Sam's Club Members Are Threatening to "Jump Ship" To Costco After This Policy Change

Sam's Club Plus members are losing a key membership perk — and they're not happy about it.

Free shipping concept
Updated July 18, 2024
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Sam's Club Plus members are losing a key benefit perk to their membership — and they are not happy about it.

While shoppers are typically over the moon with Sam's Club savings, a major change has them whistling another tune. Starting Aug. 19, Plus members will only receive free shipping for online orders of $50 or more when it was previously free. 

The cost for non-qualifying orders will be a flat rate of $8. 

This move could have a steep financial impact on those ordering online regularly, tacking on hidden fees that reduce the value of the $110 per year membership fee to be a Plus member and has customers reconsidering the value of their memberships. 

Find out how this policy change will impact your membership and how it compares to Costco. 

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Policy changes

baskaraya Phone images portraying free shipping

Sam's Club Plus members previously enjoyed free shipping directly to their door with online orders, but starting on Aug. 19, that will only be available on qualifying orders of $50 or more. The new rate will be a flat $8 fee on orders less than the new minimum threshold. 

This policy change will also affect free same-day delivery, requiring a $50 minimum to receive the perk. Sam's Club warns that taxes are not included, so the total has to be above the threshold before the tax is applied. 

Free curbside pickup is also affected for all members: Orders under $50 now have a $4 fee. 


Why, Sam's Club, why?

vladim_ka - stock.adobe.com Phone screen with Sam's Club logo

Sam's Club defends its new shipping costs by claiming that adding a cart minimum actually increases access to different ways of shopping for members, making it easier for customers to order what they want when they want it. We're scratching our heads about how paying more for the same service is easier. 

Public outcry and complaints

Antonioguillem Woman looking unhappy while online shopping

Customers are squinting suspiciously at Sam's Club statements, accurately noting they lack meaningful substance to explain the changes. 

Many Plus members have taken to social media to complain that the official Sam's Club accounts seem to be doing an apology tour — its replies are overflowing with generic messages trying to get people to contact them privately instead of discussing it in the open. 

 X (formerly Twitter) user @Tjshinesallday wrote, "Hi, I upgraded to a plus membership for free shipping on all orders. Since you are canceling that key benefit, are you lowering membership fees and sending us at least a $50 credit/refund? You used free shipping on all orders to get more plus memberships." 

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Costco comparison

Penguin Costco shopping cart

Sam's Club members might be threatening to switch to Costco, but their members also don't get free shipping. In fact, each vendor and manufacturer has its own shipping charge, which Costco can't waive, so online orders may result in multiple charges on your financial statement instead of one lump charge. 

For those who rely heavily on online shopping, Amazon Prime is still the king of free delivery. Yearly membership is $139 and includes free shipping; items usually arrive in 1-2 days. 

That membership fee also includes different perks than wholesale store membership, such as access to Prime Video, which offers free streaming of many shows and movies. 

Bottom line

jetcityimage - stock.adobe.com Sam's Club exterior

Wholesale store memberships have been aimed more at individual consumers than businesses, luring customers into joining by offering perks such as free shipping.

 As those perks slowly disappear, consumers realize they are mostly paying just for the privilege of being able to shop in the store at all. 

This may still be beneficial for those who do need to buy in bulk, but for those keeping an eye on savings, it could cause them to look elsewhere — such as Target's Circle Club or Amazon Prime. 


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Author Details

Cassandra Yorgey

Cassandra Yorgey is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience covering a multitude of topics ranging from science-fiction and fantasy genre reviews to the impacts of sociological developments on the political landscape. She champions financial literacy and consumer protections that value human life over monetary profits. She has been featured in both online and print publications, including AOL, Examiner, MSN, Exemplore, Yellowbook, and Wealth of Geeks.