American Express Costco Card Review

The American Express Costco Card is one of the better cash rewards credit card in the market today. What we like about this card is that there are no tiers and for the most part (as we shall explain below), there are no limits as to much rewards you can earn.

Cash Rebates – The Amex Costco credit card rebate formula is as follows: You can earn 3% rebates for every dollar you spend on gasoline (for up to $3,000 in annual gasoline spending), 3% rebates at restaurants, 2% rebates for travel, and 1% for all other regular stuff you charge to you card. Aside from the gasoline expense, you can earn unlimited rebates.

How You Receive You Rebate Check – Each year (your card anniversary), you will receive a Costco in-store coupon which you can redeem for either cash or use at Costco.

Fees – Like most cards, this one has no annual fee. But you either need to already be a Costco member to apply for a card or if you are not, you will be enrolled in the Costco Membership, which has an annual fee of $40 (lowest tier).

Other Travel Perks – The Costco Card offers some pretty good (some standard) travel perks. Cardholders get $100,000 travel accident insurance when the card is used to buy travel tickets. You also get car loss and damage insurance so you do not have to pay the extra insurance when you rent a car using your Amex Card. There is also a Global Assist Hotline should you run into an emergency anywhere.

Entertainment Perks – Card members also get various entertainment perks and enjoy exclusive access and benefits in select markets with Ticketmaster through the American Express® Ticket Savings Center. These markets include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, NYC tri-state area, northern California, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. American Express sponsors many shows and you will have access to tickets before the public gets access to them.

Shopping Perks – One of the nice benefits of this card is American Express Selects®, which allows you to find deals and savings from name-brand merchants on clothing, electronics, vacation packages, dinners, travel etc. You also get extended warranty feature where your warranty on products you buy with the card is extended for one additional year if the manufacturers warranty is less than five years. You also get a purchase protection feature where Amex will try to repair, replace the product or even reimburse you if you accidentally break it.

How does it compare with other cash back cards? – It’s quite hard to compare simply because the rebate structure is different. Blue Cash has a tiered formula and if you are a large spender, you can easily earn more than 2% with the Blue Cash. The Costco Card on the other is better in the case that there are no tiers and you earn more than 1% rebates on things like travel and restaurants that you do not get with the Blue Cash. I would say that combining these two cards would be pretty potent.

Right now, there aren’t any Visa or MasterCard out there that can match the cash back credit cards issued by Amex. Most pay a paltry 1% rebate. Others like Chase Freedom and the Discover Card has resorted to pay rebates on a quarterly rotating basis and paying rebates for shopping online through their shopping portal.

I think the Amex Costco Credit Card is a great cash back card both as a standalone card as well as a complimentary card to either the Blue Cash or the Discover More Card. We give this card the thumbs up and recommend this card.

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American Express Blue Review

The American Express Blue Card is the no annual fee version of their traditional charge cards. It is a reward credit card based on the Membership Rewards Express, which is the lower tier version of the card. So how good is this reward card compared to others. Well, let’s take a close look.

The Amex Blue Card allows you to earn one point for every dollar that you spend on the card. Memberhship Reward points do not not expire and can be used to redeem for a wide variety of things (more on that later). There is no annual fee for this card and the APR will vary based on your credit history (see terms and conditions for the range of APRs). The design of the card resembles that of the Blue series. It is actually clear plastic with the Blue square in the middle. The design is similar for the Blue Cash and Blue Sky Cards as well.

Before Amex got into the credit card business, their cards were primarily charge cards. Well, the charge cards have annual fees and you are required to pay in full (although there are some leeway now so you don’t have to pay in full). Because the market for no annual fee cards exploded, Amex decided to get into the market. But is order to have a no annual fee credit card with similar rewards as the charge cards, Amex introduced the Blue Card and the main difference is that unlike the regular Membership Rewards program, you cannot transfer points into frequent flier miles or frequent guest miles. But almost every other rewards is the same. So let’s explore their rewards.

Membership Rewards Options – One of the main features of the regular membership rewards program is that you can transfer points to frequent flier miles and frequent flier points of their partners (and they do have quite a lot of partners). Because the Blue Card has no annual fee, this feature is not available for Blue cardholders. But here’s what’s available.

If you wish to use your points for travel, all you have to do is simply use the Amex Travel site to book your tickets. You can either use your points to pay for it or just use your Amex Blue Card, or use a combination of points and cash if you do not have enough points. The travel site is powered by Travelocity so you will have access to the same flights, hotel rooms, cruise and car rentals as if you went to Travelocity itself.

You can also exchange your points for gift cards. The one thing I like about Membership Rewards Gift card is that unlike other programs, they have not actually devalued their program. For example, 1000 points gets you a $10 gift card, 2500 points gets you a $25 gift card. Other programs like Citi’s ThankYou Rewards used to have the same point requirements but now for example, require 6500 points for a $50 gift card instead of only requiring only 5000 points like the Membership Reward points.

As with most credit card reward programs, you can also exchange points for merchandise products and on this front, I have to say that the Membership Rewards program has probably the best and most comprehensive list of merchandise products available in any credit card reward program.

Concluding thoughts – As a reward card, the Amex Blue is a pretty good card for those looking for a good no annual fee card. If all you are looking for is travel rewards and you are not the sort of person to transfer points to frequent flier points, then this is a really good card. Because the Amex travel site is powered by Travelocity, that means any flight you book is planned by you and obviously, there will be no blackout dates. city guide . If you are looking to use rewards for gift cards, perhaps a better to consider would be the Discover More Card because they have more gift card partners.

But overall, I would say that those looking for a no annual fee rewards card will be pleased with this one.

