Sam’s Club® Mastercard® review

Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

ON THIS PAGE Jump to Open page navigation

Snapshot

3.7

Bankrate rating
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
Synchrony Bank Image
Apply now

on Synchrony Bank's secure site

Best wholesale club card

Sam's Club® Mastercard®

Rewards rate

1%–5%

Annual fee

No Annual Fee

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

15.65% or 23.65% Variable

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)

Sam’s Club® Mastercard® Overview

Bulk buyers that are curious about the potential rewards and benefits that might come with the Sam’s Club Mastercard might be a bit disappointed, unless feeding their gas tanks is a bigger expense than feeding their households.

This card’s main benefit is its 5 percent cash back rate on gas, where it beats the rival Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi as one of the best credit cards for gas. The dining cash back is great too, Plus members earn 3 percent back on eligible purchases when shopping in-club or digitally through Sam’s Club when they use their Sam’s Club Mastercard and another 2 percent back from their Plus membership, for a total of up to 5 percent rewards on eligible purchases. However, cash back is only issued once per year and you need to redeem in-store if you want to use it outside Sam’s Club.

Continue reading to see whether the Sam’s Club credit card is the best wholesale club card for your wallet.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Pros

  • Excellent 5 percent cash back on gas (on up to $6,000 in yearly purchases, then 1 percent)
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Acts as both a credit card and your Sam’s Club membership card

Cons

  • Rewards issued only once per year in February, and you must redeem in-store for physical cash back
  • No boosted rewards or benefits to shopping at Sam’s Club
  • Sam’s Club membership required (starting at $45 per year)

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: 5 percent cash back on gas (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), 3 percent back on dining ($5,000 cash rewards maximum per year), and 1 percent cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 15.65 percent or 23.65 percent variable APR

Current sign-up bonus

Retail credit cards aren’t known for stellar bonuses, and the Sam’s credit card is no exception. You’ll receive a $30 Statement Credit when you open a new account and make $30 in Sam’s Club purchases within the first 30 days.

Essentially receiving $30 in free Sam’s Club merchandise isn’t a bad deal, but it isn’t the best we’ve seen among store cards. Its cousin card, the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®, offers 5 percent cash back when using Walmart Pay in-store for the first 12 months, and the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card gives you a $70 Amazon gift card instantly upon approval.

Cash back

The Sam’s Club Mastercard cash back categories are pretty flexible—especially compared to the Costco card’s category restrictions. While there’s a strange limit of $5,000 cash back per year, this likely won’t be a problem since you’d need to spend more than $150,000 across your gas and dining categories to accomplish this feat. However, there are a few key caveats around your rewards redemption to take note of.

Earning cash back

Your primary sources of Sam’s Club credit card cash back are the 5 percent cash back on gas (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) and 3 percent back on dining and takeout bonus categories. Sam’s Club Plus members can earn 3 percent back on eligible purchases when shopping in-club or digitally through Sam’s Club when they use their Sam’s Club Mastercard and another 2 percent back from their Plus membership, for a total of up to 5 percent rewards on eligible purchases.

For what it’s worth, this card doesn’t have the same bonus category restrictions that the Costco card does, such as Costco’s bakery and bed-and-breakfast exclusions for dining. And unlike the Costco card, the Sam’s Club Mastercard doesn’t exclude other store-branded gas stations from its gas rewards category. Plus, some credit card restaurant reward categories exclude caterers, which the Sam’s Club card’s terms specifically state it accepts. This can be especially helpful if you run a small business or if you use your Sam’s Club membership to prep for events.

Redeeming cash back

Perhaps the biggest deal-breaker to consider before taking the plunge on this card is its reward redemption process. Unfortunately, Sam’s Club cash back also works like the Costco card’s rewards program, with cash rewards only issued once in February each year. However, unlike Costco, Sam’s Club automatically loads your rewards to your membership account.

Since Sam’s Club no longer issues cash back in the form of checks and you can’t immediately deposit them into a bank account, you have only until Dec. 31 of each year to redeem your rewards. Sam’s Club cash back can go toward Sam’s Club purchases online and at the register in-store, membership upgrades or renewals or statement credits on your card. But if you want cold, hard cash, you’ll have to trek to a Sam’s Club location and redeem in person at a staffed register or the Member Services desk.

You should weigh these obstacles carefully before applying because you’ll lose all your hard-earned rewards if you cancel your card or Sam’s Club membership before February rolls around.

How much are the rewards worth?

The Sam’s Club credit card earns cash back as a percentage of your spending, not points. For example, 5 percent back on gas purchases will earn you 5 cents back per dollar of your total purchase. But in this case, you have to decide whether the personal value of your rewards is worth the hassle of redeeming them.

Benefits

The Sam’s Club credit card doesn’t carry any benefits worth writing home about. Besides your Sam’s Club membership perks, you can use your store credit card as your membership card and the automatic benefits as a Mastercard holder.

The Mastercard benefits you receive can vary depending on your credit limit, so you should check with your network for the full list of features. Standard Mastercard credit cards offer basics like $0 liability protection for unauthorized purchases and identity theft protection, but World and World Elite Mastercards offer a range of premium perks like purchase and travel protections, cellphone insurance and complimentary subscription services.

