|by Jason Steele|
A reader asks:
I have both the Costco TrueEarnings AMEX card as well as the Blue
Sky AMEX card. How do these two cards compare as far as using
them for travel expenses, and for daily use towards travel
It seems to me that the Costco card beats the Blue Sky card in every
way. I think you get a $100 travel credit for 7,500 Blue Sky points
(which are accumulated everywhere), but if I spend $7,500 on the Costco
card, I have the potential of getting more than $100 in cash back.
How would you use these two cards? Costco for gas and restaurants
and… everything else too? Blue Sky as a benchwarmer card?
Great question Josh. For those of you who are’nt familiar with the Blue Sky card, check out our review here. The Blue Sky card is what I would call a value based travel reward card in that the award redemption is specifically based on the reward value. In this case, you earn an award worth $100 for every $7,500 spent, for a 1.33% return. You then spend your reward by calling Amex travel to make a reservation. It’s advantages are it’s simplicity and it’s lack of capacity restrictions and blackouts. If you are not the type of person who wants to go up against a restrictive reward system in hope of finding some high value rewards, this may work for you.
In comparison, the Costco offers cash back that you can use for anything, not just travel. In addition, it offers a higher rate of return for other categories. That includes 3% cash back on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations, including at Costco, for purchases up to $4,000 per year (1% thereafter), 2% cash back at U.S. restaurants; 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases; 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco. All and all, it is a very good cash back card. You would get slightly more for the “everything else” category if you stuck with your Blue Sky, but with gas, travel, and restaurants, Costco will do pretty good.
There are a few things you will want to be careful with. First, Costco only gives you receive your cash back in the form of an annual reward coupon. That means you have to redeem your cash back at Costco or use it to reduce the check out price!
If you are going to take your chances with the Costco card, I would recommend the ultra high cash back earning Schwab Card, which is now offering an industry leading 2% on everything. Save your Costco card for restaurants and gasoline, and get 2% cash back immediately from Schwab. In that way, you should average well over 2% cash back throughout the year, and not be tied to any type of travel agent for your reward.