Sam’s Club Mastercard Review
Sam’s Club, the membership-only warehouse club owned by Walmart, is also an issuer of credit cards. Of the two Sam’s Club credit cards being offered, only the Sam’s Club Mastercard can be used outside Sam’s Club and Walmart — in fact, it can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. So, how does the Sam’s Club Mastercard stack up?
At first glance, the Sam’s Club Mastercard seems pretty enticing. The card carries no annual fee and offers some fantastic cash back rates for popular spending categories. You’ll earn 5% cash back on your first $6,000 per year in gas station purchases, 3% cash back on dining and travel, and 1% cash back on everything else, plus there’s a $5,000 limit to the amount of cash back you can earn each calendar year.
Sounds good, right? Well, there’s a catch. A few of them, in fact.
First off, while the card technically has no annual fee, you must be a Sam’s Club member to be eligible for the card, and a Sam’s Club membership starts at $45 a year.
Second, it’s strangely difficult to redeem your cash back. You can only do so once a year, and the redemption process is just weird. You get a physical check in the mail every February. But the check isn’t made out to you — it’s made out to Sam’s Club, and you have to cash your check inside a Sam’s Club store.
Lastly, the card’s rewards program doesn’t actually give you any extra cash back for shopping at Sam’s Club where your purchases will earn you just 1% cash back.
Let’s get the full picture on the Sam’s Club Mastercard.
Table of Contents
Sam’s Club Mastercard At A Glance
Applicants must have good to excellent credit to be approved for the Sam’s Club Mastercard.
Rewards & Fees
- Earn 5% cash back on your first $6,000 in gas purchases per year (1% cash back thereafter)
- Earn 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases
- Earn 1% cash back on everything else
- You can earn a maximum of $5,000 cash back per year
- Cash back can be redeemed only once a year in the form of a check that can only be cashed at a Sam’s Club outlet
- No annual fee, but a Sam’s Club membership (required to use the card) costs $45-$100 per year depending on your membership level
- No foreign transaction fee
- Get $45 back as a statement credit for opening an account and making a $45+ purchase the same day you open your account
- No introductory 0% APR
- Cash advances carry a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater
- No balance transfers
- Late payment fees run up to $38
- The Sam’s Club Mastercard doubles as your Sam’s Club membership card
The card’s lack of a foreign transaction fee is surprising for a card of this type. And while the card’s bonus offer of $45 is rather meager, it is relatively easy to obtain (assuming there’s a $45+ purchase you want to make that day) and it covers the first year of the cost of a lower-tier Sam’s Club membership.
The Sam’s Club Mastercard doesn’t have an introductory 0% APR period, so this isn’t the card to get if you need to make a big purchase in your first year that you don’t intend to pay off within a month.
As I said in the intro, the Sam’s Club Mastercard’s cash back rates are impressive, particularly on gas. However, the fact that you can only redeem your cash back once a year — and only at a Sam’s Club location — somewhat limits the utility of this cash back relative to the more reasonable redemption policies of just about every other rewards credit card on the planet.
The Sam’s Club Mastercard brings you the following benefits:
- Cash withdrawals of up to $100 at any Sam’s Club or Walmart register
- Online account access at SamsClub.com/credit
- Card doubles as your Sam’s Club membership card
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection
- Identity theft resolution services
- Mastercard Global Services
I mentioned that a Sam’s Club membership — a requirement for getting the card — costs $45 a year for a standard membership. However, you can also become a Sam’s Club Plus member for $100 a year. Being a Sam’s Club Plus member gets you the following:
- Get $10 back for every $500 spent on qualifying purchases — up to $500/year
- Free shipping on eligible online purchases
- Early shopping hours — shop at Sam’s Club starting at 7 AM Monday through Friday (only available at select locations)
- Free select prescriptions
- Discounts on glasses
And now for a word of warning. From time to time, you may get “special financing offers” from Sam’s Club offering “No Interest if Paid in Full Within 18 Months” or something like that. Don’t mistake these “deferred interest” schemes for a true 0% introductory APR. That’s because if you haven’t paid off the purchase in full by the end of the “no interest” period, you’ll be billed for all the interest that you would have been charged over the course of your “no interest” period, not just interest on your remaining balance.
As we wrote in this piece about “deferred interest” financing, these arrangements are predatory and notoriously consumer-unfriendly. Considering the fact that Walmart is literally the world’s most profitable corporation, it seems fair to question why the company would feel it necessary to offer these deceptive deals through its credit cards.
The Sam’s Club Mastercard is an impressive card if you’re looking to earn cash back on gas purchases. The 5% cash back rate on gas, along with the 3% cash back rate on dining and travel, makes this card a solid choice for those who spend a significant amount in these categories.
However, the decision not to reward shopping at Sam’s Club (or Walmart) with elevated cash back rates is baffling, as is the unwieldy and inconvenient reward redemption system. Additionally, your cash back rewards are capped at $5K a year. This won’t impact most consumers, but it limits the utility of this card for businesses that spend a lot in the card’s high-earning categories.
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