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November 5, 2015

Rewards Credit Cards

TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express Review

The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express provides multiple ways to earn bonus rewards and includes great benefits. It's a great credit card choice for those that already have a Costco membership.

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The Good

Multiple ways to earn bonus rewards

Many rewards cards provide singular ways to earn bonus rewards and get cash back. The TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express does not have that problem. With the TrueEarnings® Card, you can receive 3% cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1%. In addition, you'll earn 2% cash back at US restaurants; 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco; 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco. Cash back is earned only on eligible purchases. You will receive your cash back annually in the form of a reward coupon. Spend cap and other restrictions apply.

Excellent additional benefits

The TrueEarnings® Card grants you the ability to access a wide variety of additional benefits. Travel insurance, credit monitoring, roadside assistance, car rental insurance, and several others are available to cardholders. When it comes to benefits offered, rewards credit cards can vary substantially. With the TrueEarnings® Card, your mind can be at ease because almost all of the major benefits are included.

Access to special events

In addition to the benefits listed above, if you have the TrueEarnings® Card, you will also get access to special events. You can get tickets to concerts, family events, and sporting events, as well as receive emails with exclusive ticket pre-sale information. If you're a music or sports fan, this card could be a great resource.

The Bad

U.S. stand-alone gas purchase bonuses are capped

The 3% cash back bonus on US stand-alone gas purchases is very competitive, but the rewards bonus is limited to $4,000 per year. The bonus is available at Costco gas stations, and you are still eligible to receive 1% cash back after you meet that limit. However, the $4,000 cap is relatively low when compared with other leading gas rewards credit cards.

Cash back received as annual coupon

Many rewards programs provide a variety of ways to redeem your cash back rewards. Some of these redemption options include a credit to your account, or a check available upon request. The cash back rewards with the TrueEarnings® Card are received as a coupon attached to your February bill. The rewards coupon is redeemable at any U.S. Costco location, but it must be redeemed by August of the year it was issued. Compared to other rewards cards, these redemption options are a hassle.

Costco membership required

While the TrueEarnings® Card requires no annual fee with your paid Costco membership, you must have a Costco membership in order to be eligible for the credit card. If you already have a Costco membership, this isn't a problem, but if you don't have a membership, it's just another hoop to jump through before you can get the card.

Foreign currency transaction fees

Like many other cards issued by American Express, the TrueEarnings® Card applies a small fee for foreign currency transactions. At 2.7%, the transaction rate is competitive, but not all credit cards charge this type of fee. If you know international travel is going to be common, it might be wise to look at alternative options.

The Details

Rates and Fees

  • Annual Fee: No annual fee for Costco members
  • Cash Advance Fee: $5 or 3% per cash advance
  • Cash Advance Rate (APR): 25.24%
  • Foreign Currency Transaction Fee: 2.7% per transaction
  • Introductory Rate (APR): 0% for 6 months
  • Standard Rate (APR): 15.24%* Variable

Penalty Fees

  • Default Penalty Rate (APR): 27.24%
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $38
  • Minimum Interest Charge: None
  • Over-Limit Fee: None
  • Returned Payment Fee: Up to $38

Balance Transfers

  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate (APR): None
  • Standard Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% per transfer
  • Standard Balance Transfer Rate (APR): 15.24%* Variable


  • Additional Rewards for Dining: 2% cash back on U.S. restaurants
  • Additional Rewards for Gas: 3% Cash back at U.S. gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1%
  • Additional Rewards for Groceries: None
  • Additional Rewards for Shopping: None
  • Additional Rewards for Travel: 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including Costco
  • Bonus Points Offered: None
  • Rewards Earnings for All Purchases: 1% cash back on eligible purchase
  • Sign-Up Bonus: None
  • Type of Reward: Cash Back

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