Costco US Switch to Visa Postponed Until Summer

February 9th, 2016 · 59 Comments

If you are a Costco US shopper, Costco announced last year that they would be switching from American Express to Visa for cards accepted in stores, as well as for their Citi co-branded card.  This change was due to take place on April 1, 2016, but has now been pushed back to sometime this summer.

Sadly, they aren’t even very exact now about when the change will take place, just saying it will happen in June or by mid-summer (which I guess is July).

The timing of the transition is “fluid,” Richard Galanti, Costco CFO, said. “It’s between Amex and Citi — negotiating and completing the agreements to do that transition.”  For customers, he said, “There won’t be any gap in the middle.”

I think the issue is in how Citi can deal with the transfer of Costco customer account data from American Express since they obviously have different card number formats and systems.  In any case, it is making things very difficult for Costco customers that have an American Express card since they are now not sure if they will get their rewards from continuing spending on the Costco American Express.  Plus, I have had emails from several readers with American Express cards that are about to expire and they are wondering how to proceed with getting a new American Express or not.

As you know, I’m a big fan of Costco, but this whole process has been handled very poorly, in my opinion.  Perhaps even worse than this waffling on when the new Visa deal will actually start, is that no one seems to want to give any information to customers about what benefits they can expect from the new co-branded Citi Visa card.  Will the cash back percentages be exactly like those of the existing American Express or better?  Will there be other benefits?  Is the new card actually going to be worse for Costco customers?  The only good news is that once they do start accepting Visa, any Visa card can be used not just the co-branded one, and since a lot of people already have Visa cards you won’t have to sign up for the new co-branded card unless it is as good or better than the existing co-branded American Express Costco card.

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59 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Gary // 2016.07.11 at 10:47 pm

    Finally got my new Costco Visa – July 11, 2016! Activated OK, got it into Apple Pay OK. But noted the phone number during the Apple Pay process was incorrect. This is when the world turned bad.

    Went to website and logged on – no problem. Went to Account data page – no problem. Went to edit the bad phone number – Problem. They wanted me to verify my name against my member number. OK – fine.

    Checked my member number – which was pre-filled in. It was exactly correct. BTW, the member number is on the back of both the old and new credit cards. Entered my name (as printed on my new – and old – card). Entered my zip code – the same one to which they just sent the card. Website said data did not match.

    Now – as noted – they just sent me a card with my name on it, and to the correct zip code – the same name and zip code that I used to validate.

    Still would not validate me to let me correct the account data – and then locked me out when I tried a third time (using my middle initial as well as the requested first name. I was given a phone number to get unlocked.

    The phone number to call about account, had selection #5 for people having problems with account data. Good, this must be a known issue. – No joy, just some robot answers, but it said go back to previous menu and select “attendant.” So – I did. There was no “attendant” selection in the previous menu.

    2 problems
    – the website validation is screwed up
    – the phone tree is also screwed up

    How can a company as big as Costco get this screwed up? Inconsistent data base, and a phone tree that references non-existent options. My 10th grade grandson could do better. If I was Costco CEO, I would be looking to fire someone.

  2. 2 JW // 2016.06.25 at 11:16 pm

    Costvco never send the VISA replacement card to at least 30% of the people. The Swap has been plagued with failures
    Shame on Costco. I hope they dont end up with a class action suit

  3. 3 Greg // 2016.06.20 at 1:51 pm

    So in the end I got my Costco VISA mid/late last week and activated it. Had my Amex paid to zero before that and have screenshots of all that, thankfully (you can’t access that online starting today).

    You had to wait to today to set up the online stuff at Citi. I went in to do that this AM and it has the last month’s Amex history there, but the amount on the Costco Rewards looks like my amount from March, or so. Either way it was not the final amount that I had on Amex, but I will give it a few days to see if it updates.

    Took my card to Costco for its first use – no problem, but do note, people, that other purchasers in front of me were a bit dumbfounded that they could not use Amex, and this caused delays. May be a good idea to either go when no one is there or if you don’t then budget more time for others to pay, or skip it for a couple weeks until people figure it out. And do check the Rewards figure on your new Citi card – it’s likely not enough to make or break anyone, but why give it to them given all the hassles we’ve had to endure in the poorly handled transition.

  4. 4 Bill // 2016.06.05 at 1:54 pm

    I got tired of seeing the comments stuck on 37 for a while so I thought I’d mention I got my new Citi card a couple weeks ago.
    Also, I hope everything is OK Kimberly.

    • 5 Greg // 2016.06.06 at 11:40 am

      Good to know you have the new card already, Bill. About 7 weeks ago I got some notice saying a card will be here in 6 or 8 weeks and explaining benefits, so I am hoping one arrives – otherwise whom do I call? No number was on the prior paperwork. I want to be sure nothing was delivered to thje wrong address.

      This whole transition has been not well handled on Costco’s side.

      As for this site, I do hope Kimberly’s okay but it’s been 4 months since her last post. I’ll leave it in the faves for a couple months longer but if there is no update from her then there is no point.

