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Sam’s Club® Mastercard® review: Bulk gas rewards, but basic Sam’s Club cash back

Merely a solid warehouse rewards card, but a top-notch gas rewards credit card. 

 /  11 min
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Snapshot

3.0

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Bottom line

The Sam’s Club Mastercard is, strangely, one of the more rewarding gas credit cards on the market if you don’t mind only earning Sam’s Cash. But Sam’s Club members looking for bulk rewards on their wholesale shopping will be disappointed since this card only provides boosted rewards on in-store shopping if you’re a Sam’s Club Plus member — standard members will earn a much lower rate.

Best wholesale club card

Sam's Club® Mastercard®

Apply now Lock
on Synchrony Bank's secure site
  • Rewards value
    Rating: 2.3 stars out of 5
    2.3 / 5
    APR
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Rewards flexibility
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
    3 / 5
    Features
    Rating: 2 stars out of 5
    2 / 5
Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

1% - 5%

Rewards rate

Info

Annual fee

Regular APR

Sam’s Club® Mastercard® Overview

Bulk buyers curious about the potential rewards and benefits of the Sam’s Club Mastercard might be disappointed in the card’s requirements for earning maximum value on Sam’s Club purchases: it earns 3 percent back on eligible purchases when you make purchases in-club or digitally through the Sam’s Club website, but only if you’re a Sam’s Club Plus member. Otherwise, the card earns 1 percent back on eligible purchases. 

For Plus members, the 3 percent earning rate stacks with the 2 percent rate all Plus members earn for a total of 5 percent back in Sam’s Cash. Plus membership typically runs $110 annually, so you might consider it an annual fee for the card. 

Oddly, the card’s gas rewards rate is much more impressive and lenient. It earns 5 percent back (on up to $6,000 spent annually, then 1 percent) on gas at any gas station, not just Sam’s Club gas stations. This rate beats the rival Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi as one of the best credit cards for gas. The dining and takeout reward rate is significant too at 3 percent. However, it’s important to note that the card only earns rewards in the form of Sam’s Cash, and you can only redeem your earnings in-store. If you don’t mind paying for Plus membership and these reward limitations, the Sam’s Club Mastercard is great way to turn gas and dining spending into wholesale grocery purchases. 

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 5 percent cash back on gas (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent) 
    • 3 percent cash back on eligible Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members (or 1 percent if you’re a standard Sam’s Club member) 
    • 3 percent cash back on dining and takeout 
    • 1 percent cash back on all other eligible purchases ($5,000 cash rewards maximum per year)

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Rewards

    Welcome offer

    • $30 statement credit after making $30 in Sam’s Club purchases within the first 30 days

    Expert Appraisal: Unimpressive
    See our expert analysis

  • Rates and fees

    • Annual fee: N/A (at least a $45 annual Sam’s Club Membership fee required, $110 annually for Sam’s Club Plus Membership)
    • Purchase intro APR: N/A
    • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
    • Regular APR: 20.40% or 28.40% variable APR

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Works as your Sam’s Club Membership Card

    Expert Appraisal: Weak
    See our expert analysis

Sam’s Club Mastercard pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    Its excellent 5 percent cash back on gas (on up to $6,000 in yearly purchases, then 1 percent) is one of the best gas rewards rates available

  • Checkmark

    No annual fee or foreign transaction fees, adding to the card’s affordability

  • Checkmark

    Serves as both a credit card and your Sam’s Club membership card

Cons

  • You must redeem in-store for physical cash back toward non-store purchases – which may make the rewards process too inconvenient for many cardholders

  • Sam’s Club membership is required (starting at $45 per year), which eats into your rewards

  • There are spending caps on all of your bonus categories, and your total cash back potential is limited to $5,000 per year

Why you might want the Sam’s Club Mastercard

Rewards rate: One of the strongest gas cards on the market

Though the Sam’s Club Mastercard is designed as a rewards card for Sam’s Club shoppers, its excellent rewards rate on gas purchases steals the show. Its 5 percent back on gas (on up to $6,000 spent, then 1 percent) at any gas station is generous and gives it the lead over the Costco Anywhere Visa card’s 4 percent back on gas. If you max out the spending cap, you’re looking at $300 back in Sam’s Club cash annually from gas alone.

