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Sam's Club Mastercard: Should You Apply?

Sam's Club Mastercard: Should You Apply?

A very good credit card for earning rewards on gas, travel, and dining purchases. Subpar rewards when used at Sam's Club and Walmart
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

The Sam’s Club Mastercard is a great credit card for earning rewards on gas, travel, and dining expenses. The card provides rewards rates between 3% and 5% on spending within these categories, which is a feature seldom seen in a card with no annual fee. This credit card is not, however, the best one to use on your non-gas shopping at Sam’s Club. There it will only provide you with 1% cash back, which is well below average compared to the top cards. Overall, we view the Sam’s Club Mastercard as a good offer for most consumers, but limited to within the categories that will earn between 3% and 5% cash back.

Good For…

Bad For…
  • Sam's Club members who spend a lot on gas, travel, and dining out
  • Earning rewards at Sam's Club/Walmart
  • Those looking for big short-term perks. This card has no welcome bonus

Review: Should You Get The Sam’s Club Mastercard?

The Sam’s Club Mastercard offers very high rewards and is a fantastic value – provided you don’t mind its inconvenient redemption method. Rewards accumulated through the card may only be redeemed once per year, at a Sam’s Club store. This can be problematic, especially for individuals who could use the cash back rewards they earned immediately. As long as you don’t care about this stipulation, the card provides one of the highest rewards rates on gas purchases around – 5% on up to the first $6,000 in purchases each year. It also provides 3% cash back on travel and dining expenses, a rate that rivals some of our favorite travel credit cards. Generally, earning rewards above 2% is considered above average, since that is the rate you can get on all purchases with a decent flat rate cash back card, such as the Citi Double Cash.

As mentioned above, the Sam’s Club Mastercard is not the card we’d recommend to actually use at Sam’s Club. Within the superstore, the card will earn you just 1% cash back – well below the 2% threshold we spoke of. Shopping at Walmart and Sam’s Club is better done with a flat rate 2% cash back credit card, since those are some of the only credit cards to provide rewards above 1% at wholesale stores like these.

The Sam’s Club Mastercard has no signup bonus, which puts it at a disadvantage against most cards issued by larger financial institutions. Cardholders can typically get anywhere between $100 and $700 from credit card bonuses, provided they meet all the necessary spending requirements. If you’re looking to optimize your rewards in the short-term, consider other options.

Bottom Line: As long as you don’t mind all the hoops you have to jump through when it comes to rewards, the Sam’s Club Mastercard provides excellent value on gas, travel, and dining purchases. If you’re already a Sam’s Club member, and have expenses in any of those 3 categories, you’d be hard pressed to find better net value on another card.

Sam’s Club Mastercard Benefits & Features

The Sam’s Club Mastercard’s primary focus is earning cash back. All the rewards earned through this card are mailed to consumers once per year, in the form of a check that can only be cashed or redeemed at a Sam’s Club location. If you don’t redeem the check within 180 days of it being issued, the rewards expire.

The rewards themselves are quite high. Cardholders can get 5% cash back at most U.S. gas stations, up to $6,000 in purchases per year. The only gas stations that don’t qualify for the rewards are those belonging to other wholesale stores (Costco, BJ’s etc.). Using the Sam’s Club Mastercard you will also receive 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases, and 1% back on everything else.

Sam's Club Mastercard
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Purchase APR
14.9% 22.9% Variable
Credit Needed N/A
Details
  • No annual fee
  • Annual cash back payout capped at $5,000
  • Doubles as your membership card
Curiously enough, this card will only provide 1% cash back rewards on non-gas purchases at Sam’s Club and Walmart – way below average. For ordinary shopping at these stores, you’d be better off using the Citi Double Cash, which can give you 100% more cash back than the Sam’s Club co-branded credit card.

The Sam’s Club Mastercard also has a rewards cap of $5,000 per year. While this may seem inconvenient, only the highest of spenders could reach this limit. You would need to spend well over $150,000 annually in order for this to become a real issue.

The card doesn’t come with any additional annual fee, though you need to be a member of Sam’s Club in order to get it. Membership to Sam’s Club currently costs $45 per year.

How Does The Sam’s Club Credit Card Compare To Other Credit Cards?

Nobody should chose a credit card without weighing different options first. For this reason, we compared the Sam’s Club credit card against some of its competitors.

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

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of our favorite credit cards for cash back around. It provides 6% back at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases and has an annual fee of $95. When it comes to spending on gas, the Sam’s Club Mastercard is the better deal with a 5% rewards rate, versus the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express 3%. Gas is the only category between the two cards that overlaps, so if you’re deciding between these two cards make your choice based on which of the remaining categories match up with how you use spend. If you shop at supermarkets a lot, the 6% rewards will almost undoubtedly outperform any reward difference on gas. If you’re still unsure how your spending break down will affect the net rewards value between these two cards, you can use our credit card calculator below to get the answer.

Sam’s Club Mastercard vs Walmart Mastercard

The Sam’s Club Mastercard offers a far better value than the Walmart Mastercard in all scenarios. The Walmart credit card gives at most a 2.86% rewards rate on gas purchased at Walmart, and 1% back on every other purchase – including other gas stations. The Sam’s Club credit card provides far better rewards across a broader spectrum of categories – dining, travel, etc. If you’re already a Sam’s Club member then signing up for the store’s credit card is the better option. If you only plan to sign up in order to get the credit card, things get a little trickier. The question then becomes about when the greater rewards justify paying the $45 membership fee. As a benchmark, if you spend $178 per month on gas or $188 per month on dining and travel, the Sam’s Club card will provide the better value, despite the membership fee you pay.

Compare The Different Credit Cards

Choosing a credit card optimally will often depend on how well it matches the way you spend. Using the tool below you can see the 2-year net value of the Sam’s Club Mastercard, and other similar options available to consumers.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card
$0 1.94%
$150
Get $150 bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months
$665
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 515 x $1 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 665

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Sam's Club Mastercard
No Annual Fee 1.88%
$0
$646
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 646 x $1 = $646
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $0
0 x $1 = $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 646

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 14.9% 22.9% Variable

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • Annual cash back payout capped at $5,000
  • Doubles as your membership card
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
$0 2.04%
$150
Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
$700
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 550 x $1 = $550
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 700

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.74%-25.74% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Chase Freedom®
$0 1.44%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
$493
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 493

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 16.74% - 25.49% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$95 2.46%
$200
Get $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
$845
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Terms and Limitations Apply

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Point Value Rewards Value
Spending Rewards 835 x $1 = $835
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $200
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 845

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $95
APR 14.74%-25.74% Variable
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Walmart® MasterCard®
No Annual Fee 0.86%
$0
Spend $75 on one receipt today, and get $25 in statement credit
$297
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 29,657 x $0.01 = $297
Bonuses
0 x $0.01 = $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 297

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 22.9%

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • Fraud Protection
  • Free FICO Credit Score
  • Special Financing Options

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Info about the following cards: American Express® Gold Card, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, and Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.