Are you a wholesale club fanatic like money expert Clark Howard?
Team Clark has a deep dive on the merits of membership to each in a comparison of the two popular wholesale clubs.
In this article, we’re going to assume that you’re a committed member to each club looking to take the next step: signing up for the co-branded credit cards.
Each card has its rewards for in-store purchases with your store of choice, but there’s value outside the wholesale club, too.
For example, you may be surprised to learn that both the Sam’s Club and Costco credit cards show up on our list of “best” for rewards on gas purchases.
Clark carries both cards in his wallet. Let’s compare to see if they’re also worth adding to yours.
This article was updated in July 2023 and I review it every six months. Detailed notes on all updates can be found here.
Table of Contents
- Card Overview: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Card Overview: Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- Final Thoughts
Card Overview: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Annual Fee: $0 (See Rates & Fees)
Card Issuer: Citi
Card Processor: Visa
Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%
Auto Rental Insurance Coverage: No
Cell Phone Coverage: No
Intro APR Period on New Purchases: N/A
Intro APR Period on Balance Transfers: N/A
Rewards Program Details: 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter; 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases; 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com; 1% cash back on all other purchases
This card is good for getting 2% back on everything you spend at Costco, but it actually offers even better rewards for some common purchases you may make outside of the wholesale club.
You’ll be able to earn 4% back on gas or EV charging purchases for the first $7,000 per year.
And 3% back on popular spending categories like dining and travel.
Purchases at most cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants will qualify for this bonus. Costco warns that some bakeries and restaurants located within retail stores could be excluded. For the travel reward, you can expect airfare, hotels, car rentals, travel agencies, cruise lines and Costco Travel purchases to qualify for the 3%. Travel purchases that may be excluded include timeshares and commuter travel.
The downside to earning rewards with this card is that redemption is a little bit rigid:
You get an annual rewards certificate along with your February credit card billing statement. Then you need to take the certificate to Costco. From there, you can redeem your certificate for Costco merchandise or cash. (It’s up to the discretion of the individual Costco location if the certificate can be redeemed for actual cash or a check.)
However, Team Clark’s Christopher recently detailed how Citi is allowing select customers to opt into a direct deposit of the funds if their rewards meet certain criteria. So this may be getting better.
You can read our full review of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi here.
Card Overview: Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
Annual Fee: $0.00
Card Issuer: Synchrony Bank
Card Processor: Mastercard
Foreign Transaction Fee: None
Auto Rental Insurance Coverage: No
Cell Phone Coverage: No
Intro APR Period on New Purchases: None
Intro APR Period on Balance Transfers: None
Rewards Program Details:
Bonus Offer: Get a $30 statement credit when you open a new account and make $30 in Sam’s Club purchases within 30 days.
This card is good for the base-level Club members who will see 1% cash back at Sam’s Club, but it’s even better for those who pay the extra money to be Sam’s Club Plus members.
If you apply for this credit card with a Plus membership ($110 annual fee), you’ll see greater rewards opportunities.
In addition to perks like free shipping and access to pharmacy and optical services, you’ll also get increased cash back rewards.
Sam’s Club Plus members always get 2% back on qualifying pre-tax store purchases with a maximum reward of $500 per 12-month membership period.
But by using the Sam’s Club Mastercard, Plus members see a boost in their purchase rewards. Plus members earn an additional 3% by using their store-branded card.
So when you add those together, it can be worth up to 5% back on Sam’s purchases for Plus members.
You can read our full review of the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® here.
Costco vs. Sam’s Club: Credit Card Comparison
Let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of some of the characteristics you may find important:
|Card Characteristic||Sam’s Club® Mastercard® with Basic Club Membership||Sam’s Club® Mastercard® with Plus Membership||Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi|
|Annual Fee||None, but $50 membership is required||None, but $110 membership is required||None, but membership is required ($60-$120)|
|Welcome Offer||$30 statement credit when you spend $30||$30 statement credit when you spend $30||None|
|Introductory APR Period||None||None||None|
|In-Store Purchase Reward||1% cash back||Up to 5%: 3% back with card + 2% back for being Plus member||2% cash back|
|Gas Reward||5% cash back on up to $6,000||5% cash back on up to $6,000||4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases up for the first $7,000 (then 1%)|
|Dining Reward||3% cash back||3% cash back||3% cash back|
|Travel Reward||1% cash back||1% cash back||3% cash back|
|Doubles as Membership Card||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||None||None||None|
If you are a Costco or Sam’s Club member, you can find value in having either of these co-branded credit cards in your wallet for in-store and online purchases.
Both present club members compelling cases to apply and use for purchases in and out of the wholesale club’s ecosystem.
But when it comes to picking between the two cards, it likely will take some evaluation of your personal spending habits.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I shop at my wholesale club enough to justify applying for a co-branded credit card?
- Would I also use this credit card for purchases like gasoline, dining and travel?
- Which wholesale club do I frequent most often?
- If it’s Sam’s Club, would upgrading to a Plus membership be worth the extra rewards opportunities?
- Do I spend enough money at BOTH stores to consider applying for both cards?
The answers you give to these, in combination with the information we laid out in this article, are likely to help you decide on one, both or none of these co-branded rewards cards.
Do you have either of the Costco or Sam’s Club co-branded credit cards? We’d love to hear about your experiences with each in the Clark.com community.
- July 2023: Overhauled this article with a new evaluation of both cards. Replaced old review.