Sam’s Club® Mastercard® review: Is it worth applying for?

Family standing nearby and thinking about the Sam's Club Mastercard as smiling mother handing credit card to cashier at grocery store. Family standing nearby and thinking about the Sam's Club Mastercard as smiling mother handing credit card to cashier at grocery store. Image:

In a Nutshell

The Sam’s Club® Mastercard® offers great cash back rewards on gas, dining and travel but comes up short on cash back for Sam's Club purchases.

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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
  • 5 percent cash back on gas purchases and 3 percent on dining and travel purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 5 percent cash back on gas purchases on up to $6,000 annually (1 percent after that)
  • Maximum of $5,000 cash back rewards can be earned per calendar year
  • Cash back gas, dining and travel rewards exclude purchases from other wholesale clubs
  • Cash rewards paid only once per year by check, which must be redeemed at a Sam’s Club store
  • Sam’s Club membership (at least $45 per year) required to apply for card

  1. The rundown: Everything we like about Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
  4. The competition: How Sam’s Club® Mastercard® stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is Sam’s Club® Mastercard® right for you?

The Rundown: Everything we like about Sam’s Club® Mastercard®

This card’s greatest benefit is its high cash back percentage on three categories: 5 percent on gas up to $6,000 per year (then 1 percent thereafter), and 3 percent on dining and travel.

Sam’s Club® Mastercard® has no annual fee, so you’ll save on that expense. However, 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.

Heads Up: What you should consider before applying for Sam’s Club® Mastercard®

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 percent. 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 percent 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.

Do the Math: How to get the most out of Sam’s Club® MasterCard®

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.

The competition: How Sam’s Club® Mastercard® stacks up against similar cards

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

From our partner

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi earns 4 percent cash back on the first $7,000 spent on purchases of eligible gas each year and then 1 percent after that. Costco’s card also offers 3 percent back on dining and eligible travel purchases and 2 percent 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 percent cash back on most BJ’s purchases, while with My BJ’s Perks® Elite Mastercard® you can earn 5 percent cash back on most BJ’s purchases. Additional benefits for both cards include 2 percent cash back on eligible dining, 1 percent cash back on shopping everywhere else Mastercard is accepted, among other perks.

Citi® Double Cash Card

From our partner

Citi® Double Cash Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

You can earn cash back twice with Citi® Double Cash Card — 1 percent on purchases and another 1 percent 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.


Bottom line: Is the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® right for 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 percent cash back on gas. You’ll also rack up rewards if you typically charge most of your dining and travel expenses. However, if 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.


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