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If you’re a fan of buying in bulk to save money, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Sam’s Club, Costco or one of the other wholesale clubs out there.
Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club are the three largest wholesale clubs in the U.S. and each one offers some kind of cash back credit card. So, how can you know if the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® is right for you?
Let’s take a look at this card’s perks and drawbacks to see whether it’s worth applying for.
Sam’s Club® Mastercard®: An overview
|What we like||Heads up|
- The rundown: Everything we like about Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- Do the math: How to get the most out of Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
- The competition: How Sam’s Club® Mastercard® stacks up against similar cards
- Bottom line: Is Sam’s Club® Mastercard® right for you?
This card’s greatest benefit is its high cash back percentage on three categories: 5% on gas up to $6,000 per year (then 1% thereafter), and 3% on dining and travel.
Sam’s Club® Mastercard® has no annual fee, so you’ll save on that expense.
But you must be a Sam’s Club member to apply, so you’ll have to pay $45 to join if you’re not already a member and keep up that annual membership fee to use the card.
The card doubles as your Sam’s Club membership card, though, so there’s only one card to keep track of.
One of the biggest drawbacks of this card is its low cash back rate on purchases other than gas, dining and travel.
When you use Sam’s Club® Mastercard® for other purchases (even at Sam’s Club), the card’s cash back rate is only 1%.
That’s something you’ll want to consider before applying for the card because there are other wholesale club cards that offer higher cash back percentages on in-club purchases — including the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers 2% on purchases at Costco and Costco.com.
Another downside of Sam’s Club® Mastercard® is its inconvenient redemption method. Cash back rewards are issued only once per year with a check made payable to Sam’s Club and can be cashed only at a Sam’s Club store.
Keep in mind also that Sam’s Club® Mastercard® has a cash back limit of $5,000 per calendar year. Fortunately, though, only the biggest spenders have to worry about that limitation.
Unless you expect to charge six figures per year on your Sam’s Club® MasterCard®, “most people won’t hit that cash back limit,” says Alex Miller, founder of the rewards strategy website Upgraded Points.
The key factor when determining if a cash back card is right for you is whether you can make the most of the cash back earning categories, Miller says.
It’s hard to beat this card’s high-percentage cash back on gas, dining and travel. And the card has no annual fee. To get the most out of this card, you’ll want to follow Miller’s advice and use it on the high-earning categories.
“The biggest flaw to the card is that it doesn’t offer any bonuses at Sam’s Club itself,” Miller says. “It’s unusual for a branded card like this to not offer bonus rewards at the actual brand.”
When it comes down to it, you’re probably better off paying for Sam’s Club items with a different cash back card that offers a higher cash back rate on everyday purchases.
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Great for cash back on gas, dining, travel and Costco purchases|
|My BJ’s Perks® Mastercard®||Great for cash back rewards on BJ’s purchases|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Great for cash back on everyday purchases|
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi earns 4% cash back on the first $7,000 spent on purchases of eligible gas each year and then 1% after that. Costco’s card also offers 3% back on dining and eligible travel purchases and 2% cash back on all purchases at Costco or Costco.com.
My BJ’s Perks® Plus Mastercard®
With My BJ’s Perks® Plus Mastercard® you can earn 3% cash back on most BJ’s purchases, while with My BJ’s Perks® Elite Mastercard® you can earn 5% cash back on most BJ’s purchases. Additional benefits for both cards include 2% cash back on eligible dining, 1% cash back on shopping everywhere else Mastercard is accepted, among other perks.
Citi® Double Cash Card
You can earn 2% cash back with the Citi® Double Cash Card — 1% on purchases and another 1% when you pay for those purchases. This card has a simple rewards structure that’s more competitive than comparable cards, and it has no annual fee.
As you can see, there are some differences in offerings among cash back credit cards. Before you choose one, compare each card’s offerings and decide which cash back categories matter most to you.
If you plan to fill your gas tank at Sam’s Club on a regular basis, you’ll earn big with this card’s 5% cash back on gas. You’ll also rack up rewards if you typically charge most of your dining and travel expenses. But if you’re torn between shopping at Sam’s Club or one of its competitors, you may find you’ll earn more cash with Costco’s or BJ’s cards, which offer a higher cash back percentage on in-club purchases.