Rates and Fees

You won’t take on big fees with the Sam’s Club Mastercard since there are no annual or foreign transaction fees. The most notable cost is the $45 minimum yearly cost of the Sam’s Club membership required to apply and hold your card.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any zero-interest offers to keep the 15.65 percent or 23.65 percent variable APR at bay. Luckily, the ongoing APR doesn’t live up to the notoriously high interest rates retail cards are known for. Your rate may actually be below the current average credit card interest rate, depending on your creditworthiness.

How the Sam’s Club Mastercard compares to other wholesale club cards

As far as cash back cards go, the Sam’s Club Mastercard offers excellent all-around category coverage and a hard-to-beat rewards rate on gas. Even its biggest (and most similar) competitor, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, can’t match the Sam’s Club card’s gas rewards program. If you’re already a road-bound Sam’s Club member and you don’t mind a trip to the store to get your rewards in bulk, too, then this card is a no-brainer.

However, if you’re primarily looking for a grocery shopping card with cash back centered around wholesale clubs, the Sam’s Club Mastercard may only be a good choice with a Plus membership. That’s because Plus members earn 3 percent back on eligible purchases when shopping in-club or digitally through Sam’s Club when they use their Sam’s Club Mastercard and another 2 percent back from their Plus membership, for a total of up to 5 percent back on eligible purchases.  Regular Sam’s Club members earn just 1  percent back, so a flat-rate cash back card that offers 1.5 percent or 2 percent could be a better choice.

The highest wholesale club reward rates you’ll likely find will be on a rotating category card like the Discover it® Cash Back, which often features this category on its cash back calendar. However, the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card can offer a bit more consistency with year-round 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, plus 3 percent back on one of six choice categories (on up to $2,500 in combined 2 percent and 3 percent category purchases per quarter, then 1 percent).

Synchrony Bank Image

Sam's Club® Mastercard®

  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
3.7
Apply now

on Synchrony Bank's secure site

Annual fee

No Annual Fee

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%–5%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Bank of America Image

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
4.0
Apply now

on Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200

Rewards rate

1%–3%

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent(670 - 850)
Citi Image

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
  • star icon
2.5
Apply now

on Citi's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%–4%

Recommended credit

Excellent(740 - 850)

Sam’s Club Mastercard vs. Costco Anywhere Visa

While they share some similarities, the Costco Anywhere Visa has a couple of key advantages over the Sam’s Club Mastercard, including the fact that it doesn’t impose nearly as many restrictions as the Sam’s Club card. While you’ll still face a cap on gas rewards, there’s no limit to the total amount of rewards you can earn with the Costco card (the Sam’s Club card imposes a $5,000 maximum). You also don’t have to have a higher-tier membership to earn more than 1 percent back on purchases at the wholesale club – all cardholders get 2 percent back at Costco stores and Costco.com. Additionally, you can earn travel rewards (at a rate of 3 percent back) with the Costco card—a category that earns just 1 percent back with the Sam’s Club Mastercard. On the downside, if you do opt for the Costco “Executive” membership, you can boost your rate to just 4 percent back. The Executive membership is not only more expensive ($120 total per year) than Sam’s Club’s Plus membership ($100 per year), but also offers 1 percent less cash back than the Sam’s Club card’s 5 percent back for Plus members.

Sam’s Club Mastercard vs. Bank of America Customized Cash card

If you’re looking for a bit more variety and flexibility with your bonus categories, but don’t want to give up earning bonus rewards at Sam’s Club and other wholesale clubs, the Bank of America Customized Cash card can be a great alternative to the Sam’s Club card. A popular “choose your own bonus category” card, the Customized Cash lets you pick one 3 percent cash back category (from gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings), while also earning a consistent flat rate of 2 percent back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent back on all other spending. You can also switch up your choice category once per calendar month to match your spending habits. While there’s a $2,500 combined spending limit for earning the top rate in the card’s 2 percent and 3 percent categories per quarter (after which you’ll earn just 1 percent), this flexible rewards program could help you maximize your earnings based on how your spending habits change.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card last updated on 05.03.21

Best cards to pair with the Sam’s Club Mastercard

The best combinations with the Sam’s Club Mastercard will provide high-yield cash back on categories that the Sam’s card doesn’t already cover.

A flat-rate cash back card like the Citi® Double Cash Card could shore up the Sam’s Club Mastercard’s in-store weaknesses, or, a grocery powerhouse could come in handy. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express would rake in 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent) and unlimited 3 percent on transit and at U.S. gas stations when your 5 percent category rewards cap out.

Bankrate’s take—Is the Sam’s Club Mastercard worth it?

The Sam’s Club Mastercard is an excellent, low-cost engine for cash back on gas with admirable coverage across dining purchases, too. But if you’re not a Sam’s Club member (or there’s not one near you) or you’re looking for hefty rewards on bulk products at Sam’s Club, then this card isn’t a good fit.

The once-per-year in-store rewards payout and lackluster rewards rate on purchases in its own store make the Sam’s Club Mastercard a difficult sell for anything but its bonus gas category.

Frequently Asked Questions