If you’re a Sam’s Club member, that $45 you spent on the membership fee has probably already saved you money on everything from batteries to butter.
But if you’d like to take your savings to the next level and start collecting rewards for your Sam’s Club purchases, you have plenty of options.
The basics about the Sam’s Club credit cards
There are two different Sam’s Club-branded credit cards. The Sam’s Club Credit Card can only be used in Sam’s Club and Walmart stores. On the other hand, Synchrony Bank is the issuer of the Sam’s Club Mastercard, which makes this card more flexible and it also earns rewards on everyday spending.
Let’s compare the two:
||Sam’s Club Credit Card||Sam’s Club Mastercard|
|Welcome offer||$30 statement credit when you open a new account and spend $30 on Sam's Club purchases within 30 days||$30 statement credit when you open a new account and spend $30 on Sam's Club purchases within 30 days|
|Rewards||None||5% on Sam's Club purchases (with Plus membership); 5% cash back on gas up to $6,000 per year; 3% back on dining and travel; 1% cash back on all other purchases|
|Acceptance||Walmart and Sam’s Club stores||Everywhere Mastercard is accepted|
|Cash advances||Up to $100||Up to $100|
|Online account access||Yes||Yes|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None|
4 things you should know about the Sam’s Club credit cards
While these credit cards can provide some useful perks, especially for frequent Sam’s Club shoppers, there are a few caveats that make them different from other rewards cards. Consider how you’ll use these cards to determine if they’re a good option for you. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Only one of these cards earns rewards
The Sam’s Club Credit Card basically allows you to use a two-in-one card to show your membership and make purchases, but it doesn’t regularly reward you in any other way. With this store credit card, you won’t get any cash back for your purchases, even at Sam’s Club stores. So, if you're looking for the best rewards credit card, this might not be it.
2. Your cash back has strings attached
The Sam’s Club Mastercard, on the other hand, offers some impressive rewards for cardholders, especially on gas. You can earn 5% cash back on gas for up to $6,000 per year. After that, you’ll earn just 1%. That means you could walk away with $300 or more each year just for putting your gas purchases on your Sam’s Club Mastercard.
But there are some restrictions that make this card less flexible than other rewards credit cards. For example, your cash back earnings are capped at a maximum of $5,000 cash back in a calendar year. You also won’t get access to your cash until February of the following year, when it will be automatically loaded onto your membership.
Cash back can only be used at Sam’s Club, and your rewards will expire if you don’t spend them in time.
3. One card is more flexible than the other
The Sam’s Club Credit Card is pretty limiting, considering it's not a rewards credit card and you can only use it at Sam’s Club and Walmart stores.
The Sam’s Club Mastercard, on the other hand, can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. That could go a long way in helping you earn cashback rewards faster.
4. A new account could cover your membership cost
If you’re new to Sam’s Club, you could essentially get the cost of your membership covered. Unfortunately, you’ll need to sign up as a member before you apply for the card. However, if you make an online purchase at samsclub.com the same day, you’ll receive up to a $45 statement credit on your account within 90 days.
Already have a membership card? You could also make any $45 online purchase to get the statement credit. Note that this is only a limited-time offer available through Jan. 15, 2020.
We appreciate that you can get your Sam’s Club membership free this way, but you’ll still need to pay your annual renewal. And plenty of other rewards cards offer sign-up bonuses valued at $150 or even $300 for new cardholders.
Who the Sam’s Club credit cards are best for
Both of these cards are only worth applying for if you’re going to be spending a lot of your hard-earned cash at Sam’s Club and Walmart. The Sam’s Club Mastercard is an especially good deal for someone who spends a lot on gas every year and can use the cash back for wholesale club purchases. To qualify for this particular card, you'll need a good to excellent credit score.
These cards are also ideal for people who will put in the time to track their rewards diligently, since there’s a risk that your cash back could expire before you use it. Plus, you’ll want to make sure you don’t max out your cashback earnings for the year, especially the $6,000 cap on gas spending. If you do, it’s likely best to switch your spending to another card so you can continue to earn rewards.
How to apply for the Sam’s Club credit cards
To apply, either visit a Sam’s Club register to fill out an application or apply online. It’s unclear if you can access the $45 welcome bonus if you sign up in stores, so if that’s a priority for you, then apply online.
It’s also super easy to manage your account and pay your bill online. But if you prefer to keep it old school, you can also pay by phone or at a Sam’s Club register.
Alternatives to Sam’s Club credit cards
Depending on where you spend your money, you might be better served by a regular rewards card with more flexibility when it comes to earning and redeeming rewards. Even if you buy food at Sam's Club, this may not be one of the best credit cards for groceries. There are a few other great options when it comes to card offers from other card issuers.
First, if you’re more of a Walmart shopper, be sure to check out the Walmart credit cards as well, as they might be a better option.
If you’re a big spender at U.S. supermarkets in general, however, consider the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. It has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter, but you can earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. This card also gets you an intro interest rate on purchases, which neither Sam's Club card offers. Terms apply.
Keep in mind with the Amex card that “U.S. supermarkets” doesn’t include Sam’s Club, so if you do the majority of your grocery shopping there, this might not be the right choice for you. But this card has some of the best cashback rates out there.
There are also no-annual-fee cards that can help you rack up some serious rewards. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ will earn you 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
These bonus categories change each quarter, but they can include things like gas, grocery stores, and even wholesale retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco.
What credit score do I need for a Sam's Club credit card?
The Sam’s Club credit card is a store card that works only at Walmart and Sam’s Club locations nationwide. Many store credit cards are easier to qualify for than typical credit cards because of their restrictions and lower overall benefits. Still, approval may require at least a fair credit score, which starts at 580 for FICO Scores and 601 for VantageScores.
What are the benefits of a Sam's Club credit card?
The Sam’s Club credit card has next to no benefits other than doubling as your Sam’s Club membership card. However, the Sam’s Club Mastercard offers 5% cash back on Sam's Club Purchases (for Plus members), 5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1% after), 3% cash back on dining, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Is the Sam's Club credit card worth it?
The Sam’s Club credit card isn’t likely worth it for most people because it doesn’t offer any rewards on purchases or other helpful benefits. The Sam’s Club Mastercard could be worth it if you want to earn bonus cash back on gas, Sam’s Club purchases (especially if you’re a Sam's Club Plus member), and dining.
However, alternative options like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and Chase Freedom Flex℠ might suit you better. These cards can help you earn valuable rewards in similar categories. In addition, Chase and American Express have two of the best rewards programs available.
Find other ways to save
Remember that a rewards credit card can provide a lot of additional value, but it’s no replacement for smart shopping. There are other ways to save money at grocery stores and other retailers, from knowing where to search for coupons to using cashback apps like Ibotta.
If you can combine your savvy shopping skills with a trusty credit card that earns rewards on qualifying purchases, you’ll get more bang for your buck. You can put some of that money you save into a high-yield savings account or stock up on points to make your next dream vacation happen for free. The possibilities are endless.
#1 Cash Back at Supermarkets
Earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter
6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases