Advertiser Disclosure: Sift has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Sift and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Sam’s Club offers two credit card options to earn rewards when you make purchases. We’ll examine the benefits and the drawbacks of each card, and if alternative cash back programs are better for qualified applicants.
Popular wholesale club Sam’s Club offers its shoppers the ability to save money on everyday groceries and other daily necessities. And as an extension of their member services, Sam’s Club offers two versions of its retailer credit card: the Sam’s Club Mastercard and Sam’s Club Store Credit Card. In this article, we will take a look at the benefits of each store credit card, including the rewards, features, fees, APR, and more–and see whether alternative cash back credit cards may be a better choice for Sam’s Club members.
Overview | Sam’s Club Credit Cards
As Sam’s Club shopper, you may be aware that there are two Sam’s Club branded credit cards: the Sam’s Club Mastercard and the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card (or Personal Credit Card). Both credit cards from Sam’s Club are issued by Synchrony Bank, a popular card issuer for many retailers.
First off, cardholders must be a Sam’s Club member to apply for either credit card option, which currently costs $45 for an annual Sam’s Club membership.
However, there is a way to offset this cost: If you decide to open a Sam’s Club Store Credit Card or Sam’s Club Mastercard on SamsClub.com and make a single-receipt purchase of $45 or more on SamsClub.com the same day that you sign up, you will receive a $45 statement credit, which appears within 1 or 2 billing periods. While there is no annual fee included with either Sam’s Club credit card, this sign-up bonus offer should be factored into your decision to use Sam’s Club credit cards in the first place.
And if you’re wondering what the difference between the Sam’s Club Credit Card and the Sam’s Club Mastercard, then you should know that the Mastercard enables cardholders to earn rewards–something the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card does not. Also, it should be noted that the Mastercard doesn’t necessarily offer cash back to your account, but comes in the form of Cash Back Rewards (see drawbacks).
Essentially, the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card enables cardholders to have a line of credit in person at Sam’s Club and Walmart stores (SamsClub.com and Walmart.com are excluded, as well as Walmart gas stations). In contrast, Sam’s Club Mastercard enables cardholders the ability to earn a number of rewards at stores and Sam’s Club gas stations. For purchases made outside of Sam’s Club, rewards include:
- 5% cash back on gas purchases
- up to $6000/year, then 1% afterwards
- 5% cash back rewards exclude purchases made at fuel stations of wholesale clubs other than Sam’s Club, as well as certain supermarkets and supercenters.
- 3% cashback on dining and travel purchases
- excluding purchases made at any wholesale clubs other than Sam’s Club
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- excluding purchases made at any wholesale clubs other than Sam’s Club.
Additionally, both the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card and the Sam’s Club Mastercard offer special features including:
- One card convenience (Your Sam’s Club credit card works as your membership card.)
- Special financing & promotional offers (including “no interest for 6 months” promotions)
- $0 fraud liability
- Enhanced security measures (via smart chip technology)
- Online account management at SamsClub.com
- Mastercard ID theft protection services (*Sam’s Club Mastercard ONLY)
|Sam’s Club Store Credit Card||Sam’s Club Mastercard|
|Cash Back Benefits||No cash back rewards (for use only at Sam’s Club or Walmart stores)||5% cash back on gas for the first $6,000 annually, then 1% afterwards|
3% cashback on dining and travel
1% cash back on all other purchases (wherever Mastercard is accepted.)
|APR||24.90% (variable)||17.15% (variable) (account type 1)|
21.50% (variable) (account type 2)
|Average FICO Score to Qualify||620 and above||620 and above (note: account type 1 is reserved for applicants with better credit scores, while account type 2 is for applicants with a lower credit score.)|
The Drawbacks of Sam’s Club Credit Cards
As you can imagine, there are quite a few drawbacks to using the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card and the Sam’s Club Mastercard, despite the Mastercard’s lucrative cash back rewards offers.
- First, the APR is high for the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card. For the Sam’s Club Mastercard, qualifying for account type 1 comes with an average APR (currently at 17.15% as of this writing), but account type 2 has a rather high APR of 21.50%, which can quickly become problematic if you often carry a large balance from month to month.