The card’s dining and takeout rate is nothing to sneeze at either: at 3 percent back, it stands alongside other big names in the rewards space, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards. 

If you’re a Sam’s Club Plus Member, you’ll earn a total of 5 percent back on eligible Sam’s Club purchases. This is an excellent rate, but the $110 Plus Membership required to earn it eats into your rewards. On the bright side, the card doesn’t have the same bonus category restrictions as the Costco card, 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 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 use your Sam’s Club membership to prep for events.

Rates and fees: Relatively cheap and works as your membership card

While the Sam’s Club Mastercard doesn’t carry an annual fee, you do need a Sam’s Club membership to apply for the card in the first place. The cheapest Sam’s Club memberships cost $50, so you might think of this membership fee as the annual fee of the card. With that said, $50 is a good price for a card that can earn you 5 percent back on gas, and 3 percent back on several other categories with a $5,000 rewards cap. Once you receive your Sam’s Club Mastercard, it works in place of your membership card, so feel free to free up some wallet space and leave that card at home. 

The card also doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and the ongoing APR doesn’t live up to the notoriously high interest rates retail cards are known for. Your rate may be on par with the current average credit card interest rate, depending on your creditworthiness.

Why you might want a different shopping rewards card

Despite its strengths, the Sam’s Club Mastercard has a few drawbacks that might warrant looking elsewhere. 

Weak up-front value: Small welcome offer and no intro APR 

Retail credit cards aren’t known for stellar bonuses, and the Sam’s Club credit card is no exception. You’ll receive a $50 statement credit when you open a new account and make $50 in Sam’s Club purchases within the first 30 days. This offer is advertised as a limited-time offer, and the amount tends to fluctuate throughout the year. 

Essentially, receiving $50 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. With the Prime Visa card there is a generous bonus offer: Get a $100 Amazon Gift Card instantly upon approval exclusively for Prime members.

The card also lacks an intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. While balance transfer offers are rather rare on store cards, you may find some that offer an intro APR on purchases for a short period, which delivers some nice value if you plan on making a number of large purchases at that store and you want to pay it off interest-free. 

Sam’s Club perks: No additional store features

Many store credit cards offer additional store-specific perks on top of an accelerated rewards rate on store purchases. These kind of perks can include free shipping on online orders, early access to sales, or automatic placement in a store’s elite status system. Typically, these benefits are how store cards make up for their lack of overall flexibility: by doubling down their store value.

The Sam’s Club Mastercard is nearly devoid of such perks. The only feature it offers beyond rewards on purchases is the ability to use the card in place of your Sam’s Club Membership card. This doesn’t hurt the card value quite as hard as it might since the Sam’s Club Mastercard possesses several strong reward categories, but whether this is a dealbreaker depends on how often you plan on using your card in its largest earning categories. 

How the Sam’s Club Mastercard compares to other cash back cards

Among cash back cards, the Sam’s Club Mastercard offers excellent all-around category coverage and a hard-to-beat rewards rate on gas. Even its most prominent (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 don’t mind a trip to the store to get your bulk rewards, 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 is only a good choice with a Plus membership. Plus members earn 3 percent back on eligible purchases when shopping in-club or digitally through Sam’s Club with their card and another 2 percent back from their Plus membership, for 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.

Image of Sam's Club® Mastercard®
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Synchrony Bank's secure site

Annual fee

No Annual Fee

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Bankrate Score
Apply now Lock
on Bank of America's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

$200
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 3%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1% - 4%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent (740 – 850)
Info

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 Club card doesn’t already cover.

Who is the Sam’s Club Mastercard right for?

The Sam’s Club Mastercard could be a solid choice for the following types of people. 

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. But if you’re not a Sam’s Club member or you’re looking for hefty rewards on bulk products at Sam’s Club, then this card isn’t a good fit — the in-store rewards payout for non-Sam’s Club cash back 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.


*The information about the Capital One Walmart Rewards Mastercard has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Steve Dashiell
Editor, Credit cards

Steven Dashiell is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com with expertise in rewards credit cards, financial literacy, and helping consumers build and maintain their credit.

Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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