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Professor Donna Wertalik's interview on Costco’s new visa credit card

Virginia Tech Marketing Professor of Practice and Director of Marketing Strategy & Analytics, Donna Wertalik, shares her expert insight on wholesale club credit cards in an interview with Read this spotlight to find out how Costco’s visa credit card could impact their members and read more information about this topic at

1. If someone joins a wholesale club like Costco, does it automatically make sense to apply for the club’s co-branded credit card?

This ties into consumer privacy.  You must always allow consumers to opt in and not just automatically include them.  This could be a data breach issue and one that Costco should watch for closely. In addition, since Costco has 2 membership types, it will be important to distinguish what type of membership and the potential credit card usage based on the profile of the member.

2. Would it ever make sense to join a wholesale club like Costco just to get its co-branded credit card?

This is an opportunity cost for a consumer to determine the ROI of purchases and usage of the card, based on their purchase behavior. The credit card and club provide a unique value and offer incentives not otherwise available through general credit cards, such as Costco Gas stations, along with points from every purchase that go back to the card.

“Again, a consumer needs to analyze the value, based on their usage of the Costco club, aligned with credit card benefits.” 

3. How much of an impact do you think a chain like Costco’s choice of card-network partner (e.g. Visa/Mastercard) has on consumers?

Having 2 of the top credit cards brands as partners serves as credibility, trust and confidence.  This is a huge driver and many stores partner in this fashion knowing psychologically, consumers position and trust key brands.

4. How should consumers evaluate a credit card that pays out rewards once per year against a card that pays out rewards on a rolling basis?

This is interesting.  If you review another case, the Chase Sapphire card, they chose to target millenials and provide incentives of 100,000 points just for signing up.  I think they have to evaluate how this card will drive business and provide a solid return. 

“In order to keep consumers loyal and engaged, the rolling basis rewards works very effectively, as incentives and also a "gaming" aspect.”