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Sam's Club revamped its credit card rewards program in 2014, transforming it from subpar to worthwhile. Thinking about applying for the Sam's Club Mastercard or the Sam's Club credit card? Here's why the Sam's Club Mastercard may deserve a spot in your wallet if you shop at Sam's Club.
Sam's Club MasterCard® Overview
Rewards Program and Signup Bonuses*:
- 5% cash back on gasoline on the first $6,000 per year (1% afterward)
- 3% back on dining and travel
- 1% back on everything else
- Card doubles as Sam's Club membership card ($45 or $100 Sam's Club membership required)
Intro Balance Transfer
15.15% or 23.15* Variable
The Sam's Club 5-3-1 Rewards Program
The 5-3-1 Rewards program is a big improvement on the old Sam's Club rewards program. The old program was tiered, which meant you only earned 0.25% back on the first $1,500 in spending each year. You wouldn't earn 2% cash back until you spent at least $10,000 a year.
The new program has a straightforward rewards program: 5% back on gasoline (on the first $6,000 a year); 3% back on travel and dining; and 1% back on everything else.
While the rewards program is generous, keep in mind you cannot redeem your cash back whenever you like. Your cash back is issued every February for cash back earned during the previous calendar year. Cash back is issued as a check made payable to Sam's Club and it can only be cashed at a Sam's Club location. You can use your cash back for Sam's Club purchases, cash, or you can apply it toward your membership fees.
Make sure you don't let your Sam's Club membership lapse or your rewards will be forfeited. Note that there is also a cap on the amount of cash back you can earn each year. You will be capped to $5,000 in cash back from any spending categories. This shouldn't be a problem for most people, however.
You can read our review of the new Costco Credit Card here.
The Sam's Club Store Credit Card
Sam's Club also offers a standard store version of the card. The Sam's Club credit card doesn't have much to offer, like most store cards. You won't get a discount on spending or cash back. The store version can only be used at Sam's Club and Walmart locations and it does double as your membership card, like the Sam's Club MasterCard.
Works with Sam's Club Cash Rewards
If you upgrade your regular Sam's Club membership ($45/year) to a Sam's Club Plus membership at $100/year, you will automatically participate in the Sam's Club Cash Rewards program. The cash rewards program gives you $10 back for every $500 you spend on qualifying purchases for up to $500 back per year. That comes out to an extra 2% back on Sam's Club purchases. And the extra rewards can be used for membership fees, Sam's Club purchases, or cash back.
Added Bonus: The Cash Rewards program can be stacked with Sam's Club MasterCard rewards. This means you will effectively earn 7% back on gasoline at Sam's Club and 3% back on regular purchases at the warehouse.
The Sam's Club Plus membership comes with a few other benefits for the extra $55:
- Extra Protection Service Plan
- Extra Value drug list
- Optical Plus member benefit
- Up to 16 cards
The Bottom Line
The Sam's Club Mastercard is a great choice if you already shop at Sam's Club and want to save even more or potentially cover for your membership.
While it's a hassle that you only get your cash back once a year, the rewards program is extremely competitive. The ability to earn 5% (and up to 7% back with the Plus membership) on Sam's Club gasoline is hard to beat. And the 3% back on dining and travel with a regular membership and the Sam's Club credit card is better than many other rewards cards with no rotating categories.