      • 6 Michelle // 2016.06.06 at 11:48 am

        Yeah, I got the notice a good while back and have been disorganized with home contractor projects going on, so thought maybe I lost the mail with the credit card in it. I really don’t think I received it yet, so hopefully it comes soon…

        There was a phone number on some citi faq somewhere about the transition for if you lost the new card. I figured I could find it again if needed. Just google and you should find it =)

  5. 7 Sarah // 2016.05.05 at 10:54 am

    Kimberly, I hope all is ok. You are missed here.

  6. 8 Greg // 2016.04.23 at 10:14 am

    2 1/2 months since the last post. Hope everything’s okay, Kimberly.
    It’s a great blog, but it’s understandable that a break is necessary

  7. 9 David Ortiz // 2016.04.05 at 11:23 am

    Hey Hey Hoo Hoo Costco has got to go

  8. 10 Steve // 2016.04.04 at 5:08 pm

    Got my notice today. 4% on gas, 3% on entertainment and 2% at Costco, 1% everywhere else. Rewards earned up to the point of changeover on AMEX will transfer to VISA in June and payout as usual in Feb.

  9. 11 Don Leavitt // 2016.03.30 at 10:52 am

    When we be able to get a special deal on the Costco membership in Tulsa, OK? Did we miss it? Will it come again? What is the location to buy it?

  10. 12 I asked costco // 2016.03.23 at 12:52 pm

    20 June 2016 is the first day without Amex

  11. 13 Bill // 2016.03.21 at 11:18 am

    I went to Costco this morning in Teterboro NJ and they gave me a notice with my receipt that American Express Cards will continue to be accepted at Costco through June 19.

  12. 14 Jeff // 2016.03.17 at 1:30 am

    Does anyone know the status of this site?

  13. 15 Michelle // 2016.03.09 at 12:18 pm

    What happened to this blog? Thanks!

  14. 16 michelle // 2016.03.04 at 12:11 pm

    when will we get a NEW location update???

  15. 17 Ed K // 2016.03.02 at 9:46 pm

    Not sure I can post a link, but here’s Amex’s latest update on the issue:

    • 18 Donald Schmidt // 2016.03.14 at 2:16 pm

      June 19th is the last day AMEX will be accepted. June 20th the first day Citi Visa will be accepted

  16. 19 Carole // 2016.02.21 at 2:44 pm

    Costo accepts debit cards you donot have to pay in cash if not using American Express

  17. 20 John // 2016.02.16 at 3:21 pm

    My Costco membership is set to renew next month on my AMEX but American Express has already notified me that the card will stop working in the near future and is trying to sell me on another one. To their credit, AMEX does have an FAQ regarding the transition on their site. Costco has chosen to keep it’s members [and employees as far as I can tell] in the dark. I have a relative who works there and he knows less then we do in this forum. Very poor handling indeed.

  18. 21 eric // 2016.02.15 at 6:03 am

    for those looking for more cash back, consider the fidelity rewards Visa program… Like the Costco Visa it will be live mid summer. I know that non account holders need to sign up, but the cards gives you 2% cash back on all purchases with no cap. Add that with the Coscto executive program and you can earn 4% back on any Costco purchase (those within the guideline of the rebate program).

  19. 22 Wendy // 2016.02.10 at 6:28 pm

    At Costco Canada we switched about a year ago. Process was smooth with lots of support. Get the new Costco Visa and you’ll receive lots of benefits.

  20. 23 David // 2016.02.10 at 4:15 pm

    Our Costco annual rebate check is expected to arrive in our February 2016 statement from American Express.

    Since the annual rebate checks are only sent to active account-holders, I didn’t want to make purchases and earn rebate points on an American Express account that I don’t plan to be using by this time next year. When April 1, 2016 was the target switch date from American Express to Citi’s Visa, I was prepared to stop using our American Express card after this month’s cut-off date. Six weeks without shopping at Costco using our American Express card for payment would be a hardship but do-able. By pushing the switch-over to an undetermined date in the summer several months from now, we risk losing a significant amount of rebate dollars spent using the yet-to-be-cancelled American Express accounts.

    Am I thinking correctly on this matter?

    • 24 Greg // 2016.02.10 at 6:47 pm

      David, you are doing exactly what I am doing – stopped using the Costco Amex this month. It would be really good to know if any benefits will roll from Amex to the new Visa card, but Costco is not saying.

      Also would be really good to know if, even though the Costco Visa won’t be available, one can use any other Visa card come Apr 1.

      In the meantime I am just using cash at Costco, but actually am not hitting Costco often because I don’t like to carry cash. One does get the feeling in this that Costco USA doesn’t care. The card benefits aren’t going to make or break me, but having to remember cash and wondering about this stuff makes Costco the inconvenient shopping choice right now.

      • 25 Kimberly // 2016.02.11 at 4:14 am

        @Greg – Sorry, didn’t mean to be ambiguous, but Costco will still only be accepting American Express after April. The whole switch has been put off, unfortunately.

      • 26 zoila fuentes // 2016.03.06 at 2:39 pm

        I already contacted AMEX and they are not sure if continue the program reward.

        If we use visa as they suspected .I do not think that COSCO is looking for better deal to customer, I am sure there are looking to better profits to them.
        Since we are in the air with no information at all.

