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Home » Credit, Credit Cards, Reviews

TrueEarnings® Card from Costco & American Express Review

Last updated by on 22 Comments

I’ve been a Costco member for 5 years and right around the time that my wife and I started shopping there, we signed up for our primary credit card, the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express.

I’ll definitely be chatting about the virtues of cost savings from Costco on another day, but for today, I thought I’d chat about the virtues of the TrueEarnings Card.

But first, a disclaimer: before I get railed for talking about a credit card, know that I have never paid a fee or carried a balance on one. I’ve only used them to build my credit score and get rewards. If you don’t have that kind of discipline, this or any credit card is not for you. And I actually have used this American Express card for 5 years.

Costco American Express Credit Card Offers Higher than Average Rewards

costco american express reviewThere are really solid cash back reward possibilities with the True Earnings card. You can get 3% cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco up to $4,000 per year in purchases, then 1%. There is also 2% cash back at US restaurants and 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco. And, finally, 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco.

Not bad, eh?

American Express does a great job at breaking down your spending in each category, much like Mint.com or Quicken. To the right, you can see a portion of my year-end summary. Using the yearly totals in each reward percentage category, I calculated the additional rewards (above and beyond the typical 1% most card rewards programs offer) earned me an additional $95 over the year.

How do you Redeem your Costco True Earnings Rewards?

This is one of my favorite things about the Costco American Express. Your card issues a cash rebate coupon annually. It can be redeemed at any US Costco warehouse for cash or merchandise. I usually get my rebate in February and then have until August to redeem it. On one of our monthly trips to Costco, we redeem the card for cash.

Other Costco American Express Benefits:

Excellent cash rebate card rewards aside, the card offers a lot of other really nice benefits.

It’s effectively a two-in-one card – an Amex card and a Costco membership card, with no annual fee for Costco members (1 less card in your wallet!). Costco only accepts American Express, PIN-based debit cards, cash, or check. It’s the only credit card brand you can use there. If you have a business and purchase from Costco a lot, the rewards can really add up vs. one of the other methods.

American Express truly does have great customer service. They are available 24/7 and I have requested multiple credit line increases and not been turned down.

Any Downside to the Card?

I love the TrueEarnings Card, but not every merchant takes American Express. In my experience, about 90% do (but almost 100% of restaurants and grocers). For that reason, you might want to have a backup Visa or MasterCard.

I also use Blue Cash Preferred Card® from American Express. It offers 6% cash back at US supermarkets and 3% at US gas stations and is my pick for the best grocery rewards card.

Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are mine alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through Advertiser affiliate programs. I am an American Express cardholder, and think that this is a great card, that could benefit readers here.


About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


22 Comments »
  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Paul – Agreed. I have found out price per volume on everything that I purchase there and then compare it to the store brand at other supermarkets that I shop at. We only buy items that come out lower per volume – and there are definitely a few of them. We’ve found that we save multiple times what we spend on the membership. We also don’t buy things that we don’t need (that’s where Costco makes most of its money, I’m sure).

  • Paul says:

    I have found that shopping at Costco is risky. Obviously its great, but you have to really use your head when shopping there, and know prices of what is going on else where.

    For example paper towels there are $3 more per pack than at my local grocery.

    • bob says:

      Very true. Just last weekend I purchased a large box of squeeze tuve apple sauce (kids love it). Happened to be at Walmart later that day and noticed Walmart carried it for over $1 dollar less (ie more than 15% less). I also agree that Costco’s paper products are way overpriced.

  • David says:

    Ciao GE. I’ve been using the same card for a little over a year now and it really is great. I’m also the type of person who pays it off every month though to get that free money. I got a little over $200 just from the amex and my costco card itself gave me another $60+. Even if you did spend slightly more on paper towels I think the cash back would still markedly be in your benefit.

  • holykemp says:

    I must add to the Amex praise. I’ve found that many large companies usually have terrible customer service. However, I’ve had the Blue Cash AMEX card for 8 years now and it’s awesome. I don’t carry a balance, but every issue or disputed charge I’ve ever had was handled in a matter of days with AMEX doing all of the legwork. I hate to sound like a commercial, but companies who do things right don’t often get the praise they deserve.

  • Ryan says:

    Costco always provides an extra 1 year warranty on electronics like TVs…so your Vizio would have come with the 1 year manufacturer warranty + the automatic 1 year Costco additional warranty = 2 year warranty. Does the Amex card add 1 more on for a total of 3 years?

    I currently do a lot of air travel, so I’ve been using an Alaska Airlines credit card (through Bank of America). I’ll have to compare the value of the air miles to the Costo Amex rewards you mentioned, that would be interesting to see.

