Sam’s Club is a membership-only retail warehouse club that is a division of Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). The first store opened in Oklahoma in 1983, and as of January 2019, there were almost 600 across the United States and Puerto Rico. There are three types of Sam's Club membership programs available to the public: the Sam’s Savings, Sam’s Business, and Sam’s Plus.

How a Sam’s Club Credit Card Works

Sam’s Club offers four different credit cards to its members. The Sam’s Club credit card can be used for in-club purchases and is offered to both individual and business members. It can be used at any Sam’s Club or Walmart location and can be accessed online. There is no annual fee, and the card can also be used as a membership card.

Sam’s Club also offers both an individual and business Mastercard credit card. This card has the same benefits as the in-club credit card, but can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The card also gives its users price protection up to 60 days and identity theft resolution services. The Mastercard credit cards are managed and serviced by Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF).

Signing up for any of these credit cards requires a Sam’s Club membership. There are three types of membership options. The most basic option is Sam’s Savings for an annual fee of $45. Businesses can join using Sam’s Business card, which allows up to eight cards for employees. The Sam’s Plus card has the most benefits available to members and can be purchased by individuals or businesses for a $100 annual fee.

Once membership is attained, applicants can apply for a credit card in-store or online. Personal information is required, and approval is dependent upon a credit check.

Sam’s Club Rewards and Benefits

When applicants apply for the non-business consumer credit card options and make a single receipt purchase for $45 the day they open an account, they are eligible for a $45 statement credit, valid through June 15, 2020 (as of July 17, 2019).

Other than the $45 statement credit, the in-club credit cards do not offer any benefits or rewards when used. The Sam’s Club Mastercard credit cards offer the 5-3-1 deal. Cardholders can get up to 5% back from gas purchases made at Sam’s Club for up to $6,000 spent, then 1% after. There is also 3% cash back on dining and travel and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Cardholders can get additional rewards and benefits by upgrading their membership to Sam’s Plus for an additional $100. Sam’s Plus members get access to early shopping hours, the Extra Value Drug List, Optical Plus member benefits, add-on memberships, and an extra protection service plan. However, the biggest benefit is the cash rewards program, which gives members $10 for every $500 spent in qualifying purchases, up to $500 annually. These rewards can be used toward purchases or membership fees or be redeemed for cash.

Who Benefits the Most from a Sam’s Club Card?

Any Sam’s Club member looking for a credit card to use in the store would benefit from using one of the Sam’s Club credit cards. However, members would benefit more by specifically applying to one of the Sam’s Club Mastercard credit cards. The benefits of gas, dining, travel, and other purchases could result in a fair amount of cash back to the member when used. To maximize all available benefits, members should get both the Sam’s Club MasterCard and the Sam’s Plus membership.

Alternatives

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is the largest competitor to Sam’s Club. Costco offers its own credit card to its members, called the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. The card gives members 4% cash back on gas, 3% cash back on restaurants and travel, 2% cash back on all Costco purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Another wholesale club chain is BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc., which also offers credit cards to its members. The BJ’s Perks Elite card gives its members savings of 10 cents off per gallon on BJ’s gas, 5% back on most in-club purchases, 2% back on dining out and non-BJ’s gas, and 1% on all other purchases.

The Fine Print

The Sam’s Club credit card and the Sam’s Club Mastercard have an APR of either 17.15% or 25.15%, depending on the applicant’s creditworthiness.

Upon approval, applicants may get the $45 statement credit if a single-receipt purchase of $45 is made the same day. Cash advances, gift card sales, alcohol, tobacco and pharmacy purchases are excluded as part of the $45 total purchase. The $45 credit appears within one to two billing cycles.