    • 27 Shannon // 2016.02.15 at 12:40 pm

      David I have the same concern, but have yet to hear anything from Amex or Costco regarding this matter. It would be nice to hear something so that shoppers are not left high and dry.

    • 28 Angie // 2016.02.20 at 8:01 am

      I had the same concern, so I asked Amex that question. They assured me that the rebates will continue to accumulate until the transition has been completed. So, I have continued to use my Costco American Express!

    • 29 David // 2016.02.26 at 4:16 pm

      I would continue to use your AmEx. As you can see by logging on to your AmEx account, your annual dividends are accruing, and should be available when the new year rolls around. HOPEFULLY, American Express will not decide to charge a fee for maintaining the Costco TrueEarnings Card account while waiting for a the dividend check.

      If you’re like me, American Express offered a new Blue Cash Everyday card. But I’ve seen nothing to indicate my TrueEarnings cards does not earn dividends in the 2016 benefits year.

      • 30 David // 2016.02.26 at 4:18 pm

        Oh, you won’t. ” There is no annual fee for the TrueEarnings Card as long as you have a paid Costco membership. Your annual Costco membership Fee will be automatically billed to your TrueEarnings Card statement with this descriptor: “Costco Membership Renewal.” “

    • 31 David // 2016.03.25 at 3:48 pm

      We just received a mailer from American Express with the following news:

      (1) The transition to Citibank Visa will take place in June 2016.

      (2) Costco Rewards being earned on our existing American Express card account will be carried over to the new Citibank Visa account.

  21. 32 Mike // 2016.02.10 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you – every time I call Amex they know less than Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes.

    I don’t want a Citi card and nobody knows how to make sure they don’t transfer my data. Nobody in the extended warranty program knows how coverage will work once the card is closed because normally an account closure means end of service but this one is different.

    Did Canada have this problem with Capital One?

    • 33 Kimberly // 2016.02.11 at 4:32 am

      @Mike – I think the switch in Canada went far, far smoother, as in seamlessly really. I believe there was even a period of two months or so where they overlapped and were accepting both card types.

      The transition in Canada was from American Express to Capital One, so I’m wondering if the problem with the switch lies with Citi. In any case, I wish Costco would be more forthcoming with details. This is obviously something that matters to members quite a bit, so they could at least put something on their website to give a bit more information about the transition.

      • 34 John // 2016.02.13 at 6:55 pm

        Switch over in Canada was smooth as there was no exchange of information between Amex and Cap One MC. Everyone had to sign up for the new Costco/capOne MC or use their existing Master cards. The Costco/Amex card simply expired Dec 31 of 2014. For the last 3 months of 2014, you could use either Amex or MasterCard. I had and was using my new Costco/CapOne MasterCard prior to my Costco/Amex expiring….easy.

  22. 35 Ed K // 2016.02.10 at 9:04 am

    There’s an SEC filing showing the new card details but moderation keeps the link from being posted.

    Basically, 3% on the first $4,000 of gas, 1% thereafter; 2% on travel and at US restaurants; 1% on all other purchases including Costco.

    Business card gets 4% on the first $7,000 of gas, 1% thereafter; 2% on travel and at US restaurants; 1% on all other purchases including Costco.

    Pretty much the same.

    • 36 Kimberly // 2016.02.11 at 4:25 am

      @Ed – Is there a cap on the rebate like that for gas with the American Express currently?

      • 37 Ed K // 2016.02.12 at 10:17 am

        @Kimberly yep, the cap on the gas rebates is identical to the current Amex offerings.

    • 38 npbk // 2016.02.14 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks for your post, I would get a credit card with 1.5% cashback on everything instead of this card.

  23. 39 Dan // 2016.02.09 at 12:15 pm

    My wife’s Costco American Express card expires this month and a new one arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. So for the time being it appears to be business as usual.

  24. 40 Ed K // 2016.02.09 at 9:25 am

    FYI, this SEC filing reveals the details of the rewards on the new card:

    Basically, 3% on the first $4,000 of gas, 1% thereafter; 2% on travel and at US restaurants; 1% on all other purchases including Costco.

    Business card gets 4% on the first $7,000 of gas, 1% thereafter; 2% on travel and at US restaurants; 1% on all other purchases including Costco.

    Pretty much the same.

  25. 41 Jerry // 2016.02.09 at 8:00 am

    I just got my new Jet Blue Master Card which was formerly American Express. I now get one point for gas when I got 2 on American Express. I do get 4 points for purchases on Jet Blue. Would be great if we get 4 points for Costco purchases on the Citi card.

    • 42 zoila fuentes // 2016.03.06 at 2:47 pm

      AMEX has many card services are this one is cero annually payment? I do not think the AMEX has right now no card with cero fees.

      when you travel out the USA do not receive regard, or use in other country this program does not work, is only in thd thru USA travel.

      • 43 Scott // 2016.03.08 at 8:52 am

        Actually they have the Americanexpress BLUE which has the same benefits as the costco AMEX, no annual fee and their rebates are in cash so you can use it anytime (not just once a year). So if you want to keep an americanexpress you can get a pretty good replacement.

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