    As a sidenote, why does Costco only accept American Express? I always forget and it bugs me every time I go in there. =-)

    -Ryan

  • Ryan says:

    @G.E. – Hmm…they have had the 2 year warranty policy since 2007, perhaps you bought your Vizio before then? =-)

    “The cash-and-carry retailer will provide a free two-year warranty for TVs and computers as part of the policy change.”

    -Ryan

  • Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says:

    Thanks for the review.

    We are Sam’s Club members and use a Discover More credit card (5% on rotating categories and 1% on everything else, extended warranty, great customer service, etc)…but I’ve been thinking about checking Costco out. Thanks!

  • Bipolar Disorder says:

    I’m gonna check it out, looks better than regular amex rewards.

  • Vikram says:

    I came to your website when googling for True Earnings Costco Amex card reviews. I think I am going to get this card.
    As an aside, I see that you recommend the Blue Cash card from Amex. I would suggest that you read the fineprint – “For the first $6,500 of Eligible Purchases, the rebate is 1.0% for Everyday Purchases and 0.5% for all other Eligible Purchases; for Eligible Purchases of $6,500.01 or more, the rebate percentage is 5.0% for Everyday Purchases and 1.25% for all other Eligible Purchases. “Everyday Purchases” are Eligible Purchases made at the following categories of U.S. merchants that are not departments of superstores or warehouse clubs: supermarkets, drug stores, and automobile gasoline stations (for purchases of automobile gasoline only, except that any purchase in excess of $400 at an automobile gasoline station will not qualify as an Everyday Purchase).”

    Other credit cards that I would recommend are Citi Premier Pass for air travel, and Citi Forward for restaurants/entertainment. Of course, this is based on the assumption that you do not carry balances and choose credit cards based on rewards.

  • PMC says:

    You need to buy food at Costco to really save, IE:
    Case (12) of Hellmann’s mayo squeeze bottles (large size) was around $8.99. The local store by me sells the smaller ONE for around $4.59. How can you even compare??? I’m still amazed. They don’t always have deals like that, but when they do I just can’t pass it up.

  • Mike says:

    Our family loves Costco. Thanks for the information you provided in this article.

  • Mike W says:

    Can anyone tell me if the trueearnings cards from amex offers an add-on year to the already 2 year warranty on tv’s bought at costco with the amex card? So in essence, my toshiba tv that is now crapping out is just over the two year mark (2 years and ten days) from when i purchased it at costco with the amex card…do you think i am still within the coverage period, i.e., is it a 3 year term because i used the amex card?

  • askmrlee says:

    Some things to consider with this card:
    The foreign currency conversion fee is 2.7%. This is better than many Chase cards, but still not as good as a Capital One.

    Your cash back certificate is mailed to you only once a year, similar to your Executive membership reward. There’s no option for early redemption and you have to go to Costco to redeem. Although you could line up to customer service and redeem it for cash, you’ll likely use it to spend more.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    This is a personal consumer card, not a business card. I’m not sure how your small business getting its credit limit decreased applies to consumers who are looking to use this card, particularly when you said all of your other credit lines were completely removed? It sounds like Amex was the only one to give you any credit at all. Why should others take caution? I’m not sure I understand.

  • Joe says:

    American Express True Earning credit card…this is the credit card sponsored by Costco. While it does provide rebates do card holders know that if you have a late payment the company will charge you up to 27.24% of your balance for two months even if you pay the full amount one day late? ALSO know that they select an ‘attitude’ of your conversation…yes, the telephone receptionist not only records the date & time you call but will also write up/or select from a key their perception of your attitude! You may be paying a lot more than your rebate. So beware…

  • Jeff says:

    I have used the Costco True Rewards Credit Card now for some time, and find your review quite accurate. I like the this credit card. And like you, I use it the exact same way. I never carry a balance after making my monthly payment. That’s how credit cards make their money on the holder. So ultimately, we who exercise such fiscal discipline are considered “dead beats.”

  • busymom says:

    I have both the True Earnings and the True Earnings Business cards. The business card does offer 4% cash back on gasoline (5% when I first got it). I don’t carry a balance on either card, but on the rare occasion when I have missed paying on the due date, a simple phone call to AMEX gets any late fees and interest reversed. They are also so easy to work with when there is occasionally a charge on an account that I don’t believe is mine, and they are extremely vigilant in protecting me from potential fraud! One important note…they can give consumers these great rewards because they charge such high fees to the businesses that accept them. And here’s the IMPORTANT PART, some restaurants, like Outback Steakhouse, take those fees out of the servers’ tips. So, if you use your card at a restaurant, the servers would really appreciate getting their tips in cash!

  • New2CreditCards says:

    @G.E. & all who posted.
    Thanks for all the advise. I have always been leary of getting a credit card because I hear too many horror stories of people not keeping up with the payments and being drowned in increasing intrest rates. However, I have been good at keeping my checking account balanced and think I am ready to get the rewards for spending my money. All the comments have helped me decide to invest in Costco and the AMEX card.

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