatically agree to have your Costco membership billed to the card annually. Not a big deal as I would do it anyway and it saves me the hassle.

    Also, I believe fast food also counts as a “restaurant”. AMEX caters to my kind of sophistication.

    The gas is new, although I wasn’t that excited to see it. I use Discover and get 5% back. (Although, that is limited to $100 in gas each month for a total of $60 back each year.) For that reason my wife and I each have our own card.

    Right now I’m still using my citi cash rewards card earning 5% on ALL purchases. Looking to pay my whopping tax bill with it here in a few days. : )

  24. As someone mentioned above, many stores won’t take Amex. As a merchant, I totally understand. They charge roughly 3% of the transaction total and Visa/MC/Discover charge merchants about 2%. That really adds up.

  25. Ya, not as impressed w/ the card as when I was first introduced to it.

    Fact of the matter is I was glad to have it just because Costco went from Discover to NUTTIN”!!! So, when they introduced this card I was glad to jump. (Now I could charge my purchases again).

    But yes……….Only once a year to redeem.

    In case you haven’t ever done it before………it’s a loooooooong time to wait!!!!

    And the pitfall for using it on gas……….

    #1.) If you decide to use Costco gas (and especially now when it matters most) get ready to wait in line!!! And now that summer’s coming……..get ready to reeeeeeeeeally wait in line!!!

    #2.) Anywhere else is great, but always more expensive!!

    #3.) Discover already has the 5% card which pwns the Costco card.

    Lastly……..Amex still isn’t taken everywhere.

  26. Just as an aside, (and, full discolsure, I am an employee)–National City Bank has an Everyday Rewards card that is 4% back on gas, in addition to groceries, etc.

    FYI! :)

    I’m enjoying your blog, and have just discovered the delights of RSS! Keep up the good work!

  27. I’ve been looking at at that Costco card for a while now… thanks for the right up!

    -Ken

  28. I got a Wii the other day, too. They had one left at Wal-Mart and I couldn’t resist, thinking I could resell it for $500+. Came home and looked on eBay and saw that they’re all selling for retail price. Boo. Oh well, I like to play games anyway so I might as well keep it.

  29. "Mo" Money says:

    As a 73 year old, I enjoyed bowling and tennis in the Wii. It is better than sitting around as a couch potato and it’s something all ages can participate in.

  30. casualsurfer says:

    I’ve been using the True Earnings card for a while. This year’s rebate check for me was $681.xx, which I promptly cashed at a local Costco. It’s not bad if you like to see a big chunk of change vs. a little bit every month. Since I’m an Executive member at Costco I also get cash back on stuff I get at Costco, and last year’s check was $182. The gas cash back is new and it’s great because we only get gas at Costco as it’s usually 10% cheaper than local places. I use this card on travel, eating out, and Costco, and I use all other transactions on my Emigrant Direct World Mastercard (1.5% rebate on everything every 6 months if you keep $10K or more in Emigrant Direct Savings Account).

  31. I’ve also been using the True Earnings cards for many years, and I never had any problems getting my cash rebate. In fact, I never get it from the regular cash registers. I go directly to the customer service area, where they do membership, refunds, etc. to get my cash rebate… a lot faster.

  32. I guess while we’re on the topic: FNBO Direct Visa Card – 2% back on everything for the first year (1% after that).

    The FNBO website sucks but you can get your cash back every month.

    I also have the Starwoods AMEX – great if you travel or like the Starwoods hotels. You can transfer your SPG points to 11 different airlines at 1:1 (or get a bonus of 5k miles if you do transfers in blocks of 20k).

  33. Hey guys…just recently found out about this site and looks promising. I got a question though about the business card from Costco. I heard that that 5% on gas is GREAT, but don’t you need to file any cash back that you get with the IRS? One of my friends said that this is the reason why he does not get business credit cards since you would need to file it with the IRS. So would it be worth it to even get it or just the consumer version? By worth it, I mean like not having any tax that comes with these cash back rebates and anything associated with owning the card.

  34. Dave H. Chicago says:

    I opened an AMEX credit card account based on Costco’s recommendation and promotions in Feb of this year. I had a credit line of $10,000. On August 4, I made a payment to AMEX of 4,900 and a week ago they lowered my credit limit by approximately that amount. They said they reviewed my credit and made that decision. I told them that my credit had not substantially changed since Feb and they said they change their policies whenever they want and however they want. Also, I made a payment over the phone to them and they told me that they would take my money but would take up to 2 business days to “post” the payment and that may make my payment late. I am very dissatisfied with AMEX and I don’t think Costco should be promoting them. I plan on not using the card any more, paying it off, closing it, and telling everyone I know of my experience. I probably spend $10,000+ per year at Costco. Do they really want their loyal customers treated like this?

  35. AMEX-COSTCO HORROR STORY
    Just when you think that you have a great deal with this card, read my story. First, you will not get your reward if any of your payments is late. With this in mind, since I travel a lot, I tried to set up an automatic payment option. It took me two months and six phone calls just to get the form (which I think is top secret, since they refuse to post it online). The message was clear: they don’t want you to pay on time, because this way they don’t have to pay out your bonus. Well, after the automatic payment was set up, it was withheld twice. During my six-week trip to Asia I tried to use the card, but it would not work. It turned out that the automatic payment was not withheld because of a system error in their computers, BUT THEY STOPPED MY USE OF THE CARD BECAUSE PAYMENT WAS NOT MADE ON TIME!!! I was also told that they mailed letters to all affected customers on November 3. It is November 20, no letter yet. Judging from my previous experience, it will be at least two more months before I get the letter (if it was ever mailed at all).
    So, before you decide on this one, examine other options.

  36. Ash Reddy says:

    I got a $880 cash back this february and likely ot get around $1050 in Feb 08. I love it, although their interest payments(if you do not pay in time) are a killer.

    Beware, Amex, the card the Costco is on, has just sent in a notice saying they are changing their coding policy for rewards rate.. watch out.

  37. Formeramexcust says:

    AMEX just cancelled my card despite the fact that I have made all my payments on time for the last 9 years just before my reward for over $400 was due.

  38. As a follow-up to the AMEX Costco card, the gas rate is now tabulated at 4% rather than 5% (business card). I like having this card as well as a Visa card. Both are needed since so many businesses are no longer using AMEX. By the way, I only use the automatic payment feature to make sure there are no problems or late payments. So far, the costco card has worked great!

  39. Jon Binton says:

    Rip-off … bait-and-switch !!!

    Originally, this card carried a 3% return on restaurants — having avoided taking on too many credit cards, their offer was strong enough that I took time out of my day to listen to the spiel and fill out the forms.

    But it was a teaser rate … it took a little while, but they eventually decided that the cost of losing customers would be less than the savings of changing this. Classic bait-and-switch … making what was once a shining, premium brand, look like a door-to-door magazine salesman.

    Ugh.

  40. Donna franklyn says:

    The rewards is something we’ve earned from shopping at Costco and should be honored even if I don’t renew my membership. Costco says no. You can’t spend your rewards check without a membership. Feels like they are stealing from people who don’t want to renew. So my check for this year is about 80.00 and I have to give them 50.00 of it to use the other 30.00. I almost feel like starting a mass lawsuit over this. It just feels illegal.

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