Sam’s Club Mastercard Review: Is it Worth It?

Sam’s Club Mastercard Review: Is it Worth It?

The Sam's Club Mastercard can be a decent option for people who are already Sam's Club members or those who have a lot of gas purchases.

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Quick facts

  • Rewards: 5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% back on dining and travel, 1% back on other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0 (though you do have to be a Sam's Club member)
  • Redeeming rewards: You'll receive any rewards only once per year

Pros

  • Great rewards on gas, Sam's Club purchases and dining
  • $0 annual fee
  • Also works as your Sam's Club membership card

Cons

  • Must be a Sam's Club member to have the card
  • Rewards redeemable once per calendar year
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Is the Sam's Club Mastercard worth it?

The Sam's Club Mastercard is a decent credit card that can be especially rewarding for Sam's Club Plus members. The Sam's Club Mastercard also provides a best-in-class option for gas purchases (5% up to $6,000 per year).

However, if you're not already a Sam's Club member, you should pass on this card. Though it doesn't charge an annual fee, it probably isn't worth paying the Sam's Club membership fee just for the rewards on the card.

Who can qualify for the Sam's Club Mastercard?

You do need to be a Sam’s Club member to qualify for this card. Membership costs $45 a year for a Club membership or $100 a year for a Plus membership. So even though there isn't an annual fee, you’ll need to account for the membership cost in determining whether the benefits outweigh it. Most people are likely to find that the Sam's Club Mastercard isn't worth it unless they’re are already a Sam's Club member.

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Earn 3% cash back at Sam’s Club as a Plus Member

With the Sam's Club Mastercard, you can earn 5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% back on dining and travel, 1% back on other purchases.

Your decision to apply for this card might come down to whether you’re a Club or Plus member:

  • The higher tier of membership (Plus) earns 3% cash back on Sam's Club purchases.
  • Regular Club members only earn 1% cash back on Sam's Club purchases. (Many other cashback cards, including the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer, can beat this rate.)
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Sam's Club Plus members also earn 2% cash back on eligible in-club purchases as a benefit of their membership (with a limit of $500 in rewards per 12-month membership period). In combination with the Sam's Club Mastercard's rewards, Plus members can earn 5% cash back at Sam's Club until they hit the limit each year.

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Very few other credit cards give bonus earnings at warehouse clubs like Sam's Club: The 3% that Plus members earn on Sam's Club purchases is better than you'll find with most other cards. However, it does cost $100 to be a Sam's Club Plus member, so you'll need to do a lot of shopping at Sam's Club to make the membership cost worth the additional rewards.

The card, by the way, also earns a high rate of cash back on gas on dining. Regular Sam's Club members might opt to apply for it as a good gas and restaurant card.

Sign-up bonus: $30 statement credit

The Sam's Club Mastercard does have a welcome sign-up bonus, but it’s much smaller than many other credit cards: You can get a $30 statement credit when you open a new account and make $30 in Sam's Club purchases within 30 days.

While the requirement to earn the bonus is small (only $30), the offer is underwhelming — there are other credit cards that offer sign-up bonuses worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Thus, the bonus by itself is not the best reason to apply for this card.

Redeeming cash back

Unlike redeeming rewards with many other credit cards, the rewards that you get with the Sam's Club Mastercard come with strict limitations:

  • Rewards are only issued once per year beginning in February.
  • If your account is not open and in good standing, or you’re no longer a Sam's Club member at that time, you’ll forfeit your rewards.
  • Your rewards, which are automatically loaded onto your account, can only be redeemed for Sam's Club purchases at store locations or on SamsClub.com.
  • You also can't redeem your rewards without an open Sam's Club membership.
  • You can earn a maximum of $5,000 in cashback rewards each calendar year.

For cardholders who shop frequently at Sam's Club and plan to keep their memberships going, these aren't major hurdles. However, if your Sam's Club membership is in question, you should consider whether you might want to use a more flexible card (like the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer) to earn rewards.

