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What Costco shoppers should know about the American Express-to-Visa switch

Costco has switched from 16 years of only accepting American Express credit cards to now only accepting Visa-branded credit cards — any Visa card, not just the new one for Costco's 81 million cardholders.

NPR's report on the change noted a few things those with a Costco American Express card should know:

  • The new card should have been mailed already. Costco’s website states that those who have not received a new credit card should contact Citi to ensure that their address is correct and request a new card.
  • The old American Express card will no longer work.
  • Reward points and balances will transfer over to the new card.
  • No additional fees for the switch.

While NPR reported that the new Visa cards won’t offer the same roadside assistance that American Express did, there are new benefits. Perhaps the best, according to, is that the Citi's Anywhere Visa offers 4 percent cash back on the first $7,000 spent at a eligible gas stations, compared to the old card’s 3 percent back on the first $4,000.

The Anywhere Visa also offers 3 percent cash back at restaurants and some travel purchases, 2 percent back on Costco purchases, whether made online or in-store, and 1 percent back on everything else, according to

The new Costco credit card is a “much richer card than the American Express incumbent,” according to Sean McQuay, NerdWallet credit card expert.

And there’s the simple fact that more people have Visa credit cards than American Express — about three times as many, according to the Nilson Report. About 118 million people in the U.S. possess at least one Visa card, NerdWallet reports.

While Costco reported a negative earnings impact of about $11 million in May from lost credit card sign-ups, Business Insider has called the Visa-Costco deal a catalyst for growth. The company expects not only a flood of new cardholders, but savings of up to $220 million, thanks to lower interchange fees.

Business Insider had earlier reported that American Express ended its co-branding agreement with Costco after the two could not reach terms “that would have made economic sense for our company and shareholders.”

A “modest slowdown in billings, loans and revenue growth” tied to Costco’s U.S. co-brand was observed throughout 2015, with more sluggishness expected in 2016, American Express chief financial officer Jeffrey Campbell told Business Insider.

A report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, however, advises that consumers hold off on destroying that old American Express card for now, until they’re sure there are no returns to be made or that no other issues with the card have cropped up.

Returns for purchases on the old Costco cards will be handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the Star Tribune.

And while some have adapted well to the change…

… others have not.