Costco near deal with new credit card issuer

NEW YORK — Costco Wholesale Corp., acknowledging its split with American Express Co., said Friday that it is close to reaching a deal with a new credit card company for exclusive rights to serve the giant retailer’s customers.

Costco should be in a position to announce the new partner “probably sooner rather than later,” said spokesman Bob Nelson, raising the possibility that could happen as early as next week.

The company, based in Issaquah, Wash., east of Seattle, has been talking with several credit card firms for some time in anticipation of a break with AmEx, Nelson said. Last fall, Costco ended its partnership with AmEx in Canada, choosing instead a Capital One MasterCard.

Costco’s efforts to hook up with a lower-cost credit card company have rattled some of its U.S. customers.

“It’s the only reason I have an American Express card,” Tim Young said Friday outside a Costco store in San Juan Capistrano, where he had put his car through the store’s $7.99 carwash and picked up a few odds and ends inside.

As usual, Young said, his purchases included something he had not planned to buy — a pair of jeans he had decided, on the spur of the moment, that his teenage son could use — ratcheting the bill a bit higher.

For the last 15 years, AmEx has been the only credit card accepted at Costco, a membership-only business with 50 million discount-minded customers. The store otherwise accepts only cash or debit cards.

Under the exclusive deal, Costco also heavily marketed its own branded American Express cards to its members, though they were free to use other AmEx cards. Analysts said the relationship has been a boon to both, particularly the New York credit card company.

AmEx said Thursday that the relationship would end in March 2016 when its current 10-year contract with Costco expires.

Amazon opens brick-and-mortar on campus

In its latest effort to win more customers, e-commerce giant Amazon is going brick-and-mortar on campus.

The retailer has opened its first-ever staffed customer order pickup and drop-off location at Purdue University’s West Lafayette, Ind., campus. Purdue students now have a new convenient option for receiving textbooks and other college essentials, as well as a hassle-free way to return textbook rentals and other orders.

“We’re excited to open our first-ever staffed pickup location at Purdue, making it more convenient and affordable for students to get everything they need for life on campus,” said Paul Ryder, VP of media and student programs at Amazon. “Whether students are ordering textbooks, laptops, or mac and cheese, Amazon and Purdue are now providing a convenient and secure spot for them to pick up their stuff at hours that work with their schedules. We look forward to bringing this experience to more universities soon.”

Amazon Student and Amazon Prime members at Purdue get Free One-Day Shipping on textbooks shipped to the West Lafayette campus area and are also eligible for Free One-Day Pickup on over one million items when shipped to the new Amazon@Purdue location.

“Our goal in working with Amazon has been to make books and other needed supplies more affordable for our students, as we have with tuition and room and board,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “The opening of the Amazon@Purdue location adds convenience to the mix.”

Student affordability and accessibility is a key component of Purdue Moves, a range of initiatives to broaden Purdue’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students. Here’s how Amazon@Purdue will work:

  • Students, alumni, faculty and staff at Purdue can activate their benefits by visiting—or joining Amazon Student—to personalize their Amazon shopping experience.
  • Once activated, students will be able to easily identify books needed for class by looking for a ‘badge’ with Purdue’s logo and class information within Amazon search results and product pages. Student can also purchase any item available on Amazon, and items eligible for Free One-Day Pickup are marked with a “Prime Campus” badge.
  • When purchasing items on Amazon, students will choose Amazon@Purdue as their shipping address at checkout.
  • When their order arrives, they’ll receive an email or text notification.
  • When they’re ready to pick up their order, the student will click on the link provided in the email or text. This link will generate a barcode.
  • After arriving at Amazon@Purdue the student will scan the barcode and pick up their order at one of the self-service lockers or go to the pickup desk and an associate can assist them.

The opening of Amazon@Purdue marks the next phase of the collaboration announced by Purdue and Amazon last August, where Amazon will return a percentage of eligible sales to customers that have activated the Purdue experience to the university, including sales to faculty, staff and alumni.

Purdue will use the proceeds for its student affordability and accessibility initiatives. A second location will open this spring in the Purdue Memorial Union building. Also this spring, all Purdue students will be eligible for Free One-Day Shipping on Purdue textbooks shipped to the West Lafayette campus area.


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