Sam’s Club Mastercard Review: Earn 5% Back on Gas Purchases

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If you are a Sam’s Club member, you may be considering the merits of adding the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® to your wallet.

But you may be surprised to know that, for many consumers, the Sam’s Club credit card actually has more value outside the store than in it.

With 5% back on gas purchases compared to as little as 1% back on purchases you make inside the store, the Sam’s Club card actually made our best cash back credit cards list for its value at the gas pump.

For this review, Team Clark dug deep into the branded rewards credit card to identify the pros and cons, compare it to competitor cards and help Sam’s Club members decide if this card right for their wallets.



What Is the Sam’s Club Mastercard?

Sam's Club Mastercard

The Sam’s Club® Mastercard® is a rewards credit card for Sam’s Club members. There is no annual fee for the card, but you do have to pay an annual membership fee to shop at Sam’s Club.

You must be a member to apply for this store-branded credit card, but you can use it anywhere that Mastercard is accepted.

It is one of the cards on Team Clark’s list of best rewards credit cards because of its 5% back offered on gas purchases.

And while there are bonus opportunities that incentivize in-store spending, the card offers just 1% back to standard Sam’s Club members on purchases made at the wholesale retailer.


Card Specs and Perks

As mentioned above, this credit card is for consumers who have a Sam’s Club membership.

There are two different levels of membership at Sam’s Club, and each has a different amount of cash back that you could earn with this card.

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We’ll look at how both impact the rewards program:

Sam’s Club Member Rewards Program

If you apply for this credit card with a standard Club membership ($45 annual fee), you’ll earn cash back rewards as follows:

  • 5% back: Gasoline purchases (capped at $6,000 in annual spending and excluding purchases made at grocery stores and other wholesale retailers like Costco)
  • 3% back: Dining purchases (including takeout)
  • 1% back: Sam’s Club purchases (with some exclusions on things like tobacco)
  • 1% back: All other purchase categories

Sam’s Club Plus Rewards Program

If you apply for this credit card with a Plus membership ($100 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. That applies to purchases made with the credit card and purchases made without it.

Sam’s Club Plus members get 2% back on qualifying pre-tax purchases with a maximum reward of $500 per 12-month membership period.

Plus members also see a boost in their in-store purchase rewards by using the Sam’s Club Mastercard. It jumps from 1% with the Club membership to 3% with Plus.

When you add those together, it can be worth up to 5% back.

  • 5% back: Gasoline purchases (capped at $6,000 in annual spending and excluding purchases made at grocery stores and other wholesale retailers like Costco)
  • Up to 5% back: Select Sam’s Club purchases (2% for Plus membership, 3% for using Sam’s Club Mastercard)
  • 3% back: Dining purchases (including takeout)
  • 1% back: All other purchase categories

The Sam’s Club Mastercard has a maximum of $5,000 in annual cash back rewards earnings no matter which membership you purchase.

Top Cardholder Benefits

  • The card doubles as your membership card: You won’t need to carry two cards in your wallet after applying for this one. You can replace your Sam’s membership card with this Mastercard and keep things tidy. Hey, sometimes it is the small things that matter.
  • Welcome bonus: Sam’s will give you a $30 statement credit when you spend your first $30 with the card within 30 days. It’s not much, especially when compared to some of the top credit card welcome bonuses on the market, but it’s something.
  • Extended warranty: Adds up to a year to your manufacturer’s warranties if you use the card to make the purchase. You can read more about this type of benefit with a credit card here.
  • Purchase protection: Covers your purchases against theft or accidental damage for 90 days.

Cardholder Fees

  • Annual Fee: None
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 4% of the amount of the transfer with a $10 minimum
  • Cash Advance Fee: 3% of the amount of each advance with a $5 minimum
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $40

Sam’s Club Mastercard vs. Costco Anywhere Visa

If you are a serious wholesale club shopper, there’s a good chance that you already pay for annual memberships to both Sam’s Club and Costco.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Clark does it, too.

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And as a result, he also carries both the Sam’s Club Mastercard and the Costco Anywhere Visa Card in his wallet.

But if you’re not in the position to add two credit cards to your wallet, you may be trying to decide which of them makes the most sense for you.

Let’s take a closer look with a side-by-side comparison of card usage with both tiers of Sam’s membership versus Costco:

Card CharacteristicSam's Club Mastercard with Basic MembershipSam's Club Mastercard with Plus MembershipCostco Anywhere Visa
Annual FeeNone, but $45 membership is requiredNone, but $100 membership is requiredNone, but membership is required
Welcome Bonus$30 statement credit when you spend $30$30 statement credit when you spend $30None
Introductory APR periodNoneNoneNone
In-store Purchase Reward1% cash backUp to 5%: 3% back with card + 2% back for being Plus member2% cash back
Gas Reward5% cash back on up to $6,0005% cash back on up to $6,0004% cash back on up to $7,000
Dining Reward3% cash back3% cash back3% cash back
Travel Reward1% cash back1% cash back3% cash back
Doubles as Membership CardYesYesYes
Foreign Transaction FeesNoneNoneNone

The Big Takeaways

If you weren’t reading the above table carefully, you might assume these were the exact same credit card. And that’s likely by design.

These wholesale clubs are major competitors. That competition extends to the credit card market.

But there are a couple of things you can take away from our side-by-side comparison that may help you choose one card over the other:

  • In-store Purchases: It’s all about which Sam’s membership you choose. At 2% vs. 1%, Costco offers twice the cash back reward that Sam’s Club does on purchases made with a basic Club membership. And given that you’re likely making bulk purchases at these stores, that’s a pretty big deal. That extra percentage will add up over the course of a year. But that 1% gap switches to Sam’s favor if you’re using the Sam’s card with a Plus membership. That 3% is guaranteed to be at least 1% better than Costco, with the chance that your purchase may actually get 5% back.
  • Gas Purchases: Given that both of these clubs have gasoline pumps outside many of their stores, it’s understandable that their credit cards reward these purchases. These cards are both among the top cash back earners in the category. But Sam’s Club has a slightly better offering in this area. If you spend $500 in gas per month per year, you’d see a $60 boost in cash back by using the Sam’s Club card over the Costco card ($300 vs. $240).

Final Thoughts

Are you considering adding the Sam’s Club Mastercard to your wallet?

Let’s review some of the major pros and cons of the card before you make your final decision:

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
5% back on up to $6,000 in annual gas spendingOnly 1% back on Sam’s Club purchases for basic club members
Upgrading to a Plus membership unlocks good in-store cash back rewardsYou need a $100 Plus membership to see better in-store rewards
3% back on all dining, including takeoutCash back earnings are capped at $5,000 per year

Bottom Line

If you are a Sam’s Club loyalist, this card could make a lot of since in conjunction with a Plus membership.

The bonus structure that allows Plus members to earn up to 5% back on Sam’s Club purchases is a real difference-maker for those who are willing and able to pay the extra $55 per year for the Plus perks.

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The 5% back on gas purchases is among the best in the rewards card market, so you may find value in carrying the card for that perk alone if you are a frequent automobile traveler.

However, it’s not a strong recommendation for all Sam’s shoppers.

The 1% back on in-store purchases is pretty uninspiring for basic Club memberships. That’s half what Costco offers its basic-level members with the Costco Anywhere Visa card.

If that’s your preferred membership level, you may be better off skipping this card and applying for a cash back card with better base-level rewards.


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