Drawbacks to the Sam's Club Mastercard

  • You have to be a Sam's Club member: One major drawback to the Sam's Club Mastercard is that you have to be a Sam's Club member in order to apply for the card. Even though the Sam's Club Mastercard doesn't have an annual fee, you’ll have to pay the annual membership cost to the club itself.
  • Redemption is very restricted: As mentioned above, there are many limitations on redeeming cash back. You can only access your cash back rewards once per year, and if you cancel your membership before then, you’ll lose your rewards.

How does the Sam's Club Mastercard compare to other cards?

Here's a look at how the Sam's Club Mastercard compares to some other similar cards:

Sam's Club Mastercard vs. Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

On Citibank's Secure Website

Verdict: More valuable, flexible cashback rewards

Most people will get more rewards using the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card, a $0-annual-fee cashback card that lets you Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Not only are the cashback rewards that you earn with this card more flexible, but the card comes with a sign-up bonus and a great 0% introductory APR.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.
  • Cashback earning rate: Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Other benefits: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (followed by a 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) APR), can convert cash back into valuable ThankYou points

Sam's Club Mastercard vs. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

See Rates & Fees. Terms Apply. On American Express' Secure Website

Verdict: The better option if you do your grocery shopping outside of Sam's Club

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a better rate on U.S. supermarket purchases: 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply. It also doesn't require you to jump through hoops to redeem your rewards: Cash back can easily be redeemed for statement credits.

The card's annual fee may be a turn off for some applicants, though: It has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. However, the fee could be worth it, provided you do most of your grocery shopping outside of Sam's Club. The card's 6% cash back only applies at U.S. supermarkets and does not include Sam's Club or other warehouse stores.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
  • Welcome bonus: $300 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Redeemable for statement credits
  • Cashback earning rate: 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply. Cash back is redeemable for statement credits
  • Other benefits: Intro APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months (followed by a 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR), car rental damage and loss insurance
  • Terms apply

Sam's Club Mastercard vs. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Verdict: A good option for cardholders who want to pick their own category each month

Some cardholders may find customizable categories on the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card more rewarding, though it will depend on your specific spending patterns. The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card gives 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases

These categories are a better choice for those who shop at a variety of stores rather than just Sam's Club, as well as those who spend more on groceries than dining out. On the other hand, if you buy most of your gas from Sam's Club, the Sam's Club Mastercard is the better choice — it offers 5% on Sam's Club gas purchases, while the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card only offers 3% cashback on gas as one of its choice categories.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Welcome bonus: $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Cashback earning rate: 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Other benefits: Intro APR of 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases on purchases and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days on balance transfers (then a 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR applies), Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn an additional 25% to 75% cash back with each purchase

Should you apply for the Sam's Club Mastercard?

The Sam's Club Mastercard makes the most sense for people who are already Sam's Club Plus members and spend a lot of money there. If a Sam's Club membership isn't worth it for your specific spending situation, the Sam's Club Mastercard likely won't make sense either.

For occasional Sam's Club shoppers, using a card that has a high earning rate on all purchases may be the better option.

How to use the Sam's Club Mastercard

If you plan on applying for the Sam's Club Mastercard, it’s likely best for you to get a Sam's Club Plus membership. Then, you'll want to make sure to use your Sam's Club Mastercard for all Sam's Club, fuel and dining purchases — that’ll help you maximize the rewards that you'll get from the Sam's Club Mastercard.

Sam's Club Mastercard FAQs

Can I use my Sam's Club Mastercard anywhere?

Yes, the Sam's Club Mastercard is a Mastercard, and can be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. Sam's Club also offers a basic Sam's Club Credit card, which can only be used at Sam's Club.

How much is a Sam’s Club membership?

The basic Sam's Club membership costs $45 per year. You will need to be at least a Club Member to apply for the Sam's Club Mastercard.

How much is a Sam’s Club Plus membership?

The Sam's Club Plus membership costs $100 each year. This allows you to apply for the Sam's Club Mastercard, and also gives additional benefits like free shipping, cash rewards and early in-store shopping.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here

The information related to Sam's Club Mastercard and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).