You have by now–I hope–no doubt heard that Costco no longer accepts American Express. In fact it is now a Costco Visa world. While I shed some tears, as I got a ton of spend on my American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Business card at Costco over the past years, I also look positively to the future. In that vain, there are winners and losers–as in any situation.
American Express, the long time Costco partner, recently lost that partnership to Citibank and Visa. The details of how that happen, to this day are a bit obscure. Gary Leff has an account, Long story short, it sounds to me like Costco treated this like any other business transaction–like procuring ketchup–and American Express expected more loyalty from a long time partner. The fact is, Costco is a pretty open book business. In fact, this article reports that the general rule is to only mark up 15% or less. I remember vaguely that 8% was the rule in some cases. The fact remains, American Express lost a great partner that had a huge following, and Citigroup and Visa won that.
But Did They?
Citigroup has a great credit card line up for Costco. In fact, Frequent Miler did the analysis after asking whether The Costco Anywhere Visa was the best cashback card, bar none. After a brief look, it is quite enticing:
Now, you should definitely check FrequentMiler’s link out, but I’ll share with you – he doesn’t think this Costco Anywhere card is the best cashback card. Neither do I, but, his conclusion and my conclusion are different–thus why you should check out his link.
The Real Winner of Costco Visa
While this should have been clearly apparent on day one of Costco Visa, it wasn’t, to me. Perhaps I was still in denial about not being able to use my AMEX SPG Business card–after all, SPG points are awfully nice. Or perhaps I was just trying to re-calibrate to the new Visa world. But luckily, a small credit card issuer invested in a billboard to help me see that even without the Costco Anywhere card, I too was a winner!
But to help point out even more what Chase is doing, just take a look at their Freedom 5x categories for the remainder of the year:
You see, Chase, in their wisdom, saw Citi’s potential winner’s folly (H/T View From the Wing), as a huge win. They changed their Chase Freedom’s rotating 5% cashback–or if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink, 5x Ultimate Rewards Points–for the remaining quarters of the year, to include Warehouse Clubs. They are advertising heavily–reference graphic above. In short, Chase sees the amazing hand that they have been dealt, and are leveraging it mightily.
American Express lost. Citibank and Visa won–in theory. But I would propose that Chase is the true winner.
Have you gotten the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa? Or used your Chase Freedom at Costco yet? Who do you think the winner is?