The 12 Sam’s Club Problems No One Is Talking About

Unveil the overlooked drawbacks of shopping at Sam's Club.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Sams club warehouse sign board

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If you want to save money on groceries and other items, you might consider getting a Sam’s Club membership. 

But before handing over your cash, there are some potential issues with a Sam’s Club membership that you should understand before you become a member.

Check out these potential problems you could face if you’re a Sam’s Club member.

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The membership fee

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Like other warehouse retailers, Sam’s Club charges an annual membership fee. You need to remember the cost of the membership when deciding whether it makes sense to join Sam’s Club.

It’s also a good idea to compare the cost of a Sam’s Club membership to Costco. The basic membership for Sam’s Club costs $50 compared to Costco’s $60. 

Consider each retailer's products and services and decide what you need to do to keep more money in your bank account.

You don’t need a membership for some services

Syda Productions/Adobe female pharmacist giving medicines to man

If you're considering a Sam’s Club membership to get discounts on prescription drugs or alcohol, you might want to rethink your plans.

You don’t need a membership to use a Sam’s Club pharmacy, which means you can save extra cash by getting your medications at the warehouse club without purchasing a membership.

In some states, you can also buy alcohol at Sam’s Club without a membership.

You need storage space for your purchases

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Even if you can save big money by making bulk purchases, do you have a place to put all those goods?

You may end up wasting money if you don’t have room in a freezer for all your frozen items, for example. And where will you keep all those rolls of toilet paper you purchased?

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There are services you won’t use

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Warehouse clubs offer a lot of extra perks that even members might not be aware of. Even if you're aware of these perks, do you need them? 

Vacation packages, home improvement perks, and health services don’t do you much good if you don’t use them.

It’s easy to overspend

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Seeing all those bulk savings can make it easy to overspend on things you don’t really need at Sam’s Club.

If you do this often enough, it can prove costly. Remember, you don’t really save anything when you purchase a cheaper item that you don’t really need.

Warehouse shopping isn’t always right for singles

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Sam’s Club can offer big savings if you have a large family. But what about if you're single?

Singles might find that buying items in bulk leaves them wasting money when things go stale or begin to rot before they can finish them.

Sam’s Club might not always offer the best deal

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You may think you’re automatically saving money by purchasing items in bulk at Sam’s Club. But that is not always the case.

Break down the cost on a per-unit basis, and you might find that you're not saving that much (or at all) compared to other warehouse retailers or your local grocery store.

Sam’s Club doesn’t provide bags

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Like Costco, Sam’s Club doesn't provide shopping bags, so you're on your own when loading and unloading your purchases. 

Grab some boxes from home to help you contain your purchases, or consider getting bulk-size reusable bags to help you keep things organized.

You don’t need a membership to shop online

Matthew C/ woman using card for online purchases

Sam’s Club offers a guest membership that lets you shop at the retailer’s website without being required to pay for a membership card.

Be aware, however, that you may have to pay a service fee on your online purchases, which could cost more than getting a membership over time. Compare the membership cost with the 10% service fee you must pay to buy online without a membership.

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There might not be a Sam’s Club near you

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Sam’s Club has almost 600 warehouses in the U.S., so there's a good chance you are close to a club.

However, not everyone lives close to a Sam’s Club. If you have to drive a long distance to get to one, the gas you burn might negate some of your savings.

Meanwhile, Costco has more than 860 locations in the U.S., so you might find a Costco that's closer, making it a better option.

You can’t use coupons

Monkey Business/Adobe woman holding coupons in grocery aisle

Like many other warehouse retailers, Sam’s Club doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons. You might want to reconsider a Sam’s Club membership if you’re a coupon clipper who wants to use coupons to save extra cash.

Your cash back must be spent at Sam’s Cash

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You can upgrade to a Sam’s Club Plus membership, which includes 2% back on club purchases.

But the cash you get back comes as Sam’s Cash. So, you have to spend any money you get back at Sam’s Club as opposed to actually helping you build wealth.

Bottom line

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A Sam’s Club membership fee can help you save money shopping. However, there are hidden costs or issues you need to address before signing up. 

Review the items on this list before deciding whether a Sam’s Club membership is right for you.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and

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