Full Review of Sam's Club Mastercard
Higher cash back in certain categories
No annual fee
Cash access of up to $100 at Sam's Club and Walmart registers
No foreign transaction fee
Limit to the amount of cash back each year
Must buy a Sam's Club membership to use the card at Sam's Club
Small one-time offer, only available for a limited time
- Higher Cash Back in Certain Categories: The Sam's Club Mastercard offers 5% back on gas and 3% back on dining and travel. The 5% cash back on gas only applies to the first $6,000 in gas purchases each year, however.
- No Annual Fee: Because there is no annual fee, there’s no need to worry about whether your rewards will justify the fee. However, cardholders who want to shop at Sam’s Club have to purchase a membership, and Sam’s Club and its website are the only places where you can redeem your cash-back rewards.
- Cash Access of Up to $100 at Sam's Club and Walmart Registers: Cardholders can get cash advances of $20 to $100 at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, which could be a convenience. These "quick cash advances" are treated as purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee: This card charges no foreign transaction fees, and because it's a Mastercard, it's widely accepted abroad.
- Limit to the Amount of Cash Back: You can earn 5% cash back on up to $6,000 in gas purchases each year, for a total of $300. Once you reach the $6,000 threshold, gas earns just 1% cash back. On top of that, you’re limited to $5,000 in total cash back for the year.
- Must Buy a Sam's Club Membership to Use the Card at Sam's Club: Even though the Sam's Club Mastercard can double as a membership card at Sam's Club, you don't get automatic membership. You still have to pay for that membership if you want to use the card for shopping at Sam's Club. What's more, because the cash-back rewards can only be redeemed at Sam's Club, you'll need a membership in order to take advantage of the rewards program. A regular Sam's Club membership costs $45, while a Plus membership, with additional benefits, is $100.
- Small One-Time Offer, Only Available for a Limited Time: There is a bonus of sorts with this card but it is quite modest compared to what you could get with many other cash back credit cards. Currently, the bonus offer is a $45 statement credit after spending $45 on the day of account opening (which equals the dollar amount of the membership fee for new members); offer expires June 15, 2020.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
The Sam's Club Mastercard is designed for consumers who regularly shop at Sam’s Club and want a convenient way to pay with a card that doubles as a membership card.
This card could also be a good choice for anyone who drives a lot. The average household spends about $2,109 a year on gas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So even if you’re just average, you’d collect $105.45 in cash back, which is more than enough to justify the cost of a Sam’s Club membership.
Additionally, with the 3% cash back on dining and travel, this card can be good for those who like to spend money on eating out and experiences.
But consumers who want a card that rewards them for everyday spending, such as groceries, might be better off looking elsewhere. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases, then 1%), as well as 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and certain department stores. The SavorOne Rewards card from Capital One offers 2% cash back at grocery stores, along with 3% cash back on dining and entertainment.
Sam's Club Mastercard Bonus
Until June 15, 2020, it’s possible to get a $45 statement credit for $45 in spending the day of account opening. This is a rather limited bonus. Some competing credit cards offer much bigger bonuses, often in the range of $150 to $200.
Rewards Earning Details
Cardholders earn 5% cash back on up to $6,000 in gas purchases per year. Additionally, the card offers 3% cash back on dining and travel. Other purchases earn 1%.
There's also a $5,000 cap on how much cash back you can earn in a year.
Rewards Redemption Details
Cash-back rewards can be redeemed only at Sam's Club locations, including SamsClub.com.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The best way to maximize rewards with the Sam's Club Mastercard is to use it to buy gas, at least until you’ve spent $6,000, at which point the 5% cash back drops to 1%. It would also be worthwhile to maximize use of this card for dining and travel to take advantage of the 3% cash back earnings for these categories.
The Sam's Club Mastercard could also be used to complement another credit card, with a different rewards structure. For example, you could use the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card to get 3% back on groceries (on up to $6,000 in purchases) and then use the Sam's Club card for its 5% cash back on gas, which is much higher than Blue Cash Everyday's 2% gas earnings rate.
Sam's Club Mastercard's Standard Benefits
- No foreign transaction fee
- Up to $100 cash at Walmart and Sam's Club registers
Synchrony Bank, which issues the Sam's Club Mastercard, came in 10th out of 11 national credit card issuers in J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. It scored 780 out of 1,000 points, compared with the national average of 806 points.
Cardholders can manage their Sam's Club Mastercard account online, making it easy to view statements, pay the bill, and set up account alerts.
For the most part, the Sam's Club Mastercard provides the security measures common to other Mastercards. This includes zero liability for fraudulent purchases and ID theft protection. The card doesn’t offer much in the way of additional security.
The Sam's Club Mastercard could work well for anyone who wants 5% cash back on gas or 3% cash back on dining and travel. However, it might be best for people who already have a Sam’s Club membership, since that’s required in order to redeem rewards.
If you're looking for more flexible cash-back rewards with tiered categories, the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express and the SavorOne Rewards card from Capital One could be good alternatives. However, the Sam's Club Mastercard can also be a useful complement to another card, especially one with higher rewards on purchases like groceries.