The Verdict: If you drive to work and have good credit — you can find out for free at WalletHub — you should strongly consider applying for the Sam's Club® Credit Card. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t really matter whether you shop at Sam’s Club, as long as you have a membership. The card gives you 5% cash back on the first $6,000 in gas that you buy each year (1% after that), in addition to 3% cash back on travel and dining and 1% cash back on everything else (including Sam’s Club purchases). This card’s connection to Sam’s Club thus is clearly minimal beyond its name.
While rewards are this card’s strong suit, the financing side of things isn’t as appealing, which means you should only pursue it if you pay your bill in full every month. After all, it doesn’t provide a low intro rate and its regular APR ranges from 14.9% to 22.9% (V), depending on creditworthiness.
- 5% Cash Back On First $6,000 In Gas Each Year: If you do the math, this particular Sam’s Club Mastercard perk is worth up to $300. Not too shabby. This earning rate applies to pretty much anywhere you can fill up your tank, except for superstores and wholesale clubs not belonging to Sam. You’ll earn just 1% after the first $6,000, but it’s not a given that you’ll reach that threshold, considering the average American spends $1,909 on gas each year. Based on that amount, this bonus earning rate would be worth roughly $95 per year.
- 3% Cash Back On Travel & Dining: This aspect of the Sam's Club® Credit Card could be considered its hidden gem. If the card had been branded to appeal to travelers, its 3% earning rate that’s agnostic toward travel providers would be a big hit in its own right. And things get even sweeter with restaurants added to the mix.The average person spends about $4,575 per year in these two major categories combined, for which this card would yield roughly $137 in annual earnings. There’s no fishy fine print to note in regard to this earning rate, either. It all depends on merchant category codes, with generous definitions given to travel and dining:
Travel Dining Airlines Restaurants Hotels Drinking Places Rental Cars Fast Food Places Passenger Rail Caterers Buses Info Cruises Info Travel Sites Info Travel Agencies Info Timeshares Info Tour Operators Info
All purchases that do not qualify for the bonus categories yield the market average of 1.08% cash back.
- No Annual Fee: There are many cards with terms that are far less attractive than what the Sam's Club® Card offers yet cost considerably more. Without an annual fee, it can be free to use if wielded wisely, and free is always a compelling perk.
- Regular APR As High As 22.90% (V): Depending on your creditworthiness at the time of account approval, you will be assigned a regular APR of either 14.9% to 22.9% (V). The former actually is well below the 19.3% average for “good credit” credit cards, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report, while the latter obviously is well above it. In fact, it’s higher than the 23.13% charged by the average “fair credit” credit card.
This all just goes to show that carrying a balance from month to month with this card is not advisable, especially if you get the higher of the two available APRs. What’s more, it’s worth noting that while you may be tempted by the 0% promotional financing deals the Sam's Club® Credit Card offers from time to time, it’s best to rest given the downside potential of such “deferred interest” arrangements.
- Sam’s Club Membership Required: Only Sam’s Club members can get the Sam's Club® Credit Card, which effectively attaches an annual price tag of at least $45 to the plastic. It also means the lifespan of your Sam's Club® Card is directly dependent upon your Sam’s Club status. If your membership goes, so too does your credit-card account.
- No Grocery-Specific Rewards: It’s a tad confusing that the Sam's Club® Credit Card offers extra cash back on gas, travel and dining, but not groceries. This may be a letdown for people looking for a way to minimize the cost of all Sam’s Club purchases, not just those made at the pump. You’ll just have to be content with the savings derived from your Sam’s Club membership.
Other Things To Consider
- Doubles As Your Membership Card: You won’t have to worry about carrying both a Sam’s Club membership card and a Sam's Club® Credit Card because the latter doubles as the former. That’s organizationally important, at least.
- 0% Foreign Fee: The Sam’s Club Mastercard used to charge a 3% foreign fee, applicable to any transaction processed outside the United States, whether you were physically abroad or not. However, this international surcharge went away making the card suitable for international travel.
- Rewards Earning & Redemption Restrictions: You can earn no more than $5,000 in rewards with the Sam's Club® Credit Card, but that’s unlikely to affect most people considering that you’d have to spend at least $100,000 (over roughly 17 years) or nearly $163,000 in a single year to hit that threshold, based on the card’s earning rates and category limits. Instead, it’s the fact that cash-back earnings are only distributed once each year, in the form of a February check that can only be cashed in person at a Sam’s Club location. But you have to earn a minimum of $5 to receive the check, which expires after 180 days.What’s more, your earned rewards will be revoked if your account falls out of good standing or your Sam’s Club membership is closed.
Compared To The Competition
Sam's Club® Credit Card
Capital One® Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
|Rewards Bonus||$55 statement credit||N/A||$200||N/A|
|Rewards Rate||1 - 5% Cash Back||1 - 5% Cash Back||1.5% Cash Back||2% Cash Back|
|Purchase Intro APR||N/A||N/A||0% for 15 months||N/A|
|Transfer Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A||0% for 18 months|
Transfer Fee: 3% (min $5)
|Regular APR||14.9% - 22.9% (V)||17.99% - 26.99% (V)||15.49% - 25.49% (V)||13.99% - 23.99% (V)|
|Editors' Rating||4.0 / 5||4.5 / 5||4.4 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|