- Second, the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card doesn’t come with any cash back rewards nor is it usable in any locations besides Sam’s Club and Walmart, which limits its usefulness for those that shop elsewhere. Similarly, the Sam’s Club Mastercard does come with cash back rewards and can be used for gas purchases at Sam’s Club, but it also has limitations on various retailers and the online portals of Walmart and Sam’s Club.
- Last, the Cash Back Rewards program from Sam’s Club Mastercard is a bit deceptive, as it is not a true cash back rewards program and in-store purchases only come with a low 1% cash back rate. Rewards come in the form of an automatic credit to your member’s account, which can then only be used for Sam’s Club purchases and redeemed once per year. Those Rewards also can’t be redeemed at Samsclub.com or with Scan and Go inside Sam’s Club stores. And it should be noted that Rewards expire as of the date listed on the reward notification if they aren’t redeemed or if the account is not in good standing (2 months delinquent on minimum payments, or if your Sam’s Club membership has expired/been terminated.).
How Sam’s Club’s Credit Card Compare to Alternative Programs
Before applying for Sam’s Club’s credit cards you should explore all-purpose cards that will offer more spending flexibility and favorable rewards programs. Three we recommend are:
Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
If you have a Sam’s club card on your mind then gas and grocery is an important part of your shopping list. Instead of being limited to a superstore or club the Blue Cash preferred can be used to shop at various US supermarkets. You earn a 6% cashback up to $6,000 per year, beyond which you earn at cashback at 1%. Using this card you can receive a 3% cash back when you refuel at US gas stations. On all other spending, you get a 1% cashback. To know more as to what is included in the category for cash back click here on the link.
Blue Cash Preferred has additional categories that can give you 6% cashback on selected US streaming subscriptions and 3% cashback on transit services like ridesharing, trains, tolls, etc.
All the cashback is in the form of reward dollars and it can be redeemed as a statement credit, gift cards or used for shopping at the qualified retailers as described in rewards guide.
If you are approved for this card you could qualify for the welcome bonus which is $300 if you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of membership.
Beyond cash back you can also benefit by enrolling from shoprunner program where you are eligible for free 2-day shipping on eligible items from certain online stores. You also have return protection covering your purchases if the store does not accept your return. As part of the benefits, you receive purchase and extended warranty protection. If you are looking to get early access to concert tickets then the entertainment access service is available.
The annual fee for blue cash preferred is $95.Currently, the 0% intro APR is available for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, later variable APR applies. Having a good credit score will help to qualify for this card.
Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
If you do not want to shell out money on annual fees then Blue Cash Everyday is a good choice for deriving benefits out of the gas and grocery category. You can earn 3% cashback at supermarkets up to $6,000 annually in purchase after which cashback is at 1%. You can get 2% at U.S gas stations and select U.S department stores and 1% cashback on all other purchases.
If you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of membership you can receive $175 back in the form of statement credit as part of the welcome offer. In addition, if you are looking to transfer balance then you can apply for the introductory APR. You can get a 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers after which variable APR rates are applied
The card also comprises of travel benefits such as car rental insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, and global assist hotline service. You do get similar shopping protection as offered in Blue Cash Preferred. If you’re looking for similar benefits without annual fee charge and don’t mind compromising on rewards then Blue Cash Everyday is a good alternate card.
American Express Gold
You may find this card expensive when looking at its annual fee which is $250 but it in terms of offering it has loads to offer its members. You can earn 4x points at US restaurants. 4x points when you buy at US supermarkets up to $25,000 per year in purchases. 3x membership points when you book your travel via amextravel.com or directly with an airline. Your trips abroad don’t incur a foreign transaction charge.
Some of the other perks are the credits which come along with this card are the $120 dining credit and $120 airline fee credit which can be used according to the enrollment guidelines. This card has a generous welcome offer which is the opportunity to earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases with the first 3 months of opening your account. You may want to have a glance over this card if you are spending a lot on dining and groceries and want to earn reward points for them.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, these in-store credit cards offered by Sam’s Club are only useful if you shop regularly at Sam’s Club and Walmart. There are stronger alternatives available that can earn better rewards and be used anywhere that they’re accepted, which makes the Sam’s Club Store Credit Card and the Sam’s Club Mastercard good choices if you can’t be approved elsewhere.