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American Express Blue Sky Review

In a world where frequent flier miles are more costly to redeem and reward points come with unwanted restrictions, the American Express Blue Sky is a breathe of fresh air coming into the reward credit card scene. The rewards work differently from other programs. This is the scoop on this card.

How the rewards work? – Like most reward credit cards, you earn 1 point for every dollar that you spend on the card. But it how you use and redeem the points that differ from other cards. While other cards require to redeem points with them and you subject yourself to the items available in their program, the American Express Blue allows you to book your travel with anyone. This gives you the freedom to choose the best deals for yourself. You can submit your receipts and spending to Amex and they will give you a statement credit. The use of 7,000 points gets you a $100 statement credit (more than the usual 1% rebate).

Advantages of this system – The advantages of this system is that

  • You can book your own schedule
  • You can get the best deals (online or off line
  • There are non of the restrictions that are imposed by reward programs
  • Other Perks

    Up to 20% Off in Hertz Rental – If you use your card at Hertz Rental, you could potentially get up to 20% off your price.

    Free breakfast and $100 coupons – Card members can get free breakfast at participating JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotels & Resorts worldwide. This offer is effective from 10/31/08-10/31/09 on weekend stays Thursday-Monday with a Friday or Saturday night stay requirement. You must book through Marriott.com or through calling Marriott directly at 877-MARRIOTT. Rate will include a complimentary breakfast in the restaurant for up to two adults. You will also receive one $100 Bonus Bucks at JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts or $100 Savvy Savings coupon at Renaissance Hotels & Resorts valid for six months from date of issuance on a future consecutive two-night paid stay.

    Other Competitors – There are a couple of other cards that is quite similar to the Blue Sky that you might want to check them out as well.

    Discover card has the Discover Miles Card and the Discover Escape Card. The Discover Miles Card, like the Blue Sky has no annual fee. it works the same way in that you can book your own travel arrangements and use the points you earn. The Discover Escape Card has an annual fee of $60, but allows you to earn double miles when you use your card for travel items.

    Essentially, all these cards work the same way.

    Is this card worth getting? – There are many type of reward credit cards. The most traditional way to is to get a frequent flier credit card (ie airline credit cards). Folks who are members of multiple programs often get cards with Membership Rewards or the Starwood Credit Card. If you fall into this category and are savvy on how you use and redeem your miles, you are probably better off staying put with these cards.

    There is another class of people that are not really frequent travelers and but would like to earn points and occasionally use them for travel rewards. But what they find is that a typical reward program imposes restrictions like having to book 21 days in advance, having to stay a saturday night. Even if they allow you to choose your schedule and flights, you are still subject to the availability to their network. For these folks, the American Express Blue Sky (or for that matter the Discover Miles Card and the Discover Escape Card) offers an alternative. It gives you more flexibility in choosing the best deals for yourself. If you fall into this category, then you should consider the Blue Sky.

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American Express Blue Cash Review

In a world where credit card issuers continually change their rewards and program, the Blue Cash from American Express is the same cash back credit card as when it was first introduced. It is in my opinion one of the best cash back credit cards available to consumers today.

Rewards – But what are its’ feature and how does the cash rebate work. Most cash rebate cards simply pay 1% cash rebates on every dollar that you spend on the card. The Blue Cash goes one step better than that. You can earn 5% cash rebates when you make any gasoline, supermarket and drugstore purchases on the card. You can also earn 1.5% rebates on all your other regular purchases on the card. As these rebates are pretty generous, American Express requires that you meet some spending hurdles. You have to spend $6,500 (from your calendar date) before you could earn these rebates. Before that, you will earn 1% on gasoline, supermareket and drugstore spending and 0.5% on all your other spending.

Fees – Like most credit card these days, the Blue Cash has no annual fee. They do have a teaser rate offer for balance transfers. New cardholders get 2.99% APR for balance transfers that is good for up to 12 months. The good thing about the balance transfer offer is that American Express caps the balance transfer to $99 (standard charge for a balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred). Most other major credit card issuers have removed the caps on balance transfer.

How does it compare with other cards? – I honestly think there is simply no peers among its competitors. All other cards offered by other issuers only offer 1% rebates. There used to be better cards around but they have all but disappeared. Three years ago, the Citi Dividend Card offered a straight 5% rebates on gasoline, supermarket and drugstore spending with no tiers (spending requirements). Chase did the same thing with the Chase Cash Plus Rewards. But consumers who got cash back credit cards are generally a savvy bunch who pay their bills fully every month. Hence, these cards did not make much money for the credit cards companies because their consumers did not carry a balance! Soon they began scaling back their rewards. Citi Dividend reduced their rebates for gas, supermarket and drugstores to 2%. Chase got rid of the Cash Plus card and introduced the Freedom Card that paid 3% rather than 5% on the same items. Citi no longer has the dividend card and the Chase Freedom now only pays a standard 1% rebates on everything (though they try to trick consumers by offering 3% for the first six months).

Other good cards – The only real competition that the Blue Cash has is another card from American Express. And the card is the American Express Costco Card. It pays 3% on gasoline, 2% on restaurant dining and 2% on travel. It is not directly comparable because they pay more than 1% rebates on different items from the Blue Cash (with the exception of gasoline). There are also no tiers and spending requirements. You will also have to be a costco member.

Thumps Up – I give the Blue Cash a thumps up in the cash back space. I think that along with the Costco Card, it is the best cash back credit card in the market today. Though there is a tier formula and spending requirements before you can earn the maximum rebates from this card, it has actually enabled American Express to be profitable on this card and not have to change its formula like it’s other competitors. I personally have this card and highly recommend it.

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