These are my thoughts on the card and its benefits so feel free to disregard, but I just had to share! If you are a Costco member, I highly encourage you to consider getting the Costco American Express True Earnings credit card. (BTW, I get no benefit whatsoever from anyone applying. I just wanted to write this up in case people want to do it because it’s a sweet deal.)
You actually get money back for every purchase (up to 3%). A few months ago, I was reading “Money” magazine (it’s great that as a business, I get free subscriptions to magazines like it) and it suggested this card as an option. I decided to bite the bullet and get my first credit card in years (generally, I make do with a debit card). I did it and I *love* it.
First, you do need to be sure you’ll be able to pay off the monthly balance and pay it off on time. In fact, they even give you a little balance sheet that tells you how much extra you’ll be paying for your balance if you just pay the monthly minimum. Enough to scare me straight, for sure, even though I am anal about paying off all my bills (back in college, I got in serious debt to pay for rent and tuition, etc. and it took years to pay off so now I’m much more careful).
So, I use the card (not too often, I admit, but often enough) and I just got my Cash Back Reward voucher. It was for over 130.00. You redeem it by going to the store. You can either use to pay for more Costco stuff, if you want, or you can get cash. My husband kindly redeemed it for me and now I have some additional funds in my vacation bank.
The Pros: Money back on your purchases. Online reminders to pay off the bill. No interest if you pay everything off every month. Card is free if you are already a Costco member. You can put additional people on your card (they get their own to use) and then you have the rewards come your way.
The Cons: The rewards cash back coupon expires. You have to be a Costco member to get the card*. If you are late with a payment, they up their interest percentage by a lot.
Here is a review by someone more knowledgeable than I am. http://www.dailymarkets.com/personal-finance/2010/09/26/true-earnings-card-from-costco-and-american-express-review/
In the end, if you are religious about paying off the monthly charges, you are a Costco member, and you would have been purchasing the items anyway, I can’t recommend this card enough.
*The Costco membership does cost some every year (55.00 for regular membership and 110.00 for Executive). However, if you shop there a lot, I advise that you get the Executive membership. Yes, it costs more, but you get refund credits if buy stuff so you can pretty much offset the cost of the membership that way (depending on how much you spend). If you have the funds for the initial outlay of cash to get the membership, the rest nicely